copyright © 2006
Chris Whitehouse, Cornwall, UK
updated: 14 February 2017
Chris Whitehouse
Your Hidden Helper, Chris Whitehouse

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Your Hidden Helper: Meet Chris

I am Chris Whitehouse, native British, now enjoying a quieter and more sedentary lifestyle in the sun–kissed southwest of England.

Long term postings have taken me to Kenya, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, Zambia, Nepal and most recently Bhutan. Shorter–term assignments and consultancies have seen me work in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and Maldives. I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Philosophy, and a Master's in Development Studies. All told, I have more than 20 years experience working overseas, of which over 8 years were with UNDP's United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

Through my work, I became well conversant with the mechanics of programme management and monitoring, and became particularly interested in results–based logical frameworks and the challenges faced by those involved in devising the logframes. My work also enabled me to deepen my understanding in a range of fields, from governance to HIV/AIDS, from poverty to microhydro. I learnt about needs and rights, about early childhood learning, about organic farming, about web development, about community mobilisation, about youth crime, about appropriate technology, about refugee management... the list is endless. It seemed that every day I would learn something new about something different!

I have always loved writing, whether articles, press releases, discussion papers, or more academic papers, such as the one I presented at the international conference held in Bhutan on Gross National Happiness. I have edited newsletters in Thailand, Zambia, Nepal, and Bhutan, and contributed articles to others.

I feel it is important to question how we do things, even if (or perhaps particularly if) we have done them this way for a long time. My latest article questions a long-established principle of development: that any good project or programme should aim for a single objective. The paper, TVs and Tomatoes, draws on real-life examples to argue in favour of multiple-objective projects.

The dissertation I wrote for my Master's, subsequently published as an Occasional Paper by the University of Bath, sought to assess the extent to which human rights were inherently universal, or were universalisable. Subsequent (unpublished) papers have included a challenge on the meaning of volunteerism, and a plea for evaluations to be evaluated. There was more than a ripple of discussions in the Monitoring and Evaluation community following my challenge to the use of indicators in results–based management, in my paper entitled The Ants and the Cockroach, with the response from colleague Dr. Thomas Winderl, both of which were selected for inclusion in a book of selected articles, edited by S. Cummings, entitled Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?.

Now settled back in my native England, I continue to be interested in, and to be healthily sceptical of, the wonderful world of aid and development. The idea of offering support to development professionals through this website emerged from the recognition that many working in the field are 'doers' more than 'writers'. In particular, the much maligned consultant often faces enormous difficulty meeting clients' sky–high expectations within extraordinarily optimistic deadlines.

It is hard to believe it is already more than ten years since I launched miniAID, back in October 2006. Many organisations and individuals have already benefited from the services I provide, and more will no doubt join as the word continues to spread. Let me hope you will be one of them.

See more of Chris's publications.

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