Is ‘The Field’ an outdated and reactionary concept?

Advance warning – this blog is going dark for a couple of days to allow the cyberelves to give it a makeover. Back on Wednesday. Ex Tales from the Hood blogger ‘J’ has an enjoyable tirade on the Why Dev blog against the use of the phrase ‘The Field’ in aidland – (as in ‘I’m […]

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Obesity, Diabetes, Cancer: welcome to a new generation of ‘development issues’

I failed miserably to stop myself browsing my various feeds over the Christmas break (New Year’s resolution: ‘browse less, produce more’ – destined for failure). One theme that emerged was the rise of the ‘North in the South’ on health – what I call Cinderella Issues. Things like road traffic accidents, the illegal drug trade, […]

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How America’s War on Poverty is changing

One of Oxfam’s better kept secrets is that we work in rich countries too. Here Minor Sinclair, who runs Oxfam’s US domestic programme, looks back on what has changed in 50 years of the ‘war on poverty’. Fresh out of college, I jumped into the trenches of the War on Poverty – and have been […]

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Do fragile states evolve like forests? Insights from complexity thinking

Oxfam’s engagement with physics-trained complexity enthusiast Jean Boulton is starting to generate some really interesting ideas. Jean has been helping us think through our work in fragile states – the big challenge for a lot of aid organizations over the next few years. Just before Christmas, she came in to tell us where her thinking […]

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HNY everyone, and here are the blog stats and most read posts for 2013

Welcome back, HNY etc. Hope you had a good break (if you took one). Personally I’m glad it’s over – tried to ski, knackered my knee, and meanwhile back home, our cats got trapped in a room and pissed all over my son’s final year university notes. For some reason they took particular exception to […]

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International Guidelines for Problem Solving (and see you in 2014)

What to post before I head off for the Christmas and New Year purgatory of family rows and overeating welcome holiday? Nick Pialek comes to the rescue with this outrageous set of deeply shocking national stereotypes, doing its rounds on the interwebs recently. Enjoy (and test your knowledge of flags). Back in January.

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The state of the world’s older people: A smart new index on a rising development priority

I’ve been catching up on the backlog of books and papers that spread like an oil slick across my floor, and have come across a couple of gems (as well as some seasonal turkeys). Top of the heap is the Global AgeWatch Index 2013, (c/o the indefatigable Sylvia Beales). It’s a smart attempt by HelpAge […]

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Bob Diamond v Dani Rodrik on Africa’s growth prospects

Two diametrically opposed views of Africa appeared in my e-intray on the same day this week. The Financial Times reported that Bob Diamond, ex-boss of scandal-plagued Barclays Bank, had secured the preliminary support of several big institutional investors for Atlas Mara, his planned $250m cash shell, targeting the African banking sector. The FT gushed ‘Africa […]

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DfID gets a red light on aid for trade: how will it respond?

Oxfam aid wonk Nicola McIvor explores a highly critical report on one of DfID’s flagship programmes The problem with being committed to independent evaluation and transparency is that you risk being beaten up in public when things go wrong. Oxfam is accustomed to having our own evaluations quoted against us, which is exactly what happened […]

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Poor countries are losing $1 trillion a year to illicit capital flows – 7 times the volume of aid

I was surprised not to see more coverage of last week’s hard-hitting report from the Global Financial Integrity watchdog. Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011 has a whole bunch of killer facts about the escalating haemorrhage of wealth from poor countries. Here are some highlights. My additions in square brackets/italics: “We estimate that illicit […]

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What is ‘leverage’? Anatomy of a fuzzword

A few of us were asked recently to unpack one of this year’s fuzzwords – leverage. A fuzzword is a buzzword, but fuzzier – all things to all people etc. So here’s what we came up with – not final, work in progress etc. Leverage is working strategically with others in a ‘clever’ way, in […]

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How can campaigners tap corporate largesse without undermining their credibility? Unlocking millions for advocacy

It’s great to be accidentally topical. In the week that Save the Children had to fend off allegations of letting corporate funding influence its campaigns, here’s Oxfam America’s Chris Jochnick (@cjochnick) suggesting a way to accept money (in this case from extractive industries) while staying demonstrably independent Oxfam was recently approached by a major mining […]

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