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November 1, 2016

My blog Kiliza turns one – and here’s what I have learned

October last year I started my blog. I decided to call it Kiliza, from the Swahili word for ‘listen’, to focus on what I think development and climate change professionals should do more than anything else if they actually want to help people living in poverty in the global South. Back then I believed, and still do, that for development and climate change policies to be effective it is important to first understand what people from the world’s poorest places say about international co-operation, the environment, and development and climate change themselves.
October 12, 2016

What’s happened to citizen engagement in climate change discussions since Paris?

I know, I know. In my last post I said I’d be back in September and here we are, already in mid-October. Not that I haven’t tried to write something sooner. I actually wanted to refocus on climate change discussions and see whether citizens from the global South have anything to say about the historic agreement reached in Paris at the end of last year.
July 28, 2016

How can humanitarian aid be more effective? Ask the locals

The dust has settled on the World Humanitarian Summit but many of the issues discussed at the conference a few weeks ago still dominate the headlines. The devastating impact of the Syrian conflict on civilians. The endless influx of migrants and refugees into Europe. The increasing gap between funding needs and shrinking aid budgets. Is there really something we can do to improve humanitarian aid despite this worrying picture?
July 3, 2016

Southern philanthropy is rising and changing how the wealthy give

About ten years ago I used to work on a demobilisation and reintegration programme for former child combatants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The job of reuniting these children with their families and helping them find an alternative to holding a Kalashnikov was already a major challenge in itself. Rarely would it get more complicated than when a global personality would come visit the children in the interim care centres where they were staying or publicly launch a new initiative in their favour...
May 31, 2016

People at the centre of humanitarian aid. Mission possible?

The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit is over, with mixed results. For those, including me, who were hoping the discussion would tackle some of the root causes of humanitarian crises, like the lack of political solutions to fundamentally political problems, the conference was a missed opportunity. At the same time, the summit turned out to be positively surprising, focusing the attention on issues that are normally sidelined in global discussions or, even worse, labelled as ‘charity’.
May 19, 2016

Why we need a humanitarian summit

On 23-24 May the city of Istanbul hosts the world’s first-ever humanitarian summit. About 5,000 leaders from government, business and civil society will gather at the UN’s request to agree more effective ways to address some of the most challenging crises on earth. Why this meeting now? And will it really make any difference to the millions of people affected by natural disasters or conflict around the world?
April 27, 2016

‘Developing country’ – is that what we should call them?

My second guest post is by Clinton Robinson, an education expert who has managed to capture an underlying dilemma for the development community in just a few amazing paragraphs. What assumptions do we make when we label countries as ‘developed’ or ‘developing’? Does it make sense to do so in today’s world? Should we just talk about people living in poverty anywhere? After reading his piece I hope you, too, will start questioning the standard language we use to describe how we ‘help’ other communities.
April 19, 2016

When more aid is less

Last week the OECD, an inter-governmental organisation gathering the world’s richest countries, released its annual figures on how much aid, or overseas development assistance, went to developing countries in 2015. On the surface, there is reason to celebrate: once you take out inflation and exchange rate changes, the overall net amount of aid is the highest ever reported, totaling $131.6 billion after an already record-high couple of years. That’s quite an achievement, particularly for those European donors who last year had to face major unexpected challenges, such as the arrival of migrants and refugees at their doorstep.
March 30, 2016

Through migrant eyes

Ever since I started working in development I have been struck by how little we talk about its linkages with migration. Most NGOs specialise in either/or. Very few of them have the courage or the capacity to address migration and development together despite the fact that these issues are often two sides of the same coin. If anything, the growing influx of migrants and refugees into Europe has forced us to start making that link in earnest. Never before have so many people been forced to flee their homes, nearly sixty million worldwide – the equivalent size of Italy’s population.
March 2, 2016

What can technology do to reduce gender-based violence?

International Women’s Day, 8 March, is fast approaching and surely the news will shower us with all kinds of statistics on women’s progress or lack thereof […]
February 17, 2016

In their shoes

Sudan, circa 2007. At the time I was a consultant doing free-lance evaluations for humanitarian organisations big and small. I had spent the last three months […]
January 30, 2016

The dividing line

Once again Davos has kicked off the new year with its glitzy gathering of the world’s most influential leaders to discuss the hottest issues on the […]
January 12, 2016

Humans of My World

First few days into the new year and already my shopping list of resolutions has shrunk to a couple. Besides my eternal plan to exercise more, […]
December 19, 2015

Adapting to a whole new climate

    Big sighs of relief about the climate change agreement reached in Paris last week. While it is far from perfect, many experts see it […]
December 4, 2015

Are climate change talks a privilege of the few?

Living in Paris and working on development and climate change issues, I couldn’t escape the deluge of updates on the ongoing Conference of the Parties (COP21) […]
November 19, 2015

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.
November 6, 2015

“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 […]
October 27, 2015

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 […]
October 16, 2015

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, […]
October 7, 2015

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 […]