The problem of inequality has been one of those intractable problems societies have always faced to one degree or another. But in recent decades, inequality has been increasing across the globe, and quickly. So much so that the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos in Switzerland had inequality on the agenda after the group’s own Global Risks 2014 report identified the “chronic gap” between rich and poor as one of the major threats to stability in the coming decade.
To discuss some of the major issues of 2013, AidWorks host Albion Harrison-Naish, was joined by the heads of three prominent Australian aid NGOs. CARE Australia’s Dr. Julia Newton-Howes, ActionAid Australia’s Archie Law and Act for Peace’s Alistair Gee provided an engaging conversation about a variety of issues.
After a brief discussion of the recently-announced further cuts to Australia’s aid program, the panellists discussed the various cuts, diversions and delays suffered by Australia’s aid program over 2013. The conversation also covered issues like climate change and the developing world, the evolution of emergency humanitarian responses, the rise of the BRICS nations and how this will likely impact on development models, as well as the debates over the post 2015 development agenda.
Brendan Rigby, WhyDev Director and PhD student at the University of Melbourne, recently published a piece on the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network, which called for a shift in what he sees as the dominant narrative in the aid conversation in Australia. Brendan argues that too much effort is being spent in attempting to hold the government to account over promises to meet the 0.5% of Gross National Income target for Australia’s aid budget, and that it would be better to more closely examine how the aid is being spent.
Albion Harrison-Naish caught up with Brendan to discuss these issues.
Should AusAID get more involved in conflict mediation in developing nations, especially those of our region? This was a suggestion posed recently on the Development Policy Blog, by Nate Shea and Melbourne academics John Langmore and Aran Martin. They suggest that AusAID should embrace peaceful conflict resolution processes and establish a specialist unit dedicated to conflict mediation, in particular intrastate conflict.
In this extended interview, Nate and Albion discuss:
The hopes of AusAID favourably hearing this suggestion, especially considering the recently published ‘Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states: Guidance for staff’ report.
The efficacy and previous successes of peaceful conflict resolution.
Can the practice known as evergreen agriculture deliver both increased food and nutritional security to millions across Africa, and also have the potential to re-green the continent? Tony Barlett, the Forestry Research Program Manager with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, thinks so. Here he talks to Albion Harrison-Naish about the hows and why, as well as a new project that ACIAR is involved in, Trees for Food Security.
At the recent Pacific Islands forum the Gillard government annoucned a number of new aid initiatives. Amongst them was the announcement of a 10 year, $320 million Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative, aimed at empowering women in the Pacific politically, economically and socially. Ambitious in its hopes, it has been widely praised and lauded by the aid community in Australia.
Sydney-based AID/WATCH celebrates their 20th anniversary this year. Albion Harrison-Naish caught up with their Campaigner, Liz Barrett to discuss the highs and lows of the last 20 years as well as what still needs to be done. This extended interview includes 11 minutes of new material, in which Liz talks about mining for development, the Cambodian Railways Project and the need for civil society to keep government aid programs accountable, transparent and ethical.
Jennifer Lentfer, friend of WhyDev and development professional based in Washington D.C, runs How-Matters.org. She writes about aid and development with a focus on empathy and compassion, something surprisingly rare. With often thought provoking posts, her keen insights are often counter balanced by large amounts of warmth and humour. AidWork’s editor-at-large, Cate Coorey caught up with Jennifer to discuss what makes effective aid and some of the common misconceptions about aid work.
This year, 2012, is the UN International Year of the Cooperatives. It is aimed at increasing awareness of alternative business models that are often highly successful. The Australian Credit Union movement’s development arm is CUFA. AidWorks speaks with CUFA’s Executive Officer, Peter Mason, about how poor people can still save and benefit from financial literacy and services. CUFA work in partnerships with communities and credit unions primarily in the Pacific region, to help build financial literacy and understanding as well as provide micro finance services, but not micro loans. They instead work towards savings and other credit union co-operative based directions.
In this extended and exclusive interview with WhyDev’s Brendan Rigby, he and Albion discuss working for UNICEF Ghana, participation in education and the growth of the development blogosphere. In particular, Brendan reflects on his experience with UNICEF Ghana supporting a complementary basic education program targeting out of school children, explaining how it is successful and highlighting the challenges that lie ahead. Brendan also discusses AusAID’s Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program and the growth of the aid and development blogosphere.