Links & Contents I Liked 268

Hi all,

Just another busy week at ComDev with feedback on MA thesis proposals, lectures & a workshop with students on their experiences with communication for development-but, there's always time for some LINKS ;)!

Development news: The EU's messy migration deals with Sudan; World Bank goes Wall Street; how poor are Americans? How code put people in jail in Turkey; the 'begpacker' phenomenon; polarized Rwanda research; how philanthropy is losing the battle against inequality; new education research; decolonizing the conference; messaging people about poverty; facebook as the new Intranet; ComDev in Nepal; photos & comics from Africa.

Our digital lives: Mindfulness at work? Foreign journalism in the age of T&?%p; the privilege of quitting your Google job.

Publications: Learning and technology in deprived contexts.

Decolonizing a history journal.


New from aidnography
Lots of great food for thought on Twitter and Facebook on The development blogging crisis definitely a topic I will continue to research ! :)

Development news
Inside the EU’s flawed $200 million migration deal with Sudan

In interviews with over 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum seekers in Khartoum and the eastern city of Kassala, as well as local journalists, and lawyers working on behalf of refugees, IRIN has documented allegations of endemic police abuse, including extortion, violence, and sexual assault.
But the EU and its partners don’t appear to have a viable strategy to mitigate human rights abuses. In the case of the BMM project, the EU and GIZ claim that its steering committee – composed of the European Commission, Germany, UK, France, Italy, and the Netherlands – oversees human rights risks remotely from Brussels.
“The steering committee has a clear view of what is possible and what is not possible,” said Dumond, “and we don’t think there is a big risk [of human rights violations as a result of EU funding].”
He added that EU officials frequently go on mission in Sudan to assess conditions first-hand.
But such visits are tightly controlled by the government and the security services. When IRIN visited Shagarab, for example, police and NISS officers followed, transcribing every interview.
The EU and GIZ also declined to show country specific budgets for Sudan for the BMM programme. That opacity is a way to escape “accountability and scrutiny”, explained Giulia Laganà, a migration specialist at the Open Society European Policy Institute, via email.
Caitlin L. Chandler for IRIN on messy politics, dodgy deals and lose-lose outcomes at the front lines of the migration and refugee situation in Africa.

The World Bank Is Remaking Itself as a Creature of Wall Street

“I have met with him many times,” said Mr. Rubenstein, the billionaire co-founder of the buyout firm Carlyle Group, who recently hosted a reception honoring Mr. Kim after the screening of a documentary about his public health work. “Jim has a lot of credibility with private equity firms.”
Some critics at the bank think Mr. Kim has become too dazzled by bold faced names and billionaires. He golfs (very well, by all accounts) with Michael Bloomberg — who has backed several projects at the bank and hails Mr. Kim as a “doer” — and swaps books with President Emmanuel Macron of France, most recently sending him a copy of “Orientalism,” Edward Said’s critique of Western attitudes toward the Middle East and Asia.
Landon Thomas Jr. for the NYT on the World Bank under Jim Kim's leadership. I am not sure whether having 'credibility with private equity firms' is actually a good sign, but an interesting insight into a Bank that struggles with its mission.

Millions of Americans as destitute as the world’s poorest? Don’t believe it.

America’s wealth also means that it can help the poor within its own borders without cutting foreign development aid — an idea Deaton seems to put on the table — which only amounts to about 1 percent of the federal budget in any case. It can do so by reorienting some of the remaining 99 percent of the federal budget to better help the poor, by reorienting portions of state and local resources, and by raising revenue in ways that lean relatively more on the rich.
In sum, America indeed has very serious problems with poverty and inequality. But it is wildly inaccurate to claim that millions of Americans “are as destitute as the world’s poorest people.”
Ryan Briggs for Vox with a detailed critique of Angus Deaton's recent take on poverty in the US and abroad and potential implications for foreign aid.

'Terrifying': How a single line of computer code put thousands of innocent Turks in jail

Beşikçi said Bylock was downloaded roughly half a million times and had 215,000 registered users. About 100,000 of them were identified by the Turkish government as "real users."
Many people downloaded the app willingly, but many who had no traces of it on their phones are also being accused — and Beşikçi and Peksayar have now shown why.
Beşikçi said it was due to a single line of code, which created a window "one pixel high, one pixel wide" — essentially invisible to the human eye — to Hypothetically, people could be accused of accessing the site without having knowingly viewed it.
That line redirected people to the Bylock server using several other applications, including a Spotify-like music app called Freezy and apps to look up prayer times or find the direction of Mecca. Some people have been accused because someone they shared a wifi connection with was linked to Bylock.
Nil Köksal for CBC News with an important reminder about 'ICT4Bad' and privacy, data and 'the digital' needs much more critical attention in development debates.

The ‘begpacker’ phenomenon shows how fake poverty has become a status symbol
The ethical implications, many critics point out, are clear: Intentionally touching down in a country with no financial means to support yourself effectively guarantees you will be a drain on the local economy. It is perhaps distasteful at best and unethical at worst. In addition, consuming food, water, space, and utilities without spending cash also diverts resources away from locals who need (and deserve) them far more.
Rosie Spinks for Quartz. I find her conclusions to general and far-reaching; many of the pictures have been around since mid-2017 when I first noticed the term 'begpacking'-how widespread it is is hard to tell. A few strange people who run out of money in distant places may not constitute a trend. But more importantly, inequality is the key for me: As many countries and mega-cities are growing, so is the inequality. Do 'begpackers' really 'steal' from locals? Aren't there enough rich people in Bangkok, both local and expat, to buy cheap artwork from a Western person? I am really not sure how much of a drain they really are-aren't they more likely to be a drain on their country of citizenship when they show up at the embassy and want to go 'home'? In end, as with pretty much everything in life, the gap between the very top (Learjet and 6-star hotel) and the very bottom of travel/tourism (begging on the street) widens...

When facts cease to matter: The polarised world of Rwanda research
In its upcoming February 2018 edition, Human Rights Quarterly has agreed to publish a critique of Reydams’ article. Co-written by seven Great Lakes specialists, the authors call his contribution “unreasonable, ill-founded and intemperate”. They go through twelve areas of contention and complain that the author provided “not a shred of evidence for the sweeping and damaging claims he makes”. The co-authors say the piece was unworthy of publication.
This polarisation affects not just analysis of the current day, but ends up being projected onto the past, diminishing the quality of research on Rwandan history and the genocide. Both Fisher and Hintjens say that they and many other academics have had submissions to journals rejected, based not on the scholarly merit of the articles but on either their perceived disproportionate sympathy or hostility towards Kigali.
Jos van Oijen for African Arguments on the contested field of research around Rwanda's developments.

Systemic Failure: Four Reasons Philanthropy Keeps Losing the Battle Against Inequality
The favored foundation responses to inadequate pay have been investments in education and workforce development to equip workers for better jobs. While that’s important stuff, it elides a stubborn reality: Many—if not most—of the jobs that the U.S. economy creates today are in sectors like retail and restaurants, where wages are low and benefits are scarce. In fact, half of the jobs in the U.S. pay under $18 an hour. Upskilling workers can allow some people to exit bad jobs, but millions of other workers will remain stuck in a labor market that inflicts mass hardship and makes a mockery of the core American value that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead.
Why are so many jobs so crappy? A common reason given is that globalization and automation have wiped out many of the well-compensated manufacturing jobs that once paid a middle-class wage. The thing to remember, though, is that those industrial jobs were not inherently “good” jobs. Mainly, they paid decently because of union organizing, public policy interventions, and corporate norms that favored sharing the fruits of prosperity.
David Callahan for Inside Philanthropy on how difficult systemic change is if organizations continue to work on symptoms rather than of the root causes of inequality and poverty.

What’s new in education research? Impact evaluations and measurement – January 2018 round-up
Here is a selected round-up of recent research on education in low- and middle-income countries, with a few findings from high-income countries that I found relevant. This is mostly but not entirely from the “economics of education” literature. If I’m missing recent articles that you’ve found useful, please add them in the comments!
David Evans for the World Bank's Development Impact with food for research and thinking...

Decolonizing the Conference

All in all, the Chiapas learning exchange was comprised of people committed to transformation. Therefore, the exchange was carefully and thoughtfully designed to reflect the type of transformation we seek for the world. Intentional design, planning, and strategy underpinned the structure and content of the agenda. Threads of love, humility, patience, curiosity, inquiry, and openness wove the community together. Among other factors, creating a convening where ancestral traditions find their rightful place in dialogue about the future; grassroots activists share their insights and solutions as experts; and pedagogical models rooted in global south traditions are centralized, the exchange decolonized the conference space.
Solomé Lemma for Thousand Currents on a great example of how to properly deconstruct 'the workshop'!

Messaging using moral frames: what works?
We know — based on evidence from the Aid Attitudes Tracker study — that moral sentiments are a key factor that drives individuals’ engagement with global poverty. In a recent AAT survey, we took the opportunity to investigate this further, and looked at a more specific question: of the many moral arguments to fight poverty at home and abroad, which are the most and least convincing for the UK public?
Surprisingly (or, maybe, neatly) the three arguments that respondents said best apply to fighting poverty at home, also apply to fighting poverty abroad or to both. As show in the graph below, the three best arguments are:
“[fighting poverty] is the right thing to do”
“human beings have a right not to suffer”
“we should help if we can”.
Paolo Morini, Jennifer van Heerde-Hudson and David Hudson for DevCommsLab share great research insights from their Aid Attitudes project!

Could Facebook replace your NGO’s Intranet?
Adopting Workplace in early 2016, while it was still in beta, was a leap of faith. Using enterprise social networking was also a departure from our traditional controlled communication at NRC, and we were concerned that Workplace would be filled with irrelevant noise or be a place for venting frustrations about everything and everybody. We were also concerned that users in some locations would not have sufficient bandwidth to engage in a media-rich exchange.
To prepare ourselves for these uncertainties, we adopted a lean start-up approach trying a range of new ideas while being ready to pivot if they didn’t work out. In the beginning, we had a “no social” policy, but we soon realized that being social is part of being colleagues and an asset, so we changed this and now 7% of the content is characterised as social. We also made it clear from the beginning that this was a work tool, and that NRC’s code of conduct still applied on Workplace.
Timo Luege talks to Norwegian Refugee Council's Peter Schiøler on how the organiation implemented Workplace by Facebook, an enterprise-level communications and collaboration platform.

Moving development communications beyond journalism in Nepal: My undergraduate teaching experience
Most development communications education in Nepal is viewed through a ‘journalistic’ lens. Most of the lecturers are media professionals. While they bring good experience and expertise, particularly in media and communications, the broader understanding of development discourses is limited compared to development practitioners. While media professionals do engage with development organisations more often these days, particularly through media fellowships and consulting jobs, the ‘out-sourced’ nature of this engagement doesn’t really match the experience that a research uptake or C4D professional would have, as he/she would have exposure to wide range of development-related discussions and resources.
It is high time that development communications as a field evolves further – both academically and professionally – in countries like Nepal. It needs to move beyond the journalism field, with greater emphasis on understanding and communicating development discourses in a better way.
Sudeep Uprety for Research to Action on the emerging field of communication for development in Nepal.

PHOTOS: Shaking Up The Idea Of What Africa Looks Like
You have a special interest in displaying the work for women photographers.
I'm promoting women artists because it's very difficult everywhere in the world for them, and it's even more difficult for women artists in Africa. Sarah Waiswa had a series, "Stranger in a familiar Land," a photographic essay on the theme [of albinism]. In Africa, those people are persecuted because they are supposed to have magical powers. She's changing the way we are seeing them — making beauty from their difference.
Sasha Ingber for NPR's Goats & Soda talks to Marie-Ann Yemsi, the curator of the African Biennale of Photography.

Nnedi Okorafor Is Dropping a 5-Issue Comic Inspired By Legendary Black Knight Antar
Honor through perseverance. Legacy through diversity. IDW is proud to present the epic story of one of history's greatest warriors and finest poets: Antar the Black Knight. A despised camel driver born of an African slave mother and an Arab Noble father, Antar proves that heroes are made by embracing who we are and dreaming about what we can become.
Damola Durosomo for Okay Africa on Nedi Okorafor's latest creative project.

The annual SIMA Awards honor eye-opening documentary filmmaking and VR experiences that exemplify excellence in their potential to inspire social change. Each year, projects are selected from over 140 countries around the world, competing for awards, cash prizes, media features, distribution opportunities, and entry into SIMA’s signature film programs.
Feast your eyes...

Our digital lives
Mindfulness courses at work? This should have us all in a rage
But practising mindfulness to deal with work-related stress is not turning us into rebels, it’s making all docile. Is it our equivalent of soma, the drug that kept everyone happy in Huxley’s Brave New World? We’re more likely to rebel if we don’t dull the pain, right?
Yes, mindfulness might encourage colleagues to be nice to each other, and help bosses make better decisions (in the interest of the bottom line, of course) and we might all work faster. But removing the negative thoughts from our minds also makes us more accepting of our lot. Even for people who are inclined to challenge the status quo, a course of mindfulness will make them less likely to question why they aren’t getting extra holiday, longer lunch breaks or reduced working hours to reward improved productivity. Mindfulness is the ultimate sticking plaster for when nothing materially improves.
William Little for The Guardian makes an interesting point that true work-life balance cannot be achieved by mindfulness, but by challenging toxic work practices; then again, I work in Sweden where we are generally proud of a good balance without 'mindfulness' courses...

Freelancing abroad in a world obsessed with Trump
“Open any American news outlet and it’s just Trump, Trump, Trump. When that’s the case, there’s very limited space for news that’s not about him. It’s just intuitive that foreign coverage would suffer.” As a result, she continues, “Everybody wants to write for these places, yet there’s a shrinking amount of space for [freelance] work, so we’re all just competing over scraps.”
According to Nathalie Applewhite, managing director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the lack of international coverage has become a real problem for Pulitzer grant recipients. Those grants, she says, were established to address the earlier crisis in which news organizations were closing foreign bureaus and could no longer fund big foreign reporting projects. “Now we’re seeing an even bigger challenge,” she says. “We’re providing the monetary support, but the problem is finding the space for it.”
Yardena Schwartz for the Columbia Journalism Review. As much as I dislike to add pieces on the US President to my review, the article is an important reminder how the situation in the US is impacting foreign journalists and journalism from outside the US.

Writing 5,000 words about why you quit Google is the ultimate privilege
The blog post displays a lack of awareness for less-privileged lives (even as it also discusses how an Uber-like app might help them). And if it’s any signal of the mindset in Silicon Valley, that is a huge problem. Because technology companies are not only making software anymore: They host the public discourse, have the power to influence elections and our emotions, and are spreading into industries with large low-wage workforces. If the people who are creating some of the most powerful infrastructure in the world believe that its biggest battle is over which startup will be the Uber of Southeast Asia, that does not bode well for the rest of us.
Sarah Kessler for Quartz at Work with yet another reminder that large-scale positive social change will not come from Silicon Valley firms large or small...


The Future of Learning and Technology in Deprived Contexts
This report addresses the future of basic education, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) use in deprived locations, and the use of ICTs in primary school learning in 2020 and 2025, especially in deprived contexts.
Save The Children with a new report.

‘Decolonizing’ a Journal
Lichtenstein’s called his piece “Decolonizing the AHR,” because, in his words, making a commitment (even a well-intentioned one) to diversity alone means, primarily, “adding extra flavors to the stew.” By contrast, he said, decolonization “is about changing the recipe altogether.”
Colleen Flaherty for Inside HigherEd on how the The American Historical Review is planning to transform.


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