Topic: Conflict and Security

A week in the life of a humanitarian agency (it really is all kicking off everywhere)

To give people a better feel for our humanitarian work in Gaza, Syria and elsewhere, I thought I’d share the contents (unedited, but with a few explanatory links added + pics) of the weekly internal email that drops into Oxfam staff’s inboxes. It summarizes in pithy form what our humanitarian colleagues are up to – I think […]

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The new UN Human Development Report on vulnerability and resilience: ignoring trade-offs and an epic fail on power and politics

I started off reading the exec sum of yesterday’s Human Development Report (UNDP’s flagship publication) with initial excitement, followed by growing dismay. It’s a pretty traditional kind of disillusion (I’m a bit of a connoisseur). Allow me to walk you through it. In a nutshell, an interesting diagnosis and a few good new-ish ideas, followed […]

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What can Islam teach secular NGOs about conflict resolution? (and human development, climate change, gender rights…..)

Lucy Moore, a policy adviser at Islamic Relief Worldwide came to talk to Oxfam staff last week. We used the ‘in conversation’ format, along the lines of my recent chat with Jamie Love, which seems to work better than the standard powerpoint + Q&A. Islamic Relief has some really interesting publications on Islamic approaches to […]

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20 years after the war, politics is frozen in Bosnia and Herzegovina: first impressions from last week’s visit

Just got back from a week visiting Oxfam Italy’s programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH from now on). It wasn’t what I expected. For a start, it never stopped raining (and I say this as an Englishman). And the traumatic war of 1992-95, which left some 100,000 dead (the exact figure is still disputed), and […]

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Where does power lie in a fragile state like Eastern Congo? What does it mean for aid organizations?

Here’s the last (at least for now) reflection on my recent trip to the DRC. The roads in DRC are extraordinary; a skeleton-rearranging, dental filling-loosening, vehicle disintegrating nightmare. From now on, when I talk about infrastructure and effective states, roads will be top of my list. In the rainy season, trucks charge $1200 to bump […]

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What should we do differently when an ‘emergency’ lasts for 20 years?

Second installment in my reflections on last week’s trip to the Eastern Congo The classic cliché of humanitarianism is the angel of mercy (usually white) jetting in to help the victims of a sudden catastrophe (earthquake, war, hurricane), helping them get back on their feet in a few months and then moving on to the next […]

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Impressions of humanitarianism (based on last week’s trip to the Eastern Congo)

Blimey, that was hard work. Still recovering from a ‘getting to know the humanitarians’ visit to Eastern Congo last week, having my skeleton rearranged by bouncing around for hours on truly execrable roads, and my insides rearranged by some persistent DRC microbes (I’ll spare you the details). I’ve always worked on the long term development […]

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Building women’s leadership in the most difficult places (Pakistan) – case study for your comments

Next in the series of draft case studies on active citizenship, some fascinating work on women’s empowerment in Pakistan. Any comments on this draft paper (RHV Pakistan consultation draft) greatly appreciated. Well known for its highly articulate and influential women, Pakistan is also notorious for the severe restrictions placed on women’s personal and political liberties. The […]

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When is redistribution popular? When people first see social conflict rising, apparently. Useful new research.

This recent ODI paper by Laura Rodriguez Takeuchi made my head hurt (heavy on methodology, light on narrative, for my taste) but I think it’s worth persevering with. Analysing perception data for over 15,000 individuals in 40 countries, it arrives at two main findings: 1. Perceptions of social conflict have a strong influence on people’s […]

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How 4 million people signed up to a campaign to end Violence against Women: case study for your comments

Next up in the draft case studies on ‘active citizenship’ is the story of an amazing campaign from South Asia and beyond. Please comment on the draft paper [We Can consultation draft May 2014]. We Can End All Violence Against Women (henceforward We Can) is an extraordinary, viral campaign on violence against women (VAW) in […]

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How can aid agencies help citizens reduce risks and fight for their rights in the middle of a war zone? Draft paper for your comments

Over the next few weeks, I will be picking your brains on the drafts of a series of case studies I’ve been working on. These draw from Oxfam’s experience of promoting ‘active citizenship’, broadly defined, and examine the theory of change, results, wider lessons etc. The final studies will be published later this year, after […]

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Now that’s what I call transformation: Latin America then and now, and Tony Benn RIP

For those of you yet to join the twitterati, here are two images that went viral when I tweeted them recently. First up, the presidents of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, now v 1970s (h/t @rabble). Amazing, eh? It’s actually a bit messier than that- the three military dudes are all Chilean (Messrs Leigh, Pinochet and […]

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