08 August 2011

Playing Catch Up: Best of the 1st Week of August

Vacation has come to an end and there were some good posts that I missed last week. If anyone else missed out on what was going on, here is a run down of some of the most interesting posts and articles that I cam across. Some will even include some quick thoughts.

Inequality is on the decline in Latin America writes Andy Sumner in Global Dashboard. This is something to keep an eye on in the context of development for countries where growth has missed the poor.

Daniela Papi shares the ten lessons she learned from her time leading PEPY and PEPY Tours:


Travis Warrington wants to get to the bottom of what ONE actually does. His post includes some thoughts from discussions that I had with him. In the post, Travis raises some of the questions he has about the organization and concludes that there may be more value in direct work rather than indirect advocacy. It is an argument that I find compelling, but I am not willing to say that ONE does not provide a positive value. I too need some more convincing, but there is a role for advocacy to raise awareness and raise money.

Doing something is better than nothing argues Terence Wood in his post disagreeing with J. In essence, the two are in agreement. J. is a bit more forward, but Terence is saying that action should not take place without thought and learning.

Eric Kajemba, founder and director of Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix, is interviewed by Jason Stearns about conflict minerals.

Why is Greg Mortenson so appealing? David Week thinks it is because his story is like Star Wars where he is set up to be the Luke Skywalker who goes through Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.”

Edward Carr offers some suggestions and recommends reading Charles' Kenny's Getting Better.

In Forieign Affairs, Amber Peterman, Dara Kay Cohen, Tia Palermo, and Amelia Hoover Green offer an important look at how rape statistics are determined during war. In short, it is pretty important to be as accurate as possible and prevent over/under-counting.

Brett Keller wrote a series on the Machine Gun Preacher, Sam Childers. I had never heard about him until Brett started researching for the post. He is about to be featured in a Hollywood movie and is a pretty scary character. Also read this update post from Brett and J's take on learning about Childers here. To get an even better idea, watch this video of him:

David Roodman announced CGD’s new data & code transparency policy. It is exciting to see that they will be providing even more data and information from their research to ensure that others can replicate their results. It sounds like it will require some extra work out of CGD fellows, but it would be a great lead for other researchers to follow.

Blogging should be a part of development evaluation, not only communications and fundraising says Tobias at Aidnogrophy. He adds his thoughts to a post I wrote on Think Africa Press about NGOs using bloggers. My post was pretty narrow and I am glad that Tobias opened up the discussion a bit further as I think that evaluations can be even more important in these discussions.

Dave Algoso adds some thoughts to Nick Kristof's column on faith based aid. Having worked for the past few years with a faith based nonprofit in the US that also receives government funding, I know this intersection all too well. Dave does a nice job of providing a balanced perspective with a solid listing of the positive and negative aspects of faith based organizations.

If a single video could sum up my worldview, this report (below) by Al Jazeera on growing inequality in America does the trick. As a bonus it even includes interviews with Jeffery Sachs.

An oil spill of the Niger delta will cost $1 billion and take 30 years to clean up. Funny, it does not seem to be getting the same press that the BP spill got last summer...

The BBC has uncovered that the government of Ethiopia is using aid as a political tool by withholding it from opponents. As always, I am a healthy skeptic especially because stories like this can be oversimplified very quickly, but it helps to highlight the importance of governance when dispersing aid.

On a non-development note, the College of the Holy Cross was recently ranked as number 27 on the Forbes list of America's best colleges. As an alum, I could not be more proud.