Blog Posts

Design new products or services using the Human-Centered Design Toolkit

Update: IDEO and +Acumen are partnering to offer a free online course on Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation Last year I did a free design course from the University of Pennsylvania. The course wasn’t specifically for international development – most of the practical exercises were on designing a new type of ice-cream scoop. …

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Free EdX course The Challenges of Global Poverty starts 5 Feb 2014

Challenges of Global Poverty on EdX

Just an announcement that the free EdX course The Challenges of Global Poverty is being run again from 5 February 2014 and is highly recommended for International Development / Global Aid professionals. Delivered by two of the top thinkers in international development economics, Esther Duflo and Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, this …

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Three questions to ask before organising a capacity building workshop

In my opinion, capacity building workshops are one of the most overused activities in international development / aid programs today. Normally involving the words “strengthening”, “sustainable” or “empowerment”, these events have the potential to waste large amounts of money and achieve relatively little. That’s not to say workshops are completely useless, …

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Should I use interviews or focus groups?

Deciding whether to use interviews or focus groups for collecting qualitative data is an age old question that plagues every international development / aid worker at some point in their career. Some experts think interviews are better, some think focus groups are better, while others say it depends on the situation. …

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Does my study need ethics committee approval?

International development / aid workers are often faced with a dilemma when evaluating the results of their program. They need to do a survey, or some interviews, or even a randomised trial, but they’re not sure if they need approval from an ethics committee before doing it. I’ve encountered some …

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Donations: Where does the money come from?

One of the first things I do when starting a new project is to ask the team a very important question: “Where does the money for this project come from?” I usually get a range of surprised looks. Surely I must know that the money comes from “donor X”. “Yes, …

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7 things you can do to help stop per diem abuse

A per diem (Latin for “per day”) is a payment made to cover travel related expenses, such as accommodation, transport and meals, for employees and program participants. Because collecting receipts can be time consuming (or sometimes impossible in the case of tuk tuk drivers or market food stalls), per diems are …

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