How Oxfam and Save changed US aid on local ownership: nice case study in influencing

I do love it when NGOs are taken by surprise in a good way – getting results in unexpected ways, rather than grinding through the plan. A neat example came up at Oxfam’s recent Evidence for Influencing conference. Here’s what happened. Oxfam America and Save the Children wanted to persuade USAID to do more on ‘local ownership’ of aid. It’s a bipartisan issue in the …

What does the rapidly changing face of UK and global aid look like, and what is at stake? 

Oxfam aid wonk Gideon Rabinowitz (who really needs to get a new mugshot) reads the tea leaves of the latest UK aid stats Anyone following aid discussions in recent years will have sensed the mood music changing. They have been increasingly dominated by an emphasis on economic development, the role of the private sector, securing results (including for taxpayers) and addressing donor strategic interests (e.g. …

What does the rapidly changing face of UK and global aid look like, and what is at stake? 

Oxfam aid wonk Gideon Rabinowitz (who really needs to get a new mugshot) reads the tea leaves of the latest UK aid stats Anyone following aid discussions in recent years will have sensed the mood music changing. They have been increasingly dominated by an emphasis on economic development, the role of the private sector, securing results (including for taxpayers) and addressing donor strategic interests (e.g. …

Winning Ugly and Learning from the Bad Guys: Discussing How Change Happens with the Greens

Had an HCH session with some extremely smart wonks at the Green Alliance last week. I gave my standard talk, focussing on a ‘Power and Systems Approach’. This argues that for activism to be more in line with messy, emergent realities, activists need to change their way of working to give greater weight to: Curiosity – Study history and context; ‘learn to dance with the …

Winning Ugly and Learning from the Bad Guys: Discussing How Change Happens with the Greens

Had an HCH session with some extremely smart wonks at the Green Alliance last week. I gave my standard talk, focussing on a ‘Power and Systems Approach’. This argues that for activism to be more in line with messy, emergent realities, activists need to change their way of working to give greater weight to: Curiosity – Study history and context; ‘learn to dance with the …

A wonderful book by Jean Dreze, India’s Orwell

Notes from my talk at last week’s launch of Jean Drèze’s new book, Sense and Solidarity. Has anyone written Jean Drèze’s biography? If not, why not? A fascinating figure, surrounded by myths and legends (did he really sleep rough in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the square next to LSE, when he was a lecturer there?). He’s a wonderful writer who reminds me of George Orwell, with …

Links I Liked

Don’t forget to take the FP2P Readers Survey. Only takes 5 minutes, honest, and there’s prizes….. Being poor often means living with constant shame. Efforts to mitigate poverty must recognize the importance of self-respect – or risk perpetuating the problem they seek to solve. Excellent from Keetie Roelen at IDS ‘An unconditional cash transfer was found to reduce the odds of having any illness by an …

Kevin Watkins on the power of stigma and shame as a driver of change

Kevin Watkins, a fellow Prof in Practice at the LSE, came along to talk to my students last week (review by Masters student Haisley Wert here). Kevin is a bit of a research and campaigning legend in the aid biz – the brains behind a lot of epic Oxfam campaigns on trade and debt in the early noughties, he went on to write some of …

What are the politics of our survival as a species? Introducing the Climate Change Trilemma

So a physicist, an anthropologist, and two political economists have lunch in the LSE canteen and start arguing about climate change….. I was (very notionally) the physicist; my other lunchtime companions were Robert Wade, Teddy Brett and Jason Hickel (the anthropologist). Jason was arguing for degrowth and reminded me of the excellent debate on this blog a couple of years ago between Kate Raworth and …

Do you have to be cold to be cool? Canada joins the Nordics as a world leader on rights.

I was in Canada last week, having a lot of fun on a speaking tour with Oxfam Canada, followed by a couple of days with Oxfam Quebec in Montreal. One of the striking impressions is how much Canada’s foreign policy rhetoric echoes that of the Nordics in its focus on rights (an even more striking impression was that minus 20 degrees centigrade is really not …