If you only read one thing this week…

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.


Measuring our Mission – Mission (Im)possible? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 18, 2008, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Environment, measuring results, Uncategorized, Web sites

This 6-page report by McKinsey has some excellent examples of how some large non-profits have got round the challenges of how to measure progress towards fulfilling their mission. You do have to sign up to read the full article, but it only takes a couple of seconds and is well worth it. The article takes the Nature Conservancy as an example of an agency that had two macro-level indicators (revenue generated and increased number of protected habitats) until they realised that neither of these indicators were telling them whether they were making progress towards the real heart of their mission which was increasing biodiversity. The authors claim there are three critical performance metrics needed by an organization:- success in raising resources, staff effectiveness and progress toward its mission fulfillment, with the last being the hardest to measure. They outline three ways of mission measurement: 1) through narrow definitions of success, through research, or through proxy indicators. They draw examples from several organizations which is useful and thought provoking.

Technology for the Poor by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 17, 2008, 5:36 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you only have 15 mins, Web sites

As a techno-phobe who still doesn’t own her own cell phone (in part because of a traumatic experience in post-tsunami Sri Lanka where I had two mobiles which rang simultaneously every half hour, literally through the night!), I am fascinated by examples of how technology is improving (or hindering) development in poorer nations. This link to a BBC news article gives some really good concrete examples of how Reuters news, through a service called Market Light is being disseminated via text messages to farmers in India and enabling them to make real time decisions on how to improve their crops and get better services for them.

Death Sentences and Executions in 2007 – Worldwide by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 11, 2008, 4:01 pm
Filed under: human rights, If you only have 15 mins, Web sites

Amnesty International has just published a succinct report that lists death sentences and executions globally in 2007. Of all the executions that took place, 88% occurred in just 5 countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA. The two tables on pages 6 and 7 reveal some surprises in which countries have the highest figures. The report draws attention to various UN resolutions that call for transparency publishing numbers relating to these types of death sentences and notes how hard it is in many countries to get reliable data. The report is also available in Spanish, Arabic and French.

The 2008 report by Amnesty on the State of the World’s Human Rights is also out and searchable by country. This year marks 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The report shows that, “sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 countries and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.”

Measuring Your Mission – Is it Possible? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

Any of us interested in the complexities, challenges and successes of macro-level measurement that tells us at an agency level whether we are making progress (or not) towards achieving our mission, should check out The Bridgespan Group. This non-profit consulting group helps agencies get closer to results measurement in a number of different ways. Although their focus is US domestic agencies, the papers that they have published are relevant to those of us in the international humanitarian field. In particular I liked a study entitled Great Valley Center: A Case Study in Measuring for Mission that talks about how they helped the Great Valley Center start to measure it’s results at the macro level. Interestingly, a recent study by the Independent Sector identified that nearly 60% of the nonprofits surveyed said that the results of at least some of their programs were too intangible to measure. Now that sounds familiar!!! Even if you aren’t interested in the specifics of the case, the generic challenges and potential solutions outlined are (I think) applicable to all of us.

UN launches a huge new database by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
March 5, 2008, 5:49 pm
Filed under: If you have time for longer reading!, Web sites

We’re a huge fan of GapMinder, and it seems that they have made a step forward in their quest to get the UN’s databases online and accessible.

UNData “has just launched a new internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can search and down load a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.”

“The UN-system has accumulated over the past 60 years an impressive amount of information. UNdata, developed by the Statistics Division of DESA, is a new powerful tool, which will bring this unique and authoritative set of data not only to the desks of decision makers and analysts, but also to journalists, to students and to all citizens of the world, ” says Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

The project has been developed in partnership with Statistics Sweden, the Gapminder Foundation and with partial financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. This is huge – it puts an enormous quantity of great information out there – go explore, and post back with the highlights that you find!

Yale School of Management on Markets and The Poor by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 1, 2008, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you have 30 mins, Web sites

Q2, a publication of the Yale School of Management, has some interesting discussions of markets, and the ways in which they can hurt or help the poor. Download the whole of the Fall edition of the journal as a PDF here, or browse the site here.