Topic: NGOs

What can you do if teachers don't show up?

There has been significant progress in recent years in getting kids into school, but what’s the point if the teachers don’t show up for work? In general, the poorer the country, the higher the level of absenteeism. The explanations are both obvious (wages are so low, teachers need to look for second jobs, or funnel […]

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The backlash against microfinance

The intellectual battlefield of development is littered with magic bullets. New ideas or technologies such as the internet or mobile phones are picked up, promoted as panaceas that will end poverty and transform societies, and then rapidly cut down to size by scrutiny and research. That process seems to be well under way on microfinance. […]

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The Global Campaign for Education – a model of international activism

‘Global campaigning’ is sometimes criticised for being driven by northern agendas. As one frustrated Indian activist interviewed in the paper discussed here asked ‘what is a global campaign? Does it mean you get a lot of people together in UK, have a Bono concert and ask us here in India to get together and shout? […]

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What does the British Conservative Party think about development?

This week I attended the launch of ‘One World Conservatism’, a ‘Green Paper’ (i.e. discussion document) in which the Conservative Party (who if you believe the opinion polls, are highly likely to take over from Gordon Brown’s Labour at the next election, due before next June) set out its thinking on international development. The Green […]

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Is the organic movement missing a big opportunity on climate change?

Oh dear, not only has climate change turned me into a reluctant green, but now I’m having to rethink my attitudes to organic farming. This is all the fault of a conversation with Peter Melchett and Ken Hayes from the Soil Association, who are both fervent advocates of organic agriculture (which Peter puts into practice on […]

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How do you get a job in a development NGO (starting with one in my team)?

I’m prompted to post this partly because there’s a job coming up in my team at Oxfam. We’re looking for a research methods adviser to build the skills of our staff around the world who commission and/or conduct smart research to inform Oxfam’s programmes and advocacy. If you’re interested, read more here, and you need […]

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Plant clinics – or why sometimes development looks easy and obvious

Bumped into an ‘agricultural anthropologist’, Jeff Bentley, who works in Cochabamba, Bolivia and was intrigued by his work promoting ‘plant clinics’, where farmers bring in examples of sick plants and get a diagnosis and prescription in a system modelled on human healthcare (they even have a two tier structure of General Practitioners as first point […]

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Seizing the Moment: A Successful Campaign on Domestic Violence in Malawi

Here’s an example of successful advocacy at national level, which is becoming an increasingly important part of Oxfam’s work. In 2005, Oxfam’s Malawi programme along with its partners mounted a campaign to eliminate gender based violence which led to the passing of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill in Parliament in April 2006.  How did it […]

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Trade v climate change: what should developing countries be asked to do?

Last week, Oxfam published its proposals on how the burden of reducing carbon emissions should be shared between countries, both rich and poor. What struck me was the contrast with the stance Oxfam and other NGOs have taken in their advocacy on trade at the WTO and numerous other trade agreements. There, they have focused […]

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Are poor people the best experts on poverty?

A series of conversations in recent weeks have made me think a bit harder about the uses and abuses of testimony/first hand experience. First up, the launch of the World Bank book, Moving Out of Poverty at the ODI the other week (see my perhaps over the top review of the book back in March), […]

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Fire brigades or arsonists? A UN debate on the economic crisis

I spoke at an UNCTAD symposium on the global crisis in Geneva this week (Oxfam’s pre-conference submission is here). A laudable attempt to get a conversation going with civil society organizations, but a classically frustrating UN event – dozens of developing country delegates mingling with NGOs and others, but any real exchange was deadened by […]

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US aid reform takes off

Shortly after the US election, I blogged about the promising discussions on US aid reform in Washington. Those are now starting to bear fruit. In late April, Howard Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill (The Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009–HR 2139). Here are some of his covering remarks: […]

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