David Sogge works as an independent researcher based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In recent years he has published papers commissioned by the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre / Norsk Ressurssenter for Fredsbygging (NOREF) in Oslo. His earlier research on human security and fragile states took place under auspices of the Centre for Social Studies at Coimbra University in Portugal, and the think-tank FRIDE in Madrid. Formally educated at Harvard and Princeton in the US, and the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, the Netherlands, he has worked since 1970 in the foreign aid industry, including assignments for bilateral and multilateral agencies. Since 1993 he has been associated with the Transnational Institute, a worldwide fellowship of scholar activists headquartered in Amsterdam. Among his publications are Compassion and Calculation: The Business of Private Foreign Aid (Pluto Press,1996), and Give and Take. What’s the Matter with Foreign Aid (Zed Books, 2002).
NGOs have been joining forces to increase their effectiveness. They need to form alliances with social movements as well, however, to avoid working in isolation from broader social currents.
In a closed meeting recently, I heard a senior figure in the Dutch aid/development world (high among ViceVersa’s ‘top tien’) remark, in despairing tone of voice, that there had been no serious critique of Dutch aid since Paul Hoebink’s ‘Geven is Nemen’ in 1988.
The business of working up successive development agendas and policy formulas has beset the aid system from its beginnings more than sixty years ago. The MDGs are the latest in a long parade of earnest exhortations. As the “After 2015” exercise clearly implies, they won’t be the last.