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The Aid Speak Dictionary

2 October 2011 Posted by No Comment

“beneficiaries” : the people who make it possible for us to be paid by other people
“bottom-up” : don’t ask someone what might work, just make something up instead
“baseline” : a point which is so low that positive results are the only possible outcome
“accountability for results” – we wait for any stories about negative results to become old news
“bottoms-up development”: downing single-malt whiskey in one shot at Davos
“civil society involvement”: consulting the middle class employee of a US or European NGO
 “community capacity building” : teach them what they already know
“demand-driven approach” – you create the demand and then you respond to it
“empowerment” : what is left when all the quantifiable variables give non significant results
“entrepreneurial” : vaguely innovative and cool, but definitely nothing to do with the hated “market”
“experienced aid practitioner” : has large number of air miles in account
“expert” : I read a book about the place on the plane
“field experience” :  I can’t bear DC anymore
“gender” : counting how many women attend your meeting
“Global North” : White academics; “Global South” : Indian academics
“innovation” : we’re sexy, you want to be associated with us
“leverage” : we’re not paying for all of this
“low overhead” : volunteers run headquarters
“low-hanging fruit”:  we were already going to achieve this anyway
“mainstreaming” : forgetting
“microfinance” : not as good as sub-prime lending
“meetings” : our grant said we had to host an event
“NGO”: Nothing Going On
“per diem”: what we have to pay local officials to attend our meetings
“participatory stakeholders” : people who should solve their own problems
“participation” : the right to agree with preconceived projects or programs
“partnering with other institutions” : we’re raising barriers to entry
“political will” :  I have no comprehension of the incentives faced by the people who I wish would do stuff I want
“practical solutions” : photogenic solutions
“pro-poor” : the rich know best
“RCT” : research method yielding same results as qualitative work at 10 times the cost
“rent-seaking behavior” : everything not nailed to the floor will be stolen
“outreach” : intrude
“ownership” : we held a workshop
“raise awareness” :  no measurable outcome
“scale-up” :  It’s time for follow on grant
“sensitize” : tell people what to do
“sustainable” : will last at least as long as the funding
“tackling root causes of poverty” : repackaging what we’ve already done in a slightly more sexy font

“UN Goals”: making up targets for problems we don’t understand paid for with money we don’t have

Courtesy Twitter (@bill_easterly) on “decodings of aid/development jargon”


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