Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Devex - The future of DfID — and UK development cooperation

"To be able to respond to modern-day challenges, U.K. development agencies need to shift their focus away from aid toward greater policy coherence.

Given that the U.K. will no longer provide aid to some middle-income countries such as India, its Department for International Development should form new models of cooperation within the health, education, culture, law and science sectors. Doing so will place more emphasis on working with small organizations, rather than larger delivery partners.

These were the recommendations of a new report launched this month by the International Development Committee, where a group of influential members of Parliament argued that while aid is essential to reduce poverty and reach development and environmental goals, aid alone is not enough. Recommendations in the report were based on evidence collected over a period of seven months from more than 60 development organizations and experts.

And global development professionals should heed the messages in the report, Overseas Development Institute team leader for public goods and services Leni Wild told Devex..."

Read the full article on Devex.com.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Guardian - Terrorism, fines and money laundering: why banks say no to poor customers

"When people in developing countries don’t have access to a bank account, physical proximity to a bank is usually the first challenge that springs to mind, but sometimes the reason a person is unable to access a secure place to store their savings is as simple as them not having a piece of paper to prove who they are.

Banking regulations vary between countries, and some allow banks to set their own rules about what proof of identity they accept for new customers to make sure no one is excluded. In South Africa Standard Bank accepts a letter verifying a person’s address from a tribal chief for certain accounts, while Postbank offers a Mzansiaccount, which does not require any proof of address but only offers basic transactional services and has a balance limit of 25,000 South African Rand (£1,362).

However, international banking standards set by the intergovernmental Financial Action Taskforce recommend that people opening an account provide specific documents. These “know your customer” (KYC) guidelines are not new, and have prevented poorer communities from accessing bank accounts for years. But there is increasing concern that KYC is becoming more restrictive, making access to finance harder for local banks and populations and damaging developing economies’ opportunity to grow..."

Monday, 12 January 2015

Nursery World - Children's centres: Why are inspection grades suffering?

"In Ofsted's most recent children's centre inspection results, less than half achieved a good or outstanding grade. From April to June 2014 it inspected 89 centres, of which only 3 per cent achieved an overall outstanding, and 45 per cent were good. A further 42 per cent were judged as requires improvement, and 10 per cent were inadequate. 

The results for the centres, which offer support services to families with children under five in local communities, continue a declining trend since 2010 when Government funding for this provision was pooled with other early intervention funding streams. Then, the resultant Early Intervention Grant was worth about £3bn in today's prices, according to the Children's Society. In 2015, the value of the grant shared between local authorities will have halved to about £1.5bn.

The latest results represent only a small proportion of some 3,300 children's centres in England (an actual total is unclear because of 'cluster' sites). But Ofsted results from November 2013 to March 2014, from 190 centres, were similar - only three per cent outstanding and 46 per cent good.

This is a sharp fall from 2010, when between October and December Ofsted inspected 164 sites. It found 12 per cent to be outstanding and 63 per cent good. Only one per cent was inadequate. Results for children's centres are also worse than for childcare providers and schools. Between April 2014 and 30 June 2014, the watchdog inspected 4,952 childcare providers and awarded 74 per cent an overall good or outstanding grade.

Between September 2013 and 31 August 2014, Ofsted inspected 6,469 maintained schools (including nursery, primary, secondary, special and pupil referral units). It judged 63 per cent good or outstanding.

So why are children's centres performing so badly?.."

Read the full story on the Nursery World website

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Devex - DfID 'dropped the ball' in Ebola response in Sierra Leone

"Senior UK Department for International Development officials have admitted the body made mistakes in its response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, while also suggesting how the department could respond better to similar crises in future.

DfID’s chief scientific adviser and director of research and evidence professor Chris Whitty told a panel of influential members of Parliament that the department had “multiple lessons” to learn as a result of the viral epidemic in Sierra Leone, which has now topped 9,000 cases — more than any other affected country in West Africa.

Whitty's comments came during an evidence session held by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee — known as PAC — which is investigating whether DfID’s response to the ongoing epidemic is providing value-for-money to the U.K. taxpayer.

PAC Chair Margaret Hodge asked Whitty why, during DfID’s years of involvement in Sierra Leone since the end of the country’s civil war, it had not invested more in programs to strengthen the health system..."

Read the full article on Devex.com

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Guardian Weekend magazine - Experience: I chose to amputate my leg

"Outdoor activities are my passion: skiing, hiking and motor-biking are why I moved to Canada from Israel. That passion is also why I chose to amputate my right leg. It was badly damaged in 2010, in a near-fatal car accident. I was driving along British Columbia’s notorious Coquihalla Highway in a snow storm. I skidded on black ice, spun, and the car flipped on its roof and into the path of a lorry. Three days later, I woke from an induced coma: my right femur was shattered into 17 pieces and my ankle smashed. Three surgeons wanted to amputate the leg; a fourth argued I was still young and might recover..."

Read the full story on the Guardian online