As I was sitting in a year-end retreat, I started jotting down this list of things that the development aid world could use more of in 2013. I offer it as some food for thought for the year ahead.
I use my How Matters YouTube channel to highlight portrayals of international assistance that inspire more nuanced conversations about the politics of global development and international aid. Frankly though, there’s not enough content to keep that page very active. Very few video-based products show people grappling with the realities of programming on the ground and the stories of grassroots change-makers too often remain…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 14, 2012 at 6:02am — No Comments
I’ve been called a “thought leader” lately. It’s a lot better than some other things I’ve been called in my life, but still, it’s a label I’ve been trying to understand—so much so that I facilitated a session on it at last month’s Opportunity Collaboration.
When I first heard the term, I did a bit of sleuthing to understand its origin. It seems it comes from the private sector. (Isn’t most of the “latest” aid and philanthropy jargon…Continue
Yes We Can: The campaign/proposal writing
You have to get lots of people involved. In fact, the more people who share your vision, the better. You tell the voters/donors what they want to hear. Persuasion and hyperbole can be more important than substance. The popular vote/buy-in of the people served may be irrelevant in the end. You’re happy (though thoroughly exhausted) when the campaign is over/proposal is submitted, but the hard work is yet to…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 8, 2012 at 7:33am — No Comments
“Excuse me. What’s that you’re reading?” the woman wedged next to me in the busy restaurant asked.
Sitting on the table in front me yesterday was Tori Hogan’s new book, Beyond Good Intentions: A Journey Into the Realities of International Aid. (Now available …Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 23, 2012 at 6:59am — No Comments
He has now stood up at the long table, perhaps hoping that the argument can be won by positioning himself above those with whom he is supposedly vehemently disagreeing.
About what? I’m unsure, as is the normally reserved and quiet junior staff person, who has uncharacteristically burst out laughing at the scene before her.
Her and I both know that what’s being discussed has less to do with the issue at hand, and more to do with these men’s need to be on top.
“For all of us who are in the ‘change the world’ business, we seldom reflect on our own attitudes and behaviours as donors, facilitators, managers, experts, technocrats. Yet we want to see change in the attitudes and behaviours of those we serve?! We do not want to change the power status quo within organisations and amongst ourselves, yet we are telling ‘communities’ to do so?!” ~from a …
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 24, 2012 at 6:41am — No Comments
A guest post on how-matters.org by Oscar AbelloContinue
A guest post on how-matters.org by Mary Fifield
The power of learning is not just a slogan for many of us working in the non-profit sector. It's the value that undergirds the programs that we help deliver—programs designed to support people in discovering their own talents and skills to better their well-being, their environment, and their society. It's a value that supports our own…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 28, 2012 at 7:10am — No Comments
People have been playing more games these days in Washington D.C. And I don’t mean the strategies of the Obama and Romney spin teams.
Two recent events suggest games’ growing popularity in D.C. aid circles: this one I attended at the World Wildlife Fund earlier this month and this Tuesday’s upcoming …Continue
A so-called “lack of capacity” is used to justify many antiquated practices in the aid industry. And if left an unexplored concept, capacity building is arrogant at best.Continue
Thankfully, the “expertise infusion” aid model is currently being transformed. Aid funders tend to think too much about the supply side of development, and very little about where the demand is coming from. More and more international actors are focusing on building their own skills to accompany, support, and relate more effectively to local institutions and organizations, rather than overpower or co-opt them.…Continue
Long-haul international flights are a great opportunity to catch up on action adventure movies I’d never bother seeing in the U.S. On my flight from Johannesburg on Friday night, I watched In Time, a Justin Timberlake as Robin Hood sci-fi film in which time replaces money as the world’s currency and presents just as many challenges to the have and have-nots.
This got me thinking about the currencies of international aid. On this trip,…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on June 25, 2012 at 1:30pm — No Comments
We all know there are aid donors and international funding partners out there that want to change “business as usual” in development (or at least people inside those institutions that do). We also all know that for various reasons, they’re not moving quick enough for those working on the ground.
New donors could come in and fill the gaps. But more importantly, we need a new kind of donor, whether they are recent to the scene or not.
The organizations that I see doing…Continue
Somehow I had managed to escape the flesh-eating, frenzied swarm of red fire ants that had been circling in the bottom of the boat as I anticipated our arrival. Size certainly doesn’t matter when it comes to fire ants, an entomological force to be reckoned with.
I stepped out of the small wooden canoe-like craft as…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on June 7, 2012 at 6:41am — No Comments
I am a U.S. Citizen. I am relatively wealthy and educated; in the vast spectrum of this planet, I am the 1%. I am literate and fluent in English. I have connections to hundreds of middle and upper class individuals who I can gain support and funding from. I have a supportive family. I have the ability to write grants in persuasive English. I have unlimited access to the Internet and social media sites; I know how to manipulate these platforms to market my own initiatives and endeavors, if so…Continue
It still shocks me a little when a colleague will look at me and ask, “Now, what do you mean by ‘downward accountability’?”, as if I’ve just uttered an oxymoron.
It shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve written about how accountability is often looked for in all the wrong places. But it’s not as if I’m saying something that should be so foreign or new, right?
Here’s a definition from Keystone’s 2006(!)…Continue