ICYMI: Some summer highlights on FP2P

September 16, 2021

     By Duncan Green     

It has come to my attention that in some parts of the northern hemisphere, people were away during chunks of late July/August on some retro exercise apparently known as ‘holidays’. Mary Sue Smiaroski suggested I help with their re-entry by linking to some of the best FP2P posts they may have missed while away. No probs – always happy to do a bit of recycling. Here’s a combo of the most read and (from a purely personal take) the most interesting.

Top of the pops was Graham Teskey’s ‘In Praise of Logframes’, which managed to combine two forms of FP2P clickbait – techie and contrarian.

‘I am aware that logframes are out of fashion: references to the ‘tyranny of the logframe’ abound, its vertical determinism, and its lack of flexibility. But a good logframe will tell you most of what you need to know about any initiative: its purpose, its theory of change, how to measure progress and success, the sources of the data, and how the because statements will be tested.’

Also popular was Oxfam GB’s Chief Executive, Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, on ‘Why Oxfam is talking about race’:

There’s no blame game here. Being white does not make someone a racist, and nor are we saying that white people cannot experience poverty or be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin. And it shouldn’t need saying, but being anti-racist doesn’t make Oxfam ‘anti-white’. On the contrary, we want to build an inclusive global movement of people to overcome the injustice of poverty.’

I’m coming to the end of the ‘Bukavu Series’, a dozen or so posts by Congolese researchers, with a few Belgians thrown in, on the realities of life for ‘southern researchers’ in the DRC, accompanied by some wonderful cartoons from Tembo Kash. What it reveals is essentially a knowledge supply chain, riddled with asymmetries of power and resources, and often highly colonial in nature (see this piece by Judith Nshbole). But also some fascinating insights into the challenges of doing research in a war zone, if you come from that zone (e.g. Jérémie Mapatano Byakumbwa on should you cough up for beer for local officials, from your meagre research fees?).

“Bwana chercheur, bières zangu ziko wapi? Benzenu banatupatiyaka caisse, siku ingine ha!” (“Mr Researcher, where are my beers? Other researchers give us a whole case of beer; one of these days when you need my help again, you better watch out!”)

To avoid refusal of a future mission order, I finally gave him a sum of money equivalent to the cost of a few beers. In another area, we were less lucky and the local chief administrator held our mission orders for ransom. He locked them away in his desk and made it very clear that unless we offered him four cases of beer, we would not be allowed to have them – and would therefore be unable to begin our research.’ 

Mary Sue, who suggested this catch-up post, was particularly taken with ‘Weathering the storm: Defending Institutions in Post-Coup Myanmar’:

‘What does “institutional defending” involve?  Five things were key:  

  1. Changing partners and approaches fast
  2. Respecting different partners’ strategies
  3. Not just survival for survival’s sake
  4. Thinking short and long-term
  5. Having supportive flexible funders

Pablo Suarez made one of his welcome appearances on the blog, with ‘7 Cartoons that could just help the IPCC Save the Planet’

The IPCC’s findings are clear, rigorous, and very concerning, but they are couched in formal, technical language. So a team at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre has boiled them down into seven humanitarian insights, accompanied by cartoons.’

Finally, I wrote up one of my periodic check-ins with the Action for Empowerment and Accountability research consortium, which always throws up something new and interesting.

A fascinating programme of research explores energy protests, which kick off when fuel/transport/electricity prices suddenly rocket. These have occurred in many countries because governments are under intense pressure to remove fossil subsidies, so the protests are easily portrayed by donors and outsiders as essentially reactionary responses to unavoidable climate action (as well as getting rid of subsidies that overall are overwhelmingly pro-rich). That’s not how they look from the bottom up – fuel subsidies are one of the few tangible benefits poor people get from the state, and protests when they are suddenly taken away (often with little or no compensation) have an important impact on the social contract. We need to understand them in their own right, for example why/how they differ from food protests – they seem to erupt more rapidly and be more violent.’

That work has just produced a new IDS Working Paper, if you want to dig deeper.

Lots more good stuff over the course of the summer, so if you do have time, take a look at the rest too.

September 16, 2021
Duncan Green