Links & Contents I Liked 42

Hello all,

A nice selection of good reads found its way on this week's list: We start with three contributions on capitalism and development: The pitfalls of the 'Green Economy', privatising entire cities in Honduras & outsourcing jobs to Kenya; but the second part features more uplifting, even entertaining material before the third parts wraps up with some interesting career-related resources. Also, do check out the 'Academia' section on classroom disruptions and the GUARDIAN's development studies reading list!

Enjoy!


Development
The Dark Side of the “Green Economy”

One concern is that this new green economy is a form of “disaster capitalism”—a global effort to put the “services” of nature into the same hands that caused the global financial meltdown. And that seems like a very, very bad idea.
Increasingly, the evidence on the ground bears this out.
The reforestation plan in Mozambique has peasant farmers planting industrial monocultures of African palm for biofuel production, not native forest. The Kenyan farmers of the Green Belt Movement, while initially receptive to a World Bank-backed scheme that would pay them to protect agricultural soils, became discouraged when they realized the payments would add up to less than 15 cents per acre per year, and that they would have to wait many years for payment. In Brazil, the “green basket” of food staples adds up to 100 Reales per family per month—but cooking gas alone can cost 50 Reales a month, leaving families without access to the forest hungry and dependent on paltry state support.
And in Chiapas, where families in the Lacandon community are paid to protect the forest against their neighbors, the struggling campesinos from the Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, and Mam ethnic groups are forced off the land and into prefab peri-urban settlements, where their customs and traditional livelihoods will be forever lost.
(...)
On June 21, winter solstice in Brazil, a delegation of indigenous people from an encampment called Kari-Oca II near the Rio summit delivered a declaration to U.N. officials. The declaration, signed by more than 500 indigenous leaders and blessed in a ritual ceremony, took direct aim:

“The Green Economy is a perverse attempt by corporations, extractive industries, and governments to cash in on Creation by privatizing, commodifying, and selling off the Sacred and all forms of life and the sky, including the air we breathe, the water we drink, and all the genes, plants, traditional seeds, trees, animals, fish, biological and cultural diversity, ecosystems and traditional knowledge that make life on Earth possible and enjoyable.
This is a great essay! There really is a powerful argument that once any commodity gets quantified and valuable in some way, a capitalistic exploitative impulse is set in motion that very often only benefits a very small global elite of 'quantifiers'.

Honduras Approves Private Cities Project

Carlos Pineda, the president of Coalinza, stated that this was not just an agreement, but the most important project for the development of the country in 50 years.
Michael Strong, an executive with the MKG Group that was granted this project, stated that the objective is to create a secure and prosperous community for Hondurans.
Although painful to read, it's worth engaging with the official statement on how private cities will transform Honduras. Asking an international private company to run a city looks like a neoliberal dream come true. I'm a bit surprised that Nancy Birdsall from the Center for Global Development joined a business-school (and armed forces)-driven 'Transparency Commission'

Work in the Developing World: Outsourcing to Nairobi Slums

SAMSource, a U.S.-based non-profit organization is partnering with Techno Brain- a software development company incorporated in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with offices in 11 countries– to launch an initiative to create jobs in data entry, content moderation and other outsourcing jobs to hundreds of Kenyan youth from low-income households. This initiative, according to SAMSource Chief Operating Officer, Chelsea Cooper, aims to address rising unemployment rates among Kenya’s educated youth.
This rounds off this week's 'the wondrous world of global capitalism' link collection...It's not that offering jobs to young Kenyans is a wrong or 'bad' idea, but as European countries like Spain, Greece, Italy and France are faced with unprecedented levels of youth unemployment there is some cynicism at work when a US-based company decided to higher (cheaper) Kenyan workers. It is also no coincidence that the post is cross-posted with the Germany-based Bertelsmann Foundation, a neoliberal Think Tank that has been working on labour market 'flexibility' for many years. The global race to the bottom has finally reached the 'new' Africa...

The Guardian International Development Achievement Award - the nominees
The award aims to celebrate one individual for their contribution to the lives of some of the world's poorest people
Before this week's link review becomes too cynical: Great portraits of fantastic people who have made some real impact on positive development and social change!

Dr. Kurien - a doyen of our times
Dr. Kurien epitomised cooperatives, proving to the world that cooperatives can succeed. Built on sound business principles, Dr. Kurien built institutions that brought to fruition, the enterprise of scattered small farmers. When one sees the stupendous success of GCMMF, it is often difficult to imagine why there aren't many more successful examples of cooperatives in India.
My friend Suvojit's obituary for an inspiring leader of the Indian cooperatives movement.

#170 The EAW’s Prayer
By Your grace, cancel the flight of our donor, so that I might have 24 more hours to shiny up our anecdotal success stories with pictures of children

May the M&E consultant be amenable to case studies, or at least
receptive to my sexual advances

May the Internet, like Your mercy, flow abundantly, so that I might
watch that new Rihanna video on Youtube.
9 development phrases we hate (and suggestions for a new lexicon)
Here, we list the 9 development phrases that we particularly hate, and open suggestions for a new lexicon. Voting for new suggestions can be done in a Google Drive form at the very bottom of this post. We want your suggestions to help destroy these old, meaningless buzzwords and help to create a shiny set of new, meaningless buzzwords.
No development buzzword critique is complete without an Indiana Jones reference ;)!
And after this more uplifting intermission let's return to more 'real' development stuff...

Telemarketers Exploit Charitable Giving

An investigative piece by David Evans for Bloomberg uncovers how the telemarketer InfoCision Management Corp. is raising millions of dollars for charities by lying. The long piece looks heavily into the practices of the firm such as the tactics employed to trick people into giving. What stands out is that when people were explained what was happening, their anger was directed at the charities for using firms that employ deceptive tactics.
Tom Murphy summarizes a longer piece on dodgy telemarketing.
On a related note, I'm always surprised when I see street teams in my town that try to solicit a donation from me. Save The Children, PLAN and WWF have been among them and I can't but wonder whether the damage to the brand really outweighs the money that comes in through these donations. Who signs up for child sponsoring under the pressure of being bullied on a street corner?! I know that these are, similar to the telemarketing firms, third party firms that probably work on commission, but again, is there still such a large segment of society who feels like 'helping children' when approached on the street??

Why Open Data for Development is Hard

In transit, we know that the frequency, safety, cleanliness, reliability, and timeliness of buses are pretty important things for making a municipal bus system work. We can then gather data around those variables and mash them up in apps to make them helpful to the average bus rider. Open data for the win!
“Development” (however defined, itself a controversial argument) is roughly a thousand times more complex.
In a nutshell: There is and for a long time will be no one website or app that quickly tells you how 'development' 'works'. In fact, the post reminded me a bit of the initial essay on the 'Green Economy': Will there be any side-effects of the commodification of data? And at the end of the day, how beneficial will they be for people's daily lives, aspirations and social change?

Advice for a soon-to-be-graduate
Daniela Papi has compiled a great list of resources to read, explore and think about for those thinking to start a career in development.

Do Not Skip This Step in Your International Development Job Search
Sometimes there is no way of knowing that a path is all wrong, not until we fully experience it. And yet, many times, some testing and trying might have sent us some red flags that this was not the best path for us.
As usual, great practical tips from Shana Montesol Johnson.
...and don't forget to check out last week's post
The role of graduate studies in the 'flawed development system'- a reply to Karen Attiah -in case you haven't already ;)!

Academia
Defusing class disruptions
“My impression is that students don’t tend to be any more disruptive than before, except for one thing,” says Dr. Beaulieu-Prévost, “and that is the notion that those new technologies are part of themselves. Some students literally don’t notice it when they are answering a text message.”
Because of the new technologies, classrooms are no longer the “closed” areas they used to be, cautions Dr. Beaulieu-Prévost: they are open and plugged into the world. As a result, he tries to behave as if he is always “in public” and that anything he says or does could be recorded or filmed.
Some observers worry that one day a student will purposely goad a professor into an outburst while an accomplice films it and posts it online. That, of course, raises all sorts of privacy issues. Brock’s Dr. Marini has not heard of that happening, yet: “That’s a sleeper issue, but it’s a big, big issue.”
(...)
Changing notions of respect and authority may also be at play with classroom disruption. “Gone are the days when a professor walked into a class and was respected,” says Dr. Marini. “The range of what people believe is civil has really become wider. My sense nowadays is that respect is something that you have to earn each day. It doesn’t mean we now have total anarchy in the classroom. It just means that we the professors have to work harder to make sure we are in a civil place.” He says that instructors probably should assume that their classroom environment will not be civil and prepare themselves accordingly.
Some of this advice is probably also suitable for development-related meetings and workshops.
Development studies: Key first-year reads
We've put together a shortlist of key reads for students interested in development studies. The titles below cover a wide range of subjects and an equally wide range of ways to approach development issues. Whether you're sitting next to a well-thumbed copy of an Amartya Sen or picking up Adam Przeworski for the first time, let us know what you think.
Great list!

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