Browse by Theme: Aid Effectiveness

September 11th marks six months since the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic. It’s hard to believe both how long this has continued and that we have only been operating in pandemic mode for six months. Some days it’s hard to remember what the world looked like before coronavirus.

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Fifteen years ago today was the last day of the Gleneagles G8 Summit. I was there as the adviser for Africa and International Development for Number 10. This was the culmination of a campaign that saw 9 million brits demonstrate their support for aid to the worlds’ poorest people and 225,000 people joined the Make Poverty History march. It felt like a momentous day as the G8 made some huge commitments in response to the campaign. 

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Britain can be proud to be one of the countries that meets the UN target to give 0.7% of GNI (gross national income) to reduce poverty in poorer countries. That’s just 70p in every £100.  This is the result of a 15-year cross-party consensus since 2005 when 9 million British people asked the government to Make Poverty History.

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The COVID-19 pandemic poses a huge threat to billions of people around the world, but it can’t be the only priority for aid. Other humanitarian disasters and emergencies have not gone away. Countries that still don’t meet the UN target of sharing 7p in every £10 with people in poorer countries, should try as hard as possible to increase their aid budget to respond to the new COVID-19 pandemic, and try to avoid taking aid away from other emergencies.  

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If you work in international development, you have probably experienced that pressing need for support. You need to conduct an assessment, your proposal design should have started yesterday, and the capacity building for your partners is right around the corner – the list could go on and on. You need short-term support, but you also need the best and brightest, the one who knows the context and subject matter, writes and analyzes thoroughly, and can meet the deadline. You aren’t just looking for someone who is available to do the work – you are looking for the ‘expert’.

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Last March, the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced tens of thousands of people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. A year on, Idai serves as a warning that the climate emergency is not going away – and that affected communities need long-term investment, not just piecemeal steps that will continue to be wiped away by the next storm, or dried up by the next drought.

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Adaptive management in its various incarnations has long been a focus of a development community that is more and more frequently bumping up against the barriers of complexity, and looking for ways to overcome its challenges. In a field where we consistently have to deal with multifaceted problems, which have many causes and symptoms, we have clung to agendas that seem to offer solutions. Adaptive management appears to be offered as a potential way of dealing with the vast and unpredictable consequences of context.

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