What happened when we put a draft book online and asked for comments? Report back on How Change Happens consultation

December 22, 2015
So the consultation on the draft of my forthcoming How Change Happens book is over, the draft has been removed from the website (if you want to read it, you’ll have to wait til the book comes out next October). How did it go? The draft went live at the end of October, allowing for six weeks of consultation before

Links I Liked (and happy Christmas Elsie)

December 21, 2015
Wonderful readers’ selection of their favourite New Yorker cartoons. Enjoy.  What Should We Do About Inequality? Fascinating reflection from Harvard’s Ricardo Hausman ‘Since our campaign, we had seen a 90% reduction in LRA killings’. Relive the mind-blowing hubris of Invisible Children (of Kony 2012 fame), and a classic illustration of failing to distinguish between causation and correlation 100 key research questions for the post-2015 development

How to ensure increased aid to fragile/conflict states actually benefits poor people?

December 18, 2015
Following the UK government’s announcement of an increase in spending on aid for fragile states, Ed Cairns, outlines Oxfam’s experience in fragile states and the potential lessons for the future. The announcement that the UK will spend 50% of its aid budget in fragile states was made in the aftermath of the terrible atrocities in Paris, Beirut and Bamako. But it’s also the

Will the Sustainable Development Goals make a difference on the ground? Lessons from a 5 country case study on the MDGs

December 17, 2015
I’ve long been baffled/appalled by the lack of decent research on the impact of the MDGs at national level. Sure there’s lots of data gathering, and reports on how fast access to education or health is improving or poverty is falling, but that’s definitely not the same thing as finding out whether/how the MDGs in particular are responsible for the

Is Paris more like Kyoto or Montreal?

December 16, 2015
Celine Charveriat, (@MCcharveriat) Oxfam’s Director of Advocacy & Campaigns, looks at what happens next and when/why international agreements actually get implemented. As the ink of the new Paris agreement is not yet dry, many are wondering whether this partly-binding package, which is not a treaty, stands any chance of reaching its target of capping global warming at a maximum 1.5

How on earth can you measure resilience? A wonk Q&A

December 15, 2015
Resilience is one of today’s omnipresent development fuzzwords, applied to individuals, communities, businesses, countries, ideas and just about everything else. But how can it best be measured? To plug their new paper on the topic, Oxfam’s measurement wonks Jonathan Lain (left) and Rob Fuller (right) argue with their imaginary non-wonk friend…… So they’ve let the beancounters loose on resilience now.

Links I Liked

December 14, 2015
Christmas looms, but how do you tell Santa from Spiderman? Geek humour via @patronsaintofcats Good tips on how to improve collaboration between academics/researchers and practitioners – because we need each other. Malaria deaths have halved since 2000 (438,000 in 2015; 839,000 in 2000), according to new WHO figures What refugees ask IRC staff when they reach Europe. No 1: ‘where am

Of MPs, chiefs and churches: Vanuatu’s parallel governance systems

December 11, 2015
This second installment of posts on my recent trip to Vanuatu covers the country’s dual (or even triple) systems of governance. Vanuatu’s parallel systems came into sharp relief when we left the capital, Port Vila, and headed for the village of Epau, passing the tree wreckage of Cyclone Pam en route. Conversations in the capital had all been about government, parliament and

Why Paris must succeed – a brilliant video message from space

December 10, 2015
Heading into the final 24 hours (ahem…) of the Paris Climate Change negotiations, I wish the sleep deprived ministers and sherpas on whose decisions our collective fate rests could find 8 minutes to watch this brilliant message from the world’s astronauts And here’s Alex Evans with a bit of background

China’s rise, Cyclone politics and extreme patronage: Impressions of Vanuatu

December 10, 2015
As part of their support for the How Change Happens book, the Aussie government is also giving me a crash course in development in the Pacific. Last year, they took me to Papua New Guinea (blogs here), then last week, I headed for Vanuatu (small island archipelago, 270,000 population, best known – at least in the UK – for one

How assets + training can transform the lives of ultra-poor women: new evidence from Bangladesh

December 9, 2015
People are often very rude about ‘big push’ approaches to development – the idea that you can kickstart a country (or a millennium village) by simultaneously shoving in piles of different projects, technical assistance and cash. The approach hasn’t got a great track record, but now a kind of micro Big Push, targeting the ‘ultra poor’ in a range of

Have those hard-won accountability reforms had any impact?

December 8, 2015
I hate gated journals, but Kate Macdonald (left) and May Miller-Dawkins (right) have kindly offered to summarize the main points from some recent contributions to the Global Policy Journal on the impact (if any) of accountability reforms in aid Many readers of this blog may have spent part of the 1990s and 2000s campaigning for increased transparency and accountability from the World