Are aid cuts inevitable and if so, what should aid campaigners do about it?

admin - April 12, 2012

While I was snowed in in a holiday cottage last week (quite fun actually, especially when you’ve packed your West Wing box set just in case), the 2011 OECD aid numbers came out (see table). The numbers show total aid falling in real terms for the first time since 1997. What was also striking was the variation between OECD members, with crisis-hit Greece and Spain …

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If change requires both cooperation and conflict, can we really do both?

admin - April 10, 2012

I’ve been thinking about my recent trip to Honduras, how change happens, and the discussions there (and with some other country teams since then) about what I am calling the ‘cooperation-conflict cycle’ (see pic). The default mode in Oxfam and most large NGOs is generally uncomfortable with conflict, but research by John Gaventa and others shows that conflict is an essential part of many processes …

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Ocampo for president; IMF in Judea; de Soto is wrong on property rights; where are legal systems pro-poor?; Afghan girl-boys; oil rush in East Afica; No Women, no Peace: links I liked

admin - April 10, 2012

Interesting – Jose Antonio Ocampo is running first in a Guardian online poll on who should be the next president of the World Bank. Voting closes in about 12 hours An IMF report on Judea, circa 33 AD. Easter satire from Bill Easterly (keep clicking to expand). Another research nail in the coffin of Hernando de Soto’s influential work on the need to get informal …

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Forget microcredit: microsavings work much better

admin - April 5, 2012

Update: Jeff Ashe responds in the comments section to some excellent comments from readers Microcredit has been getting a bad press recently – criticised for eye-watering interest rates, high indebtedness levels, and excessive hype in terms of its development impact. Oxfam America reckons it has a much better alternative – helping poor people to save first and then borrow. Last week, I interviewed Jeff Ashe (right), who …

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NGOs and blogging on development: Why do we find it so hard?

admin - April 4, 2012

I went to a fascinating ‘bloggers breakfast’ in Washington last week, hosted by Lawrence MacDonald of CGD and Oxfam’s Paul O’Brien. A bunch of development bloggers from the Center for Global Development, Oxfam America and a few others chewed over a mixture of blogging dilemmas and CGD’s muffins and fruit. V pleasant way to start the day (actually I had started it an hour earlier …

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Robin Hood Tax update: more campaign success on the Financial Transactions Tax

admin - April 3, 2012

The RHT campaign continues to show the remarkable ‘how change happens’ potential of a response to shocks (in this case, financial crash + austerity = governments desperate for new sources of revenue + impending collapse of aid flows from many donors + massive public antipathy towards the banking sector = perfect time to campaign for a new tax on banks). Here’s a summary of the …

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Monkeys v baboons; World Bank president; climate change states; everyone hates poverty researchers; catalysts for change; food v planet: links I liked

admin - April 2, 2012

[I’m off on holiday this week, but have scheduled a few posts in my absence. Any probs, please email research@oxfam.org.uk.] ‘Monkey still working. Baboon gotta wait small.’ Oxfam’s Muyatwa Sitali presents (and explains) his pick of Africa’s wonderful election slogans. Nancy Birdsall poses some nice sharp questions for the three candidates to be the next World Bank president and Lant Pritchett sets out the tactics …

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Invasion of the tuk tuks; soft handshakes; barred by the eco-KKK; shoe-tossing and an unlikely place for a charter city: final impressions of Central America

admin - March 30, 2012

Things that have changed since I roamed Central America as a ‘Sandalista’ in the 1980s: – Even though the civil wars are long gone, the homicide rates are some of the highest in the world, razor wire is everywhere, and the security brief for Oxfam staff makes it sound like a war zone. – Cellphones, obviously. A new ritual at the end of meetings with committees of …

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Guatemala v Honduras: comparing prospects for change

admin - March 29, 2012

[This post is published in Spanish on the 3500 milliones blog] From Honduras, I went to Guatemala for a couple of days. Didn’t have time to get out into the countryside, which is a real shame since rural Guate has to be one of the most amazing places to visit in Latin America. But a series of conversations with NGOs and academics raised some really …

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Is blood and sacrifice enough? The Honduran peasant movement's model of change

admin - March 28, 2012

[This post is published in Spanish on the 3500 milliones blog] I spent three days last week trying to understand the peasant (campesino) movement in Honduras. It was the perfect field trip in many ways, split between a flying visit to the Bajo Aguan region up on the lush Northern coast, site of the most intense land struggles in recent years, and a series of …

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