Links & Contents I Liked 232

Hi all,

It's a sunny Friday afternoon in Sweden! Enjoy stimulating readings, great documentaries, a poem & the odd Tweet!

Development news: UN’s new top humanitarian is a highly qualified white British man; revolutionizing mindsets at the WHO; ICC turns 15; how Liberian child soldiers fought in Iraq; refugee real estate in Kenya; are the best days for selling cheap Chinese goods in Africa over? An overview over one of our favorite questions: Does foreign aid work? Uganda & the limits of entrepreneurism; the aid industry’s LGBTIQ blind spot; is localization of aid the answer? A special section on campaigning & communicating development; social media in Africa; how to communicate as a non-profit; NGO-Nothing Going On? 
Our digital lives:
A poem; advice for new bloggers; review ‘Twitter & Tear Gas’. 

Publications: World Bank’s Higher Education for Development evaluation; gender differences in scientific collaboration (a paper written by 5 men…); security in the vernacular.

Plus: Which tools to use for analyzing Twitter for research?


Development news
UK technocrat appointed UN humanitarian chief - reports

Ben Ramalingam, leader of the Disasters and Development group at the UK university think tank, the Institute of Development Studies, says Lowcock is a “great choice”, pointing to his technical and financial background. Ramalingam told IRIN Lowcock would be most tested by the charged political landscape and “re-casting the role of OCHA for a changing world.”
Another observer pointed out that Guterres had appointed few women to the critical senior positions in the areas of political, peace and security, nor had there been visible progress in breaking the lock the Security Council’s five permanent members hold on them.
Ben Parker for IRIN on the new appointment of Mark Lowcock as USG for Humanitarian Affairs. Another interesting trade-off between obvious qualifications and the traditional older, white, Western male profile...

We need a revolution in mindsets at the top of the World Health Organization

The irony is that never has medical science been so productive and yet health inequalities so wide. That is why continuing to do more of the same is not an option. While extra funding is always welcome, much more necessary is a revolution in mind-sets and attitudes. This means organisational innovation to drive universal health coverage, foster collaboration, strengthen national health capacities, and forge partnerships that respect health as a fundamental human right. Hence, the centrality of WHO.
Mukesh Kapila for The Guardian on the challenges ahead for the new WHO Director General...can any UN organization realistically all of that?

15 years on, the International Criminal Court is still trying to deliver on its promise

But the essential complaint that has driven animus in parts of Africa remains very much alive: Is the ICC capable of administering impartial justice in a world of vast inequities? Some aspects of the African critique are easily dismissed. Most of the African investigations that the court has pursued were explicitly requested by the governments themselves, including in Uganda, Congo and the Central African Republic. And the court lacks jurisdiction in many non-African countries where crimes and oppression are endemic, including Iraq, Syria and North Korea. Nor has the court been completely motionless outside of Africa. In January 2016, the court launched an investigation in Georgia, although it has not yet brought any cases there.
Those realities don’t entirely absolve the court of regional or political bias. In several non-African situations where the court could investigate, it has dragged its feet. Most notable is Afghanistan, where the court has had a “preliminary examination” open for more than a decade.
David Bosco for Washington Post with an important reminder of how difficult international justice is, how politicized processes are how the ICC tries to navigate all these different challenges (any Silicon Valley takers who want to 'disrupt' international criminal investigations and introduce some 'innovative' ideas on how to challenge bureaucratic organizations ;) ?!?).

Child Soldiers Reloaded: The Privatisation of War

How private companies recruit former child soldiers for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Mads Elleso for Al-Jazeera with an interesting documentary on the global dimensions of the privatized military-industrial complex.

Kenya’s black market in “refugee real estate”

The informal system makes it possible for industrious camp residents to make a living, and the income from shelter and business sales can make it easier for refugees to fund repatriation or ease the transition to resettlement countries.
But the black market in refugee real estate also foments disputes and corruption.
Cory Rodgers for IRIN with another interesting story on how refugee camps are so more than just a temporary shelter for refugees...

The best days of selling cheap Chinese goods in Africa are over

Today, Eastleigh is home to at least 50 malls, each housing hundreds of stalls selling often identical merchandise from manufacturing hubs like Guangzhou or Yiwu in southern and central China. “The business is too slow and the malls are too many. You can see it from the stores, all selling the same things, the same quality,” says Mohamed Ali, who owns a menswear store in Amal Plaza, a five-story mall on Eastleigh’s main road, First Avenue.
Still, local entrepreneurs and business people think something has to change. “Africa will have to rely on itself and rely on local industry, local factories. That’s a long-term solution,” says Hussein, of the Eastleigh business association. He’s considering opening his own garment factory in Kenya. “This,” he says, referring to the import of goods from China, “is a short-term solution.”
Lily Kuo for Quartz with a great long-read on African-Chinese trade relations. Regardless of how trade and consumption patterns are changing, questions about (cheap) consumption and its hidden cost versus creating some local development will remain.

Once more into the breach: Does foreign aid work?

It is important not to overstate the impact of aid. Foreign aid has not been the major driver of development progress over the last 20 years, nor will it be in the future. Long-term development progress depends primarily on the economic and political institutions that are built over time in low-income countries, and the actions taken by those countries themselves. Aid programs (alongside diplomacy and other tools of international engagement) are not the driving force behind development, but they can help support development progress along the way.
So don’t let the skeptics fool you with their shouted and erroneous claims that there is no evidence that aid works
Steve Radelet for Brookings revisits one of the all-time favorite debates in international is still a good overview over the question whether 'aid works', but in the end, it always was and always will be complicated-and political on how and why aid works some of the time...

Stop Celebrating Entrepreneurship In Africa

The high rate of entrepreneurship in the developing world should not be celebrated or encouraged but lamented. Self-employment is a response to the environment in poor countries. Not their golden path out of it.
When most Americans graduate college they go get jobs. The vast majority do not start businesses. They have options. Ugandans and most other Africans don’t. Ugandan are reluctant entrepreneurs. They are not there by choice but out of pure survival.
James Crawford with a reminder from Uganda that self-employment and entrepreneurism discourses will not be the 'solution' to eradicate poverty and many structural barriers remain that prevent educated and qualified young people to pursue other careers in other industries.

Q&A: Emily Dwyer on the humanitarian sector's LGBTIQ blind spot

Working with local organizations, it is important to understand what those gender identities and sexual orientations are — many of which don’t fall neatly into the LGBTIQ+ boxes that aid agencies might be more familiar with. It also allows those organizations to understand what might be possible within the local political, cultural, social, and legal environment with which they work. It’s really important to take advice, take leadership from, and engage with those local organizations. Of course that’s not an easy thing to do. It involves a longer term trust building between those organizations and within the communities that those organizations work with. But starting with the local organizations is a great place to start.
Abigail Seiff for DevEx talk to Emily Dwyer about the long and difficult road of the humanitarian industry to fulfill its promises on being inclusive and equal.

Be Careful What You Ask For

The discussion of localization is beginning to deepen. Here (summarized) is an opening salvo from Charles Lwanga-Ntale, director of the Kenya Academy Centre: localization often seems to resemble ‘deconcentration’, a process whereby the systems and structures of the existing humanitarian sector are exported downwards.
Mark DuBois, the Humanicontrarian, shares some interesting reflections on how to resist the localization discourse in development as a form of putting faulty technocratic systems in local place and expect miracles...

Outcry Over Photo Showing The Face Of A Girl Allegedly Being Raped

"This is the elephant in the room: how we view the suffering of distant others," says human rights activist Robert Godden of Rights Exposure, which helps nonprofits and governments create effective and ethical campaigns. "What if this photo series was taken in the U.S. or the U.K. — would the girl have been presented this way?"
He adds, "Another good question to ask is: If this was a family member of mine, would I want them portrayed like this?"
Amid a barrage of protests from readers, photojournalists and human rights activists, LensCulture took down the photo hours after it was posted.
"But at this point, the magazine said nothing," Chesterton says. "There was no statement, no acknowledgment of the absolute human rights abuse of that young woman, of that child."
Michaeleen Doucleff for NPR Goats & Soda with an interesting ethics debate on representations of suffering and the 'distant other'. 

Daniel Wordsworth, CEO of American Refugee Council, posted this on LinkedIn:

This is about what we are doing in response to Somalia famine. These guys from lovearmyforsomalia gave done such a great job. Without them we couldn't be getting to the places shown in this video
The video was posted a couple of days ago and already has 550K views.
As with most campaigns, my feelings are a bit ambivalent. The campaign raised a lot of money and the fact that Jerome partnered with a professional humanitarian organization was already a great idea as it reduces the impact of 'two white French dudes saving Somalia' narrative. The video is obviously an interesting example of contemporary...well, advocacy or campaigning really: It speaks to the right audience (YouTube channel with 1.1 million followers) and comes as a fast-paced introduction to Somalia and the famine. Personally, I like the balance between SUVs driving through sand dunes (drone footage?), a few historical facts about the country and those two guys listening to people in remote places. It's obviously very condensed, but I appreciate that this is not a 90 minute lecture, but at 14 min YouTube video. I get a sense of these 2 guys willing to listen and learn-it becomes quite political around the 10:00 mark.

Fly on the Facebook Wall: How UNHCR Listened to Refugees on Social Media

In “From a Refugee Perspective” UNHCR has now summarised their findings from the ten-month project. The main thing I really liked about this project is that UNHCR invested the resources for proper qualitative social media monitoring, as opposed to the purely quantitative analyses that we see so often and which rarely go beyond keyword counting. To complement the social media information, the team held focus group and other discussions with refugees who had arrived in Europe.
But in the end, the team did not engage online. Why they decided to only be a fly on the wall, rather than share information of their own, is not discussed in the report. My guess is that they were worried about being inundated with questions, while not having the capacity to respond.
Timo Luege for Social Media for Good introduces the new UNHCR report From a refugee perspective.

The Definitive List of Anti-Poverty Campaign Ads

Writing a list of good campaign ads? That was a little more difficult.
Brendan Rigby for WhyDev wraps up this section with more good examples of how development issues can be communicated well.

The Uses and Abuses of Social Media in Africa

A recent conference at the University of Edinburgh went “Beyond the Hashtag” to explore the impact of social media in Africa. Don’t worry if you missed it, because Brooks Marmon has written this great summary of the key findings to bring you up to speed.
Brooks Marmon for Democracy in Africa with a great overview over some of the current debates in the research community when it comes to engaging with social media in Africa.

Communications 101: Talking about your nonprofit

Over the next few weeks, we will publish a series of detailed, do-it-yourself articles on how to create engaging content for both offline and online platforms.
In the meantime, here are three things that you can adopt immediately to help with your organisation’s communications.
Devanshi Vaid for the India Development Review kicks off an interesting series of practical ideas on how nonprofits can communicate better.

Film Review: N.G.O. – Nothing Going On

What appears to be a light-hearted and entertaining comedy on how Ugandans screw mzungus over and over again (in all aspects of life) is at its core a deep critical reflection on the exponential growth of NGOs in the country – if not the sub-Saharan African continent.
Simone Datzberger for Africa at LSE. I'm curious to watch the whole documentary now, but this sounds like great food for thought and debate!

From the 'not really development news and yet very telling of the state of development in the US' department...

Golden career advice of the week:
Our digital lives
Play Theory
Her shoe tumbled from my trembling fingertips
I always attempted to put it back onto the slender foot
But I realized that it was no use
I was powerless over this plastic girl

And so I went to my computer
Where I entered into a world
Where I could manipulate everything
With only a blank page
And a keyboard
From Understorey Magazine. Meredith Bullock is a 16-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy. She is in grade 11 at Sacred Heart School of Halifax; her poem won first prize at the MSVU Girls Conference.

Brave and Reckless’Advice for New WordPress Bloggers– Part 1
I knew nothing about blogging. But I did know that all communities have their own unique culture and through a combination of trial and error, generous mentors and reading several really good guides to WordPress, I found my footing here.
Christine Ray for Brave and Reckless with some advice not just for the WordPress crowd...

Anti-Authoritarian Book Club: Twitter and Tear Gas

The short version of Tufekci’s argument is that social media provide powerful ways for activists to organize and to get their messages out, but that the types of activism have their own drawbacks. Ad hoc movements can assemble quickly, both in physical space (Gezi Park) and online (#BlackLivesMatter), and they can deploy powerful viral messages (the Battle of the Camel). This helps them leapfrog over repression, interia, and mass media censorship – but also over much of the institution-building work that allows protest movements to enforce message discipline, switch up their tactics, and lever their momentum into other realms. Their heavy use of platform-based social media also leaves them vulnerable to algorithmic fragmentation, pervasive surveillance, and disinformation campaigns.
James Grimmelmann for The Laboratorium reviews Zeynep Tufekci’s new book Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest.

Hot off the digital press
Higher Education for Development: An Evaluation of the World Bank Group's Support

Although this evaluation assesses past performance, much of which predates the 2013 World Bank Group strategy, with its twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, the evaluation is intended to be forward-looking. Although higher education can contribute to the twin goals, it is by no means guaranteed.
As interesting as this new World Bank report may be, it is presented in the most technocratic and bureaucratic way and I doubt that I want to spend too much time reading the details...

Gender differences in scientific collaborations: Women are more egalitarian than men

By analyzing a unique dataset of more than 270,000 scientists, we discovered substantial gender differences in scientific collaborations. While men are more likely to collaborate with other men, women are more egalitarian. This is consistently observed over all fields and regardless of the number of collaborators a scientist has.
Interestingly, this PLOS open-access article lists five male co-authors...

Special Issue: Security in the Vernacular

The special issue presents new analysis and case studies, which aim to challenge and refresh the established policy consensus around violence reduction and security. They are distinctive in focusing upon the vernacular or local understandings of those at the receiving end of direct and structural violence; and in analysing the insurgent margins where violence and insecurity are most concentrated.
The new Peacebuilding special issue is open access!

Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of social media research tools (updated for 2017)

Following his initial post on this topic in 2015, Wasim Ahmed has updated and expanded his rundown of the tools available to social scientists looking to analyse social media data. A number of new applications have been released in the intervening period, with the increasing complexity of certain research questions also having prompted some tools to increase their data retrieval functionalities. Although platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp have more active users, Twitter’s unique infrastructure and the near-total availability of its data have ensured its popularity among researchers remains high.
Wasim Ahmed for LSE Impact Blog with a really useful overview over digital analysis research tools.


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