The Patel case: an aid worker’s perspective

(This blog was originally at the IPR blog)

By Elise Reslinger

On 8 November, Priti Patel resigned from her position as UK Secretary of State for International Development. This resignation followed the revelation, three months after the fact, of unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials including the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Protocol requires these meetings to be authorised to ensure their compliance with UK foreign affairs priorities, and for a risk assessment to be undertaken. Following these meetings, Patel asked her team to investigate the possibility of funding the Israeli army’s field hospitals based in the Golan Heights – a territory toward which the UK Government, in keeping with UN Resolution 497, rejects Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Officially, the UK views the Golan Heights as illegally occupied Syrian land. What happened has been commented on heavily since in the media and among government circles; such conversations have raised the implications of this breach of protocol for UK politics, the question of a tacit acceptance on the part of the UK for Patel to meet the various interlocutors, subsequent questions about collusion between the UK and Israeli governments and concerns about a lack of accountability to British taxpayers[1]. I would like to consider the Patel case from the perspective of a former aid worker in the occupied Palestinian territory. My main focus is how this case affects existing aid beneficiaries, in this case Palestinians, and what the impact of this public lack of impartiality and neutrality on humanitarian aid and aid workers will be. Continue reading


Women and war: after Afghanistan, there’s a chance to deploy gender-led approaches to conflict

(This blog was originally published at The Conversation)

By Hannah West

As a member of the Royal Navy, I never really thought that being a woman affected my work. Whether I was making safety decisions about flying helicopters or participating in operational planning, my contribution was listened to and respected.

I wasn’t sidelined or disadvantaged for being a woman in a military largely populated by men. I was just one of the team.

I joined Britannia Royal Naval College straight from school so I grew up in the institution. As a young recruit, I knuckled down to basic training and got on with it, accepting the history and tradition we were presented with. It’s true that we were surrounded by men – as instructors, commanders and famous historical figures – but this seemed logical. I had joined a male dominated British organisation, so what did I expect?

Continue reading

Regulating Across the Digital Divide

(This blog was originally published at Project Syndicate)

By Shamel Azmeh

The increasing digitization of the global economy is changing how products and services are produced, distributed, and sold across borders. Technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and “smart devices” are spawning new industries, and revolutionizing old ones.

But, while these changes could bring important benefits, the speed of digitization has also created daunting governance challenges, both within and across countries. Existing global rules – embedded in multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade and investment agreements – are being challenged by the new processes that digitization is enabling.

Continue reading

Beyond ‘Send Money Home’: The Complex Gender Dynamics Behind Mobile Money Usage

(This blog was originally published at Next Billion)

By Susan Johnson

In spite of the rise of mobile money in sub-Saharan Africa, just 12 percent of people age 15 and older now have a mobile account, compared with 29 percent who have an account at a formal institution. But the gender gap for mobile money accounts is lower than that for formal accounts; women have 7.6 percent less access than men to formal accounts (32.7 percent vs. 25.1 percent) but just 2.5 percent less access to mobile money (12.8 percent vs. 10.3 percent). More detailed regression findings for Kenya in particular show that gender is not a significant variable in determining access to mobile money accounts in Kenya – though it is for formal financial institution accounts.

This is surprising. For information and communication technologies generally, the evidence suggests that gender gaps are significant, with the World Bank reporting that women are 50 percent less likely than men to use the internet in Africa and significantly less likely to use cell phones. So the question is: Why is mobile money different?

Continue reading

Should Business Take the Lead in Promoting Wellbeing?

(This blog was originally published at Network of Wellbeing)

By Sarah White

In a world where many of the largest economies in the world are companies rather than countries, it is vital that businesses see social and environmental responsibility as core to their everyday practice.

Continue reading


(This blog was originally published at Borderlands Asia)

By Oliver Walton

“It is true that Hambantota is the periphery and is in need of development. However, we should not blame people (from the centre). We must portray the periphery as a partner. Not as a hotbed of resistance”

The quotation comes from an interview with a prominent local businessman and political figure from Hambantota, a district in the deep south of Sri Lanka. Like many local leaders from marginal districts, this individual performs a complex role – balancing a concern with garnering support and resources from politicians and businesspeople at the centre, with a need to maintain the trust and confidence of his own constituency in the district. Continue reading

Giving a Voice to Local NGOs in a Flawed Global Aid Environment

(This piece was originally published in the Alternatives International Journal)

By Jeremy Wildeman and Matteo Mazzoleni

There is broad agreement at even the highest levels of the international donor community that the key to successful development lies with local ownership over aid projects, where people in affected regions play a leading role in setting the agenda and developing strategies to alleviate local poverty with external assistance. For some time now that consensus has been matched with the lofty rhetoric of “partnership” used to describe the relationship between donor and recipient. Ideally those partners work as equals with donors, together designing aid projects that effectively challenge poverty and enhance local capacities through institutional development. Continue reading

‘Temple Run’ or stay?

(This blog was originally published at Africa is a Country)

By Luisa Enria

“Back then, when the boats came, people used to run. Now we’d get on gladly, at least it would mean work.” Junior’s bleak jokes are not making anyone laugh. He takes another sip of his Sprite and kicks up the dust on the street where we are sitting in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “That’s why everyone wants to go on a Temple Run”, he adds – this time everyone nods knowingly. In the addictive mega-hit mobile phone game, Temple Run, “you have to run for your life to escape the Evil Demon Monkeys nipping at your heels.” This involves jumping walls of fire, swimming through treacherous waters and flying across collapsing bridges. For young people in Freetown, Temple Run has become code for the perilous journey that an increasing number of young Sierra Leoneans are making to Europe via Libya. Continue reading

Relational Wellbeing: Re-centring the Politics of Happiness, Policy and the Self


Sarah White, Professor of International Development and Wellbeing at the University of Bath, recently talked about her research, published in the journal Policy & Politics, on why all the interest in and talk of our wellbeing may reflect an anxiety that all may somehow not be well…

Watch the video, originally posted on the Policy & Politics blog.

Accessible, engaging textbooks could improve children’s learning

(This blog was originally posted at The Conversation)

By Lizzi Milligan

Textbooks are a crucial part of any child’s learning. A large body of research has proved this many times and in many very different contexts. Textbooks are a physical representation of the curriculum in a classroom setting. They are powerful in shaping the minds of children and young people.  Continue reading