Topic: Aid

How can the UN become a Thought Leader again?

When was the last time you read anything from UNCTAD? Back in the day (say, early 2000s), its annual Trade and Development Report (TDR) was one of the big annual milestones (along with the World Development Report, Human Development Report etc). They were essential reading for any policy wonk. They’re all still being published, but […]

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How does Localization work on the ground? Podcast with Evans Onyiego and video of his work in Northern Kenya

On the margins of the localization discussion I covered yesterday, I grabbed a few minutes to interview Evans Onyiego. Evans runs a local Caritas office in Maralal, in Northern Kenya, where the Church is playing a big role in trying to rebuild trust between ethnic groups and communities whose traditional rivalries have been turbo-charged by the […]

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Localization in Aid – why isn’t it happening? What to do about it?

Spent two days this week discussing ‘Localization in Conflict Settings’. The subject is littered with aid jargon, but important – how does the humanitarian system ‘transfer power and resources’ to ‘local actors’ rather than outsiders insisting on running the whole thing (badly) themselves? It was organized by Saferworld and Save the Children Sweden to help […]

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Working With/Against the Grain, the case for Toolkits, and the future of Thinking and Working Politically

Second instalment of my download from an intense day spent last week with the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice (first instalment here).   Working With or Against the Grain? In a way, this is a reworking of the reformist v radical divide. Should TWP focus on understanding local institutions and find ways to […]

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Thinking and Working Politically – why the unexpected success?

Spent a fizzy day with the Thinking and Working Politically crew last week, taking stock on its (surprising?) success over the last 5 years (first sighting, November 2013 and this meeting in Delhi), and pondering next steps. Too much to say for a single post, so this will be spread over the next two days. […]

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Putting Positive Deviance into Practice: A brilliant UN Women initiative on domestic violence

Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, so it seems like a good moment to post this.  As part of my scoping exercise on Positive Deviance, I’ve been having some great skype conversations. Monique Sternin put […]

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What might a 100% experimental Oxfam Country Programme look like?

Oxfam GB’s new boss, Danny Sriskandarajah, starts in the New Year, but is already talking to people inside and outside the organization about what a ‘Nextfam’ could look like. Here’s some thoughts from a chat with him and David Bonbright earlier this week. The problem: Experiments and innovation at the project level seldom spread beyond […]

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How can we rate aid donors? Two very different methods yield interesting (and contrasting) results

Two recent assessments of aid donors used radically different approaches – a top down technical assessment of aid quality, and a bottom up survey of aid recipients. The differences between their findings are interesting. The Center for Global Development has just released a new donor index of Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA), with a […]

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So what might ‘Beyond the Project’ Activities look like?

Some thoughts in response to yesterday’s challenge from Brady Mott. What might replace the project? On one level, it’s a self-defeating exercise – any alternative is likely to require spending money, staff etc and some kind of accountability. Boom – we’re back to projects! But some projects can loosen the kinds of constraints that Brady […]

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What’s the problem with Projects?

While doing some blogging workshops, I got talking to various people in the Netherlands recently about aid moving ‘Beyond the Project’. Today’s guest post by Brady Mott explains the problem with projects. Tomorrow I’ll explore some alternatives. The development sector has always engaged with the world through the vehicle of projects: logistically intricate arrangements linking […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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