Tag Archives: ngos

Complexity v Simplicity: the challenge for Campaigners and Reformers

Had a few thought-provoking conversations on this last week. I increasingly see most problems (social, political, economic) as complex, i.e. arising from multiple causes in interconnected systems, often highly dependent on the specific context and history of any given place/population. My campaigner friends generally hate such talk, because their gut feeling is that it makes taking action to change the world much more difficult. We …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Research into Use: how can Climate Change Researchers have more Impact?

Following on the recent kerfuffle about ‘research impact’ (see original and follow up posts), I spent some time chatting to climate researchers in Cape Town about ‘research into use’ (RiU, basically the same thing). The researchers are part of ASSAR, a consortium (of which Oxfam is a member) working across Africa and India with a big focus (30% of its project weighting) on RiU. Feel …

Posted in Aid & Development, Climate Change, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Aidspeak: some of your best/worst responses to my call for examples

Well you took a few hours to get started in response to Tuesday’s post, but then the floodgates opened and an avalanche of bullshit crashed over me via blog comments and tweets (and yes, mixed metaphors were discussed). Cheers guys. Within the aid business, a few patterns appear: Management obfuscation which sheds almost no light on what is actually being discussed This from ‘NGO worker …

Posted in Aid & Development | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Empowerment and Accountability in Messy Places. Need your advice on Nigeria, Pakistan, Myanmar…

My post-book research plans are shaping up, so it’s time to ask for your advice. As well as the work I blogged about recently on Public Authority in fragile/conflict-affected settings, I’m doing some research with Oxfam and Itad on how ‘adaptive management’ plays out in those same settings. Here’s the blurb: ‘There is much hype and attention given to new models of development programming that …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health, Research | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

How will we know if the SDGs are having any impact?

As long time readers of the blog will know, I’ve been a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) sceptic since long before they were even agreed. However, I’ve been hearing a fair amount about them recently – people telling me that governments North and South, companies and city administrations are using them to frame public commitments and planning and reporting against them. So maybe it’s time to …

Posted in Aid & Development, Climate Change, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

The case against optimism: A Harvard Law Prof critiques How Change Happens

Last week I had the ‘on the psychotherapist’s couch’ experience of having the assumptions behind How Change Happens put under the microscope by two very big brains – Harvard’s David Kennedy and LSE’s Stephen Humphreys. This was part of a joint LSE/ODI seminar on ‘new experimentalism’ (which seems to be the legal studies equivalent of Adaptive Management).  I thought their critiques were brilliant (and lyrical …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health, Policy & Systems | Also tagged , | Comments closed

The imaginary advocate, the benefits of Command and Control, and why I’m just channelling…

Continuing the download from the recent LSE-ODI workshop on ‘new experimentalism’ was this thought-provoking description by David Kennedy of the ‘imaginary advocate’, the assumed individual behind How Change Happens and, by extension, a lot of NGO advocacy. Might be a very interesting addition to the endless awaydays, strategic planning processes etc to ask people to try and spell out the imaginary subjects of their own …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

There was never a better time for the US to leave global climate talks

Op-ed by Tim Gore, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research of Oxfam’s GROW Campaign Oxfam began campaigning for a global climate agreement in 2007. We have sent teams to every COP and every single negotiating session ever since. Along with many partners and allies, we have held stunts, published papers, generated media coverage, lobbied incessantly and mobilised many many thousands of people to push governments …

Posted in Aid & Development, Climate Change, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Draft Paper on Adaptive Management in Oxfam – all comments welcome

With a few important exceptions, large international NGOs have been pretty absent from the global conversation about ‘Doing Development Differently’, but are they doing it anyway and just skipping the meetings? To find out, a group of LSE Masters Students analysed a bunch of case studies of Oxfam programmes claiming to pursue ‘adaptive management’ approaches. Their report is so interesting that we want to publish …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

What does Feminist Social Innovation look like?

Guest post from Chloe Safier In the global development world, there are a lot of conversations about social innovation and (separately) a lot of discussions about feminist approaches to development and women’s rights. Social innovation labs, incubators and accelerators are popping up everywhere, from San Francisco to Beirut to Delhi. Major development actors like the Gates Foundation are issuing ‘challenges’ to advance innovation and cultivate …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health, Technology | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

‘I don’t need a Plan, I need a better Radar’ – how can we rethink Strategic Planning?

I was in Washington this week helping the International Budget Partnership think about its future direction. There’s a certain rhythm to these exercises – some research on external trends, consultation with partners and staff, maybe bring in some outside facilitators, then sit down and say ‘so what should we be doing differently?’ These days, there is often an initial session on complexity and systems thinking, but …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health, Policy & Systems | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Street Spirit, an anthology of protest that both moved me to tears and really bugged me

Street Spirit: the Power of Protest and Mischief, by Steve Crawshaw is a book that left me deeply confused. As I read it on a recent train ride, I experienced an alarming level of cognitive dissonance. The uplifting stories of resistance, courage, uprising, revolution etc moved me to tears (something I can best describe as ‘political crying’ – awkward in public places). At the same …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Why is so little being done to stop traffic killing 1.25m people per year, and costing 3% of…

Part of my purpose in life is to puff good new papers from the ODI, and it’s been a while, so here goes. Work in the aid business and you regularly hear grisly tales of deaths, injuries and near misses of colleagues and partners on the roads of the developing world. In Peru, I once had the disorienting experience of seeing the rear wheel of …

Posted in Aid & Development, General Global Health | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine, who each contributed chapters. …

Posted in Aid & Development, Equity & Access, General Global Health, Social | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed