International development blogs

My Google alerts have been good to me. I have been heartened to discover more and more blogs which touch on international development in interesting ways. You may have seen my blog roll expanding; I’m trying to create something like a comprehensive list. Check it out and explore.

Here are a few highlights:

NGO blogs

Oxfam and Refugees International both have great organization blogs, which showcase deep topical knowledge and passionate writing. Medecins sans Frontieres has a whole compendium of personal accounts by aid workers. Project HOPE has a blog all about (and by) their field volunteers, which would be a great resource for someone who wanted the nitty-gritty about medical volunteering.

Individual blogs

Vasco Pyjama has amazing, amazing posts about life abroad doing international development work. She is the real thing; full of insight on the work she does and with a wry and engaging voice. Chris Blattman is a famous development economist (insofar as there is such a thing) and one of my personal heroes. The Road to the Horizon, by Peter Casier, is dense with interesting information, personal observations, and lovely storytelling.

Project HOPE’s blog

Project HOPE In the Field is Project HOPE’s blog. It’s a nice effort on their part, in terms of what’s on there. Appealing first-person content, with plenty of action photos. It’s not sanctimonious or stuffy and not gratuitous with beneficiary pictures. It has a donate link after every entry to let you support the exact work you are reading about.

But here’s the thing – it’s hosted on blogger, of all places, using an only slightly modified template. You’d think it was just one volunteer’s effort if not for the official links and pictures. It looks amateurish.

If they are going to the effort of having an official blog, why not incorporate the blog into their main site? It would give people a reason to keep coming back to the site, and I would bet that every visit increases the chance that someone will donate. They must have a web designer; it wouldn’t be that hard to have them build in a blog and appropriate functionality.

It’s a very strange choice. Old-fashioned, and out of touch with how people actually use the web.