How to bridge the Valley of Death that separates complexity/systems thinkers from decision makers?

Sometimes new ideas arrive like a bolt from the blue. More often they emerge through a series of conversations, reading and thinking. An element of repetition may be necessary, provided you talk to different kinds of people about the same issue (rather than having the same meeting with the same people over and over again […]

Read More »

Why conflicts can also be opportunities for (positive) change for women

The November edition of Oxfam’s Gender and Development Journal focused on conflict and violence. Here one of the contributors, Julie Arostegui, a human rights and gender specialist, discusses Gender, conflict, and peace-building:  how conflict can catalyse positive change for women. In my years as a human rights and women’s rights advocate, I have witnessed the resilience of […]

Read More »

Fighting inequality one city at a time: reclaiming public water and electricity in Delhi

There’s a political earthquake going on in Delhi right now. Biraj Swain (Exfam India, now campaigning and researching on water) looks at its immediate impact on poor people’s access to water and electricity. Last month marked the first month in office of the anti-corruption movement turned political party, the Aam Admi ‘Common Man’ Party government […]

Read More »

How to build accountability in fragile states? Some lessons (and 2 new jobs) from an innovative governance programme.

One of my favourite Oxfam programmes is called (rather arcanely) ‘Within and Without the State’. It is trying to build civil society and good governance in some pretty unpromising environments – Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and OPTI (Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel). It’s currently advertising two new jobs (one on learning and communications, the other […]

Read More »

How to Write a really good Executive Summary? Here are some thoughts, but I need your comments.

Inspired by your great crowdsourcing on where to do a part time Masters (can someone collect the comments into a single document please?), does anyone fancy helping me draft a short guideline on how to write decent executive summaries? Here’s the draft – over to you for improvements, suggestions for good/bad examples of the art etc. […]

Read More »

What makes a perfect short field trip (and a top village power analysis)?

I had a pretty perfect one-week field trip to Tajikistan last week. Two days down in the South, talking to villagers, activists, officials, and our own local staff about the hardware part of our Tajikistan Water and Sanitation (TajWSS) project – working with local government to install water systems under their ownership and local Water […]

Read More »

States v Markets: Understanding Tajikistan’s Post-Soviet malaise through its drinking water

I don’t do much on water (as my pal Henry Northover at WaterAid never fails to remind me) but last week, I was in Tajikistan to help our team think through their water-related work. They already run the Tajikistan Water Supply and Sanitation (TajWSS) network, which combines a high level ‘convening and brokering’ approach to […]

Read More »

My first trip to Central Asia. First impressions of Tajikistan, world’s most remittance-dependent country (and a very big flagpole)

Spent last week in Tajikistan, my first trip to the former underbelly of the Soviet Union, aka Central Asia. I was there to help our country team think through some work on improving accountability in the water sector (more interesting than it sounds – blog tomorrow). And weatherwise, looks like I got out just in […]

Read More »

Voices of the Hungry; killer indicators, and how to measure the social determinants of health. New thinking on measurement with Gallup Inc.

About once a year, I head off for the plush, Thames-side offices of Gallup Inc, for a fascinating update on what they’re up to on development-related topics. In terms of measurement, they often seem way ahead of the aid people, for example, developing a rigorous annual measurement of well-being across 147 countries. Not quite sure why […]

Read More »

How can aid workers study without giving up the day job? Your thoughts please.

For a sector that employs a relatively large number of people, the ‘aid business’ often still seems to think small. Getting a job in it is a lottery – very few graduate entry schemes, or other ways to identify and recruit keen and talented people. Instead people are supposed to scrabble their way into jobs […]

Read More »