Even though it’s relatively short (223 pages), Working With the Grain (WWTG) took me two months to finish, but I’m glad I did. It adds to a growing and significant body of literature on ‘doing development differently’/’thinking and working politically’ – Matt Andrews, Adrian Leftwich, David Booth, Diana Cammack, Sue Unsworth etc. (Like Matt and Adrian, WWTG author Brian Levy is a white South African …Continue reading
You’d think that all the aid money trying to install functioning democracies around the world would target parliaments and political parties. In fact, they are more often an afterthought. Alina Rocha Menocal (Developmental Leadership Program, University of Birmingham) looks at the evidence and explains the neglect. People all over the world have a very low opinion of parliaments and parliamentarians. Indeed, surveys suggest that, along …Continue reading
Politics, economists and the dangers of pragmatism: reflections on DFID’s governance and conflict conference
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 …Continue reading
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 …Continue reading
What can we learn from big advocacy initiatives in the Philippines on education, violence against women, reproductive health and freedom of information?
Ahead of next week’s Thinking and Working Politically seminar, here’s another case study from The Asia Foundation, which has got some impressive advocacy results in the Philippines. Room for Maneuver (book and research brief) examines four social policy reforms to try and draw lessons for advocacy work. They are 1. The successful passage of the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act in 2004; 2. …Continue reading
The Thinking and Working Politically crew are reassembling next week to discuss how better to apply power analysis, political economy etc in the practice of aid, so I thought I’d highlight a couple of good examples in advance. First up is some really exciting work from DFID’s State Accountability and Voice Initiative in Nigeria, which suggests that even big donors can successfully support citizen engagement …Continue reading
How to build accountability in fragile states? Some lessons (and 2 new jobs) from an innovative governance programme.
One of my favourite Oxfam programmes is called (rather arcanely) ‘Within and Without the State’. It is trying to build civil society and good governance in some pretty unpromising environments – Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and OPTI (Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel). It’s currently advertising two new jobs (one on learning and communications, the other a programme coordinator), if you’re interested. WWS recently published some …Continue reading
Gosh I love my job. Last week I attended a workshop in Delhi to discuss ‘thinking and working politically’. A bunch of donors, academics, NGOs and others (Chatham House rules, alas, so no names or institutions) taking stock on how they can move from talk to walk in applying more politically informed thinking to their work. That means both trying to do the normal stuff …Continue reading
I get a lot of random invitations along the lines of ‘come and be a token esteemed NGO rep at our next gabfest’, and accept a few of the more promising ones. So this week I ended up at a conversation on ‘Africa’s Reformers’ hosted by the Africa Governance Initiative and the FT’s This is Africa magazine (which has just published an issue with that …Continue reading
I don’t often listen to lectures online – in these ADHD times, a 4 minute youtube video is usually my limit (unless it’s Breaking Bad or The Wire, of course). But I’m glad I made an exception for this lecture on ‘how do thinktanks think’ by Geoff Mulgan. No tricks, no powerpoint, just a lot of brainpower. Which is what you would expect from a …Continue reading