Things I believe in

Here’s what I think actually works in relief and development:

1. Positive Deviance
2. Training of Trainers
3. Primary education
4. Microfinance
5. Most Significant change evaluation
6. Government partnerships
7. Rigorous financial controls
8. Respecting your community partners
9. Evidence-based programs
10. Operational research
11. hiring good consultants to review your plans and programs
12. local volunteers
13. giving your in-country staff hats and t-shirts
14. writing all of your documents in clear, simple language
15. understanding the power of the individual
16. pregnancy transport cooperatives
17. recognizing and learning from failure
18. kitchen gardens
19. conserving water
20. solar cookers
21. giving everyone on earth the ability to choose their own family size
22. literacy
23. numeracy
24. combining local and expat knowledge to create something new
25. posting your policies and organizational mission in a public place
26. bicycles
27. paying your local staff well
28. social marketing
29. educational soap operas
30. the power of angry grandmothers
31. heirloom seeds
32. working with existing institutions
33. skype
34. context-context-context
35. setting up your systems to they default to success
36. text messaging
37. social media
38. breastfeeding
39. citizen journalism
40. oral rehydration salts
41. a moral obligation to help others
42. railways
43. independent media
44. camels
45. mangrove trees

And here is what I don’t believe in:

1. Programs based on broad development theory or any other ideology
2. most volunteer doctors
3. most kinds of evaluation
4. excessive branding
5. grateful beneficiaries
6. all-powerful expatriate leadership
7. overly lavish offices
8. white SUVs
9. neutrality
10. donating your old stuff instead of money
11. living on compound when it’s not required for security reasons
12. conferences
13. conference calls
14. handover ceremonies
15. participatory rapid assessment as it is generally done
16. meetings without agendas
17. hiring your staff for zeal instead of competence
18. bringing people to the US for medical treatment
19. cancer hospitals
20. Paying your people like you think they are working for love and not money
21. technological quick fixes
22. expecting innovation to solve everything
23. computers to automatically improve education
24. having a consultant design your programs
25. jargon
26. valuing hierarchy over initiative
27. calling your field visits “missions”
28. bottled water
29. aggressive promotion of microcredit
30. writing new curricula instead of adapting existing ones
31. single-passenger vehicles
32. goats
33. processed food
34. meetings of over an hour
35. most exchange programs

Over time I will be expanding this list into a series of posts; for now you just get the list. I change my mind frequently as I learn new things, so you may well see things move from one list to the other over time.