Topic: NGOs

Building accountability in Tanzania: applying an evolutionary/venture capitalist theory of change

A version of this post appeared yesterday on ‘People, Spaces, Deliberation’, the World Bank’s clunkily-named but interesting governance and accountability blog. I’ve been catching up on our accountability work in Tanzania recently, and it continues to be really ground-breaking. Rather than churning out the standard logical framework of activities, outputs and predicted outcomes before the […]

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Hunger in the Sahel and international arms control: what's the link?

In a second post on the impending UN Arms Trade Treaty, Oxfam arms trade policy adviser Martin Butcher discusses the links between Libya’s arms race and hunger in the Sahel The growing food crisis provoked by drought in the Sahel is affecting millions of people. This crisis has been deepened by the conflict in Mali sparked […]

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People power, transformation and existential crisis: the state of global civil society:

Civicus, a global network of civil society organizations, recently published a pilot ‘State of Civil Society’ report, which it hopes to repeat at regular intervals. Some excerpts: “2011 marked a critical juncture for civil society. Authoritarian regimes buckled under the weight of citizen pressure, and prevailing political and economic orders faced unprecedented opposition from people […]

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Should Oxfam be collecting a million bras from the public and selling them? Time to cast your vote…

On this blog, I occasionally feel an overwhelming urge to self-destruct for the amusement of others. It is in that kamikaze spirit that I bring you….. Oxfam’s ‘big bra hunt’. The story so far: on 1 April (but not linked to April Fools’ Day, as far as I’m aware), Oxfam’s trading team in the UK […]

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So the world is a complex system – what should aid agencies do differently?

Had a fascinating chat with Jean Boulton (right) this week. Jean is a physicist-by-training (a real one, unlike me – I jumped ship after my first degree). These days she is a management consultant and social scientist who has been working to bring ideas of complexity theory into organisations for many years. More recently she […]

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Are aid cuts inevitable and if so, what should aid campaigners do about it?

While I was snowed in in a holiday cottage last week (quite fun actually, especially when you’ve packed your West Wing box set just in case), the 2011 OECD aid numbers came out (see table). The numbers show total aid falling in real terms for the first time since 1997. What was also striking was […]

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If change requires both cooperation and conflict, can we really do both?

I’ve been thinking about my recent trip to Honduras, how change happens, and the discussions there (and with some other country teams since then) about what I am calling the ‘cooperation-conflict cycle’ (see pic). The default mode in Oxfam and most large NGOs is generally uncomfortable with conflict, but research by John Gaventa and others […]

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Forget microcredit: microsavings work much better

Update: Jeff Ashe responds in the comments section to some excellent comments from readers Microcredit has been getting a bad press recently – criticised for eye-watering interest rates, high indebtedness levels, and excessive hype in terms of its development impact. Oxfam America reckons it has a much better alternative – helping poor people to save first […]

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NGOs and blogging on development: Why do we find it so hard?

I went to a fascinating ‘bloggers breakfast’ in Washington last week, hosted by Lawrence MacDonald of CGD and Oxfam’s Paul O’Brien. A bunch of development bloggers from the Center for Global Development, Oxfam America and a few others chewed over a mixture of blogging dilemmas and CGD’s muffins and fruit. V pleasant way to start […]

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Robin Hood Tax update: more campaign success on the Financial Transactions Tax

The RHT campaign continues to show the remarkable ‘how change happens’ potential of a response to shocks (in this case, financial crash + austerity = governments desperate for new sources of revenue + impending collapse of aid flows from many donors + massive public antipathy towards the banking sector = perfect time to campaign for […]

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Is blood and sacrifice enough? The Honduran peasant movement's model of change

[This post is published in Spanish on the 3500 milliones blog] I spent three days last week trying to understand the peasant (campesino) movement in Honduras. It was the perfect field trip in many ways, split between a flying visit to the Bajo Aguan region up on the lush Northern coast, site of the most […]

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What can NGOs do in a political downturn? Ideas from Central America

I spent last week in Central America, where in the 1980s, I got my political education in South and particularly Central America, hopping as a journo and writer between revolutionary Sandinistas in Nicaragua and guerrilla fighters in El Salvador.  So this week’s posts will mainly be a download and reflection on that visit. First, I […]

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