Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid

December 2012 I Mary B. Anderson, Dayna Brown and Isabella Jean

Download this Resource or Purchase on Amazon

the listening exercises I acting on what we have heard I watch the authors present and discuss time to listen I readers react

Screen Shot 2013 07 23 At 51233 PM


- Distinguished Prof. Robert Chambers

Time to Listen represents the cumulative evidence of five years gathering evidence from people living in societies that are recipients of international aid. CDA's Listening Project organized teams of "listeners" across 20 countries and contexts to gather the voices, insights, and lessons from people both inside an outside the aid system.

Prof. Robert Chambers draw lessons from Time to Listen in his key note speech at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2014 Development Cooperation Forum (DCF). Start at minute 31.

Voices from the Receiving End of International Aid from cdalearning

This publication represents the lessons that have come forth through conversations with nearly 6,000 people. Using their words, their experiences, and their ideas, we describe why the cumulative impacts of aid have not met expectations and describe a way forward to make changes that, according to those on the receiving end, will lead to more effective results.


-  On twitter #HearReceivingEnd

-  Feedback Mechanisms

-  Time to Listen: A Discussion Guide


Alex Jacobs on NGO Performance: “This book brings us to the brink of change. It’s a terrific addition to the literature and a must-read for any serious donor or NGO manager. It leaves us with the challenge of how to tackle these questions, so we build a road on from our old ways.” Full post

Duncan Green, OXFAM, on From Poverty to Power: “This focus on the cumulative impact of aid on poor people is really valuable, because it contrasts with most aid evaluations, which focus on individual projects or programmes….But perhaps the most disturbing point is that I cannot think of a previous exercise like this – recording the views of aid recipients on this scale….If you want a challenging, thoughtful, uncomfortable, bottom up critique of aid, ‘Time to Listen’ is the place to start." Full post

Professor Robert Chambers, renowned development scholar and practitioner:

"Time to Listen is immensely inspiring.  It could and should transform international assistance.  It is rooted in the realities of those who are so often unheard.  It is both radical and practical. Its evidence is the voices of almost 6,000 people at many levels in many countries, organisations and communities who have living experience as recipients of aid. There is appreciation but the criticisms are penetrating and consistent across levels and contexts. Few books on aid have spoken with such authority.

All who are engaged with international assistance – whether as politician, policy- maker, official, consultant, volunteer, technical expert, practitioner, analyst, activist or field worker… in aid agency, government, foundation, NGO, social movement, academia, the private sector or elsewhere – should hear, take to heart, and act on the voices and ideas in this book.

Refreshingly they challenge the dominant delivery system approach to international assistance and its behaviours, relationships, procedures and patterns of  power.  This leads to an insightful and practical agenda. Recipients repeatedly ask that funders should be more ‘present’. And in many other ways all actors can transform aid to be more collaborative and smarter.

Here is a vision of a better future and how to get there. Time to Listen is clear, practical and accessible.  Ignorance or lack of ideas of what to do can now never be an excuse. May this book be read, reread, and reflected on and may all concerned in innumerable places and organisations and at all levels, be provoked and inspired to act.  International assistance should never be the same again."


click PLAYLIST to see all presentations and interviews

Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid, Book Presentation / Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Report Calls on Aid Agencies to Listen to, Work with, Beneficiaries / IRIN News

Reward Staff for their Relationship with Aid Recipients, Stresses New Book / Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP)

Not Your Usual Listening Exercise: 6000 People’s Perceptions of Aid Delivery / How Matters

Yet Another Report Tells Us What We Think We Already Know / Linda Raftree

Reinventing International Aid Through Listening / InterAction

Time to Listen / Partners Asia

I Participate. You Participate. They Decide. / One Step at a Time

SIDW - Thought Leaders in Learning: Hearing People on the Receiving End of Aid / Society for International Development

Aid and the Social Sectors – Report on a UNU-WIDER Research Initiative / Poveritics, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

Post-2015 High Level Panel Framing Questions -Saferworld Response / Saferworld

Hard Dom Over Bistandssystemet / Bistandsaktuelt, NORAD

So What? - Your Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact / The Aspen Institute

Time to Listen: Hearing the Voices from People on the Receiving End of International Aid / Listening Matters: Thoughts on Education and Technology with a Perspective on Development

Wanted: Ways to Revolutionize the International Aid System / The Guardian, Global Development Professionals Network

The Voices of Affected Populations in Evaluation / Intelligent Measurement

More Effective Aid: Don’t Just Develop Capacity – Unleash It / Tom Grubisich and Jennifer Lentfer. Development Marketplace

Also recommended the book: GroupeURDThe Agricultural, Learning and Impacts Network AlinePeace DirectOverseas Development Institute (ODI)ICRCRefugee Archives, Lingos, CDAC Network