Skip to content

Author Archives: Diane Bennett

Aid Watch Grinch Edition: Are We Mean to Ask that NGO Ads not be Simplistic and Wrong?

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s ponder the strategy of using forlorn children and their bellies for fund-raising, which seems to intensify each year around this time.

I was introduced to, a new marketing effort of the Children’s Hunger Fund by a friend over Thanksgiving dinner. I was pulled in by the simple message “Skip something. Feed a child.”

To illustrate this, the site has a video of plates of…

Posted in Accountability and transparency, Badvocacy and celebs | 23 Comments

Giving Us Idiots More Credit than We Deserve


While not a complete idiot, I still find books in the “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series amusing and occasionally useful. So when The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Giving Back came out recently, I was curious to read the book’s recommendations.

The author outlines a process for deciding which causes to support, how much to give, and other factors to consider before giving a not-for-profit your hard-earned cash. Unfortunately, most idiots, and many other well-meaning…

Posted in Academic research | Comments Off

Respecting local values: Western confusion about African orphans


When a remote area of South Sudan was resettling from the long-running civil war in 2001, tens of thousands of returnees were threatened by the upcoming rainy season without food. A small team was dispatched to assess and prioritize the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) resettling in a corner of South Sudan. (Sudan continues to have the largest number of IDPs in the world, even without exact numbers from half the country.)…

Posted in Big ideas, Field notes | 12 Comments

“Whites make locomotives; Negroes cannot make simple needles”

by Diane Bennett


The poor can’t sleep

Because their stomachs are empty.

The rich have full stomachs,

But they can’t sleep

Because the poor are awake.

-Copper miner

Lusaka, Zambia

I have been privileged to work with some of the poorest people in the world in South Sudan. Their daily life is a constant struggle to feed, shelter and clothe their families. I have been, quite literally, the rich person who couldn’t sleep. So…

Posted in Academic research | 15 Comments

Aid works! – well at least, for Chivas Regal


Douglas Alexander, British Secretary of State for Development, recently challenged me to stand with the poor and feel their pain at a public event sponsored by NDN. As a privileged politician, he has recently traveled to a few places where he has met some Africans and feels comfortable quoting them as representatives of the whole continent. He made clear that in fact Trevor Manuel, the Finance Minister of South Africa, was the voice…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 5 Comments

A Tale of Two Refrigerators

In 2001 in southern Sudan, it was a time of peace between wars. It was a time ripe for treating diseases that kill thousands of children every year. It was an opportune time for measles vaccination to halt outbreaks of one of the world’s most preventable diseases. The Measles Initiative, founded by the WHO, UNICEF, the CDC and the American Red Cross, was created to address this significant challenge.

In the rural county where I…

Posted in Field notes, Global health | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments