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Robert Chambers - Why Don't All Development Organizations Do Immersions?

Duncan Green's picture

Following on my review of Robert Chambers’ new(ish) book, ‘Provocations for Development’, I’m posting a couple of edited-down excerpts that caught my eye. Today, immersions –  written in 2007 and a nice illustration of how Robert combines both the politics and practicalities of aid work.

Immersions can take many forms, but an almost universal feature is staying in a poor community, as a person, living with a host family, helping with tasks and sharing in their life. The overnight stay is vital for relationships, experience, and relaxed conversations after dark and talking into the night. There may be activities like working with and helping the family, listening and dialogue, learning a life history, keeping a reflective diary or trying to explain your work and its relevance, but the essence is to be open much of the time to the unplanned and unexpected, to live and be and relate as a person. The unplanned incident is so often the most striking, moving and significant. Much is experienced and learnt, but what that will be is hard to predict.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Wired
Africa? There's an app for that

“In June this year Apple CEO Tim Cook shared with the waiting crowd at its Worldwide Development Conference that Apple would be giving access to the App Store to 32 new countries, bringing the total to 152. Tim Cook also shared some impressive statistics: the App Store now has 400 million accounts; there are 650,000 apps available for download; there have been 30 billion app downloads and more than $5 billion (£3.2 billion) has been paid to developers.

Of those 32 new countries there are a number in Africa, ranging from countries like Chad with millions of potential app users to remote São Tomé and Príncipe, with just thousands.”  READ MORE

Media Coverage and Funding for Disasters

Maya Brahmam's picture

During the latest round of the global Development Data Challenge held in London at the end of August, various members of the open data community got together at the Guardian to explore the limits of recently released aid and government spending data. One of the challenges proposed was to explore whether media coverage influenced funding for disasters.

This is interesting, not only because a fair amount of research has been done on the topic, but also because popular wisdom supports the idea that media coverage spurs disaster funding – the so-called "CNN effect."

O Feitiço do Rio

John Garrison's picture

Diferentemente do filme Feitiço do Rio (1984), que atribuiu o romance vulgar entre um homem de meia-idade (vivido por Michael Caine) e uma adolescente às vibrações sensuais da Cidade Maravilhosa, a recente conferência Rio+20 serviu para mostrar outra cara do Rio de Janeiro: a de líder global ambiental. A cidade não só mantém as duas maiores florestas urbanas do mundo, a da Pedra Branca e a da Tijuca (na foto), mas também concluiu um moderno centro de tratamento de resíduos, que permitirá uma redução de 8% nas emissões de gases causadores de efeito estufa, e está construindo 300km de ciclovias. Para o Banco Mundial, a cidade tem sido o cenário para uma improvável melhoria nas relações entre o próprio Banco e organizações ambientais não-governamentais (ONGs) nos últimos 20 anos.

Provocations for Development: Superb New Collection of Robert Chambers’ Greatest Hits

Duncan Green's picture

This is not an impartial review – Robert Chambers is a hero of  mine, part development guru, part therapist to the aid community. His ideas and phrases litter the intellectual landscape. Or ought to: if you don’t recognize some of his major contributions to the development lexicon – ‘hand over the stick’, ‘uppers and lowers’, ‘whose reality counts?’, participatory research methods or seasonality, (there are dozens of others) you have seriously missed out, and Provocations for Development, a greatest hits collection of his speeches, writings, reflections and one pagers should definitely be on the top of your reading pile.

Chambers is also playful. ‘Fun is a human right’ he announces in the foreword, and the book duly starts with a beginner’s guide to bullshit bingo, that essential way to survive particularly mind-numbing meetings. He even provides handy photocopiable bingo tables for you.

The Made-in-China Version of Media Development in Africa

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) has taken on an exceedingly important task. It has launched a ‘China in Africa’ research project. The project ‘investigates the emerging relationship between Africa and China’ and ‘seeks to develop an understanding of the motives, rationale and institutional structures guiding China’s Africa policy, and to study China’s growing power and influence so that they will help rather than hinder development in Africa’. (p.2). The important research paper that prompted this blog post– ‘The Rise of China’s State-Led Media Dynasty in Africa’– was published in June this year by SAIIA as part of the ‘China in Africa’ research project. The author, Yu–Shan Wu, is a researcher on the team.

The report shows that China is moving into the African media landscape with a striking comprehensiveness and intensity. Wu’s report is frank and detailed.  China’s efforts are designed to attain two objectives:

What a Difference Political Culture Makes

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

While democracy is developing and strengthening in more and more countries across the world, there may be some lessons to learn from older, established democracies. Democracy does not equal democracy – different forms and philosophical foundations shape different political cultures. Different political cultures favor different practices and outcomes. The political and civic leadership in evolving democracies may possibly have a chance to push things in one or another direction by looking at practices and outcomes in other countries.

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