International Guidelines for Problem Solving (and see you in 2014)

December 20, 2013
What to post before I head off for the Christmas and New Year purgatory of family rows and overeating welcome holiday? Nick Pialek comes to the rescue with this outrageous set of deeply shocking national stereotypes, doing its rounds on the interwebs recently. Enjoy (and test your knowledge of flags). Back in January.

The state of the world’s older people: A smart new index on a rising development priority

December 19, 2013
I’ve been catching up on the backlog of books and papers that spread like an oil slick across my floor, and have come across a couple of gems (as well as some seasonal turkeys). Top of the heap is the Global AgeWatch Index 2013, (c/o the indefatigable Sylvia Beales). It’s a smart attempt by HelpAge International to get some proper

Bob Diamond v Dani Rodrik on Africa’s growth prospects

December 18, 2013
Two diametrically opposed views of Africa appeared in my e-intray on the same day this week. The Financial Times reported that Bob Diamond, ex-boss of scandal-plagued Barclays Bank, had secured the preliminary support of several big institutional investors for Atlas Mara, his planned $250m cash shell, targeting the African banking sector. The FT gushed ‘Africa offers growth potential on a vast

DfID gets a red light on aid for trade: how will it respond?

December 17, 2013
Oxfam aid wonk Nicola McIvor explores a highly critical report on one of DfID’s flagship programmes The problem with being committed to independent evaluation and transparency is that you risk being beaten up in public when things go wrong. Oxfam is accustomed to having our own evaluations quoted against us, which is exactly what happened to DFID last week, when

Poor countries are losing $1 trillion a year to illicit capital flows – 7 times the volume of aid

December 16, 2013
I was surprised not to see more coverage of last week’s hard-hitting report from the Global Financial Integrity watchdog. Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011 has a whole bunch of killer facts about the escalating haemorrhage of wealth from poor countries. Here are some highlights. My additions in square brackets/italics: “We estimate that illicit financial outflows from the developing

What is ‘leverage’? Anatomy of a fuzzword

December 13, 2013
A few of us were asked recently to unpack one of this year’s fuzzwords – leverage. A fuzzword is a buzzword, but fuzzier – all things to all people etc. So here’s what we came up with – not final, work in progress etc. Leverage is working strategically with others in a ‘clever’ way, in order to lever a bigger

How can campaigners tap corporate largesse without undermining their credibility? Unlocking millions for advocacy

December 12, 2013
It’s great to be accidentally topical. In the week that Save the Children had to fend off allegations of letting corporate funding influence its campaigns, here’s Oxfam America’s Chris Jochnick (@cjochnick) suggesting a way to accept money (in this case from extractive industries) while staying demonstrably independent Oxfam was recently approached by a major mining company to help it implement

Big food companies are moving from charity to rights. With one exception – Associated British Foods

December 11, 2013
Erinch Sahan (right), a private sector policy advisor at Oxfam GB, brings us up to date with the Behind the Brands campaign, and one particularly recalcitrant company. This is a story of a campaign on Big Food. A campaign successful in moving a bunch of companies, but struggling with one in particular. It is a story of corporate responsibility, of

The living wage campaign: are we reaching a tipping point in global supply chains?

December 10, 2013
It’s private sector week here on FP2P. First up, NGOs have been pushing the living wage in their engagement with international companies for at least 15 years, but Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager reckons we might be on the verge of some kind of victory. The issue of a living wage is going up the corporate responsibility agenda. Last

Ending poverty is about the politics of power: guest piece for the OECD

December 9, 2013
This guest rant of mine appeared in the OECD’s Development Cooperation Report 2013, published last week. The report, subtitled ‘Ending Poverty‘, is worth a skim – it’s a good survey of current debates on poverty and aid, with contributions from piles of wonks, followed by a donor-by-donor aid overview. A necessary starting point in any discussion of ending poverty is

Nkosi Sikelel Iafrika: Nelson Mandela RIP

December 6, 2013
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista

An Uncertain Glory: Dreze and Sen’s fantastic introduction to India and its Contradictions

December 5, 2013
India dominates many debates on development – home to a third of the world’s absolute (<$1.25 a day) poor, the world’s biggest democracy, an emerging power with a space programme, a buzzing beehive of political and social activism and experimentation. With their new book, An Uncertain Glory, Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen have given us a brilliant introduction to India’s