All posts by WhyDev Team

The WhyDev writing team consists of Brendan, Weh, Rachel, Jen & Laurie. Check out more about the team on the "About Us" page.

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

Jennifer Lawrence

Last Week Today: 5 September 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Pregnant women get special treatment, and it turns out some animals are no different. Pregnant pandas evidently have it really good – so good it’s worth pretending? This clever panda thought so.

Ai Hin in her enclosure at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre. Photo from STR/AFP/Getty Images.
Ai Hin in her enclosure at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre in China. Photo from STR/AFP/Getty Images.

For the two months Ai Hin’s caretakers thought she was pregnant, the panda has been living in a special aid-conditioned suite and getting extra bamboo. Seems worth it.

The week in news

Tragically, ISIS followed through with their threat to murder a second American journalist in retaliation for continued U.S. intervention in Iraq. The terrorist group released a video of one of their members beheading Steven Sotloff, who was later found to hold dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. In the video, ISIS issued another threat, to execute a British hostage if U.S. forces don’t pull out of Iraq.

Nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and several other celebrities got leaked from their iPhones. Commentary on the photos quickly turned to outrage about the gender dimension of the scandal and sparked a new hashtag and then critiques of that hashtag, all within a few days. (Bottom line: if you look at the pictures, you’re part of the problem.)

Meanwhile, France’s former First Lady has published a tell-all book about her ex, President Francois Hollande. Her claims that he despises the poor probably won’t do much for his ratings.

And we don’t think there was a coup in Lesotho last week. But it’s not really clear.

The week on the blog

Poverty continues what the Khmer Rouge started

In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge ripped Cambodian families apart. Today, Allison Smith says poverty is having similar effects, by forcing families to make difficult choices.

Cognitive dissonance: An unspoken qualification for aid work?

Aid workers know that lots of development projects fail, yet they stay in this line of work. Jonathan Favini asks how aid professionals decide to continue in an industry they doubt, and whether they deserve the inevitable praise that comes from friends, family members and even barbers.

The week in globaldev

What do voluntourism and global development have in common? | Devex

One Mauritanian man is fighting slavery in his country. | New Yorker

Corruption costs developing countries $1 trillion every year. | ONE Campaign

We might need a new term for “development.” | Poverty Matters

Is charity narcissism a good thing? | BBC

A change in global values? Maybe not.  | Monkey Cage

The story of one environmental activist in rural China | Policy Innovations

Why Bill Gates wouldn’t be able to get a job with a British NGO | Guardian

Upcoming events

Complexity? Nah, just a Tuesday. (Session 2): A conversation series for development workers | Melbourne, 9 September

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.
Adelie penguins in East Antarctica. Photo by Pauline Askin/Reuters

Last Week Today: 29 August 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Many people go to grad school after a stint overseas with AVID, Peace Corps or VSO. Others find a job in their country of service. Some move back into their parents’ basement. This one is doing something a little different.

The Bachelor

“What made you want to be part of The Bachelor Australia?: I’ve been living on a remote island (Vanuatu) for 14 months, volunteering in a developing world country, and it really put my personal life on hold. I thought it was time to do something for me”.

That’s one way of handling reverse culture shock

The week in news

In the biggest news story this week, the conflict between Israel and Gaza (apparently now known as the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict) is over, with both sides agreeing to an indefinite ceasefire. On the other hand, there is increasingly little doubt that Russia is, in fact, invading Ukraine.

Newsweek caused a major stir this week, with its story on ebola and bushmeat and cover photo of a chimpanzee. Critics have accused the magazine of fear-mongering, racism, factual inaccuracy and stereotyping Africa.

Meanwhile, a leaked UN report on global warming reveals alarming new findings, and details why inaction is immoral.

In other news, Burger King is relocating its headquarters to Canada (presumably to escape U.S. taxes) – and has bought out the country’s signature brand, Tim Hortons, to the disappointment of Canadians everywhere.

The week on the blog

Young humanitarians: Challenging the stereotype of Generation Y

Millenials are always being stereotyped as lazy and self-centered. But plenty of young people are passionate and engaged, and care about global issues. If this sounds like you, and you’re in Melbourne, join us at Expanse on Saturday.

Will the real humanitarians please stand up?

We didn’t like the list of 30 humanitarians that came out last week. Does being a head of state or having a lot of money really make someone a humanitarian? Our Director Brendan Rigby compiled a WhyDev-approved list of humanitarians, people who exemplify compassion, service and humility.

Results for the Top 5 Aid Worker Tunes are in. You won’t believe what they are!

Put in your earbuds for that next humanitarian assistance flight, plug in the iPod speakers for the aid worker house party this weekend, or crank up the volume in your first-world apartment and re-live your “field” days. Our playlist of the Top Aid Worker Tunes is here!

The week in globaldev

The best and most common arguments in favour of bad aid | AidSpeak

An #IceBucketChallenge for development… Could we? Should we? | Politics of Poverty

Cookstoves, rape and the problem with simple solutions | Humanosphere

What’s next for the global disabled people’s movement? | From Poverty to Power

Do ads about girls’ empowerment detract from actual girls’ empowerment? | Wait… What?

Treating Africa like a dirty, diseased place | Monkey Cage

12 tips for getting a job in international development | The Guardian

7 things non-profits can learn from start-ups | Entrepreneur

The real heroes of Liberia’s ebola crisis | BuzzFeed

Upcoming Events

Expanse: The one-day conference to empower young humanitarians | Melbourne, 30 August (Register with the promotion code WD896 for a $5 discount! This ticket also gets you into the Unleashed Festival on Sunday!)


Last Week Today: 22 August 2014

Would you pick up a hitchhiking robot?

HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot
HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot

If you thought you saw a robot on the side of the highway during your last road trip, you might not be crazy. HitchBOT, a child-sized solar-powered robot built by Canadian researchers, just hitchhiked 6,000 kilometres, to explore the relationship between people and technology. Past research has examined whether humans can trust robots, but HitchBOT was created to address the question, “Can robots trust humans?” (Apparently the answer is yes: the robot made it all the way across Canada by getting free rides, and arrived unharmed in British Columbia this week.) Not strange enough? HitchBOT also uses social media.

What’s next, robot aid workers? Well, hey, we’re supposed to be working ourselves out of a job, right?

The week in news

Perhaps the most alarming story this week is the ISIS beheading of American journalist James Foley, which the group recorded and posted on YouTube. News outlets have come under fire for publishing pictures taken immediately before the execution, with critics saying the dissemination of the photos only exploits his death. Read Foley’s obituary and some highlights from his career instead.

Meanwhile, Romeo Dallaire argues Iraq is experiencing the same warning sounds of genocide that he witnessed in Rwanda in the early 1990s. Thailand’s junta leader was just appointed the country’s Prime Minister, and Liberian police fired live rounds and tear gas into crowds of protestors trying to break an ebola quarantine.

In other important world news, North Korean officials called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “a wolf with a hideous lantern jaw.” Diplomacy at its finest.

The week on the blog

Dear Supporter: We’re sorry, the project you supported failed…

NGOs make mistakes. Aid projects fail. Money gets wasted. Not surprisingly, most organisations don’t want to talk about it, but Ravinder Casley Gera has an example for how they can communicate failed projects without looking bad.

Mission Creep #2: SWEDOW, being smart and sexual healing

We’re back with the second episode of the WhyDev podcast, Mission Creep – bringing you fresh and frank voices in global development. This week, Brendan Rigby, Weh Yeoh and Carly Stephan are talking SWEDOW, looking smart and sex as a coping strategy. Give it a listen, and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MissionCreepDev.

The week in globaldev

Where are the examples of “good donorship?” | From Poverty to Power

Self-reflection, volunteering and the development entertainment industrial complex | Aidnography

Debating hashtags and slacktivism | Wait… What?

The launch of EMERGENCY AIDio, the new online radio program for aid workers | The Healthy Nomad

UN internships for Canadians no longer unpaid – now they cost $2,500! | Humanosphere

Are humanitarians heroes or sidekicks? | AidSpeak

Why ebola is killing more women than men | BuzzFeed

Is Australia’s scholarship program an effective aid strategy? (also, Parts One & Two) | DevPolicy

What can we learn from the history of foreign aid? | Politics of Poverty

Upcoming Events

Expanse: The one-day conference to empower young humanitarians | Melbourne, 30 August Register with the promotion code: WD896 for a $5 discount!

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

MissionCreep #2: SWEDOW, being smart and sexual healing

We’re back with the second episode of MissionCreep: Fresh and frank voices in global development, with Brendan Rigby, Weh Yeoh and Carly Stephan.

Featuring Carly’s encounter with supply-driven development and #SWEDOW in Fiji and the overuse of “capacity-building,” “gender-mainstreaming,” and all our favourite development jargon. Plus aid workers’ constant fighting over whose turn it is to watch porn (and other coping mechanisms).

Hop on Twitter to respond to the podcast or shoot us your questions using the hashtag #MissionCreepDev, and don’t forget to send us the best examples of SWEDOW you’ve seen – and your bet for the next big development buzzword.

Runs 27:16.

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





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

Articles referenced throughout the podcast:

10 tricks to appear smart in development meetings

How to look smart to development geeks

Why it’s time we talked about the sex lives of humanitarians

So, about last week…

Humanitarians of Tinder