Shotgun Shack hits about ten different nails on the head with her devastating exposé of the hypocrisy of BINGOs promoting gender issues in developing countries. The principles are easy, but the practice is far messier especially in culturally diverse international organisations. It brings to mind the age old conundrum of absolute human rights versus culturally sensitive relativism.
Next up, J from Tales from the Hood questions the value of “Innovation” departments in aid BINGOs. I don’t entirely agree with his definition of what makes for good innovation, but, hold on a minute, why would you want a dedicated innovation team working in a sector as diverse as international development? Don’t we keep on saying that blueprints are out and local adaptations are in? Innovation certainly can be a good thing, but for it to make sense it has to happen at the coalface: successful development needs to be grounded in local realities, otherwise we’ll just end up with more solutions in search of problems.
Then over at the Guardian Jonathan Glennie makes a bid for Economic Nonsense Statements of our Time – the Hall of Fame with this gem:
“every year the UK exports 34,000 cuddly toys to New Zealand, and every year we import the same number. From New Zealand. Ecologically mad, but economically sane, in terms of today’s model.”
Dude, I think you’ll find they’re not the same toys. This is economic specialization. It’s a good thing, and makes sense on anyone’s model. Plus the carbon costs of shipping the toys (34,000 doesn’t sound that much to me) will be a small fraction of the carbon emitted from 34,000 parents driving home from the shops where they bought them.
Finally, a shout out for the Ol Lentille Trust blog, that I’ve been enjoying recently. I cannot say I know the project personally, but I like what I read, with some good news stories of positive interventions on the ground that combine conservation, economic development (i.e. good business) and cultural sensitivity. Good luck to you guys!