Highlights of 2021 on From Poverty to Power

Hi everyone, have you stopped putting HNY on your emails yet? Kicking off the year with the usual round up of stats and most-read posts from 2021 – buys me a bit of breathing time to start generating this year’s first batch of posts.

2021 saw a lot of tech hassle – turns out ‘one man and his blog’ is not a very reliable model, especially if that man is an aging technophobe with no idea how WordPress works. So the blog went down mid-year, and has had a few problems since, but never fully recovered, as you can see from the daily numbers (below). The wonderful James Heywood is on the case, and hopefully we’ll be shifting to a new platform soon, proof against crashes, viruses, random Viagra adverts and other unwanted guests.

I also went down to four posts a week, because of Covid-related furlough (I wasn’t allowed to work on Fridays). And (sadly) no equivalent of the Ugandan/Bobi Wine spike last year (see last year’s upsum).

Given all that, I’m chuffed that numbers held up at previous levels – over 300,000+ ‘UVs’ (Unique Visitors, not Ultra Violet) a year – pretty heartening, given the proliferation of other ways for people to access news and views.

Numbers per country were also remarkably consistent (apart from Uganda’s absence this year) – see table.

Looking at individual posts, the spike you can see on March 23rd is down to Maria Faciolince’s wonderful departing contribution to the ‘powershifts’ project (now sadly out of funding – any offers?). Maria brought both great insights and great visuals to the blog, and I really miss her.

But when I look at the numbers, that post only came 4th in the hit parade of most-read blogs, behind three ‘oldie but goodies’ that must have made their ways onto various reading lists, because they defy the march of time and cyber-oblivion that awaits most blog posts. Here’s the top ten, in descending order.

Violence v Non Violence: which is more effective as a driver of change? This hardy perennial from Ed Cairns continues to top the pops, even though it was first published in 2018 (an age ago, in blogging terms).

But Ed’s post is a spring chicken compared to the number two slot: How is Climate Change affecting South Africa? was posted in 2009 and continues to rack up thousands of hits every year, but sadly, is one of the mangled ones that James is currently trying to fix.

Development Studies is fun, but is there a job at the end of it? Also from 2018 and in at number three, shows that jobs continue to be a major source of interest to readers. Must continue to write about that this year.

Maria’s piece, ‘’Development’: A visual story of shifting power’, a collaboration with Colombian collage artist Hansel Obando (graphic excerpt below) is at number four, closely followed by its companion piece, Creating new horizons: paths to shift power and imagination in development. I’m prepared to bet they will join the regular winners in future years.

Back to 2014 for number 6: What are the strengths and weaknesses of a human rights approach to development?

The world’s top 100 economies: 31 countries; 69 corporations from 2016 is at number 7

How to decolonise International Development: some practical suggestions, at number 8, was published right at the end of 2020

Graham Teskey’s counter-intuitive/man bites dog ‘In praise of…. Logframes’ is in at number 9 and is the most recent of the top 10 (August 2021)

And the final entry is Right now, it feels like anything can derail everything, so are theories of change still useful?

Of the four 2021 entries, two are decolonizing critiques of the aid business, and two are nuts and bolts posts for aid insiders. Interesting, but a bit introspective for my liking. I hope this year’s winners look outside the aid bubble, to inequalities, climate change, politics and peace, for example.

As for 2022, I’ve gone down to two days a week at Oxfam, for reasons I will reveal in due course, but will do my best to churn out the current 4 posts a week + audio round-up – let me know if the quality is suffering!

As always, keen for feedback – please say what you want more/less of, whether there are any tech glitches we’ve missed etc etc. Look forward to hearing from you, and hopefully jointly enjoying the emergence from the dark cloud of 2020/21 together over the next 12 months.

Best Wishes


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10 Responses to “Highlights of 2021 on From Poverty to Power”
  1. John Rowley

    You cannot really be surprised that popular posts on FP2P would be about how international development aid works. You cannot accuse us of being too introspective because we want to read about the business we work in. FP2P is providing a valuable service and there are not many places where you can find intelligent and interesting discussion of the workings of logframes or Theory of Change. It seems a bit perverse to accuse your readers of being interested in the wrong things!

  2. Larry Garber

    Continue to enjoy the Blog and include as recommended reading for my students. Hope that you are able to maintain current level of product. Still among my favorite daily reads.

  3. Jo Davies

    This blog is invaluable – I love it and I recommend it to all my students! I find things here I would miss otherwise. It is always enjoyable as well as helpful, because the tone it is written in is spot-on. And finding something online written in a nice ‘tone’ isn’t always a given 😉

  4. Chase Williams

    Thanks for another fantastic year, Duncan. Many FP2P pieces get shared across the GlobalGiving Slack universe. I suspect that will continue…! Much gratitude from one of your early LSE students.

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