“Our collective continued fixation on low overhead and aid worker personal life sacrifice forces us and our donors feel as if we must choose between white interns or brown babies. And only a really horrible person would ever choose the white interns.”

J. kicking some ass. Read this if you donate to charities.

Background reading

White Interns Vs. Brown Babies


“Whatever the professional standards may be, very often officials adopt certain institutions and tools because it is the thing to do, not because there is firm evidence to show a certain effect on a particular objective.”

From an ODI paper on the 2013 CAPE Conference: Budgeting for the real world

While, in context, this quote is aimed at bureaucrats and government officials, I think we can all recognise such problems in other organisations. While the burden of evidence can still stick in the craw of many (see the recent dressing down of the usually excellent blog Africa Is A Country by Laura Seay over a poor critique of a Washington Post piece on Jay Ulfelder‘s work on predicting coups) this short sentence highlights the dangers of getting by without it.

Yes, it can be misused. Yes, it can distract from the realities of a situation. But to ignore it altogether is undoubtedly much worse.

A Quick Reminder Of Why Evidence Matters


“The existing measures of [state quality or capacity] have a number of limitations. There is an inherent weakness in expert surveys, especially when trying to create time-series data. Since the concept of [good governance] is not well established, different experts may intend different things when responding to the same survey question.”

Francis Fukuyama, 2013

If you replaced the phrases I have put in square brackets with practically any from the jargon heavy grammar of development, you would be making an equally valid point.

Worth thinking about the next time you read a report or (even worse) some article proclaiming to indicate the consensus on such issues.

Read the full paper here

Terms of Development