Saturday Morning Reading #55

It seems like everyone’s thinking about change – if only a certain prominent development blogger had a book coming out on that subject. (I’m currently reading it – review coming soon). I hope you enjoy the articles as much as I did and get inspired.

Without further ado, here is your Saturday Morning Reading…

1. Give Us the Courage to Change the Things We Can | Owen Barder

Wondering where UK development policy goes post-Brexit? Owen Barder is ready for you with “twelve policies which are within our control which would help create conditions for stronger, more peaceful, more prosperous countries to thrive, and so reduce the risks of future conflict and instability.”

As Alice Evans puts it:

Wanna save the world?
Start right here!

If you enjoyed that, you should also read Navigating the Brexit Maze to Find Development Goodies by Michael Anderson & Matt Juden. Worth watching CGD’s work in this area in the coming months.


2. Want to change the aid industry? Here’s how to do it | J.

  1. Diagnose problems correctly.
  2. Be specific.
  3. Commit to process and follow through.
  4. Articulate the day-to-day.
  5. Understand your pet issue in the context of time.

Need some more ideas on what needs fixing? See below!

3. Aid Jamborees | Pete Vowles

When I lived in a rural community at the start of my career, an increasingly distant reference point, we had a rota for when donor or NGO visitors came; people would take it in turns to be ‘consulted’ by whoever was visiting so they could share the burden or occasional benefits (attendance fees etc). We used to joke about it that evening, laughing at the naivety of aid organisations.

I have been part of these kinds of visits for a decade now; frankly, it freaks me out.

It’s worth reading the comments for ideas on how to make visits less staged and more useful for both parties, e.g. use public transport instead of 4x4s.

4. Why are expats paid so much? | AID LEAP

Salaries are driven by structural factors in the aid industry that ensure a high demand for expats, but a very limited supply. Expats are typically required for senior management positions. This might be because they are more able than local staff, or simply because donors are biased towards nationals from their own country. Both factors probably play a role. It doesn’t matter for the sake of this argument; the result is that there is a high demand for experienced, capable expats.

Things could change, though those in power don’t have the incentive to do so.

(Excellent choice of punny cartoon btw).

5. What does transparency really mean? | Alanna Shaikh

I’ve been really enjoying Alanna’s blog “This World Needs Brave” in the last few months. It’s worth following for the self-coaching and searching questions. This week she asks what transparency with beneficiaries would look like.

It would include an honest discussion of motives. “Germany is funding education in your country because they want you to get a job in your own country and not emigrate.” Or, “the US is supporting infrastructure in Afghanistan so people will stop judging us for plunging the whole country into endless violence.” Cynical, perhaps, but being in a country that needs aid doesn’t tend to make you an optimistic believer in altruism. No one thinks the US is giving foreign aid out of sheer moral obligation, even if that is sometimes the case. When you offer an understandable motive, people trust you.

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