If you only read one thing this week…

Mobilizing for peaceful change in the US by Nick
October 10, 2011, 11:33 am
Filed under: accountability, Articles, governance, If you only have 15 mins

The New York Times is running an interesting piece of commentary by Paul Krugman on the wave of demonstrations and protests currently taking place in the US. Read it here. The comparisons to the ‘Arab Spring’ are fascinating (although that is not the point of this article).


NGOs and corporations – what’s wrong with CSR? by Nick
July 18, 2011, 7:55 am
Filed under: Articles, Environment, If you only have 15 mins

Andrew Pendleton’s 2004 report (Institute for Public Policy Research) for Christian Aid on the issues and perils of NGO engagement with corporate power is a sobering read that looks at some of the trends, what has been achieved, and some learning about what can and cannot be reasonably expected from dialogue and engagement.

Pendleton concludes that a shift from self governed Corporate Social Responsibility to legal structures that produce Corporate Social Accountability by allowing those harmed by corporate action to seek redress through national and international law is a major avenue that does not receive enough attention.

Read the report “Behind the Mark – the real face of corporate social responsibility” (surprisingly digestible) here, or read the rather more forceful one pager from CorporateWatch here.

Proponents of dialogue see it as the best chance we have, faced with the reality of corporate dominance. But this is only true if other realities cannot be conceived of and brought into being …

Many NGOs are choosing what is essentially a palliative campaign strategy, one that tries to make conditions more bearable rather than solving the problem. As the world’s ecological crisis worsens, many of the organisations we’ve trusted to fight the destruction are effectively reinforcing the power of the destructive corporations. As our need for change becomes ever more urgent, and the solutions needed ever more drastic, some NGOs find themselves actually asking for less and less change.” – Corporate Watch.

ALNAP’s new study on humanitarian leadership by Nick
June 9, 2011, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you have 30 mins, Management

The Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (yes, that’s really what they are called) has just released the most recent in a series of reports on the state of the humanitarian system. This one focuses on leadership in humanitarian operations, and features several interesting case studies of successful leadership as well as a sobering survey of humanitarian workers, most of whom, according to the study, believe that a lack of effective leadership presents the main challenge to effective humanitarian action today.

Decide for yourself here. Full PDF here.

Thanks to Ruth Allen for bringing this one to our attention.

USAID’s New Roadmap by Nick
January 7, 2011, 10:55 am
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins

Interaction has one of the best summaries of the new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). Seventeen months in the making, it is the new blueprint for US ‘civilian power’ in the world. Interaction calls it ‘the most comprehensive and thoughtful look at U.S. diplomacy and development efforts in half a century’, while the Heritage Foundation expresses concern at the apparent elevation of USAID as co-equal with State, and mourns what it sees as the marginalization of the MCC.

Read the Summary, or the whole document if you’re keen here.

Read Interaction’s take, and their summary of other responses here.

Read the Heritage Foundation’s critique here.

There are no technology shortcuts to education by Nick
January 6, 2011, 11:37 am
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins, Technology

Kentaro Toyama posted an interesting article on Educational Technology Debate in which he argues that technology is literally the last thing schools who have limited resources or are under-performing need. That is to say, it’s not bad, but it should be the last investment they make, not the first.

He makes four primary arguments:
1. The history of electronic technologies in schools is fraught with failures.

2. Computers are no exception, and rigorous studies show that it is incredibly difficult to have positive educational impact with computers. Technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical capacity of educational systems; it can make good schools better, but it makes bad schools worse.

3. Technology has a huge opportunity cost in the form of more effective non-technology interventions.

4. Many good school systems excel without much technology.

But you should read it yourself here.

Moving Up or Moving Out? A Rapid Livelihoods and Conflict Analysis in Ethiopia by Nick
November 17, 2010, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory

Mercy Corps recently partnered with Tuft’s University to produce a rapid analysis report and strategic framework about better integrating livelihoods and conflict programs in Mieso-Mulu Woreda, Shinile Zone, Somali Region, Ethiopia. They focus on one district of the Shenile Zone and use a combined livelihoods-conflict analysis to develop a strategic framework that links conflict prevention, land issues, service delivery and strengthened economic activities. The framework uses the concept of economic inter-dependency as a means to support peace, and highlights the need to work across regional state borders in Ethiopia with harmonized programming. Check out the full report here.

Transparency International’s 2010 report published by Nick
October 26, 2010, 8:33 am
Filed under: Articles, conflict, governance, If you only have 15 mins, Web sites

Check where your country falls on the perception of corruption by taking a look at the map, and reading the report here.

If you’re really pressed for time the BBC summarizes the results here with the headline numbers being a high correlation between war and corruption. Somalia tops the leader board for most corrupt, followed by Burma, Afghanistan then Iraq. Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tie for least corrupt.