Topic: Aid

Private v Public education in poor countries: What’s new? Interview with Prachi Srivastava

I recently caught up with Prachi Srivastava, of the University of Western Ontario, who’s my go-to person on the heated development debates on public v private schools. Private v Public: I started working on this topic 18 years ago as a doctoral student. We were just entering the MDG and Education for All (EFA) era […]

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The Randomistas just won the Nobel Economics prize. Here’s why RCTs aren’t a magic bullet.

Lant Pritchett once likened Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) to flared jeans. On the way out and soon we’d be wondering what on earth we’d seen in them. Not so fast. Yesterday, three of the leading ‘Randomistas’ won the Nobel economics prize (before the pedants jump in, strictly speaking it’s the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic […]

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What’s going on with civil society and philanthropy in India? Interview + transcript with Ingrid Srinath

Ingrid Srinath runs the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University in Delhi. She recently talked me through the current situation in India. She asked me to clarify that these are her personal views, not those of the university. The work of the Centre: as the first academic centre in South Asia to […]

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Podcast: Thinking and Working Politically in a Pioneering Programme in the Philippines

Earlier this year I spent a fascinating week in the Philippines with the Coalitions for Change programme, one of the pioneers of ‘Thinking and Working Politically’ in the aid sector. CfC is run by The Asia Foundation and funded by the Australian Government. It ‘focuses on key policy reforms to improve lives of Filipinos and […]

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Are we suffering from obsessive measurement disorder?

ODI’s Tiina Pasanen argues that more data doesn’t necessarily mean we make better decisions. It often means just having more data that is not used Do any of these situations sound familiar to you? as an M&E manager, you worry that there’s a crucial aspect of your project that the current logframe doesn’t cover as […]

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Book Review: Civic Activism Unleashed: New Hope or False Dawn for Democracy? by Richard Youngs

This book promised a lot, but only partially delivered. There’s enough substance there to warrant a read, though. The book’s starting point is an upsurge in ‘new activism’ around the world. Robert Putnam’s anomic world of lonely people ‘Bowling Alone’ is looking pretty silly right now. The new activism is very different from the professionalized […]

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If top down control is unavoidable, can we still make aid more compatible with systems thinking?

Had a really interesting conversation last week with Oxfam Intermon and its friends in the Catalan aid system (in Spain, aid is regional with provinces and even cities like Barcelona pursuing active aid policies). I gave my usual rap about how complex systems require aid providers to adopt iterative, adaptive approaches to cope with uncertainty […]

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Is Africa facing its second debt crisis? What are the solutions?

Guest post from Jaime Atienza of Oxfam Intermon Here we go again. Though different to their “first debt crisis”, which was incubated in the 80s, hit in the 90s and was resolved (partly) in the 2000s, the situation is again profoundly uphill for a growing number of African countries: in 2019 their debt repayments as […]

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What have we learned from a close look at 3 DFID Adaptive Management programmes?

Adaptive Management week part 3 (with some trepidation given the recent comments from Heather Marquette et al about the proliferation of flakey case studies in lieu of evidence)…. My paper with Angela Christie summarizing our 3 case studies of big DFID-funded Adaptive Management projects in Myanmar, Tanzania and Nigeria is now online. Every word in […]

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What we’re missing by not getting our TWP alphabet straight

TWP guru Heather Marquette does everyone a great service by explaining the important differences between all the acronyms. I am struck by how often people say ‘TWP/PDIA/adaptive management/PEA…whatever’. Kind of like when my great-aunt calls me by various relatives’ names first before getting mine right – ‘Sheila… Mary…Lily…Heather!’ – these things may share a common genesis, […]

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What does the evidence tell us about ‘thinking and working politically’ in development assistance?

We’re having an ‘Adaptive Management week’ on FP2P, because so much good material has been coming through recently. First up is a new paper by Niheer Dasandi, Edward Laws, Heather Marquette, and Mark Robinson that I read on the way to the TWP conference in Washington that I wrote about recently. It really got me thinking. […]

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Take-up and Doubt: where have we got to on Thinking and Working Politically?

Spent a day this week at a Washington workshop on ‘From Thinking Politically to Working Politically’, organized by Abt Associates, whose Graham Teskey is one of the TWP gurus. What struck me most was the combination of the spreading acceptance of TWP approaches within the aid sector, and serious questions being asked about important aspects […]

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