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Hi all,

Preparations for the new semester starting Monday are underway, but there's always time for some Friday afternoon & weekend #globaldev reads!

My quotes of the week

Now, imagine this scenario. A couple of newly minted MPH graduates from an African university, say in Rwanda, land in Washington DC for a 2-week visit. They visit a few hospitals, speak to a few health care workers and policymakers, read a few reports, and write up a nice assessment of the US health system with several recommendations on how to fix the issues they saw. They submit their manuscript to the American Journal of Public Health. Can you imagine AJPH even sending it out for review? Even if the paper got published somewhere, would US health researchers take it seriously? (10 Fixes for Global Health Consulting Malpractice)

The new Indonesian law is probably too heavy handed, but it is in the right direction. There is little doubt that there is a problem with #trickledownscience, and governments in the Global North, funders, and institutions need to push the nascent dialogue with the Global South about how appropriate, collaborative science can develop that addresses the needs of the Global South and not the whimsies of scientists in the Global North.
(
Indonesia pushes back against trickle down science)

Enjoy!

Development news

Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg Taking ‘UNprofessionals’ United Nations Comedy to CBS

CBS is developing a new comedy series called UNprofessionals (...). No, that capitalized UN isn’t a typo, because the series will focus on a group of the least important people working at the United Nations.
Ethan Anderton for Slash Film with some really interesting news about visual representations of 'our' industry...I'm still hoping that there is a connection to 'The Mission', a project I wrote about last year (The Office meets global politics: New sitcom on life inside the United Nations)

Racist African stereotypes are as prevalent as ever on TV

Channel 4 has announced a series called The British Tribe Next Door, which is most definitely reverse anthropology and not dehumanising because – did you spot it? – the word “tribe” is used to apply to the British people. So it’s totally reverse, and actually not racist at all!
There are a few other clever twists in the series, too. The British participants, reality TV star Scarlett Moffatt and her family, are bringing their house – a replica of their actual County Durham, semi-detached house – to the Himba people in Namibia, so that they can show off their hair straighteners and microwave meals. It’s giving the Himba an opportunity to experience stereotypical, traditional English tribal culture. Reverse, reverse, reverse.
Afua Hirsch for the Guardian. I agree with Afua Hirsch that nothing good will come out of such reality TV shows...racism, classism, essentialism about cultures and peoples...just don't!

Severe hunger threatens millions in Somalia as climate emergency deepens
Kenya is urging the UN to list al-Shabaab under the same sanctions as al-Qaida and Islamic State, but foreign donors say the move could stop aid reaching millions.
The proposed listing could take effect as soon as Thursday and could mean organisations that have any interaction with the extremists will face serious penalties.
“A measure like this will have the effect of criminalising humanitarian aid,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International. “Any measure that would impact the current provision of aid would have extremely serious and substantial implications.”
Al-Shabaab is already targeted under broader sanctions imposed by the UN on Somalia, which is heavily aid-dependent after three decades of conflict and economic ruin.
Currently UN agencies and humanitarian organisations are exempt from these sanctions, which enables them to deliver urgent aid without prosecution when they venture into territory controlled by al-Shabaab.
Jason Burke & Abdalle Ahmed Mumin for the Guardian. I am finishing Mary Harper's book on Al Shaabab (my review is forthcoming next week) and this is a timely reminder about the difficult state Somalia is in (again)...

West Africa's Opioid Crisis

But what we found in Nigeria was something else entirely - how the very poorest have also now become major targets of those same criminal distribution networks, how a new generation of desperately poor consumers has been cleverly sold the idea that otherwise 'respectable' pain relief medicines are in some way a remedy for the day-to-day drudgery of lives without hope or opportunity. It doesn't take a genius to work out the thinking of those behind this trade; the value of each individual sale may be tiny, but make enough of them and the profits will really stack up.
Yet, despite the chaos unleashed by tramadol abuse, trying to ban the drug entirely is fraught with significant problems. In its legal form, tramadol can be a genuinely important prescription therapy for those in great physical pain. Numerous Nigerian doctors told us of this, in one instance inviting us to meet the children wracked by the agony caused by sickle cell anaemia – a genetic blood disorder that's widespread across Africa – whose lives would be intolerable without tramadol, one of the few affordable treatments available.
Antony Loewenstein & Naashon Zalk for Al-Jazeera with a new, worrying aspect of the global drug & opioid crisis from Nigeria.

Rollercoaster US foreign aid spending in four charts

US firm Chemonics is the best-funded contractor on the list (it handles a large – and troubled – health supplies procurement contract). The government of Jordan is among the top 10, winning funding for state institutions and education. The World Food Programme received the largest amounts in the UN, while FHI 360, a North Carolina-based development organisation, was the largest NGO recipient in 2018.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian shares some interesting insights into US aid spending-including the aid-industrial complex in and around Washington, D.C.!

A Top Financier of Trump and McConnell Is a Driving Force Behind Amazon Deforestation

In defense of the project, a Blackstone spokesperson noted that it had been approved by the International Finance Corporation, an affiliate of the World Bank, and that the IFC had determined that the project would, in fact, reduce carbon emissions. Blackstone also forwarded a statement that it credited to Hidrovias, which also emphasized the support of the IFC
Ryan Grim for the Intercept. A weekly reminder that the World Bank family needs much more scrutiny-now more than ever!

You’re Not a Person if You Don’t Drink.' How This Tiny European Country Developed the World's Worst Drinking Problem


“There’s a lot of hopelessness here,” says Lungu. “There’s nothing for young people to do. You can’t start a business, it’s too risky unless you can afford to pay bribes.” He struggled with alcoholism for over a decade. “Drinking gave me relief, short-term relief. It made me indifferent,” he says. But the country’s problem with drinking has only made conditions worse for Moldovans still here. Domestic violence, crime, child neglect, inability to work and drink-driving are just some of the major problems associated with alcohol abuse. A 2015 study found a partner’s drinking problem to be the strongest factor associated with spousal violence in Moldova and several other East European countries. A 2018 study of children living on Moldova’s streets by Terre De Hommes, an NGO supporting vulnerable children, found that a parent’s alcohol abuse is commonly linked to violence at home, child abuse and neglect.
Madeline Roache for Time with a sad long-read from Moldova; I visited Moldova earlier this year and some aspects of the hopelessness on being on the margins in Europe were quite visible...

Fearing tobacco's fate, palm oil industry fights back

MPOC has also approved funding news sites, researchers, op-eds and former politicians to speak up for palm oil and undermine the EU law, the documents show.
None of the groups or individuals identified in the proposals have been transparent about their funding and have often claimed to be independent voices.
At least three PR firms hired by the MPOC are running these campaigns, copies of their proposals seen by Reuters show. The MPOC approved all their proposals, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
A. Ananthalakshmi & Emily Chow for Reuters with a weekly reminder not to trust any entity about corporate social responsibility or environmental issues while climate breakdown is happening all around us.

10 Fixes for Global Health Consulting Malpractice
Now, imagine this scenario. A couple of newly minted MPH graduates from an African university, say in Rwanda, land in Washington DC for a 2-week visit. They visit a few hospitals, speak to a few health care workers and policymakers, read a few reports, and write up a nice assessment of the US health system with several recommendations on how to fix the issues they saw. They submit their manuscript to the American Journal of Public Health. Can you imagine AJPH even sending it out for review? Even if the paper got published somewhere, would US health researchers take it seriously? (They should, I suppose. After all, the broken US health care system needs all the help it can get.)
Clearly, it’s an impossible scenario yet American MD, MPH, or MBA grads land in low-income countries to advise them on global health issues all the time.
Madhukar Pai for Global Health Now with some excellent points on medical tourism, saviorism & more!

The strange neglect of diversity within microfinance institutions

This neglect of diversity also runs counter to good practice in understanding development challenges. It becomes difficult to search for the positive outliers and understand what makes them a success if our conceptual frameworks do not allow for diversity, difference, and outliers in the first place. We look forward to more explorations of diversity and heterogeneity within microfinance organizations so that the products they offer can be better delivered to the clients who need them despite the environmental challenges they face
Dan Brockington for MicroSave continues last week's theme around fintech & #globaldev.

Manyang Reath Kher, 734 Coffee & Humanity Helping Sudan Project

7˚N 34˚E are the geographical coordinates for Gambela, a region in Ethiopia where over 200,000 displaced South Sudanese citizens now live after fleeing war, atrocities, drought, and famine in South Sudan. And it is where Manyang, from the age of three, survived for thirteen years. 734 Coffee is about building a brighter future for the displaced mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters of Sudan; it is harvested by growers right in the Gambela region, whom Manyang ensures are all refugees and after it is brought to the US, 80% of proceeds go right back to scholarships and education programs for refugees in South Sudan.
Manyang Kher on Lifestory Recording with an incredible journey from Sudan to Virginia and the power of resilience and migration!

Ready for take-off in South Sudan

“UNHAS began its operations in 2004. Currently, South Sudan is UNHAS’s largest operation, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo,” explained Sibrian.
UNHAS travels to some of the remotest locations around the world, transporting 32,000 passengers and more than 300 metric tons of cargo per month to over 323 regular destinations.
Saddal Diab for WFP Africa. We often criticize UN communication, but this is a short, interesting and good example of how to communicate UN work!

A scientific approach to evaluating global anti-poverty programs

In Ethiopia, over a quarter of the population survives on less than two dollars a day. International organizations and foreign governments provide funds to address the rampant poverty in this country and others, but little data is available to assess the effectiveness of such programs. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on one nonprofit’s rigorous, research-driven approach to aid.
Fred de Sam Lazaro for PBS Newshour with another good example of how to communicate #globaldev feat Rachel Glennerster, Dean Karlan & Innovations for Poverty Action.

Our digital lives
A Travel Influencer Is Admitting To Photoshopping Her Photos After People Noticed Multiple Instagrams With The Same Cloud Formation

Saravia said she tends to use the same cloud patterns from the app, even though there are several other options with different patterns. "I just happened to like that one," she said.
She also said that photoshopping is something she's always been open about. She even claimed that she helped one of her followers edit an image with the same software.
"They were always aware about this because I never hide it," she said of her followers. "I always tell [them] the apps I use."She added, "Actually I'm the first one to tell the joke [that] the clouds are following me around the world."
Tanya Chen for Buzzfeed News. It's the fact that her followers know about and don't mind photoshopped images that I find a bit surprising and also scary when it comes to engaging with real or 'fake' content of all sorts...

Publications

Academia
Indonesia pushes back against trickle down science

A recent article in Science Magazine (July 2019) described changes to Indonesian laws regulating the way that foreign scientists can do science in Indonesia. The laws are, in essence, a push back against “trickle down science“, in which scientist in Global North Institutions engage in colonial science. This is what happens when Global North researchers engage local institutions to provide service scientists and easy access to samples without any genuine consideration for their Global South collaborators.
(...)
The new Indonesian law is probably too heavy handed, but it is in the right direction. There is little doubt that there is a problem with #trickledownscience, and governments in the Global North, funders, and institutions need to push the nascent dialogue with the Global South about how appropriate, collaborative science can develop that addresses the needs of the Global South and not the whimsies of scientists in the Global North.
Daniel Reidpath for Papyrus Walk with some interesting reflections on what 'decolonizing science' can mean in practice.

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 124, 28 August 2014)

There always needs to be a product: 'Self-reflection', volunteering & the emerging development entertainment industrial complex

The real reflection should be on the fact that all of us are basically always asked to do, work, publish, teach and travel more-a discourse that has not really been changed since the bad old days of modernization theory…packing your bags and heading off to catch a flight to Nairobi, Kathmandu or Cape Town seems so much more tempting than going to the basement of your library to discover critical writings on the early days of ‘development’ or the manifestations of the ideas, ideals and practices that remind us of how mainstream ‘development’ has become and how tempting it is to add to the pile of (seemingly) self-critical discoveries that often border on hypocritical ‘told you so’ stories and ultimately only benefit ‘us’ and rarely anybody else.
Could we create an Ice Bucket Challenge for global development? Should we?
For all of its supposed shallowness and anticipated fleeting popularity, this visible and achievable (and fun!) action has resulted in real dollars for the disease. But some academics question the effectiveness of celebrities’ promotion of charities and other critics cite “funding cannibalism” or “moral licensing.” In other words, if the amount people are willing to donate in finite, participation in the ice bucket challenge for ALS may mean that they will be less likely to donate elsewhere, resulting in a disproportionate loss for other deserving charities.
The Complexity of Ebola & Its Misrepresentation in the West, by Theresa Ammann
Ebola has only reinforced distrust in public authorities amongst the Liberians; distrust which goes back to a long history of Government corruption and ill performance. It is only understandable that relatives are unwilling to give up their loved ones to untrustworthy and incapable authorities especially when they fear that they will never see them again. When Government fails them, people have learnt to turn to their usual sources of solace and hope, namely the Church and the family, and who could hold that against them?
Why I Decided War Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk
And without a higher purpose, what is a career as a reporter? It may count among the so-called “glamor jobs” sought after by recent graduates, but one careers website has listed newspaper reporting as the second worst job in America, based on factors such as stress, pay, and employment uncertainty; toiling as a janitor, dishwasher, or garbage collector all scored better. Even if you love the work, it’s hard not to get worn down by a job that sometimes requires you to risk life and limb for readers who wonder if maybe you suffer all the downsides and hazards just to support some hidden agenda.

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