Links & Contents I Liked 196

Hi all,

Happy World Humanitarian Day, happy Friday and happy reading with this week's link review!

Development news:
UN admits role in Haiti cholera epidemic; World Bank economist writes reflective blog post; New leader, old debate: Who’s going to head the Bank? Participation and inequality; Kenya’s NGO crackdown to silence critics? How academics and NGOs can work together; cards against humanity; Pakistan’s truck art.

Our digital lives:
Photographing Justin Trudeau; Neglecting the floods in Louisiana.

Academia: Female economists & patriarchal higher education; a long read on mindfulness and political self-exploitation.


New from aidnography

Today We Drop Bombs, Tomorrow We Build Bridges (book review)

Gill’s very good blend of journalistic insights, reflections on the past and present of the humanitarian system and a measured appeal for a sustainable future of aid round off a book I can recommend highly as in introduction into the complexities of modern conflict and the growing repertoire to respond to the need of suffering human beings.
Development news
U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that “over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” He added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”
I'm quoting from Jonathan Katz' facebook page:
Hard to describe the feeling, nearly six years after I reported the very first story for AP, out on a limb and deep in the journalistic wilderness, to have the UN admitting it played a role in starting the world's worst ongoing cholera epidemic, under my byline, on the front page of the New York Times. This story ain't over by a longshot. But what a moment.
This volatile Haiti slum is undergoing a makeover — now what?
But if there’s anything close to a model of the lessons learned over the years, it is Fort National. The construction of almost 300 single and condo-style units, installation of street lights and the rehabilitation of water kiosks and streets may seem small. But supporters note that it’s changing the facade of an informal settlement, and providing employment and training to locals in proper and anti-seismic construction techniques.
“I am not just hiring five guys; I am hiring everyone from the neighborhood,” Nadon said. “So when that guys asks for an extension [on his single unit] he’s going to ask the foreman and that foreman now knows how to do it properly. Their way of building has completely changed.”
Jacqueline Charles for the Miami Herald with another story from Haiti, a nuanced look at the ripple effects of one successful reconstruction project-and the many challenges that still remain to rebuild Port-au-Prince better.

How will joining the UN change IOM?

IOM’s vague mandate, combined with a funding model that is entirely project-driven and dependant on voluntary contributions from its 165 member states, means it is often faster and leaner than other donor-funded organisations, and has the flexibility to respond in circumstances where agencies with narrower mandates cannot. For example, when thousands of migrant workers became stranded in Libya during the uprising there in 2011, UNHCR’s hands were tied because they were not refugees, but IOM was able to evacuate them. IOM has also filled a gap in terms of providing humanitarian aid to people displaced by natural disasters – another group not fully covered by UNHCR.
At the same time, IOM’s broad mandate and lack of core funding opens it up to the accusation that its choice of projects is driven by the priorities of donor countries rather than the best interests of the migrants themselves.
Kristy Siegfried for IRIN on the opportunities and challenges of IOM becoming a UN organization.

Everybody wants progress; nobody wants change

One of the most difficult judgments for an organization (or a nation) is how to draw the line that separates the cases that call for perseverance and those that require redress. An increase in international trade is a good example of a change that could increase income for a nation and impose either small costs on a few or large costs on many. Economists may have been slow to recognize that trade is now imposing larger costs on more people. As a result, we may have been too slow to take up the practical challenge of how to adjust the division between winners and losers of the total increase in national income.
Incoming World Bank chief economist Paul Romer writes reflective blog posts-which is already a good sign ;)! I wish he had engaged with more examples from the Bank's work on where it has been generated justified complaints and how that may change in the future.

Excuse me, World Bank, This Time Is Last Time’s Next Time

There have been many voices out there for many years saying that reserving the leadership of the World Bank exclusively for an American increasingly undermines the legitimacy of the leader and the organization (see Raghuram Rajan here in 2008 and Michaels Clemens and Kremer here in 2016). This doesn’t mean that an American might not emerge as the best candidate, but that this choice would only have legitimacy if it emerges from a process all agree was a vigorous and open global search for the best leader that considered more than the history of only American males.
Lant Pritchett for CGDev. As Jim Kim's post is up for renewal the same questions as always emerge: Why does it have to be an American in this day and age? I remember my reflection back in 2013 when he was elected as the 'first anthropologist'

Can Participation ‘Fix’ Inequality?

While we know we should address intersecting inequalities, our work on strengthened political voice often ignores the economic sphere, and work on building inclusive economies often fails to think about strategies for more inclusive politics. Yet, in the face of extreme economic inequality, work on one without the other fails to break the vicious circle.
John Gaventa from IDS with a short summary of new readings on participation, accountability and economic inequalities.

Is Kenya’s crackdown on NGOs about fair wages, or silencing government critics?

“Ever since Fazul has been appointed CEO, the Board has become the voice of the government” said Peter Aling’o, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Nairobi. “Fazul’s bullish body language is representative of his own approach and that of the government, which is becoming increasingly intolerant to independent voices, especially those who seek to expose things which undermine good governance, human rights and the rule of law.”
The adversarial relationship between the government and NGOs, as well as civil society, date back to the 2007 election and the violence that erupted afterward. NGOs and many within civil society led the calls for accountability in the International Criminal Court. NGOs also called for greater accountability during the 2013 elections, and pressured the ICC to pursue President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto over their involvement in the post-election violence.
Megan Iacobini de Fazio for Humanosphere on how Kenya's crackdown on NGOs is probably not just about higher salaries for local staff.

How can Academics and NGOs work together? Some smart new ideas

Two alternative ways of conceptualising interaction between academics and non-academics to influence policy have been proposed. The more conservative model relies on a boundary organisation or knowledge intermediary who sits between the two worlds of science and policy, each of which retains its integrity and stability. The more radical model involves co-production of knowledge through the merging of these two realms in ways which interfere with conventional research practices and roles of researchers, such that science goes beyond providing information and becomes involved in the process of governance itself.
Duncan Green summarizes a new research report on influencing policy; it deserves a longer response, but in short as a bust academic and teacher starting a new semester, planning examinations for January 2017 and field work later that year, it isn't as simple as a better university website and phone call to help out an NGO. To very different world, cultures, planning requirements and reward system will never be able to align in the best possible way to 'influence policy'.

This Cards Against Humanity-like game for jaded aid workers is as cynical about the world as they are

“One of our missions is to change the way we talk about development,” says Ruge. (The “educated angry African” card, he says, was named in his honor.) “We want you to have fun and spit beer through your nose, but on Monday morning we want you to think about it and have a conversation with your peers about the absurdity that such cards come from real situations.”
Lily Kuo for Quartz on the development industry's best card game, turning humor into serious reflection.

The elusive history and politics of Pakistan’s truck art

Though experts around the world have spent a lot of effort in trying to dissect the aesthetical dynamics of this art-form; and on how these dynamics are a reflection of a process which sees Pakistan’s traditional folk imageries become fused with those of modernity, which the drivers come across on the roads, very few have attempted to trace the history of this forthright, yet enigmatic, art-form.
Nadeem F. Paracha for Dawn on truck art in Pakistan; no aid person worth their street creds who does not have pictures of fancy trucks with strange God-fearing messages from South Asia somewhere on their facebook ;)!

#Aid #NGO advertises a 'job that will take everything you've got and then demand more' #Burnout Alert

— Gemma Houldey (@AidSoulSearch) August 16, 2016

Our digital lives
The unmediated photo is the message

What’s more, online habits have shifted in recent years toward platforms like Facebook and Instagram that are dominated by photos. Where a generation of politicians had to master the “hot,” kinetic medium of TV – with its emphasis on physical gesture and digestible soundbites – Mr. Trudeau has ridden to success through a mastery of Internet culture, which valorizes static images that can be shared and turned into memes.
Eric Andrew-Gee for The Globe and Mail job-shadows Canadian PM's photographer and tells teh story of media and mediatization are changing in the digital age.

Louisiana’s quiet crisis: Cable news and the folly of disaster porn coverage

If this storm had a name or if it happened in a city the country recognizes, anchors and camera crews would abound. Instead, it’s a half-reported B-story. The disaster porn coverage networks liberally apply to non-stories all the damn time isn’t coming. But this is a sprawling human tragedy, and it’s happening right now, just beyond the view of a media more interested in Justin Bieber’s Instagram status than in the sufferings of flyover country.
Sean Illing for Salonon how 'third world' issues such as 'forgotten crises' are reflected in US news (non-)reporting on the flooding in Louisiana.

Female Economists and the Blogosphere – Do We Dare Mention Sexism?

The blogosphere definitely perpetuates male bias, but it is the male dominance in Economics that makes the economic blogosphere a job for boys in the first place. This is not about being picky. It is about recognising that the key issue is not ‘oh women do not blog, men are taking over again’, but rather the fact that women are still a minority in this field, and the male-dominated environment plays out in a number of ways that add up to a huge overall damper on the number of women who try to make it to the higher ranks of the discipline.
Carolina Alves on the absence of women in the economist blogosphere and broader issues around gender, empowerment and patriarchy in academia. It is now more than four years ago that I wrote about gender and development blogging for the first time...

Mindful in Westminster

I have argued that an analysis of self-governance as a neoliberal tool risks interpreting “responsibilization” through a totalizing framework: practices of self-governance are read as individualizing and psychologizing suffering, and thereby obfuscating the social and political causes of mental health issues at a time of increasing social welfare cuts. But this leaves analysis of governance limited to a framework of top-down intervention and does not account for diversity in the motivations, experiences, and efforts of people practicing self-governance and the collaborative nature of the political processes by which it is promoted. Self-governance, then, becomes a mask for austerity.
Take some time to read Joanna Cook's open access ethnographic exploration of how the self and the mind are governed in our contemporary world!


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