Topic: NGOs

Positive deviance: spotting the hidden innovations in development work

I just learned some new jargon – always a heady sensation. Positive deviance. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? And it describes something really interesting and, I suspect, quite important. A colleague at Oxfam America, Roanne Edwards, filled me in – she has been to Mali to look at OA’s massive Saving for Change (SfC) […]

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What does the future hold for civil society organization?

I’ve been struggling to make sense of the changing landscape for civil society organizations, North and South, and could do with your help. Here are some initial thoughts, but please send in your own, plus useful references: One door opens, another shuts There are contradictory and ambiguous trends for civil society at national and global […]

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Are Grey Panthers the next big thing in campaigning?

It’s probably a sign of my advancing years, but I’ve been wondering whether NGOs are missing a trick by endlessly targeting young people to become their activists. Sure, they’re the leaders of tomorrow, but what about us wrinklies? This all came to a head when I went out for a beer with a friend of […]

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What does the end of North-South mean for the development sector?

I spoke last night at an event in the House of Commons. It was held at Portcullis House, an architectural monstrosity next to Big Ben which despite its name is a new bit, so no-one’s been executed there. Yet. The subject was a BS (blue skies) session on ‘Beyond the MDG Summit: What next for […]

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How to write the recommendations to a report on almost anything: introducing Friday Formulae

I really enjoyed (if that’s the right word…) the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, but when it got to its recommendations, it struck me as incredibly formulaic. In that respect, it resembled an awful lot of the stuff I read (and, I fear, write) from thinktanks, international organizations and NGOs – fascinating diagnosis; shame about the cure. […]

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An evening with Bill and Melinda Gates and the decade of vaccines: is this the future of aid?

On Monday night I joined the besuited masses of the UK development scene to sit at the feet (OK, in a crammed 400 seat lecture theatre) of Bill and Melinda Gates as they promoted the ONE campaign’s ‘Living Proof’ project on effective aid. It was great to hear an optimistic message on aid and development […]

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What does ageing mean for development? Guest blog from someone who knows

Last week I blogged on the rapid pace of global ageing (even though I’ve just noticed that I can’t spell ‘ageing’), and asked for suggestions on what it might mean for development policy. Mark Gorman, HelpAge International’s Director of Strategic Development, obliges with this guest blog. “So what does ageing mean for development? Will low and middle income […]

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Is the aid industry's audit culture becoming a threat to accountability?

I’m a big fan of Rosalind Eyben, of IDS, so got her permission to cut and paste her note of a meeting she organized recently while I was wandering around Ethiopia. It brought together some 70 development practitioners and researchers worried about the current trend for funding organisations to support only those programmes designed to […]

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Is Obesity a Development Issue?

At a recent meeting of Oxfam’s country directors, I asked if they thought Oxfam should treat obesity as a development issue, just another form of ‘mal-nutrition’. The reaction was pretty negative. Innocent Nkata, from South Africa (left), summed it up by saying that whereas hunger was an issue of rights, obesity is a ‘question of […]

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Education: an Ethiopian Success Story

By 7.30 a.m, the roadsides in rural Ethiopia are thronged with hundreds of kids rushing, exercise books in hand, to school. Conversations with farmers are dotted with references to the importance of education. Are they just saying what they think their NGO visitors want to hear? Not according to a new report from the Overseas Development […]

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How can Ethiopia’s coffee farmers get more from your $3 latte?

According to legend Kaldi (left), a 9th Century Ethiopian goatherd, discovered coffee when he saw his flock start leaping around after nibbling the bright red berries of a certain bush. He gave them a try, and the ensuing buzz prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. The holy […]

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How butter leads to women’s emancipation: a self help group in Ethiopia

In societies where women are traditionally confined to the home and denied any voice, how can NGOs help bring them together? Ethiopia week on the blog continues with a visit to a women’s group supported by an Oxfam partner, Rift Valley Children and Women Development. On the way, Hussen Delecha, an ex-Save the Children staffer […]

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