Saturday Morning Reading #52

Here’s your [day-late-due-to-sand-boarding-fun] Saturday Morning Reading…


1. WorkDev #3: Climbing the career ladder | Maia Gedde – WhyDev

Great advice aimed at those who have worked a couple of years in development but need to think about what happens next.

Top tips:
– Adopt a life-long learning philosophy
– Get a mentor.
– Don’t be afraid of challenges. It’s good to change jobs regularly.
– Keep abreast of developments and share your work.
– Maintain a sense of balance and purpose


2. Friday Note: Do Less Research, Get More Impact | Ruth Levine – Hewlett Foundation

Communication of findings in an understandable and useful way is often overlooked in favour of fancy techniques. But then what’s the point of all that work in the first place?

“We also often see researchers reaching to explore ever more nuanced policy questions and applying sophisticated econometric and other abstruse techniques. It’s impressive, and may be just the ticket to get the resulting paper into a prestigious journal (or at least into a years-long cycle of revising-and-resubmitting). But more often than not the analyses that serve policy audiences are those that simply and compellingly bring to light facts about the conditions of people’s lives, the quality of public services, and the potential costs or savings from a particular government program. That is, the studies that present descriptive and basic analytic results in straightforward ways that connect to specific policy domains and decisions—the kind that a technocrat in the Ministry of Health, Education, Planning, or Finance might need to come up with a better program design and stronger budget request.”


3. DfID’s new Energy Africa campaign is right to look to off-grid solar power | Kevin Watkins – Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

In general, it’s a ‘second-best solution’ to a well-run grid system, but to say no to off-grid power is to deny many people electricity for a long time.

“Even the ‘ambitious’ power generation scenarios developed by McKinsey and the International Energy Agency would leave 500-600 million Africans without access to electricity in 2030. My colleague Andrew Scott estimates that around 60% of this population will have to be reached off-grid, through household-level systems or mini-grids serving communities.

That is why Energy Africa is right to look beyond the grid. Asking rural populations in Africa ‘do you want access to the grid’ strikes me as a loaded survey question. In a country like Tanzania, only 7% of the rural population are connected to the grid – and the country’s power utility (Tanesco) is a byword for inefficiency, corruption and disregard for the rural poor.”


4. Why you should never get a job at a charity | Alex Swallow – WhyDev

Don’t do it just to make yourself look like a better person, for an easy option or because you want to do things for people rather than with them.

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