Africa’s tax systems: progress, but what is the next generation of reforms?

Taxation is zipping up the development agenda, but the discussion is often focussed on international aspects such as tax havens or the Robin Hood Tax. Both very important, but arguably, even more important is what happens domestically – are developing country tax systems regressive or progressive? Are they raising enough cash to fund state services? […]

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Disasters as Opportunities – your thoughts please

Sticking with yesterday’s theme of how our humanitarian work is evolving, one of our more extraordinary Oxfamistas in the Philippines (Lan Mercado, profiled here) has asked a few of us to help her team think through the longer term implications of Supertyphoon Haiyan for our work. I have no idea how she manages to find […]

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What are the global trends in humanitarian response? How well is Oxfam responding?

Twice a year Oxfam’s Regional Directors gather with its UK-based big cheeses to swap notes (they let me join them, for some reason). It’s an opportunity to allow the collective mind to catch up with all those accumulating individual impressions of how the world and our work is changing. Last week’s ‘deep dive’ was about […]

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Let’s Save Africa. The 3 minute youtube version. (It’s the Norwegians again)

What is it about Norwegians and aid satire? First Jan Egeland, then Africans for Norway and now this. Let’s Save Africa: not quite up to the standards of the other two, but well worth a watch (and better than answering your emails). Friday fun c/o @johanhermstad.

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What does ‘big business’ say about Africa when it’s off the record?

I get a lot of random invitations along the lines of ‘come and be a token esteemed NGO rep at our next gabfest’, and accept a few of the more promising ones. So this week I ended up at a conversation on ‘Africa’s Reformers’ hosted by the Africa Governance Initiative and the FT’s This is […]

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What’s happening with the world’s civil wars and how do they end?

Here’s an edited-down version of a brilliant overview of the state of civil wars around the world in this week’s Economist: Ending civil wars is hard. Hatreds within countries often run far deeper than between them. The fighting rarely sticks to battlefields, as it can do between states. Civilians are rarely spared. And there are […]

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What’s the added value of bringing together projects on the same issue in lots of countries?

I’m always on the look out for particularly interesting and innovative Oxfam projects, and usually big them up on this blog (think Tanzania, Tajikistan, We Can). After a few years of doing this, one of the striking (and depressing, at least for me) things is how seldom these pioneering projects have (so far, anyway) been […]

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What have we learned about women’s empowerment from a 17 country global programme?

Oxfam is increasingly going in for ‘global programmes’, bundling up work on similar issues across various countries. More on that model tomorrow, but first I want to highlight the findings of a final evaluation (published today, right) of Raising Her Voice (RHV), a big (£5.8m), 5 year global programme to enhance women’s voice in decision-making, […]

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How complexity thinking cut malnutrition in Vietnam by two thirds

To end complexity week, another of the fascinating case studies from Ben Ramalingam’s Aid on the Edge of Chaos In December 1991, Jerry and Monique Sternin arrived in Vietnam so Jerry could take up the role of Save the Children US Country Director. The country was still labouring under a US-led economic embargo and had […]

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Aid on the Edge of Chaos, a book you really need to read and think about

I held off reviewing Ben’s book til after last night’s launch at ODI, so that I could add any useful extra info or soundbites. Here goes. It’s smart, well-written and provides a deeper intellectual foundation for much of the most interesting thinking going on in the aid business right now. Ben Ramalingam (right)’s Aid on […]

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