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.

Last Year Today: Globaldev in 2014

World’s hottest aid worker

Every year, there are lists of gifts to buy for aid workers (or, things not to buy them). But, the “World’s hottest aid worker” ornament seems like the most obvious choice. In fact, we’d suggest pairing this gift with one of our 52 pick-up lines for aid workers to impress that special someone.

(If you’re more interested in work than in love, check out these tips on rebooting your career over the holidays.)

The year at WhyDev

In our fourth year, we’ve seen a number of changes, including the recruitment of two new team members – Rachel and Jennifer. They’ve been instrumental in taking our communications, social media and blog to the next level (level 90). We also created Composed, a team of regular contributors, and re-designed our weekly newsletter, Last Week Today. Since 2010, we’ve received over 1 million pageviews, directly benefiting thousands of global citizens who are committed to getting development right.

We’ve recently been entrusted with the ownership and management of AidSource: The Humanitarian Social Network. We are recruiting a manager to run the community, and have grand plans for the network going into 2015. We’ve also established a number of partnerships with key organisations in the sector. This includes an ongoing content-sharing partnership with ONE, and new partnerships with OIC: The Cambodia Project and Monash University. This year, we’ve held events in Melbourne in collaboration with The Development Circle, RMIT, Catalyst Co-Lab and OIC, with a total of over 300 participants. Last, we’ve started a podcast, MissionCreep.

The year on the blog

The WhyDev team’s favourite posts from 2014

If a piece of equipment breaks in a hospital and there’s no one to fix it, does it make a sound?

The ethics of photographing locals

The voluntourism assault: Stop making this about your righteousness

Why poverty porn is like shoulder pads and leg warmers

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

Shout-out The most-read guest post of the year: The myth of “the field”, by J.

George Clooney wearing traditional "field" wear. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
George Clooney wearing traditional “field” wear. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The year in globaldev

Is aid satire helping?

All the arguments for bad aid

“Asia” is a Western construct.

A major World Bank fail

The spectacle of Band Aid

Do NGOs actually help?

The danger of Hunger Games

And just like that, 2014’s a wrap. Happy Holidays from the WhyDev team, and we’ll see you again on 9 January, 2015!

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 a “World’s hottest aid worker” Christmas tree ornament. Photo from Amazon.

MissionCreep #5: Founders, NGOs and climate change

We know you’ve missed our fresh and frank voices in global development, but Brendan Rigby, Weh Yeoh and Laurie Phillips are back with episode 5!

Today on MissionCreep, we’re talking about the trouble with founders and the messy politics of NGOs. Plus, what’s happening to people affected by climate change?

Join the conversation! Weigh in on what organisations can do to avoid “founderitis” and how NGOs can be more accountable to the people they serve. And if you have legal expertise, let us know how things look for people affected by climate change.

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.

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

Brendan Rigby
Brendan Rigby
Weh Yeoh
Weh Yeoh
Laurie Phillips
Laurie Phillips





Articles referenced throughout the podcast:

Five ways I hope to avoid Founder’s Syndrome on my project

NGOs – Do they help?

No “climate refugees” in New Zealand

Featured image is an aerial view of Funafuti, Tuvalu. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Last Week Today: Dubious sexuality

Dubious sexuality

Not wearing pants is frowned upon in most places, but cartoon characters are usually excused. Not so in Poland. A Polish council has just banned Winnie the Pooh from being the mascot of a local playground. Why? Pooh’s a hermaphrodite, and his (its?) “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate dress” are unsuitable for children. Obviously.

If you’ve got Winnie the Pooh in your #SWEDOW, made sure you send it elsewhere…

The week in global news

Following an attack on a foreign NGO’s compound in Kabul, a South African pastor, his two teenaged children and an Afghan employee were killed.

For the second time in two weeks, a white policeman who killed an unarmed black man in the U.S. will not be charged.

In better news, online donations made on #GivingTuesday totaled over $26,000,000.

The week on the blog

52 break-up lines for aid workers

That pesky aid worker still bothering you? Hoping to leave your romance in the field? Need help explaining why you want out? Use one of our 52 break-up lines for aid workers.

Volunteering abroad with children: Some recommendations

In the sequel to her post from last week, Ruth Taylor outlines some best practices for organisations that have foreign volunteers and gives advice for potential volunteers looking for a placement.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The week in globaldev

Recreating the wheel in development

Don’t forget the peopleware.

Public school teaching should be more like Peace Corps.

Is your aid job getting you down?

Coming full-circle on voluntourism

Audio The latest Tiny Spark podcast features Dayo Olopade, talking about the potential she sees for Africa.

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 from DeviantArt.

52 break-up lines for aid workers

It’s that time of the year. A time for giving. A time for family. And, maybe a time to break-up with that special someone you met while in the field. You probably used one of our 52 pick-up lines to win their heart. Now, you can use one of these break-up lines and just be friends.

  1. I have to go. The children need me.
  2. Sorry, baby. This is just emergency sex.
  3. It’s not you. It’s Ebola.
  4. The results of your impact evaluation were just not robust enough.
  5. I decided to go native.
  6. I’m sorry, I just found out you sponsor a child.
  7. You weren’t participatory enough.
  8. Too much input, not enough output.
  9. This relationship is just dead… like aid.
  10. I don’t date people who wear TOMS.
  11. You failed my process evaluation.
  12. You were part of the experimental group in my RCT.
  13. You care more about African children than you do about me.

    One of the best Humanitarians of Tinder.
    One of the best Humanitarians of Tinder.
  14. You just don’t have enough capacity.
  15. I want someone who idolises me the way you idolise J.
  16. I might as well just ride a moto on a bumpy road.
  17. You don’t look anything like the guy with the African kids in your Tinder pic.
  18. I was drunk on indigenous alcohol – I meant to swipe left.
  19. No time for relationships, I’m busy saving lives.
  20. I found #BandAid30 on your music playlist.
  21. You failed to meet the target of 100% access to my heart.
  22. I always feel like you’re facipulating me.
  23. You’re not value for money.
  24. You’ve only ever taken up missionary positions.
  25. You refer to yourself as a global nomad on Twitter.
  26. It’s complex.
  27. Our logframe of love had too many assumptions.
  28. I’m rethinking the framework for our joint family planning and sexual reproductive health program.
  29. It’s time for a structural adjustment, as you’ve failed to adequately liberalise and drop your protective tariffs.
  30. When I said I wanted to scale up our relationship, I didn’t think you’d invite four of your mates to join us on our romantic getaway.
  31. My standing in the aid community has risen since I snapped this photo and put it up on Tinder.

    Our new favourite Humanitarian of Tinder.
    Our new favourite Humanitarian of Tinder.
  32. I’m focusing my efforts on applying for these awesome positions with WhyDev and OIC: The Cambodia Project (shameless, we know)!
  33. I was talking about how disappointing PlayPump was, and you thought I was referring to male genital enhancement equipment.
  34. You took me on holidays for our anniversary and made me sign a per diem claim form.
  35. I thought you would be a hardship posting, but without little blue pills, there was a clear lack of hardship.
  36. There are too many single, available and attractive men in the aid sector for me to focus on just one.
  37. You thought U2 was a special division of the UN.
  38. You volunteered at an orphanage after it became socially unacceptable.
  39. I’m looking for someone whose bedroom activities show a little more sustainability.
  40. You’re about as honest as the lovechild of Greg Mortensen and Somaly Mam.
  41. I’ve met someone on AidSource, the number one place to connect with like minded aid professionals. (Did we mention we’re shameless?)
  42. I’m looking to develop partnerships with other stakeholders.
  43. I just don’t see us in the same way I see Rigby-Yeoh.
  44. You took my request for more bottom-up development the wrong way.
  45. I’m looking for someone a little younger, with less low-hanging fruit.
  46. This quarterly report’s just in – we’re not sustainable!
  47. I need some post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction from an external agency.
  48. I just have so many invisible children who need me.
  49. This relationship has been a disaster, and I need some relief.
  50. Just like Sudan, this relationship is going South.
  51. The budget review found that you didn’t invest enough in capacity building for bedroom activities.
  52. I thought we were the next Brangelina, but it turns out we were just a TomKat.

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

Last Week Today: The Global Legacy Award goes to?

The week in global news

The Global Legacy Award goes to…?

Cue drum roll.

Tony Blair.

Right. Naturally. Of Course. We totally picked him too.

We don’t understand why people are so outraged at Save the Children’s decision to choose an accused war criminal to receive the award. He totally deserved it for his “leadership on international development.” And while this may signify that we can no longer rely on political activism from large and professional charities, we don’t believe any mistake was made, because if a mistake had been made, surely STC would have said, right?

Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister

Americans are protesting across the country due to a grand jury’s decision not to prosecute white police officer Darren Wilson for shooting dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson.

Police cleared large protest sites in Hong Kong on Wednesday, but protestors returned and violent clashes continue.

And 40,000 Masai people will be evicted from their homeland in Tanzania, because the Dubai royal family bought the land to hunt big game.

This week on the blog

Volunteering abroad with children: A game of double standards?

Working with children in Western countries requires qualifications and background checks. Not so in developing countries. Ruth Taylor asks what’s with the double standards?

Fair trade: All it’s cracked up to be?

Fair trade-certified companies are ethical and sustainable, and they pay their workers a living wage. Right? Liza Moiseeva investigates how fair trade really affects farmers.

Coffee farmers in El Salvador. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Coffee farmers in El Salvador. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

This week in globaldev

Pictures: Workers in the informal economy

The death of international development

Say ‘burn rate‘ one more time

Raising the minimum wage isn’t enough

Doing development differently

Video: Why are some people poor and others are rich? (08:47)

Current opportunities

Community Manager: Use your experience in content and community management to grow the AidSource network. | WhyDev

Fundraising Director: An experienced fundraiser is wanted to raise much needed funds for a Speech Therapy program in Cambodia. | OIC: The Cambodia Project

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

Featured image is Tony Blair, UK’s former Prime Minister. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Last Week Today: What’s wrong with cheap clothes?

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Career advice from WhyDev

There’s new research out on how to network over e-mail! Begin with a disingenuous question about the other person’s personal life. Then, seal the deal by ending with a vague reference to one of their hobbies.

So, three steps to e-networking in development: “How’s your infidelity? I’m looking for a job and hope you’ll hire me. Enjoy the next Hash!” UNDP, here we come.

The week in news

After a mob attacked a Nairobi woman for dressing “inappropriately,” over 200 people marched in protest. #MyDressMyChoice

A new documentary has shed light on Firestone’s relationship with Charles Taylor and the company’s role in the Liberian civil war.

A new ISIS video depicts a mass beheading of Syrian hostages and the alleged beheading of a third Western aid worker, Peter Kassig.

The week on the blog

The reality (and absurdity) of the aid sector

The aid industry can be ridiculous, and Michael Keller knows it all too well. But one new company is trying to help NGOs function a little better.

Jaden and Willow Smith’s guide to global development

Bono and Clooney have been the go-to celebrity humanitarians for ages. But, Brendan Rigby realised a famous brother-sister pair actually has a pretty solid development strategy.

The week in globaldev

Ebola? There’s an app for that.

The myth of cheap clothes

Refugees, IDPs and the trouble with labels

Saying “no” to Bob Geldof

Who’s donating to the Ebola response, really?

Audio Mark Goldberg talks about human rights abuses in Myanmar and the plight of the Rohingya minority.

Upcoming events

The Institute for Human Security and Social Change: Two seminars with Duncan Green | Melbourne, 24 November

Want to get involved? Apply to be our Community Manager, or the Fundraising Director for our friends at OIC: The Cambodia Project. And don’t forget to join AidSource – one member who signs up in the next week will receive a WhyDev postcard!

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 CareerStair.

Last Week Today: Is there Christmas in Africa?

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Thirty years worth of anthropological research has revealed nothing about holiday practices in Africa.

Today, the world’s leading experts on the continent are asking the same question they asked in 1984. “Do they know it’s Christmastime?”

The next generation of Africa experts. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
The next generation of Africa experts. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

We hope in another thirty years, their protégés, the members of One Direction, will finally be able to answer this puzzling question.

The week in news

Russia’s in the news twice this week: for invading Ukraine (again) and for agreeing to build nuclear reactors in Iran.

In India, a government program that pays women $23 to undergo a sterilisation surgery became even more questionable when 11 women died following complications.

Tension between Israel and Palestine seems to be on the rise again, with an arson attack on a West Bank mosque the latest in a series of clashes.

A Canadian man responds to last week’s midterm elections in the U.S. – and essentially asks Americans, “What were you thinking?”

The week on the blog

Famous founders: A blessing or a curse?

What happens when NGO founders become famous – even too famous? Anna McKeon and Natalie Jesionka list some red flags.

AidSource: Under new management (ours!)

The founders of AidSource: The Humanitarian Network were ready to pass the torch, and they passed it to us! We’re very excited to be taking over the management of the site – stay tuned for additional updates.

The week in globaldev

Infectious disease is not a security threat.

Click-bait and stereotypes

Not just Chibok

The neocolonialism of global health

Celebrity humanitarians, or celebrity trolls?

Video Newsflash, Bono: A group of African musicians has already made a great song about Ebola.

Upcoming events

The Institute for Human Security and Social Change: Two seminars with Duncan Green | Melbourne, 24 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 Bono during a visit to Brazil. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

AidSource: Under new management (ours!)

First, a note from the founders of AidSource (J., Alanna Shaikh & ShotgunShack):

The founders and owners of AidSource: The Humanitarian Social Network would like to announce that, effective immediately, AidSource will owned, maintained and moderated by our friends and aid blogosphere colleagues at WhyDev.

Some of you will wonder why. The answer is that over the past year, each of us have made significant changes in various aspects of our lives and jobs, and at this point, we simply lack the collective and individual bandwidth to give AidSource the time it needs and deserves. We will remain “normal” members of AidSource, and we expect to continue to interact there from time to time. We’re very pleased to have found such capable hands to take over what we still believe is a great resource for anyone in or interested in the humanitarian aid and development industry.

We wish to express our sincere thanks to everyone (too many to name individually) who helped bring AidSource into being, as well as all those who cared enough to join and participate as members. Lastly, we wish the very best to our friends at WhyDev as they take on the task of managing The Humanitarian Social Network.


With great power, comes great responsibility.

It is with tremendous pleasure and trepidation that we take on the job of managing AidSource: The Humanitarian Social Network. As we move towards a post-2015 brave new world, fostering a community of practice in global development remains critical. We need to continue to break down institutional and organisational barriers to form true partnerships and change how development works. This is at the heart of WhyDev’s mission.

We believe AidSource is a lynchpin of this community. With 1,700+ members from around the world, it brings together aid workers, NGO staff, nationals, ex-pats, academics, journalists, students and donors. AidSource is the space for you to network with industry colleagues, share your knowledge, reflect critically and have a little fun.

Want to get more involved? We’re recruiting a volunteer Community Manager to help manage and run AidSource. This is a great opportunity for someone looking to gain experience in community engagement, social media, communications or partnerships. If this sounds like you, please review the position description, and send your resume and a cover letter describing your vision for the AidSource community (max. 600 words) to info[AT]whydev[DOT]org by 4 December.

We’ll be making some exciting updates to AidSource in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Featured image is Cape Coast, Ghana. Photo by Brendan Rigby.

Last Week Today: Four magic words

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

It’s happened to all the humanitarians on Tinder. A pic of some hottie pops up, you’re only half paying attention – maybe you’re preoccupied with your swag bag or indigenous alcohol – and you accidentally swipe left. And the person who could’ve been The One is gone from your life, forever. (So are the African children in their profile picture.)

Soon, you won’t have to worry about accidentally left-swiping that sexy humanitarian. Tinder is releasing an “undo” feature – you’ll get a second chance to swipe right! It’s going to cost you, though, maybe as much as $20. That’s sure going to eat into the per diem.

The week in news

Aung San Suu Kyi makes a disappointing announcement that reforms in Burma have stalled.

Thousands of people in over 450 cities worldwide took part in masked protests on Wednesday, put on by the anti-capitalist hacktivist group Anonymous.

A Palestinian man drove a van into a crowd of people waiting at a train platform in Jerusalem, injuring at least 15 and killing an Israeli policeman.

The week on the blog

Five ways I hope to avoid Founder’s Syndrome on my project

Found-er-i-tis (noun): When more focus and recognition is on the founder of an organisation than on its work (see also: Somaly Mam). As a new founder, Weh Yeoh explains how he’ll avoid the disease.

What really happens to your donated clothing?

Want to get rid of torn or out-of-date clothes you don’t want and help people at the same time? Shannon Whitehead explains why donating them to charity is not the answer.

The week in globaldev

An MSF doctor in Sierra Leone

The future of ex-pats

Four magic words in development

Coup or no coup?

Ebola and comms4dev

Video John Oliver explains what actually mattered in Tuesday’s elections in the U.S. (17:17)

Upcoming events

OIC: The Cambodia Project: Launch extravaganza | Melbourne, 12 November (Use the promo code “BONO4AFRICA” for a discount!)

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 from StunnaLife.

Last Week Today: Oh, I see!

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

By the water cooler: An impromptu chat with Weh Yeoh about OIC

Who is OIC: The Cambodia Project, and what do you do?

OIC is a project that aims to bring speech therapy services to the 600,000 Cambodians with communication and swallowing problems. Despite this huge need, there are no Cambodian speech therapists. OIC stands for that moment when you suddenly understand something you didn’t before. “Oh, I see!”

Why did you create OIC?

I never wanted to go to Cambodia and create another organisation for the sake of it. OIC is a project bringing together existing organisations that are doing great work. For me, it’s very much about Cambodians helping other Cambodians, so that one day, as a foreigner, I can walk away.

What motivates you to do your work?

For over a year, I worked side-by-side with a Cambodian health worker named Phearom, who told me that about 70% of the children she worked with had a problem with communication. Yet, she was unable to use speech therapy to help them. There are 600,000 people like the children she works with, who struggle to communicate with their family, friends or community every day.

Why should WhyDev readers support OIC? 

There are issues in the world that get lots of the attention and therefore plenty of resources, and then there are those that get swept under the carpet. WhyDev readers should support OIC because it’s addressing something that is a huge need, yet doesn’t receive the attention of other issues. People who are in Melbourne can come to our launch extravaganza on the 12th of November to find out more.

Can our readers get a discount on the OIC launch tickets? 

Absolutely! As a limited offer, we’re offering a 50% discount on tickets to the first 20 WhyDev readers who sign up to come to the launch. Simply enter the promo code “BONO4AFRICA” at the check-out.

Stay up-to-date with OIC through Facebook, Twitter, or their newsletter.

The week in news

Zambian President Michael Sata died in a London hospital at the age of 77. VP Guy Scott is the acting President until elections in 90 days, making him continental Africa’s first white leader since apartheid. Under the country’s constitutional “parentage clause,” Scott, whose parents were born in the U.K., won’t be allowed to run in the election.

A contingent of at least 150 Kurdish fighters has started crossing into Syria, to join the fight against ISIS for the town of Kobani.

In response to President Blaise Compaore’s effort to change the country’s law on term limits so he can stay in power (27 years wasn’t enough!), thousands of protestors have taken to the streets and set  fire to the Parliament building and government officials’ homes. Today, the President declared a state of emergency and dissolved the government.

The week on the blog

A dangerous crossover: Non-profits and the “view from nowhere”

That journalism – and, by extension, NGO communications – should be objective seems like a given. But Rowan Emslie questions the conventional wisdom, and the real implications of objectivity.

Bringing sexy back to resilience and well-being of aid workers

In her effort to usher in an era of aid worker wellness, Nuran Higgins launched Emergency AIDio, an online radio show. She shares the impetus behind the show – and chats with WhyDev co-founders Brendan Rigby and Weh Yeoh on the latest episode!

Resilience: Moving the focus from our projects to our selves

We talk a lot about aid worker wellness practices, and now there’s scientific evidence they really work. Amanda Scothern explains the latest research findings on well-being.

Globaldev special edition: Catching up on disability and development

More than just a statistic

An underdog story

The people who “don’t count”

Seeing past disability

The therapy that speaks volumes

Payment for the people in NGO adverts?

It’s easy to criticise.

Social justice tours, or poverty tourism?

Video International migration and remittances – explained with Legos. (01:59)

Upcoming events

OIC: The Cambodia Project: Launch extravaganza | Melbourne, 12 November (Use the promo code “BONO4AFRICA” for a discount!)

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 Weh Yeoh and Roum Phearom providing speech therapy services. Photo by Anna Bella Betts Photography.