Topic: NGOs

Some big development brains ask 'what's next?'

The Institute for Development Studies is a Good Thing. Located on the brutal 60s campus of the University of Sussex near Brighton, its gurus like Robert Chambers and Hans Singer have educated and inspired generations of Masters and PhD students, who then scattered to every corner of the aid industry and beyond (diplomats, politicians etc). […]

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Is BRAC the first international NGO from the South?

Thinking Big, Going Global is a new IDS working paper on what is arguably the first fully fledged international NGO from the South. Since 2002, BRAC, a Bangladeshi NGO, has gone global, expanding its programme of ‘microfinance plus’ (education, health, enterprise support, etc) to Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Pakistan, formally […]

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The Robin Hood Tax takes off: update, arguments and counterarguments

The Robin Hood Tax campaign has certainly struck a nerve. On the one hand, huge public support (within three weeks of the launch, 300,000 views of the Bill Nighy youtube, 120,000 fans on Facebook, 30,000 signed up on email) and serious political interest (UK parliamentary launch with 80 MPs, lobby meetings with all the major parties). […]

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Why Owen Barder is (mostly) wrong to oppose the Robin Hood Tax

Owen Barder has a thought-provoking post setting out his objections to a financial transactions tax (FTT) in response to the launch of the Robin Hood Tax campaign. I’ll run through the areas where we disagree, then where we agree, and finally the areas where I am still sitting painfully on the fence. Where we disagree: […]

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well-being v 'growth with equity': what are the pros and cons?

The process of evolution takes place in three stages: random mutation, selection and replication. It’s not a bad model for how new ideas emerge within a large organization like Oxfam. Every week seems to bring a new idea swirling around in conversations and meetings (mutation). Most of those will fade away but a small percentage […]

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The Robin Hood Tax campaign is launched today – check it out

I’ve blogged a few times on the momentum building behind the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax (see here). Today it steps up a gear with the launch of international campaign calling for a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ (much more memorable!), with the full campaign repertoire – op-eds, a letter signed by 350+ economists, a dedicated website with […]

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Are women really 70% of the world's poor? How do we know?

Doing research for advocacy (which is a large part of my job) is a balancing act. The pressure to come up with clear findings and ‘killer facts’ that speak to policy-makers can easily tip over into something much more questionable. I once challenged a colleague at another NGO on a ‘fact’ she was using on Bolivia. ‘Well, it’s […]

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Some things governments can do to support development even without spending more money

Before any general election, anyone involved in advocacy indulges in ‘what would my dream manifesto look like?’ fantasies. (And then usually goes off to lobby the political parties and be told why their ideas are silly). 2010 is no exception, with the impending (probably 6 May) UK general election followed by decisive moments this year on […]

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How to turn knowledge into policy (without losing your job)

Together with Martin Walsh, our team’s research methods adviser, I’ve been browsing through some of the literature on how to ensure our work has impact…… After a year in which Britain’s top drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, was sacked by the Home Secretary (interior minister) for overstepping the line between providing advice and advocating specific […]

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Reconstruction in Haiti, what do we know from previous disasters?

The Haiti operation is moving rapidly from rescue to reconstruction . What major challenges can we expect to emerge? What sort of policies have delivered results after previous earthquakes? One of the best sources on this is Responding to Earthquakes 2008: Learning from earthquake relief and recovery operations, by the ALNAP network.  Here are some […]

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This is why I work for Oxfam

Yolette Etienne, the Oxfam GB country director in Haiti, in an extraordinary interview with Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, matter of factly discusses burying her mother in her garden before rejoining the relief effort. For regular updates (audio, video, text), links etc from the relief effort, go to this website set up by some tech […]

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Why is humanitarian work so hard in cities?

By chance, the day before the Haiti earthquake, we were having a discussion at Oxfam about why, when it comes to feeding programmes, disaster relief etc urban work tends to be both harder and less attractive to NGOs than doing equivalent things in rural settings. This reflected an increasing conviction that we need to do […]

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