Why Faith-Based Organizations are particularly well suited to ‘Doing Development Differently’

Last week, I went in to talk How Change Happens with a bunch of CEOs and other senior staff from major Catholic aid agencies, including CAFOD, the first development outfit foolish enough to give me a job back in the 90s. We covered a lot of the standard ground – the results agenda, private sector approaches to innovation, the future (if any) of traditional northern/international …

Why rethinking how we work on market systems and the private sector is really hard

Whatever your ideological biases about ‘the private sector’ (often weirdly conflated with transnational corporations in NGO-land), markets really matter to poor people (feeding families, earning a living, that kind of thing).  But ‘making markets work for the poor’ turns out to be really difficult and, just as with attempts to tackle corruption or improve institutions, there is a rethink going on in the aid business. …

Is Climate Change to blame for the East African Drought?

An honest attempt to engage with the evidence may seem almost quaint in these angry, post-truth times, but I was impressed by a recent Oxfam media briefing by Tracy Carty on the thorny topic of whether climate change is to blame for the current East African drought. It’s an excellent example of the balancing act advocacy organizations have to perform on attribution: start making sweeping …

Is Climate Change to blame for the East African Drought?

An honest attempt to engage with the evidence may seem almost quaint in these angry, post-truth times, but I was impressed by a recent Oxfam media briefing by Tracy Carty on the thorny topic of whether climate change is to blame for the current East African drought. It’s an excellent example of the balancing act advocacy organizations have to perform on attribution: start making sweeping …

Links I Liked

First up, a spot of self promotion: if you are anywhere near Cape Town, check out my two week July ‘summer school’ on How Change Happens. Details and links here. Don’t like Mondays? Then read this and give thanks (h/t You Had One Job). Lant Pritchett brilliant on new insights into how China tackled poverty and the implications for Doing Development Differently Chris Blattman has …

I’m teaching a two week course on Making Change Happen, Cape Town, July. Interested?

Quick heads up. I’m teaching a two week ‘summer school’ (actually more of a winter school) on How Change Happens at the University of Cape Town from 17-28th July. Details and registration here. The course will combine a basic intro to the themes of the book with lots of engagement with Cape Town based activists (local Oxfam stars Allan Moolman and Ronald Wesso are helping …

Making Change in Closed Political Environments – what works?

I’m a big fan of the International Budget Partnership, which manages both to get down and dirty in supporting national campaigns and movements for budget transparency, and to step back and spot the broader patterns of politics and change. Over the next few months I’m going to be helping them think through their strategy so I’ve been catching up a few recent research papers. First …

Why election politics don’t work as well for the environment as they do for international development

Guest post from Matthew Spencer, who crossed over from the environment sector recently to become Oxfam’s Director of Campaigns and Policy  Before the end of the first week of the UK election campaign, to widespread surprise, Theresa May agreed to the development sector’s main demand to maintain our 0.7% overseas aid commitment. In contrast, the following week the government had to be forced to publish …

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. …

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. …