Wednesdays are for jargon – Budget words

NICRA – Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement. An agreement with the USG government identifying the amount an organization spends on indirect costs. It has to be developed annually according to documented spending and approved by whatever USG agency an organization is working with. USAID’s NICRA guidance from 2013 LOE – Level of Effort. The number of… Read More »

Three Ways to Spot Bad Data

Warning Sign #1: When government officials use the data to set targets like an increase in vaccination or a decrease in cancer numbers, they always use percentages, not absolute numbers. That’s a sign that people know the numbers are wrong and don’t want to rely on them. (Of course, sometimes it just means that the percentage… Read More »

Field Notes from the Development Industry 2/28/2013

1) A reader wrote in to ask for advice on an NGO that packages and sends rice and beans to “starving people.” I though my answer might be useful for others: It’s a lot better for the local economy to procure the food there. The reason hungry people need food is not because it isn’t… Read More »

Ten Common Monitoring and Evaluation Mistakes

As you may have noticed, monitoring and evaluation is a topic near to my heart. One thing I’ve noticed is that we repeat the same errors, over and over and over. I’ll elaborate on these in my next three posts, but for now, I will tease you with some lists: The Top Three Monitoring and… Read More »

Starting a Land War in Asia: the Five Classic Aid Worker Blunders

1. Thinking you’re the only one who’s ever tried to do what you’re doing. 2. Brushing your teeth with tap water. 3. Believing all problems have solutions. 4. Mistaking the capital city for the country as a whole. 5. Building a lot of technical capacity without making sure that someone is ready to use that… Read More »

Data is Not Information

I just spent three days in a training on data use. The trainer made a distinction between information and data. Data is the stuff you collect – raw numbers and observations. Information is what data turns into after you analyze it. Information is stuff you can act on. The distinction affects most of what we… Read More »

Things I’ve learned from my colleagues: cross cultural competencies

                I learned most of what I know about interacting across language and culture from the incredibly kind and thoughtful way my host country colleagues have dealt with me. With the exception of the occasional angry or inexperienced person, I’ve been gently managed by people all over the… Read More »