Links & Contents I Liked 331

A young woman too shy to look at the camera at Nova Canaã shelter in Boa Vista, Brazil.
(UNHCR/Genesis Andreina Lemus Guacaran)
Hi all,

I hope the latest #globaldev link review finds you well & warm ;)!
My teaching term is definitely over now, but the blog will have some final updates next week before a well-deserved summer break!
 

My quotes of the week

The Syrian government has rigged the system for provision of humanitarian aid, to ensure that the benefit to the state supersedes the needs of the population. In doing so, it has compromised each humanitarian organization or agency’s ability to program and re-oriented priorities towards obtaining greater access and resources, instead of serving beneficiaries impartially. Humanitarian organizations have very little leverage to negotiate up with the Syrian government. (Rigging the System-Government Policies Co-Opt Aid and Reconstruction Funding in Syria)
Our study shows that action on climate change demands shuttering vast sections of the military machine. There are few activities on Earth as environmentally catastrophic as waging war. Significant reductions to the Pentagon’s budget and shrinking its capacity to wage war would cause a huge drop in demand from the biggest consumer of liquid fuels in the world. It does no good tinkering around the edges of the war machine’s environmental impact. The money spent procuring and distributing fuel across the US empire could instead be spent as a peace dividend, helping to fund a Green New Deal in whatever form it might take. (US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries
Polfus is part of a growing movement of scientists who don’t just “consult” with Indigenous communities — they immerse themselves in them, learn from them, share knowledge and return something to the community in the process. The Dene call this mode of thinking “łeghágots’enetę,” translated to “learning together.”
“It’s finding the questions that you have in common,” says Aerin Jacob, a conservation scientist with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y). “Where’s the overlap between [questions] communities want to have answered and what is your expertise?” (
Meet the scientists embracing traditional Indigenous knowledge)
Development news
Rigging the System-Government Policies Co-Opt Aid and Reconstruction Funding in Syria

Based on interviews with humanitarians, donors, experts, and beneficiaries, as well as a review of publicly available data on humanitarian and development assistance and reconstruction, the report concludes that the Syrian government has developed a policy and legal framework that allows it to co-opt humanitarian assistance and reconstruction funding to fund its atrocities, advance its own interests, punish those perceived as opponents, and benefit those loyal to it.
Human Rights Watch with a devastating new report about aid in Syria.

No White Saviors: Woman Accused of Letting African Babies Die at Fake Medical Facility in Uganda

According to one report, a Ugandan official even says he personally witnessed Bach give a blood transfusion to a child sitting under a tree. That article, written by Nikki Gagnon, even contains a photograph of Bach inserting an intravenous line into an infant. Affidavits from the complaint reportedly contain testimony from a registered nurse affirming that Bach was observed performing a number of medical procedures. Former Serving His Children employee Semei Jolly told Al Jazeera that Bach would often cancel medication prescribed by local doctors and implement her own treatments. According to Jolly, when he raised the subject, Bach’s employees responded that “a boss is a boss.”
Michael Harriot for the Root shares more details on the developing story of an American 'white savior' allegedly practicing medicine in Uganda.

On A Mission To Make White People Uncomfortable

In this podcast, Alaso and Nielsen tell us why it is so important to recognize and question the power dynamics inherent in white saviorism. They share how the inequities they witnessed while living and working within the white community in Jinja led them to start No White Saviors. And they discuss the challenges and responsibilities of having a growing platform on the internet.
Despite critics accusing them of racism, they feel their partnership is positive. “Having someone who is a Black woman, and of African nationality, and then someone who is a white woman, who has very much been part of the problem, coming at it in a unified sense,” Nielsen says. Their message is “unapologetically ‘white people, you need to do better. We need to do better.’”
Amy Costello for Nonprofit Quarterly introduces the Tiny Sparks podcast about the 'No White Savior' movement.

'Unacceptable workplace behaviors' at UNICEF, leaked report summary says
In multiple interviews with Devex, current and former UNICEF staff and contractors — all women who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to protect their career security — described an environment where an “old boys' club" culture prevails. Harassment and bullying are rampant, they told Devex, as is pressure to work long hours and potentially be on call 24-7.
Amy Lieberman for DevEx with another bad news story about UN work culture... The life of displaced Venezuelan youth, as seen through their own eyes
The journey to Brazil was challenging and now, living in temporary shelters in the northern state of Roraima, opportunities to take a breath from a demanding reality are scarce. But for five days in February, 21 young Venezuelans had a chance to put on their photographer hat, learn how to capture the stories of their community and share their dignity, resilience and hope with the world.
All participants of the photography workshop, organized by National Geographic in February with the support of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, were Venezuelan students living in shelters. Some had never held a photo camera in their hands; others, like Santiago Briceño, had always dreamed of becoming professional photographers.
UNHCR with a great photo essay that challenges some of the stereotypes about the visual representation of refugees and refugee camps.

'Most complex health crisis in history': Congo struggles to contain Ebola

“The biggest problem has been security. I think if we had the access we need, we could have finished dealing with it a long time ago,” says Socé’s colleague Michel Yao, in charge of the day-to-day WHO response.
“Every time there was an incident we would be prevented from working for three to four days. There would be demonstrations and anyone could be attacked. We became the target.”
(...)
“We have the vaccine and new ways of treating the disease,” says Dr Marie-Claire Kolie, a Guinean doctor in Butembo who worked on Ebola in her own country.
“The big difference is that this is occurring in a conflict zone and that is accentuating everything. We’ve seen the numbers of cases in the centres declining, and that’s good news, but we are still seeing deaths in the community and they are difficult to investigate. And there’s still no confidence in the community even now.
Peter Beaumont for the Guardian. This is certainly not an 'under reported' or 'ignored' crisis and yet given the challenge of the public health crisis it's still flying somehow under the global radar...

No Drips, No Drops: A City Of 10 Million Is Running Out Of Water
"It's shocking but not surprising," says Tarun Gopalakrishnan, a climate change expert at the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. He says the crisis in Chennai is the result of "a toxic mix of bad governance and climate change."
Rains have become more erratic because of climate change. That, coupled with a delayed arrival of the seasonal monsoon, which usually comes in June, has all but dried up the city's water supply. Government data show that the storage level in the four lakes combined is less than one-hundredth of what it was at this time last year. A severe heat wave gripping most of India, including Chennai, has aggravated conditions.
What's happening in Chennai could easily happen anywhere across India, Gopalakrishnan says.
Sushmita Pathak reports from Chennai, India, for NPR Goats & Soda. That 'toxic mix' of bad governance & climate will hit India even worse in the future...

Mozambique’s $20bn gas project: A boom that heralds a resource curse bust?

“However, Mozambique will be collecting only royalty payments at this stage and taxable revenue from companies is only expected in the 2030s, once the companies have recovered their initial expenditure.
“I think, unfortunately, that Mozambique’s gas story will be similar to Nigeria, Angola, DRC — there will be a lot of money coming in from its natural resources, but poor planning, poor governance, poor institutions and a massive amount of debt means that the average Mozambican will not see much improvement in their quality of life from the gas find,” Duthie said.
Ed Stoddard for the Business Maverick with an all-too-familiar story from Mozambique about the likely limits of natural resource trickle-down impacts...

US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries – shrinking this war machine is a must
Our study shows that action on climate change demands shuttering vast sections of the military machine. There are few activities on Earth as environmentally catastrophic as waging war. Significant reductions to the Pentagon’s budget and shrinking its capacity to wage war would cause a huge drop in demand from the biggest consumer of liquid fuels in the world.
It does no good tinkering around the edges of the war machine’s environmental impact. The money spent procuring and distributing fuel across the US empire could instead be spent as a peace dividend, helping to fund a Green New Deal in whatever form it might take. There are no shortage of policy priorities that could use a funding bump. Any of these options would be better than fuelling one of the largest military forces in history.
Benjamin Neimark, Oliver Belcher, & Patrick Bigger for the Conversation present their research on the vastness of the US military's ecological impact.

Meet the scientists embracing traditional Indigenous knowledge

Polfus is part of a growing movement of scientists who don’t just “consult” with Indigenous communities — they immerse themselves in them, learn from them, share knowledge and return something to the community in the process. The Dene call this mode of thinking “łeghágots’enetę,” translated to “learning together.”
“It’s finding the questions that you have in common,” says Aerin Jacob, a conservation scientist with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y). “Where’s the overlap between [questions] communities want to have answered and what is your expertise?”
That overlap can be a place of both great opportunity and great resistance. It’s the site of an ongoing clash of vibrant traditions, a stubborn establishment and curious minds.
(...)
Other benefits also arise when the community asserts control over how research is done in its territory. The Hakai Institute employs Heiltsuk members as field technicians. In Wuikinuxv First Nation, Adams has been trying to leverage the funding and privilege that comes with her affiliation with the University of Victoria to work with youth, running a camp in a hard-to-reach part of the territory.
Polfus has been doing the same in Tulít’a, spending time in schools and working with community members in an effort to expand local capacity.
Jimmy Thomson for the Narwhal with a fascinating stories from remote Canada about the future of inclusive, participatory research collaborations.

'I've seen terrible, terrible violence': cocaine and meth fuel crime and chaos in Fiji

Meth and cocaine are packed into boats in Latin America and the US and sailed to Australia and New Zealand to feed the countries' lucrative drug habits, leaving a trail of addiction and violence in the Pacific nations they pass through. The routes shown are an approximation based on the locations given in media coverage and police reports
Kate Lyons for the Guardian from distant corner of the Pacific that has experiences the negative impact of an ever globalizing drug trade...

Accountability in Kenya’s media still needs attention. What can be done

Another big challenge was external interference in editorial decisions. The journalists and editors we spoke to said that this happened often. They gave examples of major advertisers, political leaders and media owners exerting pressure on them to skew articles in their favour or insisting on censorship.
The people we spoke to also said that the government, as the biggest advertiser, put pressure on media houses to give it positive coverage in exchange for advertising. As a result, independent investigative reporting suffered. There were also a lot of public relations exercises in the name of journalism.
Journalists also mentioned that reporters and editors would be biased towards people or organisations associated with their ethnic origin.
Jared Obuya for the Conversation highlights important issues of media accountability in Kenya that are probably applicable to many other media ecosystems across Africa...

Disruption, danger and determination: Africa debates its digital ID future on the final day of ID4Africa
“Some of the worst human rights abuses we can see can be facilitated by ID cards,” said Privacy International research officer, Tom Fisher, adding that biometric systems can make this situation even worse. “Do we need biometrics?” he asked delegates, as more and more services are accessed via biometric authentication. He stressed the importance of an ecosystem approach to ID which would mean those without the ID may still be able to access some services: “Can we remove the barriers that required the ID?”.
Frank Heresy for BiometricUpdate.com shares some interesting vignettes from the ID4Africa conference.

Biometric Ultimata — what the Yemen conflict can tell us about the politics of digital ID systems
Those with the power to identify and verify also hold the power to determine access to resources. This is true of humanitarians, as well as governments and military commanders, even if they draw their power from different sources. Biometrics and ID systems are currently one main flashpoint for the often-fragile balance of power that allows humanitarians to fulfil their role in the world’s most volatile places: they now link the WFP, for example, to Palantir through contracts and highly visible news reports, and through the firm to its investors and clients (the CIA, the Trump administration, and links to US national security infrastructure). They also link to delivery systems which parties to conflicts may want to influence, and provide ways of redefining people between categories (refugee, member of an ethnic group, combatant, aid recipient) in ways which also feed into constituencies and power. There are many reasons to think about ID databases as sources of power, and many reasons to demand they are kept neutral — or not used. Not having biometric ID systems in use does not reduce the power of humanitarian actors, but erecting them does create new forms of power.
Aaron Martin & Linnet Taylor for Global Data Justice share their reflections on power, politics & the techno-politics of digital ID in Yemen.
From conflict to compromise: Lessons in creating a state
There needs to be some kind of international consensus and forum to address the many, and potentially violent, demands for self-determination across the world. The arbitrary drawing of borders by feckless and inept colonial officials in the Middle East, Africa and Asia has left behind an awful lot of unresolved self-determination crises. Kashmir, a source of conflict between two nuclear-armed countries, is not merely of local interest. We need some accepted criteria to assess the legitimacy of such demands, including for instance the protection of minorities, non-interference by outside powers and democratic endorsement (a requirement for non-violence might also help), and we need a place to talk about them sensibly. Not a court, as these disputes do not lend themselves to legal arbitration. They are political matters to be resolved by political means: negotiation, negotiation and more negotiation.
Carne Ross for the Independent reviews self-determination efforts around the world and calls for some kind of new UN body...

Blind Spot: Miners died while their bosses refused safety equipment

A Center for Public Integrity review of MSHA investigative reports, police files and court documents reveals that weak oversight has mixed with mistakes at mines to deadly effect, as the industry and its regulators bicker over proposed rules. Various types of heavy machinery have directly or indirectly been involved in nearly 500 deaths, dozens of them caused by blind spots, at underground and surface mines since 2000, according to MSHA data.
A recent analysis by the agency found that 23 deaths could have been avoided in surface mines alone between 2003 and 2018 if heavy machinery were equipped with safety measures such as backup cameras, proximity sensors or other collision-warning systems.
Mark Olalde for the Center for Public Integrity. This is an interesting story where 'North' and 'South', global mining and the limits of oversight and workers' right meet in a well-researcher long-read!

#SixWordHorrorStory | The nonprofit edition

The minister will be here “any minute”.
India Development Review with 'nonprofit horror stories in six words or less, all based on real life experiences'.

Our digital lives

The World’s Most Annoying Man
He thinks many people are very unreasonable, and makes sweeping claims about their irrationality and moral imbecility, but often doesn’t bother to listen to what they actually say. While insisting for page upon page on the necessity of rationality, he irrationally caricatures and mocks ideas he hasn’t tried to understand. Then, when the people who believe those ideas become upset, he sees this as further proof of their emotion-driven thinking, and becomes even more convinced that he is right. It is a pattern displayed by many of those who are critics of “social justice” and the political left. (For an entire book about this, see The Current Affairs Rules For Life: On Social Justice and Its Critics.) Pinker, however, takes it to an extreme: Nobody has ever tried to look more Reasonable while being so ignorant and condescending.
Nathan J. Robinson for Current Affairs with an excellent long-read essay on Steven Pinker.

Publications


Academia
A History of Pluto Press 50 years of Radical Publishing

Pluto’s output expanded enormously – almost four hundred titles had been published by the mid-eighties – and a number of important series generated, including Workers’ Handbooks, Marxism Series: Ideas in Action, the Big Red Diaries, The State of the World Atlases, the Militarism, State and Society series, Pluto Plays, Arguments for Socialism, Politics of Health, Pluto Crime and Liberation Classics. We published extensively in the areas of movement history, race politics, Ireland, popular culture, feminism and sexual politics. Anne Benewick was production manager from 1972 and managed the Atlas programme; and the editorial team was joined later by Pete Ayrton, Paul Crane and Neil Middleton.
Richard Kuper for Pluto Books. Pluto has always been a household name in academic publishing and it's interesting to read more about it's history. But, boy, there's a bit of an #allmalepanel going on with most of the authors mentioned in this pice being white men...

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