Topic: Conflict and Security

Why is Africa’s Civil Society under Siege?

Oxfam’s Ross Clarke (Governance and Legal Adviser ) and Desire Assogbavi (Resident Representative & Head of Office, Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union) introduce a new analysis of the threats to African civil society After years on the margins of the mainstream development agenda, addressing civic space is finally getting the attention it […]

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Fragility v Conflict – can you help with a new 2×2 please?

Struggling towards the finishing line on my paper on empowerment and accountability (E&A) in fragile and conflict- affected settings (FCAS) – thanks to everyone who commented on the first draft, by the way). It’s nearly there but I need your help with one particular section. I want to argue that lumping ‘fragile’ and ‘conflict’ together […]

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How can the international community help put women at the heart of bringing peace to South Sudan?

Oxfam’s Shaheen Chughtai reports back from a recent conversation at the UN Once in a while, the shroud of coded, diplomatic language that envelops discussions at the United Nations Security Council is ripped away by reality. On 25th October, it was the words of a women’s rights activist from conflict-ridden South Sudan, Rita Lopidia, which […]

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Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later […]

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Why aren’t ‘Diaries of the Poor’ a standard research tool?

I’ve been having lots of buzzy conversations about diaries recently. Not my own (haven’t done that since I was a teenager), but diaries as a research method. The initial idea came from one of my all-time favourite bits of bottom-up research, the book Portfolios of the Poor. Here are the relevant paras from my review: […]

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Big new research programme on empowerment and accountability in fragile settings gets under way – can you help choose its name?

Whatever happened to resting on your laurels?  The book’s just published, and I’m onto the next thing – a five year research consortium on empowerment and accountability in fragile and conflict settings (FCS). Spent 3 days recently with some sharp minds from an alphabet soup of project partners – IDS, ITAD, IDEAS, CSSR, PASGR and […]

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How can we make Disasters Dull? Book review

Oxfam Senior Humanitarian Policy Adviser Debbie Hillier can barely contain her excitement – today is International Day for Disaster Reduction. To celebrate, she reviews a new book on the issue While policy frameworks on Disaster Risk Reduction have proliferated – the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework – the practicality remains elusive. This is the issue […]

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Do we need to rethink Social Accountability? Thoughts from Myanmar

The main reason for my recent visit to Myanmar (apart from general nosiness) was to take part in a discussion on the role of social accountability (SA) in the rapidly opening, shifting politics of a country in transition from military rule. It got pretty interesting. The World Bank defines SA as ‘the extent and capability […]

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How do you critique a project proposal? Learning from the Experts

A confession – I’m not a programme person. I’ve never run a country programme, or spent aid money (apart from squandering a couple of million quid of DFID’s during my short spell there). So I really enjoyed a recent workshop in Myanmar where a group of real programme people (and me) were asked to critique an imaginary […]

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Is Trust the missing piece in a lot of development thinking?

I have a kind of mental radar that pings when a word starts cropping up in lots of different conversations. Recently it’s been ‘trust’, which surfaced throughout my recent trip to Myanmar, but also during a fun brainstorm with Andrew Barnett and Louisa Hooper, two systems thinkers from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The search for […]

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Is ‘fragile and conflict-affected state’ a useful way to describe Myanmar?

After spending ten days there earlier this month, I barely even understand the question any more. Nothing like reality for messing up your nice neat typologies, or in this case, complicating my efforts to finalise a paper with the catchy title of ‘theories of change for promoting empowerment and accountability in fragile and conflict-affected states […]

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What I’m doing in Myanmar – first vlogged installment

Just spent 3 days in Kachin state in the North, trying to get a slightly better understanding of the nature of Myanmar’s conflicts, and implications for trying to improve governance and accountability. Fascinating, but I won’t write anything just yet, as we have a 3 day conference on that topic this week, so will wait […]

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