Abstract: During the United Nations’ first Development Decade (the 1960s), NGOs forged a place for themselves within the professional world of long-term development. Within this context, one British organisation – Oxfam – asked a straightforward question: does aid work? To answer, it appointed its own ‘aid appraiser’. This article examines what happened when the organisation was confronted with his reports. The self-perpetuating nature of development work has long been observed. How Oxfam responded to self-critique shows that the capacities for organisations to engage in self-assessment, Continue reading → Continue reading →
UK international aid and development organisations such as Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid have become some of the most prominent NGOs in the world. Born out of the humanitarian response to crisis, they have subsequently become significant players in the global debate about long-term development. From advocating an alternative path to development in the 1960s and 1970s they have come to articulate a rights-based approach in the 1990s. For NGOs, this was a logical consequence of “scaling up” their activities. However, as Hilton demonstrates, it was the result of more complex processes which have gradually brought these ever larger organisations into the development mainstream.