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The world upside down

I am deeply honoured to publish my first co-authored post with my colleague and friend Cindy Dubble. She has worked on children’s rights in some of the worst conflict situations around the world – often risking her own life to improve the living conditions of forgotten children. Cindy is, quite simply, one of the best people and humanitarian professionals I have ever met. This blog post is an opportunity to share her wisdom from three decades of helping – and listening to – children affected by war and natural disasters.

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“I participate. You participate. They decide”.

I will always be grateful to my former colleague Rachel Scott for lending me her book Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid (2012). I must confess its small size was the second thing that caught my eye right after the title. At the time I was so snowed under with work that I didn’t think I would have any time left for extra reading, let alone for extra work-related reading. Surprisingly, it wasn’t long before this precious little book kept me up at night and had me nodding in agreement at each page....

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The elephant in the room

There’s a lot of talk these days about leaving no-one behind. In development circles it has become a mantra for making sure that everyone benefits from the ambitious agenda the world adopted last month to advance human progress between now and 2030. Every day I read of specific groups who shouldn’t be left behind: people affected by conflict, pandemics, climate disasters, disability…. the list could go on and on. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for including these groups and firmly believe we need to pay more attention to each one of them. That’s what my job is...

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Who wants to be called poor?

If you ever visit Rome, you may encounter a beggar that will leave you in awe. Apparently of African origins, a red flower in her hair, she sits on a stool in the middle of the sidewalk in Largo Argentina – smiling to strangers, singing sometimes. On the cobblestone floor, a round hat lies upside down next to a cardboard sign that reads “Poor but happy”. I have found myself often thinking of this woman when planning anti-poverty campaigns or writing policy recommendations. Year after year – particularly around this time, as we mark World Food Day today and...

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Texting for better policies

To many David Beckham‘s meeting with the UN Secretary-General last month was just another celebrity moment to mark the universal adoption of the Global Goals — the seventeen objectives the world has just agreed to advance human progress between now and 2030. In fact, Beckham, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, was there to present something that has the potential to revolutionise the way we think and do international development. He showed the results of a real-time poll organised by U-Report, a simple application supported by UNICEF that allows you to text or tweet your opinions for free on any topic from seventeen developing...

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