Topic: Aid

Old Wine in New Bottles? 6 ways to tell if a programme is really ‘doing development differently’

Guest post from some of the top exponents of adaptive management/doing development differently These days it seems that everyone in the aid sector is doing development differently – presenting themselves as politically smart, locally led, flexible and adaptive. But is it true?  How much of this is “old wine in new bottles” – the language […]

Read More »

What did I learn from Wednesday’s arguments over aid, academia and ‘the literature’?

As they say on twitter, Mind. Blown. Wednesday’s rant about way aid and academia generated a fantastic discussion. Including some great putdowns. My favourite, which made me laugh out loud, came from Ryan Briggs: ‘Just to be clear, you’re arguing that academics are insular and generalize too much from shoddy evidence, and the evidence for […]

Read More »

The Rise of Social Protection, the art of Paradigm Maintenance, and a disagreement with the World Bank

Spent a mind-stretching day last week with a bunch of social protection experts from the LSE, IMF and assorted other bodies. Social Protection includes emergency relief, permanent mechanisms such as pensions and cash transfers, and ‘social insurance’ based on people’s personal contributions. LSE boss Minouche Shafik set the scene really well: ‘The failure of safety […]

Read More »

Evil Donors and ‘The Literature’: Is there a problem with the way academics write about aid?

Since I dipped my toe in the waters of academia, I’ve been struck by two things: firstly, the number of my new colleagues (especially the political scientists and anthropologists) who appear convinced that aid is essentially evil – a neo-imperialist plot to defend the status quo. Secondly the way people use the phrase ‘The Literature’, […]

Read More »

Aid’s fragile state problem – why is it so hard to even think about?

I’ve spotted a recurring problem with the way the aid sector talks about fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS). FCAS are characterized by states that are either absent or predatory – in terms of development, governments and officials are as likely to be part of the problem as part of the solution. But the aid sector, […]

Read More »

Who wants to be a Volunteer? Book Review

An estimated 10 million people will head from North to South this year as volunteers, seeking a mix of adventure, altruism and self improvement. Volunteering is big (a $2bn industry), but is it beautiful? Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad, a 350 page tome aimed at informing and guiding would-be volunteers, left me […]

Read More »

Payment by Results: what is the Evidence from the First Decade?

Paul Clist, who actually seems to enjoy reading project documents, introduces his new paper on Payment by Results, a popular new aid mechanism (see also his 2016 post on the same topic). In a new paper, I argue that despite its public support for the idea, DFID hasn’t really tried Payment by Results, at least […]

Read More »

Is Flying the new Smoking? If so, should aid workers stop flying?

Guest post from Dorothea Hilhorst of the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University. She suggested this just after I had got off a plane to Mexico, so I figured I had to publish it…. Update: this post has generated so much interest that we’ve put up an opinion poll here – please complete […]

Read More »

How Aid has helped Pakistan’s Women’s Movement achieve Political Breakthroughs

Guest post from Ayesha Khan of the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi Do aid dollars help or hinder the women’s movement? In Pakistan, there are advocates of both points of view. I believe that my recent research as part of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme has gathered enough evidence to […]

Read More »

I need a survival guide for conferences. Anyone got one?

I go to quite a few academic conferences and to be honest, they sometimes make me fear for my sanity. Mood swings; weird rages against people (OK, men) who insist on stating the blindingly obvious at great length, in obscure academic jargon; a twitchy need to check emails and twitter feed every few minutes; sudden enthusiasms […]

Read More »

Putting Gender into Political Economy Analysis: why it matters and how to do it

Guest post by Emily Brown of Oxfam GB (left), and Rebecca Haines (right) and Tam O’Neil of CARE International UK. For many development professionals, political economy has become the gold standard of foundational analysis for programming. It helps us to understand how power and resources are distributed in a society or sector and is important for […]

Read More »

Whither Large International Non-Governmental Organisations? Smart new paper.

I’m glad to see Penny Lawrence, an Oxfam big cheese for 12 years before she resigned so publicly last February, has been busy reflecting and talking to other leaders (and me) about how large lumbering INGOs need to change. She has put together a useful paper on the topic (a source of endless fascination to INGOs, […]

Read More »