Links & Contents I Liked 222

Hi all,

Lots of great development and #ICT4D stuff this week! I am also a bit tired after a long week of meetings-so no witty introduction ;)!

Development news: Global Fund’s leadership drama; how to address inequality in Indonesia? Cobalt mining in DRC; South Sudan-segregation through aid? Afghanistan, the birthplace of drone warfare; hacking development-a manifesto; messaging apps and disaster response; effective feedback mechanisms; the digital development glossary; MSF staff reflects on burn-out; re-imaging volunteerism in Australia; voluntourism in Kenya; what are good exit strategies? Aid work and capitalism. 

Our digital lives: Who talks on US television? Instagramming food and perpetuating stereotypes; Zuckerberg read through the lens of anthropology. 

Publications: Digital development in Africa; Gendered (in)securities in South Sudan

Academia: In defense of the lecture; the Oxford degree that runs the UK 


New from aidnography

Men Engaging in the Gender Equality discussion: a conversation with Dr. Tobias Denskus of Malmö University

Humanitarian aid is sometimes described as an ‘imperfect offering’ and I think some notion of ‘imperfection’ will always surround us because inequalities are so complicated and deeply entrenched. To phrase it slightly provocatively: I don’t believe that every 6-person panel should have 3 female and 3 male participants. Age, class, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation are all important dimensions and we need to constantly re-negotiate issues of power and empowerment, of who is (re)presented and whose voices count. The process is important even if the outcome may never be ‘perfect.’
'At Malmö University you become part of a global network'
Students who enrol in the programme often are already working in the field of international development, many within organisations such as the UN. Why uproot yourself if you can fit studying in seamlessly around your life?
For others, it might be a question of needing to study at home: the programme also attracts a number of parents and other caregivers.
“It is very rewarding that by default our students are very much immersed in the ‘real world’, and they can bring that into the classroom,” Denskus says.
“We get a lot of positive feedback. Students like the kind of classroom environment that we provide and say they studied like a ‘real’ student. Throughout the two years of part-time studies, an active community is evolving alongside engagement from teachers. People really feel part of a study experience.”
This is a bit of a promotional pitch before we proceed to the links: Applications for our Communication for Development part-time MA program will be accepted from 15 March again!

Development news
Global Fund hits restart button after leadership search falls apart

However, the process is far from transparent. Information about the status of the candidates came to light through leaks, not official releases by the organization. Clark’s withdrawal was in part due to the way the process unfolded. She reportedly raised concerns that the process focused less on qualifications and more on ‘superficialities,’ according to The Lancet.
Now the Global Fund has to start over. Some insiders told Science that the first round was “rushed,” but time is running out to find a replacement for Dybul. In a nod to some of the criticisms, the press release from the board said it is seeking “a new executive director to provide visionary leadership.”
Tom Murphy for Humanosphere-some kind of leadership soap unfolding at the Global Fund! A very mild version of Games of Thrones for development geeks ;)!

Interesting numbers and debates on number of refugees and the importance of putting data into historical and organizational contexts!

On Inequality, Redistribution, and Wishful Thinking

But is Oxfam being overoptimistic about the scale of redistribution afforded by tapping billionaires and tax havens?
Redistribution has a role to play, alongside economic growth in enabling more people to attain prosperity. Negotiating the trade-offs and difficult choices to be made is politically difficult and requires honest debates—not wishful thinking.
Maya Forstater for the Center for Global Development with critical review of another new Oxfam report on income inequality in Indonesia.

Meet Dorsen, 8, who mines cobalt to make your smartphone work

With little regulation requiring companies to trace their cobalt supply lines, and most of the world's cobalt coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the chances are your smartphone contains a battery with cobalt mined by children in the central African nation.
Alex Crawford for Sky News with a harrowing reminder about global supply chains and the dangerous conditions at the very end/beginning of the value chain.

Politicised humanitarian aid is fuelling South Sudan's civil war

The civil war has led to a flourishing “education in emergencies” sector through which aid groups like Save the Children have taken in millions of dollars in funding. They provide services for out-of-school children at UN protection camps across the country, including learning spaces, playgrounds and incentive pay to caregivers and educators.
While this may look non-political at first blush, what it really amounts to is support for ethnic segregation of previously integrated urban school systems, a process now three years in the making.
In Malakal, for example, Shilluk and Nuer children no longer learn alongside Dinka children. During the last civil war, South Sudanese refugees attended integrated schools in Uganda and elsewhere, where they learned side-by-side with children of other communities. This time it's very different.
NGOs will protest that they are only providing interim solutions for children in need: the PoC schools are not formal learning institutions, but are “temporary learning spaces”; the teachers are not formally teachers, they are “volunteers.” But they are de facto helping to create a segregated system, which does not look like it is going to be temporary. In doing so, they are reinforcing momentum toward permanent ghettoisation and lasting social divisions.
Daniel van Oudenaren for IRIN with a long-read from South Sudan and a reminder of how complex, paradox and political the aid industry (still) is...

Drone warfare 1: Afghanistan, birthplace of the armed drone

In other words, even if drone strikes were successfully targeting Taleban and other combatants, and this was popular among civilians, this was not creating the conditions for anything like a resumption of ‘normal life’. Nor did the killings feel like a victory for those on the ground.
Kate Clark for Afghanistan Analysts Network with a detailed and nuanced long-read on Afghanistan's history of drone warfare.

Hacking Development: A Four-Part Manifesto for Change

Development is at a watershed moment, powered by accessible and affordable liberating technologies and an
emerging army of determined, local talent. This local talent is gradually acquiring the skills, resources, and support it
needs to take back ownership of many of its problems - problems of which it never took original ownership
because those skills and resources were not available. Well, now they are."
Ken Banks and Emauwa Nelson for share interesting resources and their own manifesto on how to 'hack' development.

Humanitarian News Curator

Humanitarian news curated by international development experts.
Cut through the noise and stay informed.
The Humanitarian Institute has set up a news aggregator to curate development and humanitarian news. Interesting, maybe still a bit heavy on the 'usual suspect' sources.

How Messaging Apps Can Support Disaster Response

Personally, I found the annex the most interesting, where the authors compare the features of 11 different messaging apps. Unfortunately, this is also the part that will become outdated extremely quickly, as competing apps copy successful features from each other. However, for the time being, this section is gold since it can literally save you hours of work comparing the different platforms. The thing that I found most surprising is that most of the messaging applications offer no or only very limited broadcast features.
Timo Luege for Social Media For Good summarizes a new ICRC report.

10 steps to setting up an effective feedback mechanism

Demonstrate you’ve listened: Proactively explain the changes you’ve made and why certain actions sometimes cannot be taken.
TIPS: Don’t wait until the community is frustrated by the lack of feedback make sure a key responsibility of the mechanism is to ‘close the loop’. The loop needs to be closed through preferred and trusted channels
Katie Drew and John Warnes for UNHCR Innovation Services with some good point to get the discussion around appropriate feedback mechanisms started.

The Digital Development Glossary: Your Key to ICT4D Buzzwords

Have you wondered what the latest jargon in technology and development means? Or if you are using it correctly in your next proposal or donor report? Well here is your techie term decoder!
Below I’ve compiled a list of key terms, acronyms, and buzzwords that come up in ICT4D discussions, along with simple non-technical overviews and some relevant links for further information.
Matt Haikin for ICTworks untangles the words and abbreviations from your last ICT4D buzzword Bingo session ;)!

"To continue to focus on our patients, we need to look after ourselves too"

For me it’s likely been cumulative: a mixture of working for a number of years in difficult places without much break in between, the heavy workload and high responsibility combined with the constant exposure to difficult situations and the want to make as much of a difference as I can but without that always being possible. Plus difficult working relationships that can crop up, joined with the constant feeling of not being safe or not knowing if you’re safe, so that even when in reality you are, you start to doubt it. This, combined with various stressors in my personal life over the past 18 months gradually added to the blocks of pressure falling on me bit by bit until my brain and body could no longer handle it.
Burnout crept up on me without me being aware. In fact almost no one saw it. On the outside and to people who didn't know me, I seemed fine – I put on a good show. Even the most experienced people who had been in the field for years and had probably come across burnout multiple times, didn't spot it – they just thought I was a bit irritable and short-tempered.
It's been over two months since I got back and by having this break, by putting a simple change of lifestyle in place and with the help of MSF, I feel more 'normal' again.
My to-do list is finally back and growing by the minute. MSF is a great organisation when it comes to looking after its staff. There can be stigma attached to issues like this, which is why I wanted to write this blog, but at MSF I don't feel that.
Emily Gilbert for MSF. I am glad that Emily is feeling better and received the support from MSF-and I love the MSF blog for being such a critical space that allows for this kind of important reflections!

Re-imagining volunteerism: It’s time to hand over control

Reading the list of key recommendations provided in the findings, it’s clear that what the report is really saying can be simplified thus: host organisations should have more control over projects and volunteers. Boosting the role of host organisations when it comes to choosing volunteers and managing placements is pivotal because ‘local’ organisations stand a better chance of knowing how new staff can help their organisation on the ground than program officers based in Canberra. No amount of expat knowledge or skill can prepare a volunteer to face the cultural, political, technical or environmental barriers of a foreign country context.
Despite the value of this research, I remain unconvinced about the extent to which these findings will result in better practices within AVID. Amid ongoing budget cuts and emphasis on aid-for-trade, talk of mutual partnerships built on a shared work ethic and collaboration can seem a little idealistic.
Zoe Enticott for WhyDev summarizes new research about volunteering as part of Australia's development engagement. The findings do seem relatively unsurprising and volunteering remains a complicated topic.

Volunteering in Sadhana Forest Kenya

When I got to Kenya I was very surprised that not even the most basic tools of community building were used. There was no room to address concerns or arising conflicts. Even the morning circle announced in the schedule did not take place. Other projects and groups I visited in the past found it very important to meet regularly, (usually once a day) to address personal sensitivities or just share how everybody was doing. Topics I would have liked to talk about remained unaddressed because I found no safe place to do that. Some issues that I did address resulted in a rather rude reaction from the project director so I wasn’t sure if further issues might result in me being kicked-out and finding myself alone in this remote part of Kenya.
When I asked about the morning circle in week two, I was told that volunteers are responsible for organizing morning circles if they want to attend it. So I and another volunteer offered to hold that space. After a couple of days with nobody else showing up that fizzled out. Two people cannot form a circle after all.
Personal interaction was something I found difficult with the project director. Whenever I asked a question I had the impression that I had annoyed him very much. However, when I didn’t ask questions I got no information, not even basic organizational stuff, like when we would be leaving with the van to go somewhere.
Silke for Student of the World. I know Silke personally and found her detailed account of what a in many ways typical volunteering/ voluntourism project looks like quite important; her reflections suggest a very professionalised industry is emerging in Kenya-and probably other countries as well. Good food for thought of what the opportunities and limitations of such projects are.

#CuriousGoat: What's A Good Exit Strategy For A Charity?

Yeoh settled on a third approach: "Let's help Cambodia create its own fishing industry." That is, creating an infrastructure around speech therapy, establishing curricula for courses and degree programs, and establishing clinics. OIC is currently developing courses and hopes to have a university program ready to open in 2020.
In the meantime, Yeoh himself plans on giving up his leadership role at OIC later this year, stepping aside for a Cambodian successor. Again, his reason lies in his belief in localization as the key to sustainability: "I think that for an organization in Cambodia we need a Cambodian leader."
"The exit strategy starts at the very beginning," agrees Chris Whitney, director of global strategy for World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian and aid organization. "For me the most important [point] in understanding sustainability is that when we leave a place it does not mean that things have ended, just that our involvement has ended."
Diane Cole for NPR Goats & Soda with an good overview over the exit strategy debate. Maybe it's just me, but is NPR overplaying the goat hand a bit?! #CuriousGoat?!?

An observation from SupGaleano, a ‘local aid worker’

Are the members of the EZLN ‘local aid and development workers’? Having spoken and worked with them and seen how their community meetings function I have so say an unqualified ‘yes.’ Recently SupGaleano argued “If there are those who think that everything is the same and that things can change through elections, marches, tweets, signatures on or whatever the hell you call it — well no, things aren’t going to change like that. We have to find new ways. For what? Well that ‘for what’ is what we have to answer and we must once again draw the face of the [capitalist] Hydra, because it has changed.”
Tom Arcaro continues the debate on 'Aid Worker Voices'-and the discussion on how aid is deeply entrenched in the capitalist system and unlikely to change through tweaking and tweeting...

Our digital lives

The Final #WhoTalks Report and What It Says About Top-Rated Cable News Shows

This speaks to a point that GenderAvenger often makes: gender balance happens long before panelists or guests make it onto a stage or TV show. It happens in the initial planning stages. Once a deck is stacked with mostly men, even if the shows had tried to course correct throughout the season, playing catch-up never quite works. Gender balance needs to be built into the way a structured from the beginning regardless of that topics are being discussed.
All in all, the results are, as we suspected, disappointing. They do, however, point to clear opportunities for improvement. Read the final Who Talks? report and GenderAvenger’s recommendations for a cable news experience that, with a little more effort and intentionality, could make the necessary room for women’s voices to be heard.
Gina Glantz for Gender Avenger presents their latest report on gender and inequalities in American news TV programs.

A lot of Instagram-loving foodies are perpetuating racist stereotypes about ethnic dishes

“The artists who write, style, and photograph recipes often underestimate the authority they grant themselves in portraying food that isn’t theirs,” Noche says. In another high-profile example, the magazine Saveur last year had two white men write and photograph a piece on Filipino chef Dale Talde.
“I was immediately skeptical upon seeing two dishes styled on a mahjong table (to me, this is the equivalent of styling food on a Monopoly board),” she says. “The mahjong table was later explained [after the backlash] to be an homage to Talde’s father at his restaurant, but without context it looks like two white dudes are styling Filipino food on top of a Chinese game.”
Chase Purdy for Quartz on new forms of digital cultural appropriation, the power of visual stereotypes and the importance of Instagram food blogging.

Zuckerberg and the Anthropologist: Facebook, Culture, Digital Futures

In that light, I have explored notions of community, spatial scale, and social infrastructure that represent the foundation on which Zuckerberg’s claims rest. It is precisely at this foundational level that the danger of what I might term “cultural lock-in” is greatest.
Demonizing Mark Zuckerberg is not my goal; he is clearly a careful thinker. But none of us, even those among us who are technology billionaires, can completely explain the worldviews that structure our thinking. Responding to this manifesto requires exposing policies and actions that threaten our collective good. Responding to the broader debates this manifesto represents thus requires exposing cultural frameworks regarding collectivity, the good, and the digital itself. Anthropologists and other social scientists can contribute to understanding how such cultural frameworks shape our digital worlds—and their possible better futures.
Tom Boellstorff for Culture Digitally with an anthropological-informed long-read on Zuckerberg's digital manifesto.

Hot off the digital press

Digital Development: What is the role of international NGOs? ICT for Development programmes and opportunities in the Horn, East and Central Africa

Development is going digital and INGOs like Oxfam have a vital convening role to play. This paper draws on ICT for Development in Oxfam’s programmes in the Horn, East and Central Africa to consider what this role is. In order to realise the opportunities associated with the digital landscape, Oxfam will need to build internal and external capacity to implement ICT in programmes to enhance quality, accessibility, and efficiency.
Matt Haikin and George Flatters with a new report for Oxfam that I definitely need to read more in detail!

Gendered (in)security in South Sudan: masculinities and hybrid governance in Imatong state

In response to their sense of insecurity, the Latuko have developed security arrangements that represent forms of hybrid security governance. Using a notion of masculinity, the article will reflect on the gender dynamics in these local security arrangements. This shows that the social order that customary institutions create can contribute to an increase in violence against women at the domestic level. However, although women are excluded from the decision-making institutions that govern the security arrangements, they exercise subtle forms of agency to influence them.
Marjoke Oosterom with an open access article in Peacebuilding.


In Defense of the Lecture
The best lectures draw on careful preparation as well as spontaneous revelation. While speaking to students and gauging their reactions, lecturers come to new conclusions, incorporate them into the lecture, and refine their argument. Lectures impart facts, but they also model argumentation, all the while responding to their audience’s nonverbal cues. Far from being one-sided, lectures are a social occasion.
The regular timing of lectures contributes to their sociality, establishing a course’s rhythm. The weekly lecture, or pair of lectures, draws students together at the same time and place, providing a set of ideas to digest while reading supplementary material and breaking into smaller discussion sections. Classrooms are communities, and typically lectures are the only occasion for the entire group to convene physically. Remove the impetus to gather — either by insinuating that recorded lectures are just as effective or by making the lecture optional — and the benefits of community disappear.
Miya Tokumitsu for Jacobin with an almost utopian (re)view of the lecture format in academic settings. Like books or academic conferences, lectures will always be an integral part of how academia shapes and communicates knowledge. But their role will change and with all the other building blocks of higher education they should neither be romanticized nor sacrificed under the neoliberal discourse.

PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain

Not everyone thinks that last-minute cramming and improvisation – Cameron’s hastily-arranged EU referendum comes to mind – is the best way to run a country. Last October, the leading Brexit campaigner and former government education adviser Dominic Cummings wrote on his influential blog: “If you are young, smart, and interested in politics, think very hard before studying PPE … It actually causes huge problems as it encourages people like Cameron and Ed Balls to … spread bad ideas with lots of confidence and bluffing.”
Andy Beckett for the Guardian reviews class structure in the UK through the lens of Oxford's iconic undergrad degree.


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