Can we understand COVID-19 fast enough – and well enough – to make a difference?

By Lavinia Tyrrel, Linda Kelly, Chris Roche and Elisabeth Jackson In Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez plays on the themes of love and passion, comparing them to a plague like cholera. Referring to the two lovers in the story he notes “…if they had learned anything together, it was that wisdom …

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Hanging out in men’s bathrooms: is it time to rethink what ‘evidence’ means in international development?

What constitutes ‘sufficient evidence’ for aid program and policy makers to take decisions – about budgets, activities and so on – in aid and development? Have been talking about this with academics, officials, NGOs, project managers and donors for a number of years now. Ever since working with The Asia Foundation (TAF) where the question …

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Bushfires and the Pacific: lessons for Australia’s new aid policy?

Bushfires and the Pacific. Two things that rarely go together in the same sentence. Yet the last few weeks have seen support for Australian communities devastated by fire emerge from – what some may see as – unexpected quarters. Support was expressed by Fiji’s Prime Minister on social media. Vanuatu has committed around 250,000 AUD …

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Theory of Change and Theory of Action: What’s the difference and why does it matter?

I have been fortunate enough to spend much of the last three months working on the designs of several health and governance programs across PNG, South Asia, and Africa. One thing that has struck me, regardless of which donor or country we work in, is the ongoing confusion in the aid industry regarding theories of …

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Boundary riding, dual worlds and critical friends: reflections from the field

Ayesha from Papua New Guinea and Lilis from Indonesia* I sat down with Ayesha and Lilis (two rising stars from Abt-managed Australian Government funded aid projects in Indonesia and PNG) and said “tell me something interesting”. I was not disappointed. I was stuck by Ayesha’s idea of 'boundary riding’. Ayehsa – herself an Australian-Papua New …

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Women in the Australian international aid sector

*Blog originally posted on 8/3/19 (International Women's Day)  Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). A day to celebrate women’s achievements, and forge a more gender-balanced world. Abt Associates’ aid programs overseas are marking this day with events in country. These events bring focus to the tireless efforts of the men, women, local organisations, governments, donors …

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Getting Past the Rhetoric #2: Managing for ‘Thinking and Working Politically’ in Large Facilities

The first blog discussed what donors could be looking for at tender, to ensure bidders can actually ‘do TWP’ in practice. This blog looks at what it takes for donors to incentivise TWP once implementation has begun. Drawing on our experiences mobilizing and managing three big facilities in Indonesia, Timor Leste and PNG, here’s what I …

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Getting Past the Rhetoric #1 : Tendering for ‘Thinking and Working Politically’ in Large Facilities

It is commonplace to now find tenders littered with references to ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP). This leadership from donors is a good thing, but it also poses new challenges. Specifically: When the bids roll in, how might donors discern who has the operational and programmatic capabilities to actually ‘do TWP’ in practice? And; What …

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Playing in the sand-box or the tar-pit? Supporting politically-informed programming in large ‘Facilities’

As I exited my last position at The Asia Foundation, William Cole challenged me to: …report back in a year and tell me if its possible to think and work politically in high-value, multi-sector facility mechanisms So, after our involvement in three such 'Facilities' over the last 12-18 months[1], what is the verdict? Are we …

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Governance, Foreign Policy and Populism – All the Fun things

From Australia and Canada’s decision to integrate their development agencies, to the resurgence of nationalism in the UK and US and the flat-lining of public support for aid (see below graph from IDS) – major bilateral donors are increasingly bringing aid closer to the heart of government operations. As a result, the ‘old’ aid policy …

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