Complexity thinking for aid effectiveness

Here is a blog post I just made that may have some relevance to the HIPPO Foundation, too. Good reading and don’t hesitate to comment.


Is aid on the brink of a breakdown or a breakthrough?

Aid on the Edge of Chaos       In its 360 pages, Aid on the Edge of Chaos presents an overview of the troubled state of aid, provides an update of current complexity thinking, and showcases promising applications of complex adaptive systems to child malnutrition, economic growth, peace building, and combating desertification, from rural Vietnam to urban Kenya. The author, Ben Ramalingam, criticizes the aid system for ignoring complexity theory to its own detriment. The term edge of chaos refers to the location on the simple-complicated-complex-chaotic continuum, where complex systems become really adaptive and innovative, or developmental so to speak. The book launch took place in London on Nov. 6, 2013.

aid on the edge of chaos

Biases against complex systems thinking        In 1948, Warren Weaver was the first to outline the urgent need for complex systems thinking to address the many messy problems of…

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About Sjon van ’t Hof

Development professional who worked in rural development, tropical agriculture, and irrigation development in Chad, Zambia, Mali, Ghana, Mauritania, Israel, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the Netherlands in capacities ranging from project design and management to information management. Conducted missions to India, China, Kenya, and Bangladesh. Experience in the development and delivery of trainings in irrigation equipment selection, information literacy, Internet searching and database searching. Explores systems thinking in relation to international development, education, and management, with an ever stronger focus on the systems approach of C. West Churchman. Knowledgeable in tropical agriculture, project design and development economics, agricultural mechanization, irrigation, plant pathology, environmental degradation and protection, rural development. Co-authored "Wicked Solutions: a systems approach to complex problems", a book written by Bob Williams and Sjon van 't Hof. It was published in June 2014 and provides a practical way of dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, ill-structured, human problem situations. This book will help you design an inquiry and intervention in such messy, wicked situations. It does so by guiding you through the steps and stages of a systemic process that addresses your own wicked problem. For more information, see or
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