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The Learning Agenda challenges all of us in the North to think more deeply about country ownership, country systems, local capacity and a different role than we are used to playing.

  • There is more local capacity than we tend to think.
  • But, there is lots of dependency in the current aid ecosystem—“they” depend too much on us and “we” have come to depend on their “dependency.”
  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, the burden of change may be more on “us” than it is on “them.”

Is the foreign aid profession falling into the trap of “Social Physics”?

Let’s consider the foreign aid establishment through the lens of cultural anthropology, the aim of which, as the late Clifford Geertz succinctly put it, “is to determine what this people or that take to be the point of what they are doing.”[1]  The aid establishment has a culture just as much as the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands

Reshaping a Development Story to Fit Donors’ Concerns

You forgot to say gender! “A program officer from a European foundation recalled the time she had gone to a school where her foundation was asking women to talk about the projects they had submitted as part of a leadership training program on gender equality. One woman stood up and said “The project I have submitted is to get cooking equipment so I can teach kids to cook.