I am a huge fan of XKCD, and enjoyed this comic he drew for World Polio Day for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I love the way it teases the innovation fetish which you see in some parts of the international development world.

XKCD on World Polio Day

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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  1. Thanks for sharing this comic, I really enjoyed it. I often wonder about the role of innovation in addressing international development (especially since recently I recently read some of C.K. Prahalad’s writings), and I’ve never thought about innovation fetishizing as a prominent feature of international development. While the comic clearly satirizes this aspect of the development field, what kind of role do you (or others) think innovation plays in development? What constitutes a “healthy” level of focus on innovation (since it is essential to a certain extent)?

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