I like to kick off a new year on the blog by looking back to the one that’s just ended. I have to say, 2020 was in some ways a vintage year for bloggers (if not for anyone else). Lots of people stuck at home, with nothing better to do than surf social media, I guess. FP2P’s total numbers came in at 436,000 ‘unique visitors’ – separate IP addresses registered by Google Analytics, each one counted once, no matter how many times they visit. That’s 20% more than the previous best year (354,070 in 2019).
A lot of that was down to Uganda.
First up, at the end of March we ran a ‘Coronavision Song Contest’, asking people to pick the best from our selection of the world’s best public service videos around hand-washing etc. Check them out – they’re really good. Just a bit of fun, but then an ally of Bobi Wine, the Ugandan rapper and opposition leader, got involved. Facebook Blogger Ashburg Katto (Bobi even visited him at the police station during his recent arrest) informed his many followers that the winning entry was going to be the ‘official WHO soundtrack for sensitizing about sanitizing’ and urged them to vote. All hell broke loose. As of now, Bobi Wine had 98.33% of the 10,472 votes cast. In 12 years, the blog has never traffic like this. Thanks Your Excellency, and hope you don’t keep getting arrested for campaigning in the run up to next week’s elections.
So not surprising that Uganda made its first appearance in FP2P’s top 10 countries for readers.
Back to the greatest hits.
Third came Why Confront COVID-19 with Cartoons and Humour? by Pablo Suarez. This was linked to another fun competition to pick the best Covid cartoons (these competitions are obviously click-bait, especially during lockdown – anyone got any suggestions for more?).
A lot of the remaining top ten were linked to the aid sector’s profound soul-searching in the wake of Black Lives Matter, and following years of critiques of aid’s ‘white saviour complex’.
How can Covid-19 be the catalyst to decolonise development research? By ODI’s Melanie Pinet and Carmen Leon-Himmelstine was the fourth most read post of the year.
Fifth came one of my colleague Maria Faciolince’s amazing resources lists: #PowerShifts Resources: Anti-Racism in Development and Aid.
Sixth was a guest post from Mwanahamisi Singano, a feminist activist in Tanzania, entitled How to stop Coronavirus Lockdown Leading to an Upsurge in Violence Against Women.
Seventh came Kate Raworth, as she launched her Doughnut Economics Action Lab.
More soul-searching at number nine, with Oxfam’s Transformation and the Future of International NGOs: a podcast and transcript of my conversation with my boss Danny Sriskandarajah, of Oxfam GB.
Finally, at number 10, came 5 Common Mistakes when NGOs start strategizing, in which I summarized a bunch of conversations with various INGOs.
What do I take from all this? That blogging is alive and well, especially if you keep it fun, but that the aid sector has entered a prolonged period of deep self-doubt and introversion. That, I’m sure, is largely warranted, but I worry if it takes up all the oxygen when the world is both in a mess, and on the brink of profound changes. Yes we need to put our house in order, but we also need to be out there, helping people make a difference.
Wonder what 2021 will bring?