The Idealist: a brilliant, gripping, disturbing portrait of Jeffrey Sachs

For The Idealist, Nina Munk, a Vanity Fair journo, stalked Jeffrey Sachs for six years, focusing on his controversial Millennium Villages Project (MVP). She interviewed the man, sat in on his meetings with bigwigs, and hung around the Millennium Villages to find out what happened when the Prof’s entourage moved on. The result is more subtle […]

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Getting to the ‘so whats’: how can donors use political economy analysis to sort out bad governance?

Close but no cigar. Just been reading an ODI paper from a few months ago, Making sense of the politics of delivery: our findings so far, by Marta Foresti, Tam O’Neil and Leni Wild. It’s part of the ODI’s excellent stream of work on governance and accountability (see my review of David Booth and Diana Cammack’s […]

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Social inclusion and concentration of wealth – what the World Bank gets right and what it misses.

This guest post comes from Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva, Oxfam Head of Research, (@rivefuentes) No one expects the World Bank to be a simple organization. The intellectual and policy battles that occur inside the Bank are the stuff of wonk legends – I still remember the clashes around the poverty World Development Report in 2000/2001. This is […]

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Impressive progress in guaranteeing the right to food in poor countries (Olivier de Schutter’s final big report to the UNGA)

UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts, appointed (but not paid, I think) by the UN to beaver away to raise important issues such as disability, indigenous peoples, or torture. They include some bright stars – important thought leaders on the international development stage such as Magdalena Sepulveda, UNSR on extreme poverty and human rights. But […]

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Aid’s segmented future

This piece was written for a blog discussion on the future of aid, which will double up as a Global Policy ebook, organized by Andy Sumner’s new outfit, the Kings College International Development Institute, King’s College London. It’s all part of the build up to their launch conference on Emerging Economies and the Changing Global […]

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Why does climate change adaptation in Africa ignore politics? Great broadside from Matthew Lockwood.

My friend Matthew Lockwood has a habit of asking really big, sensible questions about politics that change the way you see the world. He was so fed up with what he saw as the lazy, apolitical thinking behind aid in general and Make Poverty History in particular, that he abandoned the development scene, writing The […]

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Governance for Development in Africa: Solving Collective Action Problems: Review of an important new book

The last year or so has been a bit quiet in terms of big new books on development, but now they are piling up on my study floor (my usual filing system) – Angus Deaton, Deepak Nayyar, Ben Ramalingam, Nina Munk etc etc. I will review them as soon as I can (or arm-twist better […]

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What use is a theory of change? 6 benefits, and some things to avoid.

Whether in the back of a 4×4 in Tanzania, or in seminar rooms in Oxfam house, I seem to spend an increasing amount of my time discussing theories of change. Oxfamers seem both intrigued and puzzled – what are they? What are they for? The answers aren’t simple and, as social scientists like to say, […]

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Some feelgood for Monday morning. 500 Ugandan women entrepreneurs lipsynching to Jessie J.

Can’t find that much info about it, but this video was made by a Dutch NGO called SYPO to publicise its microfinance crowdsourcing site, microbanker.com. There’s also a couple of youtube clips of the making of the video and the afterparty – which looks a lot of fun. The afterparty clip eased a few qualms (do all women […]

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When we (rigorously) measure effectiveness, do we want accountability or learning? Update and dilemmas from an Oxfam experiment.

Claire Hutchings, Oxfam’s Global MEL Advisor, brings updates us on an interesting experiment in measuring impact – randomized ‘effectiveness reviews’. For the last two years, Oxfam Great Britain has been trying to get better at understanding and communicating the effectiveness of its work. With a global portfolio of over 250 programmes and 1200 associated projects in […]

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The New Global Inequality Debate: “A Symbol of Our Struggle against Reality”?

Guest post from Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s Vice President for Policy and Campaigns  This blog will make more sense if you watch at least a few seconds of this Monty Python skit first.   Monty Python haunts me.  Too close to the bone if you work in a rights-based organization.   When I got into development work […]

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Should you keep innovating as a programme matures? Dilemmas from (another) ground-breaking accountability programme in Tanzania

Certain countries seem to produce more than their share of great programmes. Vietnam is one, and Tanzania appears to be another. After the much-blogged-on Twaweza workshop in Tanzania last week, I headed up North to visit the Chukua Hatua accountability programme. It’s one of my favourites among Oxfam’s governance work, not least because it has […]

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