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Showing posts from July, 2011

Comedy writer Ken Levine should be running development projects

I firmly believe that the development industry needs its own sitcom, but this is not the only reason why I enjoy Ken Levine's blog so much. Today's post 'Advice for first-time showrunners' is a real gem, because it captures so many important features that should be 'best practice' in the development industry at every level of its operations. Whether writing a grant poposal, managing a team at HQ or dealing with the challenges in-country - Ken's advice is almost always applicable. I do not want to copy-past his whole post, but three points seem particularly important for the aid world:
7. Hire at least one experienced writer. Otherwise, on top of everything else you're doing, you're re-inventing the wheel.This goes out to the DIYers, voluntourists and many, many other new/exciting initiatives that are engaged in development: Engage with experienced professionals-not all of them are nearly burned-out cynics (well, maybe that is another parallel between…

My contribution to “The Nexus of Aid Work & Islamic Extremism” conversation

I read Shawn Ahmed’s post ‘The Nexus of Aid Work and Islamic extremism’ as well as Dave Algoso’s reply and Tom Murphy’s shorter reply with great interest.
They have covered many interesting points, but mainly because of my own selfish reasons (i.e. my academic research), I would like to comment on three particular points that I find have been missing from the debate so far. 
1. Looking beyond NGOs: The state, international aid organisations and discourses of development

First, in Shawn’s post there is no mentioning of ‘the state’ or any other form of ‘aid’ other than the one provided through NGOs. As understandable as this may be for the contents of the post, it fosters a view that many commentators in the blogosphere seem to have, namely that of incredibly wealthy, powerful and influential NGOs. True, they are often the organisations that are visible ‘on the ground’, many interesting stories about aid are shared by those who work in NGOs (maybe adding an interesting layer of ‘groupth…

German minister for development: Arms deal with Saudi-Arabia protects human rights

The German minister for economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, has no problem with the plans that have emerged recently that Germany wants to sell up to 200 Leopard tanks to the government of Saudi-Arabia, as the SPIEGEL reports:
The deal involves a mountain of money: The German deal to sell Saudi Arabia 200 "Leopard" battle tanks is worth some €2 billion. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has yet to directly confirm the deal - and the opposition is furious. Given the pro-democracy movements in the region, it has demanded that Germany cease making arms deals with authoritarian regimes such as that in power in Saudi Arabia. But now the opposition has found a new avenue of attack. Germany, after all, is involved in training Saudi security forces in conjunction with the European defense company EADS. And according to a recent report in the German newsweekly Stern, the mission is much more dicey than previously thought.In an interview with the German weekly DI…

Adventures in Voluntourism-they have become part of tourism mainstream

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A friend of mine recently spent a few nights in a hotel owned by an international chain and sent me an article on 'Adventures in voluntourism' afterwards that he had found in their official in-room travel magazine. I saw the picture of a smiling woman in hot-pants balancing wood on her head and thought that this may be the beginning of a whole new genre of erotic photography, a new type of locker-room pictures for aidworkers or something similarly inappropriate:

Photo: A happy voluntourist (viatora fortunata nivea), unknown location with permanent summer
However, the actual article was slightly more balanced, yet for obvious reasons focussed on the marketability of the experience. It started with examples from the US and introduced a project that the Global Citizens Network runs in connection with the Quileute Nation peoples in Washington state. It sounds like a decent project, the historic Quileute Shaker Church gets refurbished in the process and in the end 'the voluntour…