All posts by WhyDev Team

The WhyDev writing team consists of Brendan, Weh, Rachel, Jennifer & Laurie. Check out more about the team on the "About Us" page.
Naomi Campbell's Instagram selfie for the #WakeUpCall campaign.

Last Week Today: WhatsApp vs. humanitarian aid

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

What do NGOs have in common with this woman?

The obsession with the perfectly composed selfie.

This week, celebs are taking selfies for UNICEF’s #WakeUpCall campaign. But are NGOs trying too hard to create the next viral campaign?

The week in news

Protests in Hong Kong are raging on, intensified by police beating of activists. ISIS is nearing a strategic town in Iraq’s Anbar Province. And fighting has erupted over the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Kim Jong Un has evidently reappeared. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of rumours – but now, most of them are about his new cane.

And in this week’s edition of “naked photo scandals,” 100,000 SnapChat pictures have been hacked, including nude pics of teenagers.

The week on the blog

Cognitive dissonance in aid: A job like any other

In our final post on cognitive dissonance, J. reminds us that aid is like any other industry – imperfect.

Why I’m anti anti-poverty

It’s Anti-Poverty Week in Australia, but WhyDev Director Brendan Rigby asks what it actually means to be “anti-poverty” – and whether it’s useful.

Inequality and the struggle for land rights

For Blog Action Day, Alison Rabe reports on one Cambodian community’s struggle with a common problem: protecting local land from multi-national corporations.

The week in globaldev

The feminists you’re really looking for

When Africa is on TV, people go to the bathroom.

You don’t join ISIS to feed your family.

Australia at the top

Ebola: So African, so dark, so black

Why do we even know Malala’s name?

WhatsApp vs. humanitarian aid

Audio In the latest episode of EMERGENCY AIDio, Nuran Higgens talks to Andy Puddicombe about using meditation for a healthy mind and better life. (1:11:19)

Upcoming events

OIC: The Cambodia Project: Launch extravaganza | Melbourne, 12 November

You can also check out our other events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Featured image is Naomi Campbell’s selfie for the #WakeUpCall campaign. Photo from Instagram.

Last Week Today: 10 October 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are expecting! And it’s pretty likely this will be the world’s most beautiful baby. You can already see predictions of what he or she will look like.

Although, here at WhyDev, we’re disappointed they haven’t adopted a Cambodian child. Blakan could give Brangelina a run for their humanitarian money.

The week in news

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has temporarily stepped down (the ICC hearing on his crimes against humanity and all).

ISIS is set to take the key town of Kobane, on the Turkish-Syrian border. Meanwhile, Turkey is garnering support for a buffer zone to protect displaced people.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems to be missing. Unsubstantiated rumours suggest he has gout, is under house arrest, fractured both ankles because of his weight or was tapped on the shoulder by Ban Ki-moon to negotiate a ceasefire between ISIS and the world.

The week on the blog

The difference one tree can make

What can be done to combat deforestation in developing countries? Kathleen Buckingham draws lessons from some major tree-planting initiatives.

What Tim Minchin can teach you about working in global development

Musician-comedian Tim Minchin doled out some unconventional but inspiring life advice in a graduation speech – and WhyDev Director Brendan Rigby turned it into lessons for aspiring aid workers.

The week in globaldev

Where my senior consultants at? Hola!

UNDP Number 1!

So much panic, so little action on Ebola

Down with all-male panels!

Generalists and specialists are so last year. This season is all about the “integrator.”

Ebola is the Jeffrey Sachs of cold sores.

A “Homeless Bill of Rights,” so people can legally sit and stand in public

No money left for food aid – USAID spent it all on shipping costs.

Comic In the real world, do we actually love the underdog?

"The Underdog Myth," a comic by Mike Dawson.
“The Underdog Myth,” a comic by Mike Dawson.

You can also check out our events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Featured image by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA.

Last Week Today: 3 October 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

What happens when Thor gets too tired to pick up his hammer? It looks like a new Thor steps in. Only this Thor is a woman.

Marvel Comics recently made waves when they announced they were making the God of Thunder female, and now a preview of her first issue is out.

Just to clarify, “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Fox News apparently disapproves of the change.

The week in news

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents have taken to the streets in unprecedented (and unusually polite) pro-democracy rallies. Beijing is responding about as you’d expect.

Tragedy struck in Japan, as Mount Ontake erupted unexpectedly, killing at least 47 people so far. And two suicide blasts hit Kabul, killing eight Afghan soldiers, just two days after Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated as the country’s new President.

In other news, David Cameron announced that Tories resent poor people. #FreudianSlip?

The week on the blog

Wearable impact: Ethical fashion explained

From t-shirts made of organic cotton to shoes made of old tires, ethical fashion is getting more trendy. But do these efforts to be responsible have an impact? Liza Moiseeva explains the fashion industry’s potential to make a difference, and its shortcomings.

Accepting flaws and doing good: Some thoughts on cognitive dissonance

How can aid workers sleep at night? Erol Yayboke continues the conversation on cognitive dissonance with advice on how to handle working in a flawed industry – and how we should be thinking about development work in the first place.

The week in globaldev

The problems with praising the female pilot who bombed ISIS | Vox

Jude Law, Akon and the DRC | VICE

A toast to Scott Morrision for his plan to send refugees to Cambodia | Sydney Morning Herald

Life in the time of Ebola | Think Africa Press

Support for volunteers with disabilities | Devex

Audio Laura Seay says we need to stick to the facts on Ebola. | On the Media (09:11)

Upcoming events

Learn how to utilise crowd funding in your organisation: A NetSquared Meetup | Melbourne, 7 October

You can also check out our other events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Featured image from Marvel comic book.


Last Week Today: 26 September 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Peruvian writer Isabella Tanikumi is suing Disney for $250 million, claiming they  stole her life story – the story from the movie Frozen.

Yes, she says a movie that features a talking snowman and a kingdom that’s trapped in winter was based on her life. Because she wrote a book about growing up in the mountains, and, you know, Frozen has mountains. And also, it has the same “feelings” as the book. We wonder if Tanikumi has a pet reindeer, too?

The week in news

Tragically, Soldiers of the Caliphate, an Algeria-based group loyal to ISIS, beheaded French hiker Herve Gourdel and released an all-too-familiar video online.

The U.S. has begun launching airstrikes against ISIS, a move that’s facing an unusual lack of resistance from peace activists. Meanwhile, the French government has a new name for ISIS, and they’re not too happy about it.

Despite intense scrutiny from human rights groups, Australia is set to sign a resettlement deal, which will send refugees seeking asylum to Cambodia.

This time last week, we were waiting to see if the world would have a new country – but Scotland voted to remain part of the U.K. (although Scots will be “incandescent” if London backs out on promises of increased sovereignty).

Emma Watson gave a speech on feminism, which introduced the UN’s “He for She” initiative, and it went viral. The speech earned her a huge amount of fanfare, a lot of criticism and a threat to release nude photos, which turned out to be “just a hoax” (but, really not).

Photo from MoodyChick.
Photo from MoodyChick.

The week on the blog

From voluntourism to ice buckets: Narcissism in social media

With the hype of the #IceBucketChallenge mostly over, Alison Rabe explains what it revealed about our narcissism and social media addiction – and how it’s not so different from voluntourism. Really, we’ll do anything for a good profile pic.

Disability is not our priority area

After submitting proposals for disability-focused projects, WhyDev Co-Founder Weh Yeoh has gotten too many rejections saying, “Disability is not our priority area.” In an open letter, he explains why it should be.

Death on the mission

Being an aid worker often means living in countries with low life expectancies and high mortality rates. And that almost inevitably means losing friends and colleagues at some point. The Guerilla Researcher wants to start a conversation about coping with death in the field.

The week in globaldev

“Asia” is a Western construct. | The Diplomat

Traits of politically-smart, locally-led development | From Poverty to Power

Wartime sexual violence is more than a “weapon of war.” | Monkey Cage

A take-down of Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s empire | Truthout

Why is West Africa so spectacularly ill-prepared to handle Ebola? | Africa Is a Country

Drones as a tool for activism? | ICTworks

The crippling costs of measuring progress on the SDGs | The Guardian

Just in case anyone still thought One Laptop Per Child was effective | Development That Works

What about the safety of national NGO staff? | Aid Leap

Upcoming events

Learn how to utilise crowd funding in your organization: A NetSquared Meetup | Melbourne, 7 October

You can also check out our other events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Featured image from Disney.

Kanye West

Last Week Today: 19 September 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

“The show will not go on until you stand up.”

“What? You’re in a wheelchair?”

Oops. That was  Bound 2 be awkward.

That’s pretty much what went down at a Kanye West concert in Sydney last week, followed by media backlash known as Wheelchair-gate. Kanye lashed out against the criticism, saying, “I’m not going to make one of them Ben Affleck statements and shit,” “I’m a married Christian man with a family” and, “I’m not one of these dumbass artists that you’re used to.”

It’s cool, though. Kim Kardashian cleared the air.

The week in news

Tragically, ISIS has followed through on another threat, executing British aid worker David Haines and releasing a horrifyingly familiar video, followed by a new propaganda video of British photojournalist John Cantile. The group claims British citizen Alan Henning, who’d been volunteering on an aid convoy, will be the next victim if their demands aren’t met.

Ten Liberian government officials left the country and refused to return to help fight the Ebola outbreak. So President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf fired them all. Meanwhile, the U.S.-based NGO Samaritan’s Purse paid top dollar to evacuate two Ebola-stricken missionaries from the country, and Doctors Without Borders has rejected a multi-million dollar offer of cash to help fight the disease.

Severe flooding has killed hundreds, displaced thousands and created a public health disaster in Indian-administered Kashmir and in Pakistan.

Scotland is in the midst of an independence referendum, which could have implications for foreign aid and for other separatist movements. The Guardian has a helpful video that explains the referendum for non-Brits.

The week on the blog

On cognitive dissonance: Local ownership and constant learning

Most aid workers recognise the flaws in the sector – yet, we continue defending and working in the very industry we criticise. Is it cognitive dissonance, or something else? Chris Planicka and Chad Bissonnette share their perspectives.

52 pick-up lines that will win the heart of an aid worker

Next time you’re at the ex-pat bar (or just a pub near your local Oxfam affiliate), try out one of our aid worker-approved pick-up lines. “Hey, girl. I’m Mr. Human Right. Someone said you were looking for me?”

MissionCreep #4: Arseholes, perceptions and books

The fourth episode of the MissionCreep podcast is out, bringing you fresh and frank voices in global development. Brendan Rigby, Carly Stephan and Weh Yeoh chat about all the arseholes in development, people’s perceptions of aid and the books aid workers are reading. Have a listen, then join the conversation in the comments or using the hashtag #MissionCreepDev.

The week in globaldev











Do humanitarian organisations misuse statistics to promote their cause? | Mats Utas

Finally, some solid research on the impacts of TOMS | Humanosphere

Is Rick Warren doing good in Africa – or just spreading a message that oppresses women and gays?  | The Daily Beast

The five months since #BringBackOurGirls | Huffington Post

The NGO-isation of politics has made resistance a 9-5 job. | Massalijn

Why are we so obsessed with “innovation?” | Development Impact and You

Going beyond quantitative analysis in evaluation | Lessons I Learned

Is South Sudan kicking foreign aid workers out of the country, or not? | Baobab

Upcoming events

Online platforms as a site of international development activity and activism: A panel discussion | Melbourne, 23 September

You can also check out our other events and listen to previous episodes of MissionCreep.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.


MissionCreep #4: Arseholes, perceptions and books

Your hosts, Brendan Rigby, Carly Stephan and Weh Yeoh, are back with episode 4 of the MissionCreep podcast, bringing you fresh and frank voices in global development.

This time, Weh wants to know why there are so many egotistical arseholes working in development (it’s not law, after all!). Plus, Carly responds to a bureaucrat who doubts the effectiveness of aid, and Brendan asks about aid workers’ reading lists.

Join the conversation! Let us know how you deal with the arseholes you encounter, and send us your book recommendations. Leave a comment here or on Facebook, e-mail us at info[AT], and use the hashtag #MissionCreepDev on Twitter. We’ll respond online or on the next episode of the podcast.

Runs 37:39.

You can also listen to the podcast here or download it on iTunes (and a transcript is coming soon).

Brendan Rigby
Brendan Rigby
Carly Stephan
Carly Stephan
Weh Yeoh
Weh Yeoh





Articles referenced throughout the podcast:

Why competing over funding is killing development (and how we might improve)

The troll slayer: A Cambridge classicist takes on her sexist detractors

This is the No. 1 thing that holds most people back from success.

Essential reading on foreign aid

How humanitarian aid weakened post-earthquake Haiti

Putting our money where our mouths are? Donations to NGOs and support for ODA in Australia

Jihadists buy Islam for Dummies on Amazon

Book recommendations from the podcast: Thinking Fast and Slow, Made to Stick, Rohinton Mistry, The Power of Now, A New Earth, Daring Greatly, The Big Leap, Emergency Sex, Zen under Fire, You Are Not So Smart, Development as Freedom, The Bottom Billion and War, Guns & Votes.

52 pick-up lines that will win the heart of an aid worker

Even with the advent of online dating services and Tinder,  love in the field can be a battlefield. Isolation, gender imbalances and reruns have aid workers forlorn and looking for love. In all the wrong places. Dr. WhyDev is on hand to get you back on that horse with 52 pick-up lines that are sure to win the heart of any cynical aid worker.

  1. Are you an orphanage? Because I want to give you kids.
  2. You must be tired, because you’ve been running around the field all day.
  3. Let me be your logframe of love.
  4. The UN must be missing an M&E Officer, because you’ve been monitoring me all night.
  5. Hey baby, I’m going to make you MDG #9 and give you 100%-access to my love.
  6. This first date has been pretty successful so far. Now let’s bring it to scale.
  7. Your presence here is having a significant effect on me.
  8. Do you have foreign aid? Because I just fell into a poverty trap.
  9. I thought robust started with an ‘r’. Why does mine start with ‘u’?
  10. Do you live in a corn field? Because I’m stalking you.
  11. My love for you is like diarrhea – I just can’t hold it in.
  12. Are you a refugee? Because you must have fled from heaven.
  13. Do you believe in love at first sight, or would you like me to conduct an RCT with treatment and control groups?
  14. Hey, girl. I’m Mr. Human Right. Someone said you were looking for me?
  15. Can I borrow a micro-kiss? I promise I’ll give it right back with a lot of interest.
  16. I’m a disaster and need UN assistance right now. I need U. Now.
  17. Do you have any Cambodian/Kenyan/Haitian in you? Would you like some?
  18. Let me into your bed, and I’ll be your Haiyan all night long.
  19. This ain’t no participatory process baby, you’re coming home with me right now.
  20. I hope you’re not a monk ‘cos I’d love to go Tibet with you.
  21. I don’t need no Viagra to build my capacity. I’ve got you.
  22. You don’t need to worry about my sustainability. I can go all night.
  23. What’s your favourite position when you’re out in the field? Reverse Consultant or Missionary?  How about Emancipatory Style?
  24. Are you taking malaria prophylaxis? ‘Cos you’ve been Doxycycline through my mind all night long.
  25. Your body is a wonderland that I’m gonna need security clearance to evaluate.
  26. Damn, girl. If being sexy was a crime, you’d be taken to the ICC.
  27. Do you work for the World Food Programme? Because you got me starving for your attention.
  28. I Ecua-dor you!
  29. Do you have a staph infection, or are you just blushing since I walked in the room?
  30. Are you Australian? Because you meet all of my koala-fications.
  31. After one night with me, you’ll be going all Dambisa on me, screaming Moyo, Moyo, Moyo.
  32. Hey baby, are you from the Red Cross? Because I’ve got some sexual health humanitarian needs.
  33. Don’t worry, baby. The safe word is “Kony.”
  34. Hey baby, come take a shower with me, so we can do some participatory M&E on our WASH practices.
  35. There’s some serious flooding going on in the north of Thailand. I suggest we take shelter at my place and Bangkok.
  36. Oh come on, don’t knock me back. That’s hardly following inclusive best practices.
  37. I’d like to buy you some donuts, so we can see some real bottom-up development, if you know what I mean.
  38. Let’s go back to my place so you can investigate my low hanging fruit (deliberately ambiguous if spoken by a man or woman).
  39. Hey baby, you’re hitting all the right indicators. It’s time to take this to the field.
  40. I’m not looking to put a ring on it, baby. I’m all about the low overhead.
  41. You look like just the person to help me scale up what I’ve got going on down below.
  42. I think about you at least 50 times per diem.
  43. I couldn’t help but notice you at the shelter cluster meeting. Why don’t you take refuge at my place tonight?
  44. From the bottom up and the top down, you got development in all the right places.
  45. I hear there’s grant money out there for family planning. Let’s do a joint scoping mission.
  46. We’d better call the disaster response team, because I think I just felt the earth shake beneath me.
  47. Hey baby, I like my women like I like my anthropology. Thick and cultural.
  48. You’re so hot, I’m declaring you a crisis zone!
  49. Just like Bono, I want to push you closer and closer to The Edge.
  50. I’d be great in a hostage situation. There’s a lot I can do with my hands tied behind my back.
  51. We gotta stop with the whole Easterly-Sachs thing, and get more like Rigby-Yeoh.
  52. UNAIDS, UNOCHA, UNHCR. There’s something missing from all of this. UN me.

We acknowledge that there was a discussion on AidSource in 2012 that managed about 10 pick-up lines. We are building on this participatory framework developed by our colleagues, and adding 52 more for testing, benchmarking and evaluating in the field.

Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George

Last Week Today: 12 September 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Remember how sad you were when Kate Middleton gave birth to Prince George, because it meant no more play-by-plays on the royal uterus? Good news! Prince William’s wife is pregnant again; an event that has already led to several breaking news stories, like these:

Prince Harry jokes that William will suffer with arrival of second child

Baby will likely have a regal and traditional name

Age gap between the two royal babies will almost be the same as gap between Kate and Pippa

Expect the world’s most famous fetus to dominate the media until Kate’s due date in April 2015. And then, more of this.

The week in news

Since Pakistani authorities breached a strategic dyke in Punjab, over 700,000 villagers have been displaced by flooding. Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine reached a ceasefire, and Russian troops have mostly withdrawn.

The Guinean student who brought Ebola to Senegal has thankfully recovered, but Liberia’s Minister of Defence says the disease poses a serious threat to his country’s national existence.

TMZ released a new video showing professional football player Ray Rice punching his wife, which prompted the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. The news has triggered new discussion about abusive relationships, and sparked two viral hashtags#WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.

In case your iPhone 5 can’t do enough, you want to wear your apps on your wrist, or you don’t like PayPal, Apple just unveiled several new products.

The week on the blog

Mission Creep #3: ALS, boob aid and the White Helmets of Syria

The third episode of the WhyDev podcast is out, featuring fresh and frank voices in global development. In this installment, Brendan Rigby, Carly Stephan and Laurie Phillips rehash the #IceBucketChallenge, create something called “Grope Aid” and ask about a little-known aid organisation. Join the conversation in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter using the hasthag #MissionCreepDev.

Help Weh win the Anti-Poverty Award

Our co-founder Weh Yeoh was nominated for an Anti-Poverty Award, recognizing his work on disability services in Cambodia. Help him win by clicking the Like or Tweet button on his entry.

Complexity, clarity, simplicity: Storytelling in global development

Communications in development means telling other people’s stories, but being accurate, fair and respectful in storytelling isn’t easy. Daniel Lombari talked to a variety of comms professionals about how they reach the sweet spot between complexity and simplicity.

The week in globaldev

What is implementation science? Cartoon by Kirsty Newman.
What is implementation science? Cartoon by Kirsty Newman.

Implementation science: a definition and a drawing | Kirsty Evidence

Leaving M&E for comms + the launch of The Development Element | How Matters

Voluntourism as neoliberal humanitarianism | Zero Anthropology

Humanitarian hypocrites: saving the world but killing the planet | AidLeap

NGOs, ethical spending and voluntourism | The Guardian

Heart wrenching sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Somalia | Humanosphere

Promising evidence on donor support of civil society | From Poverty to Power

A very different “walk of shame” | People, Spaces, Deliberation

From voluntourist to anti-orphanage activist | Lessons I Learned

The Dodd-Frank Bill, four years later | Monkey Cage

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

CABDICO provides therapy for children with disabilities.

Help Weh win the Anti-Poverty Award

Our co-founder, Weh Yeoh, has been making waves in Cambodia, working with some of the most vulnerable people. There are many areas that need attention across the world, but disability often seems to fall far behind. Weh is doing his best to bring basic health services to people with disabilities.

Please check out his 40-second video, explaining why this is important, and help him win this award.

You can vote for him by visiting his page and clicking the Like and/or Tweet button. The person with the most likes and tweets by 19th September will win the competition.

Please visit:

Weh Yeoh’s Uniting Care Anti-Poverty Award application.

Here’s a collection of further reading on this topic:

From the Sydney Morning Herald

From the Huffington Post

From ABC Radio National

From the Cambodia Daily here, here and here.

Charlie Sheen's #IceBucketChallenge video

MissionCreep #3: ALS, boob aid and the White Helmets of Syria

The third episode of MissionCreep is out, bringing you fresh and frank voices in global development, with Brendan Rigby, Carly Stephan and Laurie Phillips.

This week, we’re talking about how the #IceBucketChallenge could be applied to global development, plus a boob-squeezing fundraiser in Japan (boobs4dev?) and a surprisingly unknown aid group working in Syria. And Brendan achieves his goal of saying “balls,” “Sachs” and “Easterly” in the same sentence.

Use the hashtag #MissionCreepDev to respond to the podcast and ask your questions. You can also email us info[AT] or post your questions on our Facebook page.

Be sure to send in your suggestions for a viral global development challenge (and your ideas for Grope Aid!), and let us know if you’ve heard anything about the White Helmets.

Runs 26:39.

Brendan Rigby
Brendan Rigby
Carly Stephan
Carly Stephan
Laurie Phillips
Laurie Phillips





You can also listen to the podcast here or download it on iTunes (and a transcript will be out soon).

Articles referenced throughout the podcast:

Could we create an Ice Bucket Challenge for global development? Should we?

Boob Aid: Japan porn queens in 24-hour ‘squeeze-a-thon’

White Helmets