Hard cash certainly has its drawbacks. Poor people mired in a cash economy find it difficult, in times of need, to support or seek support from distant relatives and friends. The size of the market they can sell their products and wares into or source their inputs from is limited by how far they can easily and securely transport cash. They are captive to local financial organizations and moneylenders, because more distant financial institutions don’t find it cost effective to go collect their saved-up cash and have no visibility of their prior cash-based financial histories on which they might otherwise grant credit.
Certain countries seem to produce more than their share of great programmes. Vietnam is one, and Tanzania appears to be another. After the much-blogged-on Twaweza workshop in Tanzania last week, I headed up North to visit the Chukua Hatua accountability programme. It’s one of my favourites among Oxfam’s governance work, not least because it has a really top notch theory of change (keep clicking) I often get asked for a good real life practical example of a ToC – in governance work, this is the best I’ve seen.
Over a series of conversations with Oxfam staff and partners, village activists, officials and others, one intriguing issue struck me: even if you start out as innovative, what happens next?
Let me explain. Chukua Hatua started out with a really interesting theory of change – adopt an evolutionary approach of variation-selection-amplification. That meant trying out lots of things in phase 1 (2010/11), then sifting through the results to identify the most successful variant(s) and scaling that up.
The variant that stood out was that of animation: training farmers selected by their communities to become animators – entrepreneurial, networked activists identifying problems in their communities and bringing people together (both villagers and those in power) to find solutions. This has worked brilliantly, so phase 2 (2012/13) has scaled that up.
“In Lampedusa ten days ago, the air was not only full of the stench of the decaying bodies of drowned Africans -- men, women, and children -- it reeked of hypocrisy,” writes Uri Dadush in Huffingtonpost.
In case you missed the news about this sad and shameful event, it began with migrants from Africa trying to come to Europe in a boat; it involved drowning and death of some 365 people within eyesight of the beautiful beach island of Lampedusa; and it is by no means the end of poor people trying to swim the sea for safety and survival from hunger and exploitation.
Photo courtesy: Priya.Balraju1/Flickr
Many people have voiced pessimism over an international agreement to address climate change since the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen fell short of expectations. The lack of a comprehensive, global effort to curb emissions; the failure by the United States to pass meaningful federal legislation, the continued recession in Europe; and, most recently, the election results in Australia have undermined efforts to put a price on carbon and dampened hope for market-based solutions to climate change.
The somber mood was evident at the Carbon Forum Asia, held in Bangkok between September 24 – 27. But participants at the event also found a glimmer of hope.
The World Bank just published the October edition of the commodity markets outlook. The report notes that the weakness in commodity price is expected to persist. One exception is energy, where geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and supply disruptions of key OPEC producers have kept oil prices elevated..
I have been visiting coastal Odisha for the past four years, earlier when we were preparing the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) and subsequently during project implementation.
Every time the project team visited a village, the local community was always there to welcome us and talk about their experience during the 1999 cyclone, the community members they lost, the houses damaged, the devastation inflicted. This was an event that was firmly etched in their memories even 10 years later. Every site visit was followed by a small function wherein the local community mobilizing volunteers spoke about the preparedness work they were undertaking in collaboration with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) and local community organizations. Almost every single meeting ended in their spoken resolve “Never Again!”
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
-- Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005) was a writer, professor, management consultant and self-described “social ecologist”.