Links & Contents I Liked 228

Hi all,

If you are celebrating Easter you are probably looking for some good readings for the long weekend!

Development news: AP investigates UN peacekeeping troubles in Haiti; do we need less humanitarian crises appeals? The complexities around outsourcing surrogacy; extreme poverty to rise in Southern Africa; Skoll World Forum between innovation & buzzword bingo; ICT4D failings around Syrian refugees; how to protect staff who have to watch digital atrocities? Aid worker lives in the Philippines; Is ‘beg-packing’ a thing in Asia? Finding a good M&E guide; #allmalepanel.

Our digital lives:
Who benefits from ‘fake news’? How Al Jazeera grew its video audience.

Publication: C4D Network Mapping study.

Academia: A syllabus for the refugee crisis; #OER17 was a good conference; gendered academia & women’s service load; the extinct species of the dangerous academic.


Development news

AP Exclusive: UN child sex ring left victims but no arrests

U.N. officials went to Haiti to investigate, but the Pakistanis abducted the boy to keep him from detailing the abuse that had gone on for more than a year, according to Peter Gallo, a former U.N. investigator familiar with the case.
Finally, the men were tried in a Pakistani military tribunal, and eventually sent back to Pakistan. In theory, the tribunal could have allowed for better access to witnesses, but it's unclear whether any were called. The Pakistani authorities also refused to allow the U.N. to observe the proceedings. In the end, one man was sent to prison for a year, according to Ariane Quentier, a spokeswoman for the Haiti mission.
"It's an indictment of how the whole U.N. system works," Gallo told the AP.
Pakistan's military has refused several requests for comment on the case.
Paisley Dodds for AP highlights some of the inherit governance problems in UN peacekeeping in her detailed long-read. When undemocratic, untrained and unaccountable armed forces are deployed around the world to 'keep peace' they are exporting their ethos to other parts of the world. More money for better training and selection of peacekeepers and a more substantial involvement of better trained armies would be a first step-but it costs money which no country is really willing to invest and political effort; the UN pretty much needs to take the peacekeepers they get offered-and in Haiti it has done a lot of harm.

Crisis appeals cost us political action

Equally culpable are the development investments and political processes that have failed to resolve the protracted conflicts that push countries and communities to the brink.
So, rather than using fear and pity to raise awareness and funds, why not use social and mainstream media to tap into public outrage and activism and address what put these countries in crisis in the first place?
This means putting pressure on politicians to invest political capital and energy into ending conflicts. It also means pushing aid agencies and their donors to act early and with a substantial injection of funds to prevent loss of life and human suffering where we know it is likely to occur.
Christina Bennett for ODI. I am not sure what 'evidence' and mainstream media can do right now about Yemen, South Sudan or parts of Nigeria. There is neither political will nor any movement towards long-term, preventative action. The fact that the aid industry resorts to talking about 'the worst crisis ever' is a sign of the helplessness of those who have been around, who have been on the ground and who have been sending warning signs when 'the West' first decided that they should turn a blind eye on Saudi-Arabia's military action in Yemen, for example.

Outsourced labour: international surrogacy and women’s rights

But the voice that we perhaps most need to hear in this debate is the voice of women who work as surrogates. As governments scramble for answers, both in developed and developing countries, it is this voice that is missing from policy debates. Parents seeking surrogates to carry their children have mobilised and organised in many countries – including in Australia, where they advocated successfully for a parliamentary inquiry. Western feminists are debating and disagreeing on this issue. But it is not our bodies and livelihoods that are on the line.
Civil society and development actors may need to consider how best they can support the raising of surrogate voices, so they are not marginalised in debates that centre on their own protection and exploitation.
Ashlee Betteridge on the Devpolicy blog presents the emerging issue around global surrogacy with a broad range of interesting arguments, focusing on Australia and Cambodia as case studies.

Extreme poverty set to rise across Southern Africa

First, Southern African economic growth has not and is not expected to trickle down to the most vulnerable members of society. Southern Africa has the highest level of inequality (as measured by the Gini coefficient) of any region in the world and is expected to see a slight increase in inequality over time.
Second, Southern Africa has not and is not expected to register economic growth that is high enough to both provide for its rapidly growing population and pull up those already in poverty. The region as a whole is expected to average 3.5% annual growth (see Figure 3 for regional variation) to 2040, which is lower than every other region on the continent save for Central Africa. Meanwhile, population growth is expected to average 2% over the same time period.
Alex Porter for the Institute of Strategic Studies with an important reminder that the macro debate on 'the world is in a better state and fewer people live in poverty' is much more complicated; capitalist growth is not the 'solution'.

The end of the new age of humanitarianism: Insights from the Skoll World Forum
So if I haven’t made it clear: The terminology in this community is incredibly fuzzy and fraught. It’s not just at the Skoll forum where well-meaning people use terms that sound wonderful and then seem to vaporize into thin air (the meaningfulness of the terms, that is; not the people) when you ask for precise definitions or specifics. This is a semantic ailment that afflicts the entire humanitarian community.
Tom Paulson for Humanosphere with a long piece from the Skoll forum. The Bono picture almost made me not read it. I did in the end & it's a good piece, but I wonder whether it's focusing too much on the 'VIPs'-all of which already get a lot of airtime. I do like that the article points out some of the 'buzzword bingo' around the discourse of 'social entrepreneurism'-I bet 'innovation', 'digital' and 'impact' featured heavily in the discussions as well...

Techno-utopian solutions to Syria’s refugee crisis fall short

Grassroots groups like CRP also stress the importance of proximity and detailed local knowledge when designing programmes. Those backing tech projects from afar often don’t fully understand the needs they’re trying to serve, or how they fit into the broader context.
Critics say while RBK has proven its model works, for it to make a real difference, it must be able to reach more young refugees.
“The big question is, is this model scalable?” asked one aid worker familiar with the programme. "If it doesn’t scale, this fantastic, high-quality solution risks being a drop in the ocean.”
Sara Elizabeth Williams and Rana Sweis for IRIN with some insights on ICT4D projects in Jordan. We will be reading a lot more about failed tech projects, scaling-up that never happened and how the 'gig economy' leaves many behind in the coming years.

When watching violence is your job: workers on the digital frontline

Traditionally, organisations have provided care and resilience training for staff sent on mission to work on the physical frontline, which is obviously important. There is a need, however, for this training to be extended to those working with distressing social media imagery—those working on the digital frontline. Managers and organisational structures need to be sensitive to vicarious or secondary trauma and the associated risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. While staff working in danger zones do, to some extent, have their mental health needs recognised, a stigma connected to mental wellbeing and viewing distressing imagery in the main headquarters of an organisation exists. Lifting this stigma—and the associated barrier to seeking help—is required so that those researchers who find and verify content sourced from social media can effectively raise awareness of human rights abuses.
Sam Dubberley for open democracy with an important reminder that mental well-being efforts should not just be limited to the traditional 'field' of humanitarian work, but also extend to the digital front lines.

Preliminary results from survey of aid and development workers in the Philippines

Our current research in the Philippines is beginning to provide support for this statement. As you can see below, most -77%- agreed that “Filipino aid workers generally get paid less than expat (non-Filipino) aid workers doing the same or similar jobs in the Philippines.”
Tom Arcaro continues his inquiries into aid worker voices, looking at the Philippines and the relationships between expat and local aid workers.

'Beg-packers': White tourists who beg in southeast Asia

We find it extremely strange to ask other people for money to help you travel. Selling things in the street or begging isn’t considered respectable. People who do so are really in need: they beg in order to buy food, pay their children’s school fees or pay off debts. But not in order to do something seen as a luxury!
This turns our continent into a caricature, a mystical land full of adventures or, in other words, a playground for white people. People come here on a journey of self-discovery, eager for exotic experiences. Sometimes, I want to ask them: what makes you think that this kind of behaviour is normal in Asia? Why don’t you do the same thing at home?
Sarra Grira for France24's The Observers. These are interesting observations from Asia, highlighting some of the problems of backpacking, voluntourism and journeys of self-discovery in the global South.

The Best Project Monitoring and Evaluation Guides
Vipul Nanda for Socialcops with a great range of resources that can serve as a primer into M&E guides.

If Men Really Didn't Like All-Male Panels, There Wouldn't Be All-Male Panels
Unfortunately, throughout our work at GenderAvenger we’ve found that nothing works quite as well as a little shame to motivate an organization to take action and be accountable. An old GenderAvenger friend, Ron Fournier, has a policy that when he finds himself on an all-male panel for work he will then immediately call the organization out publicly on social media. This draws attention to the problem, rallies people to support, and more often than not makes conference organizers think a little harder about their all-male panels for the next event.
Soraya Membreno for Gender Avenger with a reminder on how to deal with (and hopefully avoid) the notorious #allmalepanel...

Our digital lives
Who benefits from using the term ‘fake news’?

All three of these constituencies have a claim to a grain of truth about fake news, and have forced it onto the agenda. It should also be acknowledged that the historical circumstances of 2016-2017 have been rather particular: a US election and an EU referendum involving very polarized choices in the context of a collapse of deference. So many promoting the concept of fake news have an axe to grind, but at the same time it cannot be denied that structural changes in media systems are transforming the procedures for verifying and distributing news.
Damian Tambini for the LSE Media Policy Project blog with a reminder that the 'fake news' agenda comes with a, well, agenda. Without a lot of evidence many stakeholders are discovering the concept-and if I was Jeff Jarvis and Facebook and other companies offered me 14 million to research 'fake news' I also wouldn't hesitate to tell the world how important it is...

We grew monthly Facebook video views 500% to 100M in six months. Here’s what we learned.

We want to start important conversations, and add to others in a meaningful way. We want to showcase more people with stories, rather than stories with people. That could mean more mini-docs, more in-depth stories, more Facebook Lives from places and people that our audience can only find on Al Jazeera English, and a greater focus on markets such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Ziad Ramley and Yasir Khan for AJ Labs with fascinating insights into Al Jazeera English' digital video efforts.

Fantastical Maps

Florida devotes just 18 pages to the megacities of the developing world. Most of his suggestions, like so many of the glittering renderings and fantastical maps that populate contemporary discourse about cities, are both theoretically appealing and practically infeasible. The right ideas at the wrong time.
It’s indicative of the tenor of this book, which is heavy on studies from sociologists and economists (at one point, there’s a page where more than half the sentences introduce a new ratio), but addresses history only in short anecdotes, and politics hardly at all. This blindness to the perversity of American politics (which Florida otherwise follows closely) weighs heavily on the book.
Henry Grabar review Richard Florida's latest book for Slate. It is important in the sense that sense that reminds us that 'evidence' and 'innovative ideas' are not enough to create sustainable and transformative social change-and that politics in many ways provides stronger resistance to change than in the decades before.

Hot off the digital press
Launch of our Network Yearbook and 2016/17 Network Mapping Study (March 2017)

The most significant C4D approaches that are used  are behaviour change and advocacy; followed by media development, social change communication and social mobilisation.
C4D contributes to many different programme areas or themes in development, as determined by country  context; key areas are health, education, and agriculture.
Many varied C4D areas (strategies, channels and tools) are used; and while social media and broadcasting are dominant channels, approaches and strategies are highly varied, but with a prioritising of participatory and edutainment methods.
The C4D Network presents findings from their recent global mapping exercise.


Syllabus: The 21st Century Worldwide Refugee Crisis
Together with faculty from the departments of Philosophy, Political Science, History, Geography, Economics, Education, and Environmental Studies, as well as a visiting photographer, representatives from two NGOs, and a Syrian refugee scholar, students study different aspect of the crisis to explore ways in which we, as global citizens, can contribute to alleviating this crisis.
Vassar College with an interesting course-and fantastic syllabus that can inspire your own teaching on the topic!

Conferences and Compatibility

The danger of these kinds of conferences is that the feel-good vibes could hide some much-needed critique. In a space like oer17, many of us are already struggling as dissenters on our f2f contexts and just delighted to be in a space where others understand us without us having to defend our ideas from A to Z. However, we may be missing opportunities to be more self-critical, as Simon Ensor’s blogposts suggest (he participated virtually, but was a huge part of the conference experience for me). We may also consider the space harmonious and friendly, but we may not be aware of how it feels to others.
Maha Bali for The Chronicle summarizes her experiences at the #OER17 conference. An interesting example that shows both the possibilities of what academic conferencing can mean in the digital age even if there are some inherent challenges about the purpose of like-minded academics getting together. But conferences can be more than 'neoliberal commodities'...

Relying on Women, Not Rewarding Them

“We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” the study says. “When we look within departments -- controlling for any type of organizational or cultural factor that is department specific -- we still find large, significant differences in the service loads of women versus men.”
All that matters because service loads “likely have an impact on productivity in other areas of faculty effort such as research and teaching, and these latter activities can lead directly to salary differentials and overall success in academia,” the paper says. “In the urgency to redress not only differences in time use but compensation imbalances, as well, the service imbalance is one that deserves to rise to the forefront of the discussion.”
Colleen Flaherty for Inside Higher Ed with new research on gendered roles in academia. It's a complicated topic-maybe women have more 'impact' through their service work and men get the praise for publishing yet more books and articles with less impact on students and society? But the current system of metrics and numbers clearly rewards publishing over basically anything else...

The Dangerous Academic is an Extinct Species

The corporatized university, like corporations generally, is an uncontrollable behemoth, absorbing greater and greater quantities of capital and human lives, and churning out little of long-term social value.
The corporatized university serves nobody and nothing except its own infinite growth. Students are indebted, professors lose job security, surrounding communities are surveilled and displaced. That is something dangerous.
Left professors almost certainly sense this. They see themselves disappearing, the campus becoming a steadily more stifling environment. Posturing as a macho revolutionary is, like all displays of machismo, driven partially by a desperate fear of one’s impotence. They know they are not dangerous, but they are happy to play into the conservative stereotype.
Yasmin Nair for Current Affair with lots of food for thought. 


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