Blogging about development: some tips for NGOs and would-be bloggers

October 15, 2013
Blogging about blogging – the ultimate in cyber-narcissism. Last week Twaweza invited me in to their office to pick my brains on their impending launch into the blogosphere, so I thought I’d turn my notes into a quick post (and cribsheet for future talks). I’ll try to avoid duplication with my last post on ‘why blog’ – this is more

A new consensus on universal health coverage, the threat posed by health insurance schemes and some bizarre conference dancing

October 14, 2013
Oxfam health policy adviser Ceri Averill ponders the new consensus on Universal Health Coverage and the potential threat posed by health insurance schemes It has got to be one of the more memorable and surreal ends to a conference I’ve ever seen. After four days of serious policy discussions about health financing and universal health coverage (aka ‘UHC’), the 2012

Last word to Twaweza: Varja Lipovsek and Rakesh Rajani on How to Keep the Ambition and Complexity, Be Less Fuzzy and Get More Traction

October 11, 2013
Twaweza’s Varja Lipovsek, (Learning, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager) and Rakesh Rajani (Head), respond to this week’s series of posts on their organization’s big rethink. That Duncan Green dedicated three posts on Twaweza’s ‘strategic pivot’ may signal that our work and theory of change are in real trouble, but we prefer to take it as a sign that these issues are

The war for Twaweza’s soul: the hunger for clarity and certainty v the demands of complexity

October 10, 2013
This is the last in a series of three posts on Twaweza, a fascinating NGO doing some pioneering work on accountability in East Africa, whose big navel gaze I attended last week. Post one covered Twaweza’s theory of change and initial evaluation results; yesterday I got onto the critique of its thinking and action to date. Today I’m digging deeper

So what should Twaweza do differently? How accountability work is evolving

October 9, 2013
Yesterday I sketched out the theory of change and initial findings on the first four years of work by an extraordinary East African NGO, Twaweza. Today I’ll move on to what some NGO people (but thankfully no-one in Dar es Salaam last week) insist on calling ‘the learnings’ about the flaws and gaps in its original theory of change (described

Twaweza, one of the world’s cutting edge accountability NGOs

October 8, 2013
Rakesh Rajani is an extraordinary man, a brilliant, passionate Asian Tanzanian with bottle-stopper glasses and a silver tongue. The persuasive eloquence may stem from his teenage years as an evangelical preacher, but these days he weaves his spells to promote transparency, active citizenship and the work of Twaweza, the organization he founded in 2009. Rakesh is a classic example of

What’s the link between human rights and cooking, cleaning and caring and why does it matter?

October 7, 2013
Thalia Kidder, Oxfam’s Senior Adviser on Women’s Economic Rights, welcomes a new UN report that links unpaid care work, poverty, inequality and women’s rights People working on violations of human rights often find it a stretch to put housework, childcare and fetching water and fuelwood alongside evictions from ancestral lands, rape or unjustly emprisoning and torturing activists. Likewise, for those

Unpacking India’s historic new Food Security law

October 4, 2013
M. Kumaran, Oxfam India’s food justice program coordinator, unpacks India’s historic new Food Security Act On 2nd September, 2013 the Indian Parliament ushered in a new legally-enforceable regime in India’s struggle against hunger through the historic National Food Security Act 2013. The Act injects more resources into India’s food and nutrition programmes and establishes an independent grievance redress system for

What does your project plan most resemble – baking a cake, landing a rocket on the moon, or raising a child?

October 3, 2013
One of the main obstacles to having a decent conversation about the implications of complex systems for how we ‘do’ development (donorship, programming, advocacy, campaigns etc) is the language itself. Complexity geeks may get a kick out of saying ‘it’s all complex/context specific etc etc’, but more normal/practical people tend to find such language offputting and disempowering. Often, they don’t

What Can Vietnam’s excellent schools teach us about education quality and equality?

October 2, 2013
This guest post comes from Jo Boyden, Director of the Young Lives study at Oxford University’s Department of International Development. Alongside economic growth, the huge dash for education is fuelling massive expectations among the swelling youth populations in developing countries. Dramatic expansion of education systems over the past few decades has been accompanied by an international push for universal access

Why on earth is Barclays (still) cutting the remittance lifeline to Somalia?

October 1, 2013
Oxfam’s tame ex-banker Will Martindale wonders what on earth Barclays is up to in cutting the remittance lifeline to Somalia “I can skype my mum, and see her, and watch her go hungry, fall ill. But they’re saying I can’t transfer money for food or to see a doctor. How can that be?” Istarlin lives in South London. She’s one