Does Vulnerable Mean Helpless?

What does it mean to be fragile? What does it mean to be vulnerable? In today’s development discourse, these terms are regularly applied to states prone to conflict or at the forefront of the impacts of climate change (or both). The ideas of fragility and vulnerability tend to underpin entire policies and frameworks towards development, …

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Coming Clean: Why I Need the Aid Sector (and why you do, too)

I often get asked when I plan to move ‘home’. After 15 years abroad, it’s a bit difficult to pin down just where ‘home’ might be. The last time I lived in my home country I was a student and so ‘home’ is still my parent’s address (according to the government and my bank, which …

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The Revolving Door of Local Leadership

At a conference last week which focussed on disaster relief and disaster risk reduction in Asia, I had asked a question about the need to focus on local government for DRR implementation, and the reality of that happening anytime soon given that the global framework for DRR was, in fact, global. The speaker pointed to …

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Courage, Conviction and SDG Implementation

Oh boy, 2016. I don’t feel old enough for the Millenium Development Goals to have come to their completion (the plan, at least; so many many targets were not acheived, but not for lack of trying). Where did the years go? What did we do with those years? How many steps forward and how many …

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Some Clarity on the ‘Funding Local’ Clash of Opinions

‘Funding local’ has been a bit of a buzz word the last few years as the global development and humanitarian communities work towards being more inclusive and implement ‘locally-led’ programmes. One of the issues that needs urgent clarity if the debate around what ‘inclusive’ means in practice is to be settled is to understand the …

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How to Spend Development Dollars

There are a lot of studies doing the rounds that highlight a major problem with development financing – it takes ages to actually spend the money that is donated. This is particularly true for financing that is channelled through government public financial management systems to support public serivce delivery such as health care, education, infrastructure …

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Your Cynicism is Not Helpful – We Have to Play the Long Game to Impact Poverty

Development assistance has become so political. It can sometimes be difficult to understand why when the main point of aid is to help people; to provide access to good health care, quality education and public safety, to name the most critical. But lately there is so much cynicism around development assistance because it is so …

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‘Good Practice’ not ‘Best Practice’

The replication of ‘best practice’ is a trend we are working hard to undo. Why? Because best is only best where the idea is conceived. Replication of systems, laws, policies and institutions in other countries and contexts may (and often does) do more harm than good. Laws modeled on one legal system don’t ‘mesh’ with …

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Growing Good Law: Discussing development law versus development and the law

Melanie Phillips A friend mentioned to me recently that he was thinking of doing a course on development law. My highly eloquent response to that was, “Eh? What’s development law?” “No idea,” said my friend. Out of curiosity, I read few course descriptions and different words and phrases appear: creating legal institutions, international law, rule …

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The Unreality of the ‘Data Revolution’

Data is important. No one is disputing that. The most effective responses to development challenges are the ones that rely on quality data which is regularly collected and verified. Good data informs good programmes which reflect the needs and priorities of the beneficiaries which have been targeted. However, in every context, collecting good data takes …

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