Breastfeeding is a partisan issue??

Image from Really?? A "leftist agenda" of a "nanny state"? I especially love the bashing of Michelle Obama's breastfeeding advocacy after Palin's own breastfeeding initiative in 2007. Why people choose leaders with nothing constructive to add to the dialogue except to auto-bash the other party's efforts is beyond me. Great quote from one of the commenters to the above blog post: "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato And a shame that people blindly follow. … [Read more...]

Review: Wrike (web-based project management tool)

The context of this review is at the end of this post. Other useful reviews I've found, some which echo a few points below, are here (reviewed against LiquidPlanner, 2010), here (reviewed against BaseCamp, 2007), here (comments from 2009), and here (2007). My main complaint is the inconsistency problem in user experience: between users, within each user's experience in using the same function, and then our team's experience conflicts directly with what Wrike says its platform can do. What could this be from? The caching? The firewalls? We already all use the same version of Chrome. Basic functionalities I expect from a project management platform: 1. Buffering between dependencies is unreliable – sometimes the buffer periods stick, … [Read more...]

data. lots of it. making it practical.

The organisation I last worked for didn't have much interest in maintaining a robust information system to inform its policies. Since data reliability and security were pretty low on their list of concerns, not only was information fragmented among different advisors (who did not know what the others had), but each one also had different versions, subsets-- or even names!-- for the same dataset. The lack of a proper server meant that these files did not communicate with each other. The dynamic nature of information updating instead was a logistical time suck and coordination nightmare, especially when indicators needed to be reported on. How do you enable your organisational vision when this core technical competency is … [Read more...]

the good news on maternal mortality, and the politics of aid

A good discussion in the Columbia Journalism Review on science versus advocacy, on the heels of The Lancet's piece on declining Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) worldwide (using new, more rigorous modeling on countries with estimates available): On Wednesday, The New York Times gave its lead front-page slot to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, where, “For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980 … The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more … [Read more...]

visual CV

While CVs are oftentimes irrelevant these days, it's still a good idea to have a current one. I find the traditional layout a little disjointed, so I played a little with placing work, education and activism on a timeline. Here's a first draft I'm still playing with. It can be viewed at higher resolution on Flickr. Note: Updated the CV current to Jan 2011. … [Read more...]

Turning the consultancy leaf

I just concluded my employment with the GTZ Health Programme, who I've been with since 2006, on a team collaborating with the Ministry of Health and partners on social health protection strategy and policies for Cambodia. Concurrent with health financing initiatives, the programme is active in developing quality accreditation processes at the provincial, district and facility levels. I was responsible for monitoring, evaluation and reporting, the Safe Motherhood programme and patient rights advocacy. Vastly challenging and rewarding though working on this programme was, after much thought about my role on the team, I finally came to the conclusion that it was too limited on the community mobilisation side, a personal interest … [Read more...]

crisis innovations

One of the frustrations of working on a development project with a focus on policy work is that the impact on very urgent needs is years away. There is certainly value to shaping the legal environment to pave the way for changes to set roots. But as I mentioned in an earlier post about why I use twitter, I'm interested in how social issues are tackled now, across different continents. So check out the practical ideas borne out of  crises around the world. One of them hit the NY Times lately, Africa's Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis. @Ushahidi suggests a new paradigm in humanitarian work. The old paradigm was one-to-many: foreign journalists and aid workers jet in, report on a calamity and dispense aid with whatever … [Read more...]

Reframing your personal and professional outlook

This is a great post by Umar Haque about reframing personal and professional/business outlook and strategies, from the Harvard Business Review (comments are also worth seeing). I found it in Paul Denlinger's Google Reader shared items. (As an aside, @pdenlinger is a great follow on Twitter for his keen insights into both the US and China political and economic landscapes.) Three Do's (and Don'ts) of 21st Century Strategy Welcome, finally, The 20th century ended a decade ago, but the 21st century never began: the noughties were a lost decade, where jobs weren't created, innovation became unnovation, and prosperity itself failed. 2010 is the real first year of the 21st century. And it's going to be a year of … [Read more...]