Topic: NGOs

The great Nairobi guesthouse swimming pool dilemma – cast your vote now……

Nairobi is a major NGO hub, currently the epicentre of the drought relief effort, and Oxfam’s regional office realized some years ago that we could save a pile of money if we ran our own guesthouse, rather than park the numerous visitors in over-priced hotels. It’s nothing fancy, definitely wouldn’t get many stars, but it’s […]

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Why did help arrive so late? Evidence v Incentives in the Horn of Africa drought.

Oxfam and Save the Children have a new paper out today that worries away at the baffling fact that lots of organizations knew disaster was looming in the Horn of Africa (and said so), but the system was largely unable to respond until people actually started dying. From the exec sum of A Dangerous Delay: […]

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How can development NGOs go urban?

Just spent a fascinating week in Nairobi, taking part in a review of our three-year- old urban programme there. Like many large development NGOs, Oxfam’s traditional remit is deeply rural – goats, irrigation, drought, that kind of thing – but the world has gone urban, and so in a few countries, we are dipping our organizational […]

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Meetings with Remarkable Women

I’m in Kenya for a week, (posts to follow), and as always on such trips, find myself chatting to a range of Oxfam staff with mind-blowing stories – here’s a selection. Shukri Gesod is an elegant and supremely confident young Somali (from Puntland) who moved to Oxfam from DFID a year ago. She originally wanted […]

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Why don't we just send aid money directly to poor people's cellphones?

Just before Christmas I had a thought-provoking discussion on the BBC World Service with Paul Niehaus, who has set up GiveDirectly, a US-based startup NGO pioneering a new financing model based on cash transfers. The idea couldn’t be simpler: 1. People donate through GD’s webpage 2. GD locates poor households in Kenya (see below) 3. GD transfers your […]

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Christmas special: what happens when an NGO edits the Ten Commandments?

Tis the season to be jolly; the shortest/grimmest day of the year etc etc, so here’s a Christmas scoop. As part of our ongoing discussion of religion and development, someone inadvertently submitted the Ten Commandments to Oxfam’s sign-off procedure. The result provides a fascinating insight into how NGOs think and communicate, although it perhaps lacks some […]

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Learning, leadership and the case for strategic interns

Another good paper from the consistently excellent Developmental Leadership Program, this time on ‘Learning and Leadership: Exploring the linkages between higher education and developmental leadership.’ Its basic argument is that there is ‘a symbiotic relationship between higher education and the broader political, social and economic environment, in which they both influence the development of each […]

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The next World Development Report is on Jobs, and I'm worried about it

Here we go again. Last week, a bunch of us NGO types had an initial discussion with the World Bank on its next flagship World Development Report, the 2013 edition of which will be on jobs (defined as ‘productive activity that is remunerated’), to be published in late 2012. Great subject, and one that is […]

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Investing in people or building more stuff: which is better for reducing disaster risks?

This is a guest post from Chris Anderson, Oxfam’s global adviser on disaster risk reduction  While the global humanitarian response system is more effective and sophisticated than ever before, in its current form it’s being outstripped by the pace of increasing risks. The answer is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which makes great financial sense if […]

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Thick problems, thin solutions and the future of NGOs

Normally I avoid discussions about the future of NGOs like the plague – they either involve a bunch of academics with only the vaguest idea of what we actually do all day, or a lot of senior managers emitting sonorous pronouncements on how we need to be more agile in a multi-polar world and use […]

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INGOs in Economic Diplomacy – adapting to a new world order

One of the lectures I most enjoy giving is to the LSE course on Economic Diplomacy, (part of its International Political Economy MSc), where most years I trot along and ramble on for half an hour about International NGOs (INGOs) and advocacy. The questions and discussion that follow are invariably fascinating (for me anyway). The […]

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Power and change – how do they fit in development work?

This is a summary of a briefing paper I bashed out for last week’s discussion on ‘how change happens’ with Oxfam’s big cheeses (with thanks to Jo Rowlands and Thalia Kidder for their help). It’s work in progress, so all comments and suggestions very welcome. In the last few years, ‘how change happens’ (HCH)  has gone […]

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