Links & Contents I Liked 275

Hi all,

Welcome to link review #275!

Development news: The complexities of sex work in South Sudan; Nepal's infrastructure & pollution challenges; Are the SDGs simply 'BS'? What is the future of urbanization? Foreign aid impact-it's complicated! Comic relief wants fewer white saviors; Clooney & Prendergast still want to save Africa; DDD from a local perspective; young Swedish woman goes to Kibera, hugs child:

"One of the happiest moment in your life was probably when you met me and my friends"; Red Cross & dashcams; death of a journalist in Sudan; impact of news reporting on UK aid sector; gender equality in the charity sector.
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Disrupting news media funding.


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Apply for ComDev’s flagship MA program & courses from 15 March to 15 April!
Our Communication for Development online blended learning MA is accepting applications again! We also have a free-standing course on C4D M&E on offer-and European citizens (yes, including UK ones ;)) and Swedish residents study for free in good, old socialist Sweden :)!

Third World Quarterly & the case for colonialism debate
This story made a comeback this week the author of the original article got a lot of space in the Chronicle of Higher Education to defend himself and be very content about the whole debate/affair...

Oxfam, Haiti & the aid industry's #MeToo moment-a curated bibliography
I added a few new resources; as I went through the post once again it is quite fascinating to see how quickly, deeply and broadly the Oxfam scandal has turned into the #AidToo movement!

As link review 275 is another small anniversary, here's a post from 2016 about curating development content:
What I learned from curating thousands of #globaldev articles

Development news
Humanitarians fuel South Sudan's growing sex trade

Gabby works three or four nights a week and can make up to $200 a night from one international aid worker or U.N. staff client, she said — an evening that often includes dinner, drinks, and a fully paid hotel room.
This is in stark contrast to her South Sudanese clients, many of whom don’t pay at all and sometimes turn violent. Gabby says her life has been threatened several times when local men have pulled out guns and kicked her out of their cars in the middle of the night, forcing her to walk home in the dark, often miles away from town.
As a result, Gabby rarely works with locals anymore, she said, instead targeting “international guys” who treat her kindly and pay well.
Together with three or four colleagues, she frequents places she knows they’ll find clients, such as a few small bars just several hundred meters away from the U.N. base, where she says she can exchange contact information with men.
Gabby’s international regulars include U.N. staff and NGO workers who are generally “whites from all over,” she said, including Russians, Ukrainians, Britons, and Americans as well as men from other African countries, she said.
Sam Mednick for DevEx. Sex work remains a contested topic in international development, especially in the context of the current #AidToo movement.

20 by 02
Nothing will bring back those who were killed that fateful afternoon, and while we hope for the rapid recovery of the injured, one expects the airport authorities and government going right up to the Prime Minister’s Office will regard this tragedy as a wakeup call to make improvements so that the sole international airport is no longer an object of national shame.
It shows how badly the airport is managed that we rejoice when we find that the toilets actually have water or do not smell. Yet, lackadaisical attitude of staff in all categories, the chaos at the luggage carousels, the long lines snaking down from the arrivals escalators to get through a single body scanner – all of this add up to give the worst possible first and last impression of the country as a whole.
Incongruously, TIA’s ground handling and landing fees are among the highest in the world, and these charges are obviously passed on to hapless passengers. The stacking of aircraft above Bara and Parsa waiting to land is now legendary, and the lack of bays for those airliners when they finally touch down is scandalous.
TIA has over the past decade not been able to carry out the simple task of extending the taxiways to the end of the runaway on each side – to expedite takeoffs and landings. There is deep concern among those in the know that the runway tarmac surface is in dire need of repair.
Kanak Mani Dixit for the Nepali Times. His story is more than just a report about the recent accident at Kathmandu's international airport; it's a reminder of how slow many aspects of 'development' move in Nepal and how woefully inadequate the infrastructure is.

Massive pollution at Carlsberg brewery in Nepal

Collaborating with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), Danwatch have collected water samples near the brewery, which indicates that a massive pollution into one of the biggest rivers in the country is caused by the Carlsberg brewery. The river is also home to numerous species threatened by extinction.
Emilie Ekeberg for Danwatch with another story from Nepal on another 'evergreen' topic, pollution.

David Beasley takes on global hunger

“With biometric alignment, we can reduce duplication between 5 and 25-30 percent … it pays for itself to be digitally and technologically sound in every location,” he said, adding, “the WFP should own that sphere because we are the biggest in terms of ‘out there’ in the world, impacting people. That platform needs to be designed in such a way that it can be shared.”
The WFP chief takes an executive’s approach to change, with targets, benchmarks, and management plans. He balks at those who say they are serious about achieving the lofty Sustainable Development Goals, and yet offer little in the way of a roadmap to getting there.
“If the Sustainable Development Goals are real and you believe in them, then show me your plan to get there. Show me your management plan to get there. I hear some of these countries talking about zero hunger by 2030. It’s the biggest bunch of BS I’ve ever seen,” Beasley said.
Michael Igoe for DevEx talks to WFP Director David Beasley. Calling the implementation strategy of the SDGs 'the biggest bunch of BS' is quite gutsy; unfortunately, he adds more BS to the debate when he starts talking about the biometric platform that WFP should own-a recipe for disaster in any UN IT environment...

The 100 million city: is 21st century urbanisation out of control?

What happens to those cities over the next 30 years will determine the global environment and the quality of life of the world’s projected 11 billion people. It’s impossible to know how exactly how cities will grow, of course. But the stark fact, according to the United Nations, is that much of humanity is young, fertile and increasingly urban. The median age of Nigeria is just 18, and under 20 across all Africa’s 54 countries; the fertility rate of the continent’s 500 million women is 4.4 births. Elsewhere, half of India’s population is under age 25, and Latin America’s average age is as high as 29.
John Vidal for The Guardian with a long-read on urbanisation-one of the mega-questions for #globaldev...

Foreign aid is a waste of money—unless it’s used for transformation

Morlu was recruited and his office supported by the European Union, granting him financial autonomy and a modicum of political cover that were rare in a politicized public sector, but essential for the job of Auditor General. Collier was supported by a British deputy, and his Anti-Corruption Commission supported financially by the United Kingdom. It was the UK, in fact, that mediated between Collier and the Sierra Leonean president when their confrontation escalated, keeping him active until the political pressure became unbearable.
Taxpayers in donor countries are unlikely to read such stories in the media, or even in reports produced by NGOs and other donor agencies themselves. Instead, they are treated to simplistic stories of how their Pounds and Dollars are saving children, or shallow polemics supporting one end of the political spectrum or the other, though they are particularly common in certain corners of the conservative movement.
Pablo Yanguas for Open Democracy with a great contribution to the classic theme 'foreign aid-it's complicated; foreign aid impact is difficult measure'!

Comic Relief to ditch white saviour stereotype appeals

“You’ve got to be bold and brave going forward. We can’t be irresponsible in not raising money for the work we do but we have to be about total impact rather than always chasing totals. It ought to be about the total impact. Raising money and raising awareness is the perfect storm.”
She also plans to recruit ambassadors and to ensure “behind the scenes” they are well-informed about the issues they are dealing with. Critics have hit out at celebrities fronting development issues they are ill-informed about.
“The portrayal of Africa is not solely in the hands of Comic Relief. We are here to tell the story of poverty wherever it lies.
“There’s been incredible progression in places like Niger and Kenya. Just like we don’t go and film Canary Wharf to show images of poverty in the UK or the stucco houses of Notting Hill to show what happened at Grenfell, likewise we don’t film the rising hotel blocks of Kampala.
“It’s very difficult to tackle it in a three-minute film without being too simplistic.
Karen McVeigh for The Guardian. At least a discussion and increased reflection to do big fundraisers (a little bit) differently. Good!

The DDD agenda: questions from a development practitioner from the South
Situating it within dominant streams of thought in Africa, apart from the liberal tradition that would see the DDD agenda as a nuanced advancement of its long-standing modernisation paradigm, it would most certainly face hostility from the other intellectual traditions – the essentialist, Afro-Marxist and postcolonial traditions.
There is little explicit hint in the DDD agenda that these questions are receiving encouraging attention. Instead, one fears that there may emerge a bias towards state capability as the focus of DDD, rather than the capability of society to shape the state towards progressive behaviour. A focus on state capability is likely to lead to more problematic relations of power from which the state’s (often) negative domination of society will be perpetuated rather than reduced.
Gilbert Muyumbu for Care Insights on the Doing Development Differently approach and what it means from an African perspective.

Woman's Instagram Post About Kenyan Child Ignites Fury

This week, an Instagram user who goes by the name of Jossa Johansson has come under fire for the caption of a post with a photo of herself embracing a little girl from Kibera, Kenya.
"One of the happiest moment in your life was probably when you met me and my friends," wrote Johansson. "I am sorry to tell you that there is a very slim chance we will ever meet again."
I Am The Nameless African From Your Last Instagram Post
Why ask me questions anyway, when that article you read on the plane already told you everything you need to know about my community? You know what our houses look like, what our primitive diets consist of, our literacy rates, our recent troubles, our surprising resilience. I could see in your eyes that you didn’t know what to do with your immense guilt upon meeting me. You’re dreaming about “becoming successful, having a big family in a big house in a beautiful country,” while I’m rotting away “alone with my child in my small house made of mud and trees.” I re-lived the guilt you felt (we Africans are deeply compassionate) when I read your Instagram post. You’re right, we are poor but happy.
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda and Sarika Bansal for Bright Magazine with a serious and satirical take respectively that were triggered partly by a young woman's Instagram posting about her trip to Kibera.
Personally, the worst part of this story is that she ended up defending her post and actions:
'We have spread knowledge of human rights...'

How Red Cross Uses Data During Global Disasters
My team provides information to a variety of audiences with different needs. Sector specialists—for example water and sanitation or shelter leads—benefit from knowing what data is available, what data their teams should collect, and information products that help them assess a situation and analyze response options at a granular level. People leading the entire disaster response need insight into the plans and progress of all the different sector components, as well as awareness of how the pieces relate to the larger disaster situation.
Headquarters staff require a big-picture overview to place individual disasters in a global context. Good information management requires linking those needs, streamlining data collection and analysis, and effectively transforming and disseminating results. It helps to be creative in the use of secondary data sources, primary data collection, and analysis tools.
Dan Joseph for Mapillary on why dashcams are a useful tool for collecting humanitarian data.

More bad news: Does the media really impact how the aid sector works?

Now, months later — as her former employer Oxfam and other organizations confront sector-wide problems with sexual abuse — Janssen said she worries about groups becoming trapped by previous mistakes; that reputational damage, regardless of veracity, is doomed to repeat itself in a churning media cycle, where even legitimate failings in the aid sector uncovered by the media may come to be used as political weapons.
Molly Anders continues her reporting on media impact for DevEx with interesting examples from recent debates in the UK.

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions — And Broken Toilets

For the range of projects I’ve reported on over the years in person, and the ones we’re already receiving in our system, they often need to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Ascribing specific criteria becomes difficult — for example, if a project is ongoing, but is taking longer than it should, do we call that a failure? What’s the length of time before we can name it as such? Some delays are understandable, of course, but is it three months or six months or a year before you start to assign blame? (The answer, of course, varies by project — but in all cases, transparency and public accountability are useful tools.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, how long does a project have to last in order to be a success? I photographed an abandoned nutrition center in Ghana, a big, nice building that was unused. But, it had been used for several years. Is that enough?
Bright Magazine talks to Peter DiCampo about mobile citizen-reporting and the challenges of assessment 'success' and 'failure' of aid projects.

After US journalist killed in South Sudan, a quest for answers

There may have also been an element of competition that drove him forward. After all, reporting is often about who gets the story first, and who gets it best. When the Reuters journalists unexpectedly showed up, rebels say Allen first reacted with disappointment. A freelance journalist who had yet to place his stories, he knew he’d struggle to compete against the wires. “Allen, he didn’t want rivals around, so he was not very happy when he saw [them],” said Gabriel. “Their presence gave him that pressure, that he wanted to cover something more.”
Such sentiments, if true, wouldn’t be uncommon in a cutthroat industry in which journalists compete for an ever-declining pool of finances. I felt the same desire to protect my turf when Allen first reached out, asking for rebel contacts three months before his trip. I provided the contacts, but I didn’t volunteer any other information on how to navigate rebel-held South Sudan, a mistake that has been a great source of guilt. The same desire for exclusive coverage may have also stopped him from divulging details of his plans when he wrote again at the end of June to let me know he’d be traveling to South Sudan soon. In the end, we were both freelancers pitching stories to the same few outlets that still cover international conflict, and a war that commanded little attention amid reports on Iraq, Syria, and the Trump administration. At the same time, the bar for what the industry considers noteworthy coverage of conflict continues to rise, pushing young freelance journalists looking for a break beyond what many experienced media professionals deem safe.
Simona Foltyn for the Columbia Journalism Review with an excellent long-read on the challenges of contemporary (photo) journalism in humanitarian contexts.

Stories worth telling: Nick Danziger’s ‘Revisited’ exhibition

Revisited tells a series of stories of children, young people and their families, and the trajectory of development in their countries over a decade.
At the pre-opening, Danziger shared the backgrounds to gathering some of these stories, bringing us a step closer into the lives of those he met. Happy endings were few and far between, but they were there among the people he met in India and Bolivia, for example. It is in these countries where evolving or new laws had combined with the determination of individuals and communities to bring about positive change, including improved rights and protection for transgender people in Tamil Nadu in India, and higher levels of primary education and prenatal and postnatal care in Bolivia. Sadly, the situation had drastically worsened in some of the places Danziger visited. In Honduras, the studious young boy who had loved school in 2005 and gave his grandmother hope for the future in 2010 had, by 2015, started selling drugs for a local gang to earn a living.
Cleo Fleming for the DevPolicy blog on an interesting project and exhibition project currently on display in Australia.

Gender Equality In The Charity Sector. Is There Strength in Numbers?

It’s in this heated climate that we’ve decided to take a closer look at the diversity surveys we asked candidates and recruiters to complete in 2017. To take a cool-headed review of gender diversity in the charity sector as it’s experienced by people looking to move into the sector, or move within it. And to get a steer from our recruiters on how seriously they consider it as part of the recruitment process.
Jean Merrylees for Charity Job presents a new study on gender and diversity in the UK charity sector.

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