The UK’s new Development Minister, Rory Stewart, is a genuine intellectual – here’s a review of his book on Fragile States and the Failings of Western Intervention

May 3, 2019
Rory Stewart became the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development on Wednesday. We now have a minister with a genuine commitment to, and knowledge of, international development – for the last two years he has ducked out of his ministerial duties to come to speak to my LSE students. After his first lecture, I reviewed his book on fragile

How does DFID work with non-state power holders (armed groups, faith organizations, traditional chiefs) in messy places? Interview with Wilf Mwamba

July 31, 2018
One of the highlights of the recent conference on accountability and empowerment in fragile/conflict states (see Friday’s post) was hanging out with a true ‘development entrepreneur’, Wilf Mwamba. Wilf is a rising star in DFID, set up some of the most interesting ‘adaptive management’ programmes in Nigeria, and has been in the DRC for the last 18 months, as Team

Escaping the Fragility Trap? Why is it so hard to think constructively about fragile states?

July 19, 2018
Just been reading the report of the ‘Commission on Fragility, Growth and Development’. Hosted by LSE and Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government; big name chairs (David Cameron, Donald Kaberuka and the LSE’s Adnan Khan). And I think it’s a bit disappointing. But the reasons for that are actually quite interesting and instructive. First the positives. Above all, the report’s recognition

Book Review: Navigation by Judgment, by Dan Honig

July 6, 2018
As its subtitle, ‘Why and When Top-Down Management of Foreign Aid Doesn’t Work’, suggests, this is an addition to the growing library of books on aid reform. And a very useful one. Honig is a hybrid scholar-practitioner, with dirt under his fingernails in East Timor and Liberia, and the book is for aid insiders, whether practitioners or scholars, focusing on

Why the Aid Community needs to step up on Fragile/Conflict States

February 16, 2018
Everyone in the aid biz is talking fragile and conflict affected states these days (FCAS – I’ve given up on trying to get everyone to adopt FRACAS….). That’s partly because that’s where poor people will predominantly be in a couple of decades time, as more stable places grow their way out of extreme poverty, and partly because of the link

What should the IMF do differently in Fragile/Conflict States?

October 5, 2017
Took part in a really interesting discussion about the role of the IMF in fragile states last week. Chatham House rule, so no names, no institutions. The Fund works in fragile states in 3 main ways – it lends money to governments, it trains officials and it tracks and reports on government economic performance (‘surveillance’). Although its lending is often

Please comment on this draft paper: theories of change on empowerment and accountability in fragile states

August 23, 2016
Ouch. My brain hurts. I’ve spent the last month walled up at home writing a paper on ‘Theories of change on empowerment and accountability in fragile and conflict-affected states’ (acronym heaven – ToCs on E&A in FCAS). Pulse racing yet? It’s one of a series of inception papers for a big research consortium on E&A in FCAS, which Oxfam is

I need your help: Theories of Change for promoting Empowerment/Accountability in Fragile States

July 27, 2016
I love the summer lull. Everyone heads off for holidays, there are no meetings, so I can get my head down and write. Last year, it was wrestling How Change Happens to the finishing line. This year is less cosmic, but still interesting, and I need your help. Subject: Theories of change for Empowerment and Accountability (E&A) programming in Fragile and