Links & Contents I Liked 254

Hi all,

I almost felt overwhelmed by the amount of interesting readings, reports and articles that made it into this week's review-there is *a lot* of interesting stuff for you to explore in my latest review!

Development news:
That Dove campaign; female leadership at the WHO; the power of soap opera in Rwanda; Sierra Leone's husband schools; tourists and Maasai meet in Tanzania; Mali & the complexities of contemporary aid efforts; robots & inclusive growth; new African literature going global; looking back on 18 years of accountability research; courageous conversation podcast.

Our digital lives: Agile philanthropy & sweeping social movements; AI predictions; the futurist industrial complex.

Publications: Social media guidelines in emergencies; UNCTAD's Information Economy Report; unfinished development projects in Ghana; cash transfers & work; gender & ICT survey toolkit; images & NGO campaigns; complexity & policy-making; labor conditions in the South African wine industry; a world of walls.

Research limitations in development; Chinese education in Tanzania; MOOCs (and their hype) are dead; Finnish celebrity saviors.


New from aidnography
(updated posts)
Third World Quarterly & the colonialism debate
The #globaldev #highered story that surprises with new twists and turns.

Reading #Maria through a #globaldev lens
More underlying development issues and the complexities of Caribbean history are coming to light now in the aftermath of natural disasters and will continue to provide food for discussion in the #globaldev community.

Development news
I am the woman in the 'racist Dove ad'. I am not a victim

I can see how the snapshots that are circulating the web have been misinterpreted, considering the fact that Dove has faced a backlash in the past for the exact same issue. There is a lack of trust here, and I feel the public was justified in their initial outrage. Having said that, I can also see that a lot has been left out. The narrative has been written without giving consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.
However, the experience I had with the Dove team was positive. I had an amazing time on set. All of the women in the shoot understood the concept and overarching objective – to use our differences to highlight the fact that all skin deserves gentleness.
I remember all of us being excited at the idea of wearing nude T-shirts and turning into one another. We weren’t sure how the final edit was going to look, nor which of us would actually be featured in it, but everyone seemed to be in great spirits during filming, including me.
Lola Ogunyemi for the Guardian adds some interesting nuances to the unfortunate Dove ad that has been circulated this week. I still think that a creative team of a company like Dove should have spotted the problems of 'changing skin' visualizations much earlier in the process.

For the first time, Women Outnumber Men in Senior Posts at a UN Agency

In the announcement, the head of the World Health Program Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that “The team represents 14 countries, including all WHO regions, and is more than 60% women, reflecting my deep-held belief that we need top talent, gender equity and a geographically diverse set of perspectives to fulfill our mission to keep the world safe.”
He is right to be proud. The World Health Organization is the last agency one would expect to have a gender balance problem. Equal opportunity for health across gender is one of the core missions of the WHO. It is a priority in all its programs. However, the WHO is also a large bureaucracy, hindered by the same processes and social factors that any large bureaucracy faces. It is as slow to change as any organization.
Alanna Shaikh for UN Dispatch on the new WHO leadership team and the 'wind of change' blowing through the UN system (?).

'Genius Grant' Winner Used A Soap Opera To Prove A Point About Prejudice

You found that both groups — those who watched New Dawn and those who watched the other soap — overwhelmingly agreed that there was mistrust in their community. But in discussion groups, those who watched New Dawn were more likely to suggest or support efforts to welcome newcomers and work together to solve local problems.
We're not lemmings — we're not conformists. But we really don't want to seem wrong or odd to other people. When other people's ideas of what's right and wrong change, or their rules about how you can be change, that makes a big difference.
I've been really interested in this idea: That how we behave is actually much more influenced by what other people think than by our own personal ideas. I think everybody's had the experience of doing something because they thought it was expected of them.
Maanvi Singh talks to Betsy Levy Paluck for NPR Goats and Soda. An interesting reminder about the power of soap operas in the contect of social change.

FEATURE-"No more beatings": Sierra Leone's husband schools take on domestic violence

"Because I'm part of the school, the men are happier to observe the rules," said 66-year-old Moiwa Balley, a village chief in the southern district of Bo.(...)
At one of the sessions, 35-year old Saidu Lamine, who used to regularly beat his wife, Fati, and deny her money for food, said the school had changed his life, and made him a 'good man'.
Listening to her husband, Fati could not contain her joy.
"He has changed - no more beatings," she said as Lamine held their baby boy. "He is now a good father and a good husband."
While the husband schools strive to change the attitudes and behaviours of their students towards women, victims of domestic violence in Sierra Leone often lack support, and knowledge of their rights and how to seek justice, women's rights groups say.
Eromo Egbejule for Thomson Reuters Foundation with another example of incremental behavior change, this time in Sierra Leone.

A close-up look at what happens when tourists and Maasai communities meet

My study of interaction between tourists and a Maasai community raised questions about the boundaries between research, tourism and entertainment. For one thing, the local Maasai generally classify overseas visitors, whether researchers, NGO workers, businessmen or tourists, in the same category. I also found that cross-cultural interactions don’t always help to break down stereotypes.
The study was part of a year of fieldwork with Maasai engaged in a small, locally owned ecotourism project in Northern Tanzania. The project provides camel safaris for tourists.
The mainly European and American tourists also visit a Maasai homestead as part of the safari. Because tourists are scarce in this area and it is difficult to provide advance notice of a visit, local people are normally caught by surprise when a group of visitors walks into their village. The tourists typically stay for 20 minutes to an hour, looking at the cattle corral and at people’s houses.
My research provides a detailed description of “Maasai” and “tourist” views of each other, and how these views are influenced as a result of their encounters. It shows how and why ideas about “the other” persist even if they do not match people’s experiences.
Vanessa Wijngaarden shares her research from Tanzania at The Conversation...even if there is no 'Warrior Princess', the dynamics of interacting with 'the other' remain complicated.

The Paradox of Prosperity
European organizations have in some cases partnered with local organizations, and the EU-funded projects are often coordinated with the Malian government. But the overwhelming dominance of European agencies has contributed to a sense that Malians themselves are not benefiting from these programs.
“This is European aid for Europeans,” said Ousmane Diarra, the president of the Malian Association for Deportees, a Bamako-based organization that supports Malians who have been deported from abroad. Diarra told me that his organization has repeatedly sought EU funding for an agricultural development project. “If I come partnered with a European, then maybe they will finance me. But if I come alone as an African, no,” he said.
European diplomats say they are forced to partner with big development agencies because Malians lack the capacity to implement projects on the scale of those being approved through the EU Trust Fund. They also point to rampant corruption within the Malian government, which ranks in the bottom half of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, as a reason to channel money toward European development agencies.
From his new home in a corner of Bamako where ambition tends to outpace opportunity, Traoré still thinks about traveling to Europe, though it feels farther away than ever. He and his roommates, a chauffeur and an electrician, share a single mattress on the floor of their one-room flat. Sweaters and trousers hang from pegs on the walls. A coral pink blanket is the only color in the otherwise drab, windowless room. The university is nearly an hour away, across a stagnant stream that doubles as a sewer and along wide, dusty streets crowded with honking scooters and yellow Mercedes-Benz taxis from the 1970s. He can’t always afford the trip, so he misses a lot of classes. If suddenly he found himself with money to spare, though, he knows he wouldn’t waste it on getting to school.
Ty McCormick and Nichole Sobecki for Foreign Policy with an interesting long-read on old development challenges and different responses to the "refugee crisis" in Mali.

Industrial robots and inclusive growth

Robots are not yet suitable for a range of labour-intensive industries, leaving the door open for developing countries to enter industrialisation processes along traditional lines. Developing countries should embrace the digital revolution, including by (1) creating the managerial and labour skills needed to operate new technologies and widely diffuse the benefits of their use; and (2) establishing internet links between massive data storage and the computing devices that power the increased use of robots. And all countries need appropriate regulatory frameworks to avoid a few taking most of the benefits, including when creating digitisation-based new products and new jobs. Any industrialisation strategy will benefit from stable but expansionary global economic conditions driven by sustained productive investment and supported by broad-based global income growth. Such an environment is currently absent. In this sense, the novelty of industrial robots lies not only in their greater scope and faster speed of automation alone, but also in its occurrence at a time of subdued macroeconomic dynamism. This tends to hold back the investment needed for the new technology to create new sectors and absorb displaced workers and, hence, to bring about the benefits that have characterised earlier technological breakthroughs.
Jörg Mayer for Vox with a nuanced take on how the challenge of 'robots' and automisation will effect development countries-it's complicated ;)!

New African literature is disrupting what Western presses prize

A “West subsuming Africa” brand of critique works fine for scholars with no real skin in the game of literary publishing. It also denies real agency to a lot of African writers and other literary professionals. On the ground the literary field is far more forward-thinking and diverse.
There is an entire new body of African writing that escapes this closed circuit of damning truisms. A wave of new or recently galvanised independent literary presses in the US and the UK are working in tandem with some of Africa’s most generative outlets. Together they are publishing and promoting work by young and adventurous African writers.
Jeanne-Marie Jackson outlines some of the changes of global publishing at The Conversation and how new literature from Africa is gaining attention.

Accountability debates: Looking back, thinking forward

Currently, work on corporate accountability appears to be largely absent. Yet, given the current debates on health equity, it’s vital to be discussing accountability approaches which respond to the growing entry of corporate actors into public health and the growing marketization of local level health services.
In an era of increasing economic inequality and deregulation in a changing geo-political landscape, holding private actors to account, especially for delivery and stewardship of public goods and resources, is critical.
All the more reason to gain insights and learn from the earlier and, it seems, largely forgotten work on citizen-led struggles for corporate accountability.
While some of these questions in the accountability field have endured across the last eighteen years have endured, much has been learned.
John Gaventa for IDS reflects on more than a decade of research on accountability and new challenges ahead.

I'm really pleased to see Jenn Warren, an alumna of our ComDev program, involved in this great podcast project!

Our digital lives
Philanthropy In an Era of Sweeping Social Movements

Foundation leaders coming from movement spaces can increase a funder’s literacy about the field and the community. It can also deepen racial and political analysis. At Solidaire, for example, Rosheuvel is creating a political education program for donors in the network and beyond.
Especially for place-based foundations, hiring community leaders, not just funding them, can make a big difference, Lateefah Simon says. “I think foundations have to hire locally. I think that they have to be heartbeats of communities in the same way that they expect the community organizations they're funding to be,” Simon says.
But beyond issues of staffing and understanding, Simon also challenges funders to push themselves to share the qualities and passions they would expect from the people they fund: "I'm watching so many folks in big spaces and small spaces just really step out into this moment of philanthropy, where they realize… the opportunity to push ourselves, to be just a little bit like the folks we're funding—brave and courageous, and graceful yet bombastic. Those values are amazing. And we have to live that way too."
Tate Williams for Inside Philanthropy with some really interesting thoughts on foundations in an agile, mobile, digital age. There needs to be a space for long-term engagement as well as more traditional models for organizations that don't have the capacity to make it on the 'this is sexy and happening right now' radar and yet do grassroots work in communities.

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

Mistaken predictions lead to fears of things that are not going to happen, whether it’s the wide-scale destruction of jobs, the Singularity, or the advent of AI that has values different from ours and might try to destroy us. We need to push back on these mistakes. But why are people making them? I see seven common reasons.
Rodney Brooks for Technology Review on the hype around AI.

Know Thy Futurist

For the average person, it doesn’t really matter if the decision to keep them in wage slavery is made by a super-intelligent AI or the not-so-intelligent Starbucks Scheduling System. The algorithms that already charge people with low FICO scores more for insurance, or send black people to prison for longer, or send more police to already over-policed neighborhoods, with facial recognition cameras at every corner—all of these look like old fashioned power to the person who is being judged.
Ultimately this is all about power and influence. The worst-case scenario is not a vindictive AI or Sergey Brin not getting to celebrate his two-hundredth birthday. In the worst-case scenario, e-capitalism continues to run its course with ever-enlarging tools at its disposal and not a skeptical member of the elite in sight.
Cathy O'Neil for the Boston Review looks at the futurist industrial complex.


Red Cross and UN release guide on how to use social media in emergencies

The guide is primarily written for people in humanitarian organizations who have social media as one of their responsibilities, but who are not able to draw on a whole social media team to manage a crisis. The focus is on concrete, practical advice to make their work easier. For people who want to delve deeper, I included a large number of links to the best resources I know.
Check out Timo Luege's new guide for ICRC and UN OCHA on how to use social media in humanitarian emergencies!

Information Economy Report 2017

The enormous scope and considerable uncertainty associated with the next digital shift call for more facts, dialogue and action by all stakeholders The analysis contained in the Information Economy Report 2017: Digitalization, Trade and Development contributes to this process and proposes ways in which the international community can reduce inequality, enable the benefits of digitalization to reach all people and ensure that no one is left behind by the evolving digital economy.
Richard Heeks presents key findings from the new UNCTAD report on the information economy.

Introducing our new publication: the Gender and ICT Survey Toolkit
The toolkit contains a set of resources to help organisations and people collect this gender disaggregated data, with example ready-made quantitative and qualitative research tools they can use to understand women’s access to, and use of, mobile phones and other ICTs. The toolkit also has sections on designing methodologies, how to analyse the data, and how to group the data into themes around, for example, access, use, barriers to access and use, internet usage or mobile financial services.
Alexandra Tyers introduces Panoply Digital's new toolkit in cooperation with fhi360 and USAID.

New Research seeking to improve imagery in NGO campaigns

The recommendations in the report are commendable but how many will be implemented in reality? Giving copies of the images to the contributors is relatively simple with portable printers, but it is not very practical. Who will be accountable for this? The UK office? The Country Office? The Photographer? More importantly how will the process be managed and at what cost? It would be more appropriate to provide the contributor with the image used in its final state e.g. adverts, poster, video. This is even less practical, and whilst I’d love to see this happen I’m not holding my breath.
I’m really intrigued about the proposal to develop location and language specific resources to communicate image use more effectively. This is an excellent idea and something that could be developed collaboratively across the sector. I’ll be bold – is this something that DFID or DEC could facilitate?
David Girling for WhyDev with an overview of Save The Children's 'The People in the Pictures' publication.

Debate the Issues: Complexity and Policy making

The OECD’s New Approaches to Economic Challenges initiative invited experts from inside and outside the Organisation to discuss complexity theory as a means to better understand the interconnected nature of the trends and influences shaping our socio-economic environment. Their contributions, brought together here, examine the assumptions, strengths and shortcomings of traditional models, and propose a way to build new ones that would take into account factors such as psychology, history and culture neglected by these models.
The OECD tackles complexity thinking. Duncan Green read the report for fp2p.

“The farmer doesn’t recognise who makes him rich”: Understanding the labour conditions of women farm workers in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape, South Africa

This research reveals that farmers are systematically violating laws that were introduced to protect and advance the rights of farm workers. At the same time government does not effectively enforce existing labour legislation by taking punitive action against farmers. For the majority of farm workers, specifically women seasonal workers, working and living conditions have not improved. In many cases, their vulnerability and insecurity have increased. However, to fundamentally address the deep structural inequalities in commercial farming areas,  labour rights cannot be addressed in isolation of broader process of agrarian reform. The vision of a transformed rural landscape must first be negotiated to ensure sustainable livelihoods, land tenure security, women’s access to health-care and the alleviation of poverty in rural communities.
Stephen Devereux, Glenise Levendal and Enya Yde with a report for Oxfam Germany and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Additional research, especially on German supermarkets and their role in purchasing cheap wine from South Africa, is gaining some attention in German media and there are more documents on Oxfam's website, mostly in German.

World of Walls: The Structure, Roles and Effectiveness of Separation Barriers

Saddiki examines both regular and irregular cross-border activities, including the flow of people, goods, ideas, drugs, weapons, capital, and information, and explores the disparities that are reflected by barriers to such activities. He considers the consequences of the construction of physical and virtual walls, including their impact on international relations and the rise of the multi-billion dollar security market.
Said Saddiki with a new open access book.


How do we decide what we research? by Terry Cannon

My greatest fear is that the framework of institutional corporatism and funding models has undermined our ability to ask questions about what causes a problem. Poverty, hunger, vulnerability (to hazards or climate change) are not just ‘characteristics’ of different groups of people. But this is how they are increasingly portrayed, as with ‘lifting people out of poverty’, or ‘building resilience’. The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) say nothing about what is causing problems of poverty, ill-health, hunger, poor water and sanitation and so on. But these problems are largely the result of processes of exploitation and oppression that must be understood and explained. In earlier times, that is exactly what development studies was doing. Increasingly it is difficult to seek explanations for these problems: it is more awkward, and we cannot make ‘free’ choices to research them. Development studies institutions are now almost completely reliant on funding from governments and development banks. These institutions are often beneficiaries of the processes that are causing the problems, and have little desire to investigate their origins.
IDS Research Fellow Terry Cannon for the ISS anniversary blog asking some really tough questions about development research.

Is a Chinese education the best shot at success in Africa?

Pragmatism dictates how many young Tanzanians I spoke to view a Chinese education. Despite voicing unflattering accusations about Chinese workers and Chinese products, a Chinese education was seen as a logical pathway to securing well-paying reliable employment. This is evidenced by Chinese firms employing students directly through the Confucius Institutes for a growing number of available positions in marketing, sales, architecture, quantity surveying, and law. Many more Tanzanians are returning from China after their undergraduate or postgraduate degrees and setting up businesses which directly trade with the Chinese in a number of capacities.
Paul Hicks for Africa Is A Country on how Chinese engagement in Tanzania expands to educational opportunities.

MOOCs Are "Dead." What's Next? Uh-oh.

Where Udacity was trying to disrupt an existing higher ed market, their plans hinging on the phantasm of the “University of Everywhere,” adaptive software providers have a nice trough of public funds to sup from, including money specifically earmarked in the recently signed Every Student Succeeds Act.
Personalized learning software will be galloping through schools as our latest teaching machine savior before we have any evidence of its effects.
Strapped public school districts welcome Gates and Zuckerberg money no matter what strings are attached because they are desperate. Gates alone has put $15 billion into education initiatives since 1998.
But both Gates and Zuckerberg have legacies of only failure when it comes to meddling in education.
The generosity is great, but the average oligarch’s understanding of the complexities of education is near nil. Combine that with the kind of hype cycle we see with technology of just about any stripe, and we could be looking at some very bad unintended consequences.
John Warner for InsideHigherEd on the fading hype around MOOCs a emerging new hypes to 'fix' higher education through technology.

Is it time for Finnish celebrities to save the black girls of a “developing country”?

With an astonishing accuracy, the campaign video follows the pattern of celebrity humanitarianism seen in other contexts. When the white Finnish celebrities step out of the Ethiopia Airlines aircraft in the unidentified “developing country”, they are followed by a group of black men. Soon the scenes on the screen change – clean airport environment and the take away latte are replaced by shantytowns. From behind their sunglasses in the safety of the SUV-car, the two white Finnish women glance outdoors. Upon their arrival in the destination, the Finnish celebrity assumes the role of an expert. From the unnamed location, she explains to the Finnish audience the causal relationship between child marriages and child pregnancies.
Liina Mustonen for AllegraLab adds ethnographic analysis to Finnish celebrity engagement in 'Africa'.


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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa