How can researchers and activists influence African governments? Advice from an insider

Duncan Green - March 15, 2018

One of the highlights of the Twaweza meeting was hearing from Togolani Mavura (left), the Private Secretary to former President Kikwete (in Tanzania, ex-presidents get a staff for life, not like in the UK where they have to hawk themselves round the after dinner speaking circuit). Togolani has worked across the  various policy levels  of the Tanzanian goverment, and his talk reminded me a similarly witty …

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Campaigning around Elections: Some smart South-South learning

Duncan Green - January 16, 2018

Just before Christmas I eavesdropped on a fascinating conversation between Oxfam’s teams in Peru and South Africa (all nationals, not a white man in shorts to be seen). The topic was election campaigning, with Oxfam South Africa currently designing its strategy for the 2019 elections in a state of extreme uncertainty about the state of SA politics (when we spoke, Cyril Ramaphosa had just been …

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Kevin Watkins on the power of stigma and shame as a driver of change

Duncan Green - November 23, 2017

Kevin Watkins, a fellow Prof in Practice at the LSE, came along to talk to my students last week (review by Masters student Haisley Wert here). Kevin is a bit of a research and campaigning legend in the aid biz – the brains behind a lot of epic Oxfam campaigns on trade and debt in the early noughties, he went on to write some of …

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What kind of evidence might persuade people to change their minds on refugees?

Duncan Green - November 7, 2017

Oxfam Humanitarian Policy Adviser Ed Cairns reflects on using evidence to influence the treatment of refugees Who thinks that governments decide what to do on refugees after carefully considering the evidence? Not many, I suspect. So it was an interesting to be asked to talk about that at the  ‘Evidence for Influencing’ conference Duncan wrote about last week. When I think what influences refugee policy, …

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Is it time to get personal on tax dodging?

Duncan Green - October 30, 2017

The people who read this blog tend to be rationalists and progressive, so they won’t need much convincing that tax avoidance is a big (and lethal) deal. Oxfam calculates that just a third of the $100bn [approx. £78bn] tax that companies dodge in poor countries annually is enough to cover the bill for essential healthcare (vaccinations, midwives and diarrhoea treatment) that could prevent the needless …

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What can Activists do in a Political Downturn?

Duncan Green - June 15, 2017

The recent discussions with the International Budget Partnership also got me thinking about the options facing activists in political downturns. IBP sees these as potentially multiple: the crackdown on civil society in increasing numbers of countries is closing the space for budget activism, and there may also be a kind of ‘peak transparency’, where the issue passes the summit of the hype curve and descends …

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The imaginary advocate, the benefits of Command and Control, and why I’m just channelling Hayek

Duncan Green - June 2, 2017

Continuing the download from the recent LSE-ODI workshop on ‘new experimentalism’ was this thought-provoking description by David Kennedy of the ‘imaginary advocate’, the assumed individual behind How Change Happens and, by extension, a lot of NGO advocacy. Might be a very interesting addition to the endless awaydays, strategic planning processes etc to ask people to try and spell out the imaginary subjects of their own …

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Why election politics don’t work as well for the environment as they do for international development

Duncan Green - May 11, 2017

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 …

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Being bold: what Oxfam’s campaign on Yemen can teach us all about change

Duncan Green - February 21, 2017

In recent years, one of the things that has made me really proud to work for Oxfam has been its stand on Yemen. Here, Maya Mailer (@mayamailer) distils the lessons from our campaign. How do you convince people to care about a place no one has heard of? When we first started our campaign on Yemen almost two years ago, it wasn’t simply a ‘forgotten …

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Great new 110 page guide to humanitarian campaigning

Duncan Green - July 6, 2016

Just been browsing through a brilliant new Oxfam guide to humanitarian campaigning. A treasure trove of 110 pages crammed full of wisdom, experience and 32 case studies on everything from addressing tribal conflicts in Pakistan to gender responsive work with Syrian refugees to influencing Australia’s humanitarian policy. And no sign of an executive summary. Sigh. To be fair, it would be very hard to summarize, …

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