So what might ‘Beyond the Project’ Activities look like?

Some thoughts in response to yesterday’s challenge from Brady Mott. What might replace the project? On one level, it’s a self-defeating exercise – any alternative is likely to require spending money, staff etc and some kind of accountability. Boom – we’re back to projects! But some projects can loosen the kinds of constraints that Brady […]

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What’s the problem with Projects?

While doing some blogging workshops, I got talking to various people in the Netherlands recently about aid moving ‘Beyond the Project’. Today’s guest post by Brady Mott explains the problem with projects. Tomorrow I’ll explore some alternatives. The development sector has always engaged with the world through the vehicle of projects: logistically intricate arrangements linking […]

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What can we learn from campaigns run by the world’s children and young people?

Save the Children’s Patrick Watt reports back from some INGO soul searching on ‘Engaging a New Generation’ There’s nothing new about children and youth being involved in movements for change, from the anti-apartheid cause in South Africa, to the earlier and more hopeful chapters of the Arab Spring. But what feels different now is that […]

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Old Wine in New Bottles? 6 ways to tell if a programme is really ‘doing development differently’

Guest post from some of the top exponents of adaptive management/doing development differently These days it seems that everyone in the aid sector is doing development differently – presenting themselves as politically smart, locally led, flexible and adaptive. But is it true?  How much of this is “old wine in new bottles” – the language […]

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Links I Liked

AI, Big Data and Robotics myths and reality – the infographic. ht Tobias Denskus  What Robopocalypse? Charles Kenny does his evidence-based Pangloss thing to show that the robots really aren’t taking our jobs. But if they do, the right policy responses are not that different. Need some more good news? Prevalence of FGM among girls aged […]

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What did I learn from Wednesday’s arguments over aid, academia and ‘the literature’?

As they say on twitter, Mind. Blown. Wednesday’s rant about way aid and academia generated a fantastic discussion. Including some great putdowns. My favourite, which made me laugh out loud, came from Ryan Briggs: ‘Just to be clear, you’re arguing that academics are insular and generalize too much from shoddy evidence, and the evidence for […]

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The Rise of Social Protection, the art of Paradigm Maintenance, and a disagreement with the World Bank

Spent a mind-stretching day last week with a bunch of social protection experts from the LSE, IMF and assorted other bodies. Social Protection includes emergency relief, permanent mechanisms such as pensions and cash transfers, and ‘social insurance’ based on people’s personal contributions. LSE boss Minouche Shafik set the scene really well: ‘The failure of safety […]

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Evil Donors and ‘The Literature’: Is there a problem with the way academics write about aid?

Since I dipped my toe in the waters of academia, I’ve been struck by two things: firstly, the number of my new colleagues (especially the political scientists and anthropologists) who appear convinced that aid is essentially evil – a neo-imperialist plot to defend the status quo. Secondly the way people use the phrase ‘The Literature’, […]

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Aid’s fragile state problem – why is it so hard to even think about?

I’ve spotted a recurring problem with the way the aid sector talks about fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS). FCAS are characterized by states that are either absent or predatory – in terms of development, governments and officials are as likely to be part of the problem as part of the solution. But the aid sector, […]

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Links I Liked

George Monbiot with a nice exercise in how changing our vocabulary can help reframe the way we talk and think about impending environmental Armageddon I just installed Unpaywall. Fab extension to Chrome that finds you the ungated version of any academic paper. Open Access rocks. I’ve also got a proper podcast channel now, check out the […]

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