If you only read one thing this week…


Local Government and Conflict by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 23, 2007, 8:06 pm
Filed under: conflict, governance, If you have 30 mins

This USAID paper on local government and conflict juxtaposes two concerns that we usually don’t consider together. Generally when we think of local government we think of corruption, lack of capacity, lack of resources, incompetence and apathy. We do not usually think of it as a player in conflict. This paper draws attention to the very real role that local governments play in conflict and how we as development practitioners can support them to mitigate rather than exacerbate violent conflict. It is central to the Do No Harm sort of approach to work with local governments as they work to enhance security, provide better representation, improve service delivery, and cope with decentralization. Continue reading

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Disasterous computer games by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 22, 2007, 11:45 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, Web sites

Paul Currion put me onto this crop computer games put out by the UN and others – if you only play one educational computer game this week, then the UNISDR is the cream of the crop, with Stop Disasters! – essentially Sim City for disaster preparedness workers!

Next up is Third World Farmer, another Sim style game that illustrates the difficulties in getting out of poverty.

Last up is World Food Program’s Food Force, which is remarkable only in as much as it is able to sacrifice meaningful content at the same time as not being any fun to play.

— Update —

NoArmy.com has a section devoted to games: http://noarmy.com/content/games-downloads



Interns find economic opportunities in Kyrgyzstan by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 20, 2007, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Articles

The Harvard Gazette is running a story about a Harvard international health economics who interned with Mercy Corps last year. He spent the summer with our own Catherine Brown (CD Kyrg) in Kyrgyzstan working with local apple farmers to improve how they grow, harvest, and sell their crops. It’s a short read, but a fun example of how Catherine has been leveraging internship opportunities in an innovative way. Read the article here.



Demonstrating program impact using people’s own stories by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 13, 2007, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you have time for longer reading!

Our own Joe Dickman writes that the Most Significant Change (MSC) method is increasingly recognized within evaluation circles as a powerful technique for illustrating program impact. It emphasizes story-telling as a form of participatory monitoring, unique in its ability to capture direct views of beneficiaries, including unexpected and evolving outcomes. It is also unique in presenting a methodical, systematic way of collecting and analyzing individual stories and selecting the most compelling. It is part of an emerging thinking in evaluation to emphasize and investigate in detail the extreme cases, instead of just focusing on averages. At its best, MSC more than just a useful tool to complement more traditional M&E methods – it can actually guide a program’s own definition of “impact” and encourage a movement towards activities that enable more “significant” changes in the lives of beneficiaries.

Download the guide, and learn more here, or read more… Continue reading



Visualizing statistics so that people pay attention! by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 13, 2007, 5:04 pm
Filed under: If you have 30 mins, Web sites

If you only watch one thing this week make it this video of Hans Rosling at the Technology Entertainment Design conference in California. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling debunks a few myths about the “developing” world. A fun, compelling, and inspiring 20 minutes with a guy who really knows how to make numbers tell a story. You’ll laugh out loud and learn something, or your money back!

What’s more, all the tools shown there are available on the website of GapMinder.org (see or entry on that here. Check out their website, and I promise that you will be sucked into exploring child survival and other public health numbers by the fascinating visualization tools they have available. Continue reading



Free podcasts from the US’s best business schools by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 13, 2007, 5:02 pm
Filed under: If you have 30 mins, Management, Web sites

If you only listen to one thing this week, check out Open Culture, who are promoting a roundup of podcasts (downloadable audio) from the best US business schools. Some of these regularly top the charts on iTunes. If you don’t know what a podcast is, then don’t worry – instructions are included, but this is a great way to get management tips and analysis from high profile executives and faculty without getting into decades of debt!

The article is here.



The double-edged sword of MBA’s by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 13, 2007, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you only have 15 mins, Management

Management theorist and critic Henry Mintzberg writing in Fast Company magazine has a few provocative and thoughtful words about how to utilize MBAs… Click here for the article entitled ‘The MBA Menace’, here for the rest of the current issue. Continue reading