Are illicit drugs a development issue and if so, what should we do about it?

I spent Wednesday morning taking drugs seriously. OK that’s the last of the lame do/take drug jokes. What I actually did was have a coffee with Danny Kushlick and Martin Powell of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and then attend a Christian Aid seminar on drugs and development. Both conversations addressed the same questions: are […]

Read More »

‘Squeezed’: how are poor people adjusting to life in a time of food price volatility?

Ace IDS researcher Naomi Hossain introduces the first results of a big Oxfam/IDS research project on food price volatility If the point of development is to make the Third World more like the First, then we aid-wallahs can pack our bags and go home. Job done. The most striking finding of Squeezed, the first year […]

Read More »

Aid and complex systems cont’d: timelines, incubation periods and results

I’m at one of those moments where all conversations seem to link to each other, I see complex systems everywhere, and I’m wondering whether I’mstarting to lose my marbles. Happily, lots of other people seem to be suffering from the same condition, and a bunch of us met up earlier this week with Matt Andrews, […]

Read More »

Why building ‘resilience’ matters, and needs to confront injustice and inequality

Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Adviser (right), introduces ‘No Accident’, Oxfam’s new paper on resilience and inequality Asking 50 Oxfam staff what they think of resilience will get 50 different responses. These will range all the way from the Sceptics (“just the latest buzzword, keep your head down and it’ll go away”), to the Deniers (“really […]

Read More »

Citizens Against Corruption: What Works? Findings from 200 projects in 53 Countries

I attended a panel + booklaunch on the theme of ‘Citizens Against Corruption’ at the ODI last week. After all the recent agonizing and self-doubt of the results debate (‘really, do we know anything about the impact of our work? How can we be sure?’), it was refreshing to be carried away on a wave of […]

Read More »

Will horror and over a thousand dead be a watershed moment for Bangladesh?

A huge and chaotic conversation over how to respond to the appalling Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh (where the death toll has now passed an unprecedented 1100) is producing some important initial results, in the form of the international ‘Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’, launched this week. I got a glimpse of […]

Read More »

A crucial step in fighting inequality and discrimination: the law to make India’s private schools admit 25% marginalised kids

This guest post comes from Exfam colleague and education activist Swati Narayan  This summer, India missed the historic deadline to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. This landmark law, the fruit of more than a decade of civil society activism, has many path-breaking clauses. For the first time, it […]

Read More »

What do we know about the impact of savings groups on poor African women?

Savings for Change (SfC) is one of Oxfam America’s flagship programmes, reaching 680,000 members, mostly women, in 13 countries. Here Sophie Romana, Oxfam America’s Deputy Director of Community Finance, reports on some findings from an innovative qualitative and quantitative survey of the groups in Mali, published today (click through to summary or full report). How do […]

Read More »

How to Plan when you don’t know what is going to happen? Redesigning aid for complex systems

They’re funny things, speaker tours. On the face of it, you go from venue to venue, churning out the same presentation – more wonk-n-roll than rock-n-roll. But you are also testing your arguments, adding slides where there are holes, deleting ones that don’t work. Before long the talk has morphed into something very different. So […]

Read More »

Impressions of North America’s aid and development scene: the good, the bad and the ugly

Just got back from a two week immersion in the US & Canada aid and development scene (well, the East Coast version, anyway). Boston, New York,Washington and Ottawa, talking at universities, NGOs, multilaterals and aid agencies and experiencing a wonk version of groundhog day + powerpoint, brought on by giving the same presentation 16 times […]

Read More »