SWIDN's Online Conference: Event Recordings and Links

All the recordings of our LISTEN and CONNECT events, together with associated links for contributors and discussions

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Amanda Khozi Mukwashi

We were so thrilled to kick off our conference with a keynote address from the CEO of Christian Aid, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi. Amanda set the tone of the conference with her honest prompt to look both outward and inward, reflecting on our own role in the way international development is done today, including the harm we know our sector causes. She asked who sets the benchmark for good development, and why this isn’t the communities we work with?

Amanda challenged us to consider ‘good development’ as everyday development, as well as the relevance of our sector if we fail to lead the change towards justice that is needed in our world today.

You can hear Amanda’s 10 minute speech in this recording.

Associated Links: Amanda quoted the President of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley in her speech to the UNGA. You can read Amanda’s profile in our conference brochure here.


We were delighted to platform a panel of diverse experience and perspective for the first Listen panel addressing climate justice and the work being done around the G7 and COP 26, both in the UK in 2021.

Cat Pettengell of the Climate Action Network UK pointed to some of the advocacy happening in collaboration with INGOs in the UK and invited our smaller members to engage. Dr Alice Venn looked at the role of climate law and queried who sits at the table and makes the decisions; John Mungai from the UK MET Office described the work done in East African to build the resilience of farmers to unpredictable weather patterns, and Anushree Rao made the vital link to food insecurity, highlighting the work of Concern Worldwide in tackling nutrition and the impact of the climate crisis on food production.

Associated Links: You can read the profiles for all our contributors here. Cat Pettengell spoke on behalf of the Climate Action Network UK; Dr Alice Venn’s work at the University of Exeter; The UK MET Office’s WISER programme in East Africa; Concern Worldwide UK’s work on Food Insecurity and Nutrition and Anushree Rao’s blogs on the Bond site.


We were thrilled to hear from so many of our academic members in this session, including the University of Exeter, the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bath, the Bristol Poverty Institute, as well as INGOs PHASE Worldwide and Elhra. This session was chaired by our Trustee Dr Tigist Grieve from the University of Bristol and looked at the importance of collaboration between NGOs and researchers, both to improve practice-based academic research and research-informed development practice. The event was both hopeful in the positive accounts of successful collaboration, and sobering in the prediction that, if previous patterns of pandemics are to be repeated after COVID-19, we are likely to see global inequalities growing and maintaining over the next decade.

If you are an civil society organisation working in a low income country in international development and would like to collaborate with academic researchers or find out more about student placement schemes or other ideas shared in this event, please get in touch with SWIDN at info@swidn.org.uk

Associated Links: You can read the profiles for all our contributors here as well as more about the University of Exeter, the Centre for Development Studies, University of Bath, PHASE Worldwide, Elhra and the Bristol Poverty Institute


In one of our most popular panel events, we heard a candid and hopeful political analysis from Richard Darlington, who was able to offer an insider’s insight into the parliamentary efforts made to protect 0.7% and the prospects of returning to this in the future. heard from Leela Shanti from SIDCN of the impact of the aid cuts on small charities, including how many of them were pushed to their limits and left out of pocket after the sudden and widespread cuts to UK Aid in the Spring.

And we heard from Ian Mitchell on the International Development Strategy likely to come out of Whitehall in the next 6 months, after the Spending Review which will conclude in the next 2 weeks. One of our greatest problems is that, while we have legislation that considers 0.5% as a minimum, we have a Government who treat this as a maximum. The hope for us as a sector is a strategic return to a focus on poverty and inequality, after a gradual shift away from this as a focus for UK aid in the last decade.

Associated Links: You can read the profiles for all our contributors here. Richard Darlington called for us to remain in touch with our MPs, reminding them of the vital role of UK Aid and evidencing this as best we can. You can find a list of MPs for the South West here. You can read more about the Campaign to Defend Aid and Development here and about the Small International Development Charity Network and the Centre for Global Development.


In our third LISTEN panel discussion, we heard from an academic, an implementing partner and SWIDN INGO member Blue Ventures on successful approaches and models to good partnership.

Palash Kamruzzaman challenged civil society to be honest and relational in our partnerships with implementing organisations, respectful of local knowledge and context-appropriate in the way in which development programmes are designed and implemented. Okari Magati called for a wider use of adaptive programming models that can be more agile and responsive to community feedback and ownership, but that also build this into programme design rather than considering it as an addition. There was a call from the panel to seek a genuine understanding of the context in which programmes are undertaken, including the legal context, and to work with respect and humility for this, as well as to invest in partners’ capacity building and project sustainability. In addition to the work of Blue Ventures in partnering with local communities, Dr Vik Mohan described the innovative funding model Blue Ventures takes in sub-grants and how this allows for unrestricted funding, including core costs.

This event prompted the most engagement from participants in the chatbox and we have since heard our members’ feedback to continue the discussion. We will look at opportunities to do so in 2022.

Associated Links:

You can read the profiles for all our contributors here. Palash Kamruzzan's most relevant paper on valuing national development experts can be found here. Okari Magati from his experience working with Pendekezo Letu and Dr Vik Mohan from his experience with Blue Ventures.


In our second Connect session, we hosted 4 donor organisations and fund managers to speak about their work.

Barbara Frost from The Joffe Charitable Trust was unable to make the session at the last minute and very kindly provided SWIDN with the text for her presentation, which you can read here. Click here to read Barbara Frost's presentation.

Associated Links: You can read the profiles for all our contributors here, as well as more information from their own websites:



The Fore

The Joffe Charitable Trust


Simon Starling from Bond kicked off this session with his call to engage in advocacy if we are to see long-term change at a structural level. He challenged us to look for shared interests between local and national government and demonstrate how our programmes can support these. We were also able to hear the experience of Shahin Ashraf from Islamic Relief Worldwide, who could share some of her experience of advocacy on a global level together with Pamela Ebanyat from Send A Cow’s Uganda office who gave the community level perspective of advocacy. The panel called for a scaling up of the success we see to influence change on an international level, as well as the importance of demonstrating impact and evidence.

Associated links:

You can read the profiles for all our contributors here, as well as more information about the work of Bond, Islamic Relief Worldwide and Send A Cow specific to advocacy.


In our most popular panel event, we heard from Lena Bheeroo at Bond about some of the work they are doing to decolonise development. Lorriann Robinson from The Advocacy Team shared some of her personal reflections from working at the organisatonal level to achieve change, and Hub Cymru Africa together with the Sub-Sahara Advisory Group shared some of their experiences from their ongoing Reframing the Narrative campaign.

The panel acknowledged the difficulty of the conversation, but urged us to confront the anxiety that accompanies the realisation that harm is being done in our sector, in order to address the systemic roots of that harm. Aligned with some of the points from our Keynote Address, this panel urged us as a sector to reflect on doing things differently and approach this from a personal and professional perspective, including personal complicity in upholding oppressive practices.

It can feel paralysing to know how and where to start in confronting some of the harm done in our sector. The panel encouraged civil society to start from where you are, change the language you use, think about who you have in the room and who makes the decisions in your organisation about how and what you do.

SWIDN are continuing this conversation and others in our Good Development Working Group, which meets next on Wednesday 3rd November at 1pm.

Associated Links: You can read the profiles for all our contributors here, as well as Bond’s suggestions for ways to start dismantling racism in aid and the Bond report ‘Racism, Power and Truth’ mentioned in the panel discussion. Lena Bheeroo also mentioned Charity So White and Lorriann Robinson represented The Equity Index and The Advocacy Team. You can learn more about both Hub Cymru Africa and the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, as well as the work of panel chair, Dr Lata Narayanaswamy.


In our final Connect session, we heard about the innovation of 5 of our members which accompanied posters of their work. Click the links below to see the accompanying posters:

TEMWA - Carbon Balancing Programme

Cool Earth - Can unconditional cash giving save the rainforest?

Frank Water - WASH Connect: A free IWRM toolkit & app

Legs4Africa - Post-Office Culture

Chase Africa - Benefits of Family Planning

Associated Links:

You can read the profiles for all our contributors here

Become a SWIDN Member