What about the 1 in 7? Important progress in getting DFID (and other donors) to get serious on disability

April 10, 2014
Disability campaigners Mosharraf Hossain and Julia Modern on a new report on disability and development Back in 1988, I was denied a job in the Bangladesh civil service. This wasn’t because I didn’t have the skills to do the job – I had a Masters in Economics from the University of Dhaka – but because I am disabled. I contracted

What’s the future role and structure of aid and aid donors? Some options

April 9, 2014
Yesterday saw the announcement that foreign aid has defied economic and political gravity and reached a record high of $135bn in 2013. The news came as I headed off for a fascinating discussion on reforming the aid system at the ODI. Under Chatham House rules alas, so no names or institutions (ODI gave me a pass on crediting them as hosts),

“Parlez-vous politics?” Or why working politically is like learning a language

April 8, 2014
Alina Rocha Menocal of the ODI introduces her new paper The world of development assistance has come a long way since James Ferguson published his searing critique of the aid establishment in The Anti-Politics Machine: ‘Development,’ Depoliticization and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho in 1994. The (gradual) evolution that different international development actors have undergone to better understand the politics of

What are the limits of transparency and technology? From three gurus of the openness movement (Eigen, Rajani, McGee)

April 7, 2014
After a slightly disappointing ‘wonkwar’ on migration, let’s try a less adversarial format for another big development issue: Transparency and Accountability. I have an instinctive suspicion of anything that sounds like a magic bullet, a cost-free solution, or motherhood and apple pie in general. So the current surge in interest on open data and transparency has me grumbling and sniffing

Now that’s what I call transformation: Latin America then and now, and Tony Benn RIP

April 5, 2014
For those of you yet to join the twitterati, here are two images that went viral when I tweeted them recently. First up, the presidents of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, now v 1970s (h/t @rabble). Amazing, eh? It’s actually a bit messier than that- the three military dudes are all Chilean (Messrs Leigh, Pinochet and Merino), but the generals were

‘How DFID Learns’. Or doesn’t. UK aid watchdog gives it a ‘poor’ (but the rest of us would probably do worse)

April 4, 2014
The UK Department for International Development’s independent watchdog, the  Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), has a report out today on ‘how DFID learns’. Or doesn’t. Because the report is critical and gives DFID an overall ‘amber-red’ assessment, defined as ‘programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made’. I’m

The link between Income Inequality and Public Services is stronger than I realized (thanks to Emma Seery for putting me straight)

April 3, 2014
Oxfam has been banging on to good effect recently about extreme global inequality in income and wealth. Over many years, we have also been making the case for universal health and education. It turns out the link between the two is stronger than I’d realized, according to ‘Working for the Many: Public Services fight Inequality’, a new paper published today.

Are ‘serious games’ a better way to prepare for climate change than scenario planning?

April 2, 2014
Had a nice little lightbulb moment last week, when I spoke at a meeting to launch yet another ODI paper. This one, ‘Planning for an Uncertain Future’ summarized some work by ACCRA (the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance), of which Oxfam is a member. The lightbulb in question was making a connection between two issues discussed in previous blog posts:

Missing in Action: Why do NGOs Shy Away From Geopolitics?

April 1, 2014
Didier Jacobs, my strategic adviser equivalent at Oxfam America, wonders why this blog hasn’t mentioned some of the big geopolitical events of recent weeks, and what it says about NGO advocacy. Last month, a significant event inflected the world order: Russia invaded Crimea. Not a word about it in these columns so far. Whether their mission is poverty alleviation, environment