Spent a day earlier this week in a posh, but anonymous (Chatham House Rule) Central London location, discussing the state of the global anti-corruption movement with some of its leaders. The meeting took place in a posh, very high ceilinged room, under the stern gaze of giant portraits of assorted kings, aristos and philosophers. I wondered what they would have made of the assembled academics …Continue reading
In response to Lisa Denney’s piece last week on the low quality of much capacity building work in the aid biz, several people got in touch to say ‘but we do it better’. Here’s one example – a guest post from Arjan de Haan and Olivia Tran, from one of my favourite organizations, IDRC (see rave review of some of their previous work on evidence …Continue reading
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka took over as chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee last October, and from her new vantage point, reflects on the necessary evolution of the aid system For the aid system, the SDGs call for transformation rather than “business as usual”. Everybody is talking the talk but how ready and willing are we to change our own ways of working to enable …Continue reading
$15bn is spent every year on training, with disappointing results. Why the aid industry needs to rethink ‘capacity building’.
Guest post from Lisa Denney of ODI Every year a quarter of international aid – approximately US$15 billion globally – is spent on capacity development. That is, on sending technical assistants to work in ministries or civil society, running training programmes, conducting study tours or exchanges, or supplying resources and equipment to help organisations function better. This is often referred to as ‘teaching men to …Continue reading
What is really going on within ‘shrinking civil society space’ and how should international actors respond?
Good conversation (Chatham House Rule) last week on the global crackdown on civil society organizations (CSOs) and what to do about it. I was expecting a fairly standard ‘it’s all terrible; international NGOs must take action, speak truth to power etc’ discussion, but it was actually much more interesting and nuanced than that. While it is undoubtedly true, and horrible, that governments around the world …Continue reading
Whatever your ideological biases about ‘the private sector’ (often weirdly conflated with transnational corporations in NGO-land), markets really matter to poor people (feeding families, earning a living, that kind of thing). But ‘making markets work for the poor’ turns out to be really difficult and, just as with attempts to tackle corruption or improve institutions, there is a rethink going on in the aid business. …Continue reading
Why election politics don’t work as well for the environment as they do for international development
Guest post from Matthew Spencer, who crossed over from the environment sector recently to become Oxfam’s Director of Campaigns and Policy Before the end of the first week of the UK election campaign, to widespread surprise, Theresa May agreed to the development sector’s main demand to maintain our 0.7% overseas aid commitment. In contrast, the following week the government had to be forced to publish …Continue reading
Top tip: if you’re in a meeting discussing anything to do with finance, at some point look wise and say ‘you do realize, blockchain is likely to change everything.’ Of course, there is always a terrifying chance that someone will ask what you actually mean. Worry not, because IDS has produced a handy bluffer’s guide to help you respond. Blockchain for Development – Hope or …Continue reading
I’ve been banging on about the ‘Doing Development Differently’ movement for a few years now. Initially driven by big bilateral donors frustrated with the failure rate of old school project approaches, especially in trying to ‘build states’ and reform governments , DDD advocates ‘politically smart and locally led’ approaches, avoiding cookie cutter ‘best practice’, while staying sufficiently aware and adaptive to learn and tweak your …Continue reading
Improving collaboration between practitioners and academics: what to do? (with a little help from Einstein)
Previous posts in this 3 part series explored the obstacles to INGO-academic collaboration, and the lessons of systems thinking. This final post suggests some ways forward (with some sarcastic asides from Einstein) Based on all of the above, a number of ideas emerge for consideration by academics, INGOs and funders of research. Suggestions for academics Comments on the blogposts that formed the basis for this …Continue reading