The Devil’s in the Data

To know whether one is doing the right thing is a devilishly hard task. No matter how pure your intention or ingenious your intervention, it is never a simple matter to prove beyond doubt that you are having the impact you desire. The line between cause and effect is often far more blurred than one … Continue reading

History Repeating?

“It all goes in cycles you know, when I first arrived twenty years ago, water was big – every proposal had a sanitation component to it, then is was agriculture, recently it has been HIV and AIDS but I have the feeling that we might be getting round to water again soon.” This casual observation … Continue reading

Eyes a little wider; Head a little wiser?

A year ago almost to this very day, I was enjoying a few farewell drinks with colleagues in London when one stopped me dead in my tracks by asking “So… what is the probability you never return to this career?” Despite all the research and planning I had put into my sabbatical, it was not … Continue reading

Not so civil after all?

‘Civil Society’ was not a term familiar to me before my time in Zambia. I have come to learn that is an elegant phrase for a rather inelegant grouping of sometimes strange bedfellows. Essentially anyone who can be said to have a stake in society but is not part of the state or private enterprise … Continue reading

Lessons in Vulnerability

Vulnerability is already an overused term in the development world – so often we talk of vulnerable children or those whose livelihoods are made vulnerable by disease or malnutrition. Yet I am discovering there is another form of vulnerability that I feel is equally important yet frequently overlooked – that of ‘organisational vulnerability’. A little … Continue reading

In Praise of Shopping

‘Tis the season that I would normally begin cursing our crass consumerist culture as the months of TV commercials featuring the fat bearded one build to their carol-filled crescendo. Mercifully, gift giving and the commercial side of Christmas has yet to catch on here in Zambia so it looks like I will get a bit … Continue reading

Reading this blog will make you healthier

It may surprise you to know that I have a tax disc holder which urges me to have only one sexual partner. I am currently drinking water from a bottle that is apparently united against malaria and I regularly drive past a rather disturbing billboard of a small cowering child who tells me that ‘Sleeping … Continue reading

If only it were just the drugs…

Modern HIV medications are a testament to pharmaceutical ingenuity. In the space of 15 years we have progressed from having one weakly effective and highly toxic therapy to a whole medicine cabinet of  anti-retrovirals (ARVs), targeting the virus in different ways and in combination providing highly effective and tolerable ways of keeping it at bay. … Continue reading

Southern Africa’s Little Gem

This week I was fortunate enough to spend my time in Gaborone, Botswana scouting out potential non-profit partners for next year’s PEPAL programme. A great friend from my time in Chicago hails from here so it is not my first visit to the city, but coming directly from its neighbour to the north allowed me … Continue reading

Lemons have international recognition because of their usefulness

One of my many Zambian heroes is the guy who sells lemons on the street below my office. It might be the marketer in me but I am in awe of the effort he makes to distinguish his wares from the row of vendors on the street. He only has one product – lemons – … Continue reading