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

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

Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid

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 and outside the aid system. 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.


Suggested citation: Anderson, Mary B., Dayna Brown, and Isabella Jean. Time to Listen: Hearing People on the Receiving End of International Aid. Cambridge, MA: CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, 2012.

the authors present the book
Review by Duncan Green, Oxfam
“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.” [continue reading]
Review by Prof. 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. […] Few books on aid have spoken with such authority.

All who are engaged with international assistance […] should hear, take to heart, and act on the voices and ideas in this book. […] 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.”


– Distinguished Prof. Robert Chambers at the 2014 Development Cooperation Forum