Is advocacy only feasible in formal democracies? Lessons from 6 multi-stakeholder initiatives in Vietnam

Andrew Wells-Dang (right) and Pham Quang Tu (left) on how multi-stakeholder initiatives can flourish even in relatively closed political systems such as Vietnam How can NGOs be effective advocates in restrictive political settings? Global comparative research (such as this study by CIVICUS on ‘enabling environments’) often concludes that at least a modest degree of formal […]

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I had no idea that working across disciplines (on innovation, complexity and scale) was this painful, but it might be worth it

I went off to New York last week at the invitation of the UNDP Regional Center in Europe and Central Asia to discuss using complexity thinking to design a new ‘Finch Fund’ to support innovation and scaling up. Most scale-up exercises take successful pilots and just try and replicate them (one of the UNDP organizers, […]

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Into the Unknown: Explorations in Development Practice: lovely (and short) new book from Robert Chambers

Robert Chambers is who I want to be when I grow up, an object lesson in how to grow old (dis)gracefully. Funny, passionate, always willing to admit doubt and failure, and endlessly curious – he never pulls that weary ‘oh, we tried that in the 1970s and it didn’t work’ routine beloved of other development […]

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China’s meteoric rise: urban boom; NGOs in from the cold; overtaking the US on pollution and tourism

A while ago, the Economist stepped up its China coverage and opened a separate section, putting placing the country on an editorial par with the USA. It’s taken a while to get going, but recent editions have been excellent. Last week saw a great piece on the rise of China’s NGOs (see chart). This week […]

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How can Governments and Donors support Africa’s Women Farmers?

I got into a bit of hot water recently for a recent post taking down a dodgy stat on women’s land ownership, so it’s nice to be able to post on some really good numbers on gender and agriculture. Levelling the Field: Improving Opportunities for Women Farmers in Africa, is an important and innovative new report (exec […]

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Understanding the nature of power: the force field that shapes development

I wrote this post for ODI’s Development Progress blog. It went up last week, closing a series of posts on the theme of Political Voice. Women’s empowerment is one of the greatest areas of progress in the last century, so what better theme for a post on ‘voice’ than gender rights? Globally, the gradual empowerment […]

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Why are Africans getting ripped off on remittances?

Whatever your views of migration, a consensus ought to be possible on one thing: if migrants do send money home, as much as possible of the hard-earned dollars that they send should actually get there, to be spent on putting feeding the kids, putting them through school or even having a bit of fun (that’s […]

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Bad Aid: How a World Bank private financing scheme is bleeding a nation’s health system dry

So much for the theory, here’s a bit of grim aid practice (and some top advocacy) to end aid week here on the blog. Lehlohonolo Chefa, Director of the Lesotho Consumer Protection Association (LCPA) reflects on a week when his organization’s report on a disastrous health experiment in his country made big waves at the World […]

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Angus Deaton makes the case against aid (and you get to vote)

I am grateful to Duncan Green for giving me an opportunity to respond to his comments on The Great Escape. I summarize the key evidence, and try to give a coherent story of how I think aid works, and when it will fail. Like Duncan, I fully recognize (and am motivated by) the moral imperative […]

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Why Angus Deaton is (mostly) wrong to attack aid for undermining politics and accountability

Continuing aid week here on FP2P, here’s my response to Angus Deaton’s recent broadside against aid, and his claim that I agree with him. Tomorrow, Angus responds. Nervous, moi? I’m both flattered and alarmed that Angus Deaton has been citing From Poverty to Power (the book, not this blog) in defence of his attack on […]

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