Links & Contents I Liked 284

Hi all,

This week's review has a strong humanitarian focus and lots of great people & initiatives are sharing new work! But there are also donkeys, fancy data visualizations & snarky tweets!

Development news: UNHRC corruption in Sudan; Burundi not happy about donkeys; inside the Central African Republic; ODI, CGD, HHI on the future of the humanitarian enterprise; inside Save The Children UK; rescuing 'safeguarding' from becoming a buzzword; a mass facial recognition project for Zimbabwe; randomistas to the rescue! How to conference better.

Our digital lives:
Taking down philanthrocapitalists & neoliberal feminism;
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's fame.

Academia: Medical education under fire; social media & harassment & more!


Development news

Burundi 'insulted' by French gift of donkeys to village
The donkeys, bought in neighbouring Tanzania, were given to residents of a village in Gitega province as part of a project by a local NGO to help women and children transport agricultural products, water or wood.
However, a presidential adviser described the project as "an insult to the nation".
Gabby Bugaga, spokesman for the Senate president, also wrote on Twitter the French were "taking us for donkeys".
"Be honest, is the donkey a symbol of a quality or a flaw," he wrote.
Donkeys are not indigenous to Burundi.
On Sunday, Agriculture Minister Deo Guide Rurema asked a local administrator to "facilitate the immediate withdrawal of all donkeys that have been distributed ... without respecting the technical procedure of the distribution of exotic animals".
Al Jazeera with a timeless classic of good intentions are not enough-introducing the wrong 'gift' into a local culture...

Part 1: Inside mission impossible

Philip Kleinfeld spent five weeks reporting from inside the peacekeeping mission in CAR. His three-part series looks at UN operations in one of the world’s most neglected and least understood conflicts, the violence that hobbles humanitarian efforts, and rape victims left to fend for themselves long after initial revelations of their abuse by peacekeepers faded.
Philip Kleinfeld for IRIN with a series of long reports from the Central African Republic.

Constructive deconstruction: imagining alternative humanitarian action

this project explores three alternative visions for humanitarian action:
The new humanitarian basics calls for a rescoping of the concept of humanitarian crisis and the humanitarian sector’s role in it.
Network humanitarianism challenges the notion of a humanitarian ‘system’ as a structured architecture led by the UN, and instead envisions it as a system of distributed governance.
The 'humanitarian anchor' outlines a social economy approach to humanitarian action that addresses the urgent and growing need for meaningful solutions in protracted crises and caters to the aspirations of affected people.
Christina Bennett, Paul Currion, Marc DuBois and Tahir Zaman for ODI launch findings from a research project with a series of publications and podcasts.

Rethinking the Humanitarian Business Model

Humanitarian reform efforts in recent decades have underperformed because they have focused on enhancing coordination without realigning funding incentives. The predominant business model in the humanitarian sector encourages UN agencies to conflate their designated normative and technical leadership functions with their own programmatic fundraising in ways that directly impede cohesive, end-user-centered humanitarian response.
Jeremy Konyndyk for the Center for Global Development which also published new work on the humanitarian system.

At what cost? A reflection on the crisis at Save the Children UK
Growth and influence are not goals in themselves, certainly not in charities. If you have lost your moral compass, your growth and influence are built on very shaky foundations. Dominic Nutt, a former head of media, reports the bizarre objective among senior SCF-UK executives to “take down Oxfam.” What kind of human rights organisation wants to “take down” another important charity? The same one in which a senior executive asked me at a meeting with other NGOs, “It there anyone here we should poach?”
Effective international cooperation is about putting the least powerful first—about transferring power. But at SCF-UK I heard NGO partners from the Global South referred to by leaders as “crazies,” and other charities badmouthed openly as the collegial practices of the charity sector were arrogantly ignored. It is not always easy to work in coalition with people from your own country, let alone from other cultures, but respect is a sine qua non of this type of work.
Jonathan Glennie for Open Democracy reflects on his time at Save The Children UK and what he did (not) do to challenge organizational culture.

Opinion: Without systemic change, safeguarding will only keep INGOs safe — not people

Safeguarding cannot exist without a concerted commitment to diversity and the systematic inclusion of local and national staff in leadership and decision-making positions.
Safeguarding cannot exist without coming to terms with how gender and race intersect in the humanitarian space.
Safeguarding cannot exist without trust and a belief that the system will provide adequate protection. Safeguarding must be independent of human resources functions.
Safeguarding requires an embedded policy of care that originates in local and national offices, supported by headquarters. Trainings and policies that are developed must come from the people most affected, with the participation of every staff member, from the country director to the chauffeurs, and every person in the organizational chain.
The aid sector must shift its thinking away from the tired and over-utilized paradigm that has always gone in one direction — from developed nations to developing nations of the global South.
Angela Bruce-Raeburn for DevEx doesn't want 'safeguarding' just to become the next buzzword and organizational box to tick...

Here's where your donated clothing really ends up

For anyone who doesn't want their old shirts, pants or dresses to end up in a landfill, clothing donation bins sound like a win-win-win solution: the donor gets to declutter, the charity operating the bin gets to resell the clothing to fund good deeds, and a shopper on a budget gets to buy affordable clothes.
But in reality, the path your worn-out jeans take isn't so straight, and doesn't always benefit the people you may think.
Paul Jay for CBC News. While there is nothing wrong about reminding people that most donated clothing will not have a second life in a thrift shop or help 'poor people', I wonder how many more of these pieces need to be made before people finally accept that fact...

The 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: an all-new visual guide to data and development

China exports facial ID technology to Zimbabwe
Cloudwalk, a company based in South China's Guangdong Province, has signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement with the Zimbabwean government for a mass facial recognition project, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by Cloudwalk on Thursday.
The project will help the government build a smart financial service network as well as introduce intelligent security applications at airports, railway stations and bus stations, said the Science and Technology Daily.
The company will also help build a national facial database in Zimbabwe, the newspaper reported Thursday.
"Zimbabwe has been suffering social security issues, including robberies and shootings, so the system could help in this area," said Shen Xiaolei, an associate research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies in Beijing.
Shan Jie for the Global Times...a stark reminder of how underdeveloped any discussions around privacy and implications of ICT4D really are in some African countries...a national facial database to catch the bad guys-what could possibly go wrong ?!?

Ep. #15 Designing agency: Vijayendra Rao talks development, anthropology, and making social change
“What anthropologists do that bugs the heck out of me is critique. Be constructive for a change. … Why can’t an anthropologist learn how to contribute towards design? Learn how to contribute towards processes of co-production? Learn how to make human beings actually matter in the process by which decisions are made?”
Ian Pollock for The Familiar Strange talks to World Bank economist Vijayendra Rao in a refreshingly open conversation.

What the Randomistas Taught TOMS

By our agreement, [TOMS] could have chosen to remain anonymous on the study; they didn’t…For every TOMS, there are many more, both secular and faith-based, who are reticent to have the impacts of the program scrutinized carefully by outside researchers…many organizations today continue to avoid rigorous evaluation, relying on marketing cliches and feel-good giving to bring in donor cash. TOMS is different…
Will TOMS’ new methods work better? Only randomization will tell. Fortunately, TOMS is committed to doing just that.
Alex Tabarrok for Marginal Revolution on how randomistas will save us all (and #globaldev, of course ;)!

What good is religion?

Not everyone shares the concern with salvation at the heart of Catholic social teaching, but it does offer a rich vision of human freedom, one that contains both the material and the ethical. By foregrounding the ethical, it recasts development as a moral project, requiring policymakers, institutions and everyone concerned with the enterprise of human fulfilment to reflect critically on their aims. It raises questions about the extent to which a programme or policy furthers ‘the good’. The process of reflection and critical deliberation is also key for Sen’s vision of development and human freedom.
Development must be fundamentally based on a ground-up conversation between people, wrestling about what matters: what non-material things matter, and in what balance with the material. The questions of ‘what is a good life’ and ‘how ought one to live’ must be perennial concerns of any endeavour aimed at human fulfilment, and must be central to both theory and policy of development. While the answers to these questions might stymie an unequivocal response, they are always worth asking if development is to enable human flourishing.
Manini Sheker for Aeon. I agree on the philosophical foundations for good development-but I'm still puzzled as to where this leaves religion...

Reflections on the Long Conversation Format: Staging More Authentic Conference Sessions
The long conversation is essentially a relay of timed two-person dialogues around a central theme.
The first person interviews the second, asking a series of questions (some predetermined, some spontaneous), then the first person exits, the second person becomes the interviewer, and a third person takes the stage.
Nicholas Carl Martin on LinkedIn on how a different world of meetings and conferences is possible!

Our digital lives
The trouble with charitable billionaires

What it does suggest, however, is that when it comes to giving, the CEO approach is one in which there is no apparent incompatibility between being generous, seeking to retain control over what is given, and the expectation of reaping benefits in return. This reformulation of generosity – in which it is no longer considered incompatible with control and self-interest – is a hallmark of the “CEO society”: a society where the values associated with corporate leadership are applied to all dimensions of human endeavour.
Carl Rhodes & Peter Bloom for the Guardian take apart contemporary philanthrocapitalism.

How neoliberalism colonised feminism – and what you can do about it

The pressing question now is how can we sustain and broaden the mass feminist renaissance as resistance, while rejecting the logic of neoliberal feminism. How can we maintain feminism as a threat to the many forces that continue to oppress, exclude and disenfranchise whole segments of society?
#MeToo has carried out important cultural work. At its best, it has exposed how male entitlement saturates our culture. Ultimately, though, this will not suffice. Exposure is not enough for ensuring systemic change.
Catherine Rottenberg for The Conversation with another reminder to resist that social change gets swallowed by neoliberal power...

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Comes to Terms with Global Fame

She is O.K. in principle with not being liked: she thinks that the desire to be liked is something that women need to get over. A male friend of hers told her that Ifemelu, the main character of “Americanah,” was Chimamanda without her warmth, and she bristled at this, even though she thought it might be true. Why the hell are you judging her like that? she thought. If Ifemelu were a male, would you expect and want warmth? All the same, it is painful to be attacked. “Ta-Nehisi Coates said to me once that what hurt him the most, becoming successful, was how much it was black intellectuals who seemed to be out for him, and I know what that’s like. I told him that there’s a circle of Nigerians who are resentful of my international success, and it’s very hurtful, because I want my people to wish me well.”
Larissa MacFarquhar for the New Yorker with an excellent portrait of the Nigerian writer and a different (?) kind of global/Nigerian/American celebrity.

51 essential rules for doing research
Julie Billaud & Alessandro Chidichimo for Allegra Lab...scary how many of these reules are currently not part of my life or research...

Medical education a focus of violence in conflicts

As a result of armed and violent civil conflicts, direct and indirect incidents have targeted medical education's components including medical schools and faculties, teaching hospitals, libraries, professors and medical students across several countries located in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
These attacks were outlined in a pilot report of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) entitled Attacks on Medical Education, published last month.
Wagdy Sawahel for University World News on a new report and the importance of highlighting humanitarian impacts on higher education.

Social Media as a Weapon to Harass Women Academics

As online spaces are increasingly used for public scholarship, and as many aspects of work in higher education rely on an individual's distinct skills and reputation, women in higher education cannot avoid using technology or social media, nor can they abandon their identity online. Keeping silent or avoiding online spaces is therefore not an option for most academics. And as public and networked scholarship stands to make positive and sizable contributions to our societies, we must recognize that encountering unsavory audiences online is a fact of life and must be dealt with.
George Veletsianos & Jaigris Hodson for Inside Higher Ed share their research on how to address social media harassment within academia.


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