Hello 2023. Here are the Most-Read FP2P Blogs from the Last Year.

January 3, 2023

     By Duncan Green     

Hi there, hope you had a good break (if you took one). Mine was great – highlights included sorting out the spice cupboard and watching lots of really crap TV. Life in the fast lane eh?

Everyone else did their top blogs of 2022 before Christmas, but I’m coming in a bit late with mine to kick off 2023. In reverse order

10. Deconstructing this year’s Oxfam Davos report – what makes it so good?

9. Is behavioural economics (aka nudge theory) blocking the path to progress?

8. Thinking and working politically: What have we learned since 2013?

7. Rethinking monitoring, evaluation and learning in complex systems

6. Are we there yet? Five key insights on localisation as a journey towards locally-led  practice

5. East Africa v Ukraine. Two tragedies; two very different responses

4. ‘We the Helpers’. White Saviourism or a Smart Defence of Aid?

3. The Shameful Implosion of UK Aid

2. Theories of Change, the muddy middle, and what to do about assumptions

1. What to read on Ukraine?

Couple of thoughts:

First a health warning. All of these are from the first six months of the year because we had all sorts of tech interruptions after that. V annoying, but the wonderful James Heywood now seems to have got the site sorted (let us know of any remaining glitches, please).

This also meant the numbers of visitors fell year-on-year. I immediately went into ‘OMG, no-one wants to read (my) blogs any more’ mode, but James provided a welcome alternative explanation.

‘Traffic is lower in 2022, due to a variety of factors. The biggest of these:

  • In 2021 major security problems forced us to leave our home of 13 years for a temporary location. We had redirects in place but the move reduced Google’s trust in the website, resulting in a drop of 30% in traffic from Google searches in the second half of 2021 and all of 2022.
  • In July 2022 we had to move again – to a permanent location. This again reduced Google’s trust, and unavoidably broke 1000s of historical links into the website that brought visitors.

Google will grow its trust in the new location in the medium-term, and people will make cross links to the newer posts, replacing -in part – those historical links.’

All this stuff about earning Google’s trust is a bit beyond me, to be honest (and sounds pretty unpleasant), so in 2023 I’m just going to keep blogging and cross my fingers.

Second, readers continue to be attracted by an eclectic mix of posts – breaking stories (Ukraine, UK aid cuts), hot topics in aid (localization, white saviourism) and nerdy ‘inside baseball’ aid stuff – theories of change, thinking and working politically, complex systems. I will try and keep serving up a mix of all 3 next year, but the frequency of posting has fallen off a bit, due to pressure of work – sorry about that.

Third, one of the best bits about the blog are the comments – most posts get a minimum of 3 or 4, some many more than that. Keep them coming, please!

As ever, I’m up for suggestions for guest posts, but please note, I tend to avoid proposals from PR firms and my fellow OWMs (Old White Men). Just email me at dgreen[at]Oxfam[dot]org[uk]

January 3, 2023
Duncan Green


  1. Duncan,

    Happy New Year.

    Number 8 in your hit parade asks why Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) has not landed well with diplomatic colleagues. As a former diplomat-poacher turned development-gamekeeper I may be able to help. The issues are mainly human and not in fact either technical or political.

    When development colleagues propose a TWP approach in a programme, they are usually proposing something deep yet narrow. But the usual hunting ground for diplomats is broad yet shallow. A failure to understand each other and to recognise each others’ legitimate interests can lead to somewhat tetchy relations.

    And development colleagues often want input from their diplomatic colleagues NOW. You know what it is like: you are head down in some knotty problem of your own and someone wants something from you. Sometimes, a very human “not invented here” reaction kicks in. And diplomatic colleagues may also feel that their development colleagues are poaching on their ground by proposing what appears to be a political intervention rather than a politically informed intervention. When and how one seeks input matters just as much as why.

    At one level, the answer here is to understand the alignment between policy objectives and the range of tools at a governments disposal to achieve them. So – and I am not suggesting that this has been successful in any way – the merger of a development arm with a political arm might help to address this point.

    But merged or not, and aligned or not, the real issue is relationships and a sense of common purpose. Without these, the value of thinking and working politically both within a development programme and as part of a wider response is not achieved. TWP fails to land not because it is a bad idea but because the cultural changes necessary cannot be mandated from outside. People have to want it – or at the very least recognise that it potentially offers something they need.


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  2. Thank you Duncan.

    Over the years you have written so many thought provoking blogs and posted many excellent blogs from other people. I have learnt a great deal, and it has also helped me feel part of a bigger community – a community of people who are striving to learn more and work more effectively.

    Wishing you a fantastic 2023.

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  3. Yours is one of the few “dailies” (along with New Humanitarian) I either read, or intend to – even when I don’t click through I’m usually interested and often share them with others. So please keep them coming! Thank you for all the work.

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  4. Wholeheartedly echoing sentiments of Joe & Rachel. Having moved out of the formal development world, FP2P helps me feel still a bit in touch and is invariably thought-provoking – while reminding me that making change happen isn’t/shouldn’t be confined to any one ‘sector’. I read the blogs whenever I can, frequently share, and often bore my family about them! So yes please keep ’em coming

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