3 concepts that should change how we do political analysis in development

This has been my third year teaching political analysis of development policy at Manchester GDI. Strangely, I have never used any of the donor-produced PEA frameworks in my course materials or lectures. The reason lies partly in the fact that commonly employed PEA frameworks – like most social science – are better at identifying structures than theorizing change; to my mind, this was true of Drivers of Change, SGACA, and the World Bank’s Problem-Driven PEA. So if you are interested in change – which is what development actors do – then you need a different set of tools. With that in mind, here are three intuitive but subversive conceptual tools that I introduce in Why We Lie About Aid. Continue reading 3 concepts that should change how we do political analysis in development

Going rogue

I first joined the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre (ESID) in January 2013. Since then, David Hulme, Sam Hickey and Kunal Sen have empowered and encouraged me to pursue policy-oriented research and ask sweeping theoretical questions about development politics. They also introduced me to fascinating and generous scholars, like Merilee Grindle, Brian Levy, or David Booth. Above all, they allowed me to find my own identity in a tiny corner of the UK-based development studies community. So it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to leave ESID this summer. Continue reading Going rogue

Op-ed in openDemocracy’s Transformation site

Provocative title: “Foreign aid is a waste of money–unless it’s used for transformation“. Provocative strapline: “Simplistic stories of saving children trap aid agencies inside a self-defeating logic”. And a nice theme from the book: local reformers as the unsung heroes of foreign aid.

The ongoing outcry about sexual misconduct in charities and international organisations is breathing much needed fresh air into the global aid community. However, there’s little indication that this particular scandal will have a meaningful impact on how foreign aid supports development and social change.

After all, there have been plenty of aid scandals in the past, but instead of helping donor publics to develop a better grasp of the challenges involved they’ve reinforced a survival logic that focuses on quick wins instead of longer-term institutional, economic and social transformation.

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Devex Op-ed: It is time for the aid community to abandon its siege mentality

As the #Aidtoo movement continues to unfold, some in the community are remarking on the speed and ferocity with which the public mood has turned against aid. Wondering how much of the outcry was opportunistic or downright malicious, they have met criticism with defensive cheerleading. It is an all too familiar pattern for our industry, rooted in a siege mentality. A mentality that is easy to understand and relate to, but that may no longer be a viable strategy for protecting our sector…

[Continue reading on Devex]