All Blog Posts Tagged 'effectiveness' (44)

Accountability in all the wrong places

“But how will we hold them accountable?” the senior technical advisor said of the proposal from the high-profile NGO. “There’s not even a logframe in there.”

Silently in my cubicle, I thought, “Oh, if only that would only make people and organizations accountable…”

Obviously, the need and the desire to be accountable in our industry are not going away. With foreign aid budgets under fire in many donor countries, accountability perhaps becomes even more…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on December 8, 2011 at 5:30am — No Comments

Letting the snark flow

Does snark among aid bloggers go too far? Do aid workers just need and deserve to let off steam? Or does the language we use matter, because it either closes down or opens up dialogue, especially with our partners?

I’m not sure, frankly. (See some others illustrate the points here and…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 27, 2011 at 6:00pm — No Comments

Hallowed Halls or Ghost Towns?

This week I re-entered an aid “institution” after five years of working with small foundations and local groups.

After just two short days, I can’t help but be reminded of why I left.

I am once again surrounded by smart, driven, committed people. But unfortunately they are largely a group of people who are also exhausted, overwhelmed, and discouraged by fighting while propagating the very organizations in which they serve. From my still outsider’s perspective, it’s as if the…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 26, 2011 at 8:30am — No Comments

Local Realities, Local Adaptation

Tanya Cothran writes about how an idea, some information sharing, and a little bit of money can go a long way at the local level when people are behind an initiative. In addition to providing small community-focused grants to build economic security in Africa, Spirit in Action (SIA) also focuses on knowledge sharing. Tanya, who is the Executive Administrator of SIA, shares her reflections following…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 3, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Real Impact with Saeed Wame

I always walk away from a conversation with Saeed Wame, founder and director of Namwera AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC) of Malawi, with a new…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 25, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

How would you measure the strength of a partnership?

Building on how-matters.org’s earlier posts, “How to build strong relationships with grassroots organizations” (part 1, part 2, part…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 20, 2011 at 8:47am — No Comments

The Value of Feasting

When Carol arrived to the village in rural Indonesia to begin her anthropological dissertation research, she was shocked at the frequency of “feasts” that took place in the village. This was not a phenomenon she had come to study, and frankly, she became a bit annoyed at how she perceived it “disrupted” village life, and presumably her work. They would involve everyone and much effort and time went into these all-day events.



Carol shared, in the qualitative research methods class…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 18, 2011 at 11:30pm — No Comments

Effective aid: A matter of faith?

The “beast” had eaten all of the chickens.

That is why the income-generating activity undertaken by this small group in Malawi had not yet seen any profit, they explained. This is also why the group wanted to abandon chicken-rearing in favor of installing a paraffin pump, something that would require much less upkeep, inputs, and security.

What would it take for you to fund this youthful, energetic, but inexperienced group again?

A little faith? Or a lot for that…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 28, 2011 at 8:52am — No Comments

Stuff: What is it good for?

I do not normally jump on the SWEDOW bandwagon. It seems the most salient arguments are made again and again, and frankly, it’s often too easy of a criticism.

But whenever the latest blogosphere or Twitter uproar occurs (see Nick Kristof’s latest appeal for old prom or bridesmaid dresses or this…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 17, 2011 at 3:30pm — 3 Comments

Are you reading this?

Then you should take this survey.

In other words, it’s for people who read aid blogs.

Why should you bother? For one reason, it's short. It's also anonymous. And most notably, your interests and habits are important to us, the bloggers.

See what the @SmartAid folks and other bloggers have to say about the survey via…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 7, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Already “of” the community

We’ve all seen many participation typologies over the years. But with the one below, which I created when examining local partners’ final reports in 2009, I was trying to describe some simple categories of approaches to working with communities that local non-governmental organizations utilize. It was also meant to capture that fine line that can exist between a community-based organization (CBO) and a community,…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 6, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Another Must Listen

On the treadmill this morning (a time I usually reserve for non-development thinking), a story from Malawi popped up via This American Life on my ipod. They continue covering stories on aid issues in ways that are, for the most part, respectful and engaging, this one specifically related to HIV prevention programs.

This American Life 444: Gossip, Originally aired 8/26/11 Summary from the…
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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 1, 2011 at 10:30pm — No Comments

The Curious Aid Worker: Storytelling with Marc Maxson (Part I)

Marc Maxson is not your usual aid worker.

Yes, he is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, lives in Kenya, works for a Washington D.C.-based non-governmental organization, and is married to someone also employed in aid.

But Marc Maxson also has a PhD in neuroscience.

So what does that enable Marc to do as an aid worker? Marc develops new conceptual approaches to solving "impossible" problems, of which there are many in international development.…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 29, 2011 at 9:00pm — 1 Comment

BrandOutLoud: Own Branding Makes Local NGOs Less Dependent

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Judith Madigan, Co-founder and Director of BrandOutLoud, who reached out following my recent post, “Do CBOs have an image problem?



BrandOutLoud works with aid organizations, local and international, to transform the pity-laden us/them paradigm used in many communications strategies to one that portrays the strengths and…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 23, 2011 at 5:00pm — No Comments

Participation: Reality or the Promised Land? A View from South Sudan

In response to an earlier post on how-matters.org, “Sorry but it’s not YOUR project,” a reader offered the following guest post. Andebo Pax Pascal shares his experience as an aid worker in Africa’s newest country.



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My friend Tom is working for “Aid Agency X”, which has prided itself in working ‘with’ and not ‘for’ the people, a sign that it is ready to involve the community in its development…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 12, 2011 at 5:00pm — No Comments

The Marginalization of CBOs by Development Actors: A Perspective from Zimbabwe

Samuel Maruta of the Southern Institute of Peace-building and Development (SIPD) from Ruwa, Zimbabwe has conducted research about the role of community-based organizations (CBOs) in community development and the nature of their operating environment. He points to the need for a paradigm shift among development actors in favor of CBOs, and for CBOs to build their capacities in critical areas of…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on June 6, 2011 at 4:52pm — No Comments

RCTs: A band-aid on a deeper issue?

I finished the book weeks ago. When I closed Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel’s “More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty,” I had many notes and reactions jotted down but they hadn’t yet gelled. Something just didn’t sit quite right with me and I was having trouble articulating it.



Of course that’s related to… Continue

Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 24, 2011 at 10:16pm — No Comments

Barefoot in Church

In the midst of media blitzes such as the current one, I long for something real and human more than ever. The following story from the “Readers Write” section of The Sun Magazine, fit the bill for me yesterday. And I was delighted to come across this poignant personal story from its pages on the experience of being at the receiving end of help. It offers… Continue

Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 4, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

Remembering George Harrison on the road to Busan

After sharing some development practitioners’ honest remarks on aid, Africa, corruption and colonialism last week, I thought I would also share key points made in a session hosted by Oxfam that I attended at the World Bank/IMF annual meetings’ Civil Society Policy Forum on April 15th. Entitled “The Road to Busan: Ensuring Citizens Drive Their Own…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on April 25, 2011 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Aid, Africa, Corruption, and Colonialism: An Honest Conversation

I’m sharing an interesting discussion that’s been going on via the LinkedIn Africa NGO Network group, "Why is development aid having corruption problems in Africa generally?". Some of the key contributions on root issues follow below.…

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Added by Jennifer Lentfer on April 22, 2011 at 10:17am — No Comments

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