Last week’s Global Consultation for the World Humanitarian Summit

The closing ceremony: all on song?

The closing ceremony: a greater music?

I was at the vast Global Consultation of the World Humanitarian Summit last week. It was a big step in the final push to Istanbul, next May.

It’s been a rollercoaster. Stephen O’Brien (the UN’s relief chief) has outlined a vision that the summit should focus more on inspiration than transformation, reported as “the UN doesn’t need to change”.

In other words: inspiring states and others to support humanitarian action, rather than transforming the organisations that dominate the aid landscape. Previous leadership put more emphasis on transformation. But there is still a great opportunity for significant progress.

Here are the key messages I took away. There are four general messages and then more detail on community engagement. Continue reading

Ten steps to a better humanitarian system

jungs_blogThis is a reblog of a great piece from Nick van Praag, of Ground Truth Solutions. It was also posted by the CHS Alliance. There’s real food for thought here for the World Humanitarian Summit. But who will take the lead in making some of these changes happen? Will any of us stand up and be counted?

This week’s global consultation on the World Humanitarian Summit looks like it will be long on calls for commitment to reform and short on agreement about how to make it happen. Here are my ten suggestions for a better humanitarian system. Continue reading

Real Transparency: IFAD’s Independent Evaluation Ratings Database

Repost from Rick Davies on Monitoring and Evaluation News. I agree, this is news!

IFAD follows ICAI by publishing summary ratings of evaluations of all its programmes. Oxfam went some way down the same route with its Project Effectiveness Reviews. This is a great trend towards real transparency. Let’s hope other agencies will follow suit. Continue reading

Owen Barder: Could Britain’s New Aid Transparency be a Game-Changer?

Owen BarderThis is a re-blog from a post by Owen Barder of the Center for Global Development on 7th December 2012. It describes how DFID is substantially improving aid transparency. Their leadership lays down a challenge to all major NGOs to follow suit.

Christmas came early yesterday for anyone interested in seeing more effective and accountable aid, with an announcement from DFID which has raised the bar for aid transparency. Continue reading

Sign the petition: Make Aid Transparent

A great campaign, launched today, calls on governments to make their aid transparent. I’ve just signed it. Will you? It will actively help make sure that aid is used better. Continue reading

Facebook for development? How mobile phones will transform NGOs

Will NGOs soon run Facebook pages for their beneficiaries as well as supporters? Recent developments suggest it’s not as outlandish as it sounds. And it could transform communications on the ground.

Ken Banks, founder of FrontlineSMS, has predicted that a $30 mobile phone will soon be available in Africa that will drive a new wave of innovation. Continue reading

Five pillars: improving quality & impact

A major international NGO recently invited me to talk to senior staff about improving the quality and impact of their programme work. Here are my preliminary comments. They build on the analysis from this website, which includes links to examples and related initiatives (see recent blogs on the right-hand menu and other content on the left).

What do you think – is this along the right lines? All comments very welcome. Continue reading

Out of tune with Malawi: Madonna’s wasted millions

Madonna's publicity: more to learn than she meant?

This Saturday, the front page of The Times read “Madonna digs £2.4m hole in the African ground”. The story described in painful detail how all this money had been wasted on a school project in Malawi. Not exactly value for money. The Guardian ran the same story:

“The managers of Madonna’s charity in Malawi have been ousted after they squandered $3.8m on a school that will never be built.
Continue reading

Advice for the new aid watchdog

A few weeks ago, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) launched an open consultation “to understand which areas of UK overseas aid … the Commission should report on in its first three years”. Continue reading

Keystone Partner Survey: powerful new data on NGOs’ performance

If an NGO funds and supports local partners, how do you assess if it is doing a good job? Simple: ask them. It’s not the only way to measure performance, but it’s got to get you most of the way there. Better still, bring together a group of NGOs and use the same questions to ask their partners to rate each NGO’s performance. Then compare answers, so you can tell which NGO is doing better in which areas and which worse.

That’s exactly what Keystone did with their Partner Survey. (Disclosure: I was the project manager for this project and the report’s principal author.) The report was launched this month. It has two major findings: Continue reading