Two great new books on Africa

Just got back from launching the book in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia (more of that later). Between powerpoints, I read two great but contrasting new books on the region, both by ‘muzungus’, as whites are known in East Africa.

By admin December 2, 2008 Off

What needs to happen in the climate change talks in Poznan?

Two new Oxfam papers set the scene for the climate change talks getting under way in Poznan this week. ‘Climate, Poverty and Justice’gives an overview, while ‘Turning Carbon into Gold’ crunches some numbers on how to raise the kinds of amounts needed to finance adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

By admin December 2, 2008 Off

What's the development debate like in Australia?

I’ve just finished a week of debates, seminars and book launches in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. My overall impressions include firstly the huge importance of policy debates over Australia’s Indigenous peoples on wider development thinking, not least because meetings in government, academia and NGOs now begin with the chair intoning variations on the formula ‘I…

By admin December 2, 2008 Off

A youtube's worth a thousand words

My kids introduced me to youtube, mainly through happy family moments watching unfortunate things happen to cats. But now Oxfam’s amazing audiovisual team have boiled down 500 pages of ‘From Poverty to Power’ into a 2 minute video. The team is led by film maker Sandhya Suri, who made an award-winning documentary about her family,…

By admin December 1, 2008 Off

Is the Buzzword mightier than the Sword?

‘When ideas fail, words come in very handy’. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) By coincidence, I’ve been doing a lot of seminar-ing this last week, mostly under Chatham House rules (see previous post). When you’re sat in a room full of policy wonks, one of the more enjoyable pastimes is jotting down all the new candidates…

By admin December 1, 2008 Off

Fixing Failed States

Just finished the book of this title by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart. It left me with a mixture of excitement and frustration – excitement because it sets out some good ideas on state-building, frustration because it doesn’t quite live up to the title and is sloppily edited, with whole chunks repeated verbatim, wandering narrative…

By admin February 23, 2008 Off