Some of the big hits and misses from 16 years of blogging on FP2P

April 29, 2024

     By Duncan Green     

As part of its preparations for the post-Dexit blog, Oxfam is asking readers to give us their thoughts via this survey. Here’s the blurb: ‘There are changes coming to the From Poverty to Power blog and Oxfam’s other channels for sharing ideas and evidence with those who work in, research, fund and have an interest in this sector. We would like to find out your views; how you access news from across the sector, what you think of the channels offered, and what you would like to see.’ Spare a few minutes of yr time?

Back to the blog. As part of processing my impending departure from Oxfam, I have gone back to read the early posts on FP2P. I managed 2008-10 before slumping into a coma (there are 3,500 of them….), but that was enough to prompt a few thoughts.

I started off wondering if I could identify where posts or series of posts have had impact, and where they haven’t, but of course, attributing any given change to a few blogs is impossible, with a couple of exceptions (see below). What was more interesting was to see where the blog aligned with the zeitgeist – the endless churn of ideas and practice in the development sector, and where I was (apologies) pissing in the wind.

There’s also a distinction between successfully changing the debate and seeing that translate into changing practice on the ground (looking at you, IMF).

So here’s ten hits and ten misses, with links to the earliest/best post I could find on each – I imagine people will disagree with where I’ve put them (a lot of the ‘misses’ may merely be work in progress), feel free to have one last go in comments!


The two things I think I can claim some level of attribution for on is getting people to think about diaries as a research tool, and triggering a big Cash Transfer NGO, namely GiveDirectly, by talking about Oxfam’s Cash for Coffins programme in Vietnam to a group of Harvard students that who included Paul Niehaus, who thought ‘why not give this a go?’ If I had extended my reading beyond 2010, I would also have hit the early discussions on Doing Development Differently/Thinking and Working Politically/Adaptive Management (see Heather Marquette‘s great piece on the similarities and differences between them all), where I think the blog has been part of a useful insurgency movement within the aid sector.

Pretty thin pickings for 15 years of blogging, so if you know of any other signs of impact, please say!


Finally, a few random blogs that I had forgotten but really enjoyed rediscovering:

Overall impressions? It feels like the world (politics, tech) has evolved much faster than the aid sector hivemind – I was surprised to find so many current debates already surfacing 15 years ago. And there was more room for humour back then – things feel more careful these days.

Over to you guys – any other threads or posts you want to remind me/us of?

April 29, 2024
Duncan Green


  1. Yes to diaries:-) We have been looking illuminatingly at Small Firms and finding out many things we did not know before and yes, on longitudinal studies, it is very hard work, though we have a number of attempts to revisit interventions that support small firms on the go, 5-10 years out, in Colombia, Mexico and Nigeria.

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  2. I wonder why ageing hasn’t caught up given ongoing demographic changes in many countries. There are very few development organizations solely focused on the issue. Even among giant organizations, there are very few with consistent programming on ageing and the consolidation of a rights-violation approach to the issue. In Brazil, ageing is being discussed by social impact startups (which makes for an interesting case study). What will be the impacts of that oversight in the near future?

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      Yeah, you’d think the ‘grey dollar’ would get a lot more interest, Athayde. A lot of ageism under the surface, I fear.

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