Why is football such a successful (and replicable) institution?

My visit to Australia and New Zealand has been full of discussion of fragile states – how might durable, effective, accountable institutions emerge in the Pacific islands that are the focus of much of the aid (and thinking) here? I’ll need time to process those conversations, but in the meantime, here’s a more immediate question, […]

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A few impressions of an intense two weeks in Australia

Off to New Zealand tonight, after a great two weeks in Australia. More detailed analysis to follow on various issues, but here are a few hurried snapshots. First up was teaching a 3 day module on How Change Happens with Chris Roche, to 14 students in Murdoch University’s development studies Masters programme. The students were […]

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How does Europe’s crisis look through the eyes of an international aid agency?

Back in 1942, during World War Two, Oxfam came into existence to lobby the British Government to ease the allied blockade of Nazi-occupied Greece. 70 years and a European miracle later, might we be once again about to send aid teams to Athens? I’m sitting in Australia as I write this, and it feels like […]

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How are the emerging donors (from China to Azerbaijan) changing the aid business?

Oxfam’s ‘BRICSAMIT’ group (BRICS + Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey) is now up and running and doing some innovative thinking about the role of the emerging powers, including their role as donors. Here Russia/CIS regional researcher Daria Ukhova (right) explores recent developments. While the eyes of many international aid observers are currently on the BRICS bank (already […]

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If high staff turnover is unavoidable, how should we redesign aid work to cope?

One of the implicit assumptions that often underlies programme design is that the people who initially come up with an idea and turn it into a project or programme then stick around and implement it. The reality is often very different – high levels of staff turnover are almost universal in both NGOs and aid […]

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Are wages the fly in the Fairtrade ointment?

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Fairtrade Foundation, (Oxfam was one of its founders) and there will be lots of well-merited celebrations. The growth of fair-trade has been phenomenal. In the UK total sales of Fairtrade products have soared from £63m in 2002, to £1530m last year, growing at double digit rates […]

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Speed reading rocks, so why don’t we all learn it?

The best day’s training I ever did was a speed reading course, offered by DFID (I had a short stint there about ten years ago). It helps me every day – when was the last time you could say that about a training course? The first part of the course covered what you normally think of […]

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Ups and downs in the struggle for accountability – four new real time studies

OK, we’ve had real time evaluations, we’ve done transparency and accountability initiatives, so why not combine the two? The thoroughlybrilliant International Budget Partnership is doing just that, teaming up with academic researchers to follow in real time the ups and downs of four TAIs in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Tanzania. Read the case study […]

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When do Transparency and Accountability Initiatives have impact?

So having berated ODI about opening up access to its recent issue of the Development Policy Review on Transparency and Accountability Initiatives (TAIs), I really ought to review the overview piece by John Gaventa and Rosemary McGee, which they’ve made freely available until December. The essay is well worth reading. It unpicks the fuzzy concept […]

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How to challenge short term thinking in development and research?

Over the next few days this blog will be even more scattergun than usual as I’ve just arrived in Australia for a 3 week tour (including New Zealand). Got in on Sunday evening after weeping my way through all 8 episodes of Broadchurch (hope I didn’t alarm fellow passengers). It’s a fantastic crime drama with […]

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