Save the Children UK staff member, Susannah Parker, holds seven month-old Abdou Bassinou at Bande feeding centre

Are NGOs too focused on aid?

A blog post linking to an article by Mark Tran in the Guardian. The article quotes me saying: "The risk is that the G8 will think that they can address these issues by earmarking some of their aid programmes and they will not feel under pressure to make the systemic changes which only they can make." Read the full post »
Three pairs of hands holding an empty bowl

Tough on hunger, tough on the causes of hunger?

Two reasons why I am concerned about plans for a big campaign in 2013 on food, agriculture, hunger, food security and nutrition. Read the full post »

Global integrity is hiring

If you read this blog, you might be interested in this job with the good people at Global Integrity. The post is based in Washington DC:

Project Manager – This position will play a key role in managing and

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How can the aid system be overhauled?

Two interesting new articles start with the premise that the aid system needs to be overhauled, and then reach radically different conclusions about what this means in practice.

First up, Roger Riddell says we need a radical rethink of … Go to to read the rest

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Aid in the 21st Century – Oxfam paper

A new Oxfam paper, written by the excellent Jasmine Burnley, looks at 21st Century aid. Here is a good summary paragraph:

“We are now at a crossroads. On the one side, is politically motivated or ineffective aid – much

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Variation and selection: improving the development system

All effective complex systems got that way by a process of evolution. Evolution requires both variation and selection. The development industry has quite a lot of variation, but not enough selection. Better selection is not just a matter of more rigorous top-down evaluation, but also bottom up pressure from the intended beneficiaries. Read the full post »

Faith based aid organisations

Nick Kristof writes approvingly in the New York Times about faith based aid organisations:

Some liberals are pushing to end the longtime practice (it’s a myth that this started with President George W. Bush) of channeling American aid through faith-based

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Markets and aid

I am grateful to Oxfam’s Duncan Green for his fair and thoughtful review of my paper about improving aid, Beyond Planning: Markets and Networks for Better Aid.

I’m glad that Duncan and Chris, his Oxfam colleague,  endorse a key … Go to to read the rest

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Can you help orphans in Wolaita?

I have been contacted through my website by somebody saying:

we are working to save lives orphans in south Ethiopia, Wolaita. but still we don’t have our own website to spread our works  and sounds of orphans. please try your

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Support TWACIB

I love this black humour about useless NGOs:

It reminds me of a joke that we had in Malawi about the proliferation of useless (and often fraudulent) NGOs – we talked about the NGO TWACIB, which stood for “Two

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Alchemy & Oxfam

oxfam logoI know it is a cliché, but if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Oxfam’s new campaign urges us to believe that they have designed a package of measures that would give $280 billion to the … Go to to read the rest

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Charging the poor for services

Tim Harford has an interesting article in this weekend’s Financial Times about private health and education in developing countries:

Imagine that your daily earnings were less than the price of this newspaper. Would you consider buying private education and private

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Ethiopia’s new civil society law

International reaction to the new Ethiopian Civil Society Law is hysterical. It isn't a great law, but nor is it unreasonable for the Ethiopian Government to want to limit international funding in its politics. Read the full post »

Who should profit from charity?

Nicholas Kristof mused on Christmas Day in the New York Times on whether NGOs should pay high salaries.  He seems to come down – though equivocally – on the side of saying that sometimes they should:

In the war on

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Paved with good intentions

In a very thought-provoking post, Alanna Shaikh lists four ways that an NGO can unintentionally do harm to the community it’s trying to serve.

1) You can waste the time and effort of a community by initiating projects which have

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Budget support and corruption

Why it makes sense to give aid to governments in countries that suffer from corruption. Read the full post »