Why those promoting growth need to take politics seriously, and vice versa

Duncan Green - October 14, 2015

Nicholas Waddell, a DFID Governance Adviser working on ‘Governance for Economic Development’ (G4ED) explores the links between governance and economic growth.  Should I play it safe and join a governance team or risk being a lone voice in a sea of economists and private sector staff? This was my dilemma as a DFID Governance Adviser returning to the UK after a stint in East Africa. …

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How can UK aid pursue development and British National Interest at the same time?

Duncan Green - October 9, 2015

The British aid programme is in an interesting place right now. The British chancellor (finance minister) George Osborne is overseeing a tense spending review in which aid is protected thanks to the government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on aid, but most other departmental budgets are being slashed. On the Andrew Marr TV show last month Osborne said: ‘The question is not just how does our …

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How can INGOs get better? A surprisingly interesting conversation with some Finance Directors

Duncan Green - September 16, 2015

Spent an afternoon with a bunch of NGO Finance Directors this week. I was presenting Fit for the Future (memo to self, never write another paper about the future of INGOs – their thirst for navel-gazing is limitless). The discussion was more interesting than you might think – money is the lifeblood of the aid business, and FDs have the best overview of how that blood …

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What can NGOs/others learn from DFID’s shift to ‘adaptive development’?

Duncan Green - July 23, 2015

Got back from holiday last week and went straight into a discussion with NGOs and thinktanks on ‘adaptive development’. Really interesting for several reasons: I realized there’s a bunch of civil society people (100 people at the seminar, plus 50 online) thinking along parallel lines to donors and academics in the Thinking and Working Politically and Doing Development Differently initiatives, but currently very little cross over. …

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How can research help promote empowerment and accountability?

Duncan Green - March 3, 2015

In the development business, DFID is a research juggernaut (180 dedicated staff, £345m annual budget, according to the ad for a new boss for its Research and Evidence Division). So it’s good news that they are consulting researchers, NGOs etc tomorrow on their next round of funding for research on empowerment and accountability (E&A). Unfortunately, I can’t make it, but I had an interesting exchange …

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Did Britain’s Aid Programme (and maybe aid in general) just get its Mojo back?

Duncan Green - December 9, 2014

[Mojo: NOUN (plural mojos), chiefly US: A magic charm, talisman, or spell] I got back from Malta on Friday, just in time to watch the end of the House of Commons debate on enshrining in British law the longstanding, but widely ignored, international commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development. By an overwhelming majority (146 to 5), the bill passed. It still has to go to the House of Lords, …

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Politics, economists and the dangers of pragmatism: reflections on DFID’s governance and conflict conference

Duncan Green - November 14, 2014

DFID really is an extraordinary institution. I spent Monday and Tuesday at the annual get together one of its tribes professional cadres – about 200 advisers on governance and conflict. They were bombarded with powerpoints from outside speakers (including me), but still found time for plenty of ‘social loafing’, aka networking with their mates. Some impressions: They are hugely bright and committed, wrestling to get stuff …

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What are the big trends on conflict and fragility? Some great presentations at DFID

Duncan Green - November 13, 2014

I spent a seriously interesting couple of days this week in a rainswept Brighton, attending DFID’s annual get together of its 200 (approx) governance and conflict advisers. Definitely worth a couple of posts – I’ll give some general impressions tomorrow, but want to start with a fascinating panel on conflict and fragility. First up was David Harland, an ex diplomat with a wry sense of …

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DFID is changing its approach to better address the underlying causes of poverty and conflict – can it work? Guest Post from two DFID reformers

Duncan Green - October 9, 2014

Aid donors are often maligned for bureaucratic procedures, a focus on short-term results at the expense of longer-term, riskier institutional change, and a technical, managerial approach to aid with insufficient focus on context, power and politics. Are these institutional barriers insurmountable? Can aid agencies create an enabling environment to think and work politically? Tom Wingfield (left) and Pete Vowles (right) from DFID’s new ‘Better Delivery Taskforce’ have been …

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The future of DFID, partnerships, aid and INGOs, c/o Alex Evans

Duncan Green - September 18, 2014

Alex Evans always gives good bullet point. A former SPAD (special adviser) to DFID, turned academic/consultant at the Center for International Cooperation, last week he gave some NGOs a whirlwind tour of his big picture thinking on development, based on a recent submission (with Owen Barder) to the UK parliament’s International Development Committee. Here are some highlights. On DFID: Next year is DFID’s 18th birthday, …

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