Links & Contents I Liked 287

Hi all,

Happy Midsummer from Sweden! Your weekly mix of news, views, tweets & more is here!

Development news:
MSF & #AidToo; Oxfam cuts; USA leaving UN Human Rights Council; aid organizations need to be careful to link migration objectives to their projects; FEMA's troubles in Puerto Rico; excluding women on Jordan; UNHCR's innovation metrics.

Our digital lives: A special section on how to organize panels & events well.

Publications: Organization after Social Media; the rise of impact evaluations; why government's political orientation matters little for immigration policy-making.

Academia: Anthropology coming to terms with the challenges of truly decolonizing the discipline.


New from aidnography
In response to Duncan Green: My 9 development trends and their implications for tomorrow’s aid jobs

Generally speaking, I don’t like the word ‘trend’ and I genuinely believe that over the next 2-5 years many parameters will pretty much stay the same. I don’t really like talk about ‘revolutions’, ‘disruptions’ or claims about ‘innovations that will change X, Y or Z’. I also believe that many trends are actually macro trends about how life/work/the world are changing rather than changes that are unique to the aid industry. So when it comes to the organizational architecture of how development ‘works’, a lot of things will remain the same...BUT
Does Malcolm Gladwell want rural Indian women to buy Chevys? A few reflections on DevEx World
I found it quite fascinating that of all automotive metaphors Malcolm Gladwell could have chosen (Tesla, Uber,…) he opts for upper-middle class Chevrolet consumers: “What if we think about the mother in a village in rural India with the same kind of sophistication as we think about the upper-middle class Chevy buyer in the suburbs of New York?” The organizations and companies that are applying this consumer-based approach to development have the potential to transform the choices available to people living in some of the most impoverished parts of the world.
Development news
Medecins Sans Frontieres staff 'used local prostitutes'

The whistleblower claimed they felt unable to challenge the man "because he was quite senior".
"I felt that, with some of the older guys, there was definitely an abuse of power. They'd been there for a long time and took advantage of their exalted status as a Western aid worker," she said.
"There's definitely a feeling that certain predatory men were seen as too big to fail.
"You would often see men who were older, middle-aged, partying with much younger local girls. It was sexualised."
Anna Adams for BBC News.

Oxfam to axe jobs and aid programmes in £16m cuts after scandal

But with less money coming in, and with programmes greatly reduced, it says, “we need to be running a smaller infrastructure ... sadly the loss of some roles is inevitable as we cannot otherwise make savings of this scale”.
It adds: “We will seek to maintain our overall level of support for country programmes but narrow the range of support we offer within our themes of water, women, work and equality. In addition, from 2019 we will begin to reduce the number of countries in which we invest as a partner affiliate.”
Nick Hopkins for the Guardian.

The Moral Flaws of the Do-Gooder

So yes, abuse by an aid worker is different from abuse by someone, for instance, from the corporate sector. Whilst both must be held to account, the bar is set higher with aid workers because of the nature of what they do. So outrage is likely to be more vocal in these instances, as are calls for the sector to reform. And yet….is this assumed moral authority actually realistic in practice? The problem with arguing that all aid workers must act morally, all the time, is that it forgets that not every decision made or action taken by people in the sector is guided by purely moral, altruistic intentions. The image of the selfless, heroic aid worker unfortunately continues to dominate in the minds of the general public – at least in the western, aid giving world – even if it is regularly debunked by aid workers themselves.
Gemma Houldey for Life in Crisis with broader reflections on the challenging task of engaging with aid work(er)'s moral authority in thorough, yet nuanced way.

Trump’s Insidious Reason for Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
“There’s certainly a pattern of saying one thing and having it be a pretext for something else in this administration,” said Sarah Dougherty, a senior fellow at Physicians for Human Rights. Dougherty explained that the withdrawal is disturbing because it dismantles certain humanitarian precepts the United States has been known to uphold for more than 70 years—precepts that the current administration can’t credibly maintain.
Lauren Wolfe for the Atlantic about the US's withdrawal from the UN's human rights council.

The US withdrawal from the UNHRC is perfect for Xi Jinping and China

The Human Rights Council has undoubtedly failed to live up to its founding principles. But a US working from within would do better to push for positive change and prevent further backsliding on human rights than sitting on the side-lines. The remaining UNHRC members must now work harder than ever to prevent China and other authoritarian regimes from undermining human rights standards and push for the desperately needed reform of the council.
Frances Eve for the Guardian on what the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights council may mean for future human rights debates and leadership on these issues.

Linking Aid to Migration: A worrying direction of travel

There are some key things that humanitarian and development agencies must avoid if they are to navigate this highly political area without compromising on their principles and harming the very people they exist to help. They must not:
Engage in refoulement (the forcible return of refugees), or involuntary returns of migrants in any situation. (...)
Engage in projects (or activities within wider projects) which offer humanitarian assistance or other aid to people which is contingent on them surrendering or limiting their rights, or making agreements which limit their future choices and may not be in their own best interests. (...)
Engage in projects where participants or beneficiaries are selected based on whether they are ‘potential migrants’, or report on indicators related to the number of migrants stopped due to programming (...)
Engage in projects with implicit or explicit migration-related objectives unless it’s clear that the activities are in their own right beneficial to the people they seek to help. Projects which aim to make migration safer, or offer sustainable and beneficial alternatives to migration without discouraging or preventing migration, may be justifiable. Nonetheless, great care should be taken to analyse and understand the potential consequences of involvement in such projects.
Engage in projects which support reintegration of returnees in their countries or locations of origin unless that return is voluntary and safe, and returnees have adequate protection (including from sufficient access by NGOs). (...)
Tom Newby for Care Insights on the aid sector needs to be more careful, critical and outspoken when it comes to the merger of migration and development funding and projects.

FEMA Blamed Delays In Puerto Rico On Maria; Agency Records Tell Another Story
NPR and the PBS series Frontline examined hundreds of pages of internal documents and emails. Rather than a well-orchestrated effort, they paint a picture of a relief agency in chaos, struggling with key contracts, basic supplies and even its own workforce.
When it came to getting the lights on, federal officials chose a contractor named Fluor — a company with global experience building power generation plants but little experience rebuilding the grids that distribute power to communities. Government sources said they went with Fluor because it was a company they trusted, but they also described weeks of bureaucratic delays as the company got up to speed.
But that wasn't all that was causing FEMA headaches. FEMA was struggling with its own staff. One internal staffing document reveals that more than a quarter of the staff FEMA hired to provide people assistance on the island was "untrained" and another quarter was "unqualified."
Laura Sullivan for NPR. This investigative piece is among many other things a reminder about how difficult it is to deliver humanitarian aid well-and how many of the challenges we discuss globally became very apparent in how the US provided aid to its own territory; see also my curation on Reading #Maria through a #globaldev lens.

The exclusion of women in Jordan
Textbooks narrate history, science, technology, knowledge, homeland, citizenship and democracy from a male perspective. The scholarly pen, the scales of justice and the ploughs of industry are placed in the hands of men. Meanwhile, the stories of women and girls are told in their absence, represented through sub-texts, stereotypes and in passive contexts. A generation that is torn between slogans of equality on the one hand and the practices and performances that are rooted in gendered inequalities on the other might lead to revolt when its own belief systems are threatened by the contradictory realities of women’s and girls’ engagement and inclusion.
Wafa Awni Alkhadra for sister-hood on rhetoric and reality for women in Jordan.

Innovation metrics for human development – what have we learned

we changed our modus operandi and dropped the speed of delivery as an indicator of the innovation fund. We also pivoted from a focus on individual innovators and her ideas to investing in venture teams that bring diverse capabilities to the table including the abilities to: navigate power and politics, market the concept and raise follow-on resources, and operational dexterity to articulate a business model to deliver the solution at scale. From the get-go we agreed not to report vanity indicators. This includes the number of proposals received or ideas proposed at a given co-design event; the number of staff members and partners participating in innovation activities including trainings; the number of toolkits developed or the number of innovation blog posts published
Benjamin Kumpf & Malika Bhandarkar for UNHCR. What will happen when the innovation agenda will meet the impact agenda and people will ask for indicators - vanity or other ?!?

Our digital lives
How to Run a Conference Panel That Isn’t Horrible

Don’t just think about the qualities that you want in individual panelists or moderators; invite people who actually know each other. They’re used to having conversations together, they’re familiar with each other’s views, and they’re more likely to be comfortable debating and disagreeing respectfully.
If they haven’t connected before, have them spend some time getting to know each other. Even a quick email exchange followed by five minutes face-to-face backstage can help build rapport and give time to compare notes on what to cover (and avoid).
Adam Grant on LinkedIn. I'm usually a bit hesitant to share wisdom of 'LinkedIn Influencers', but this is interesting food for thought. Adam describes a 'bets case' scenario where people have money, time and a genuine interest to organize a great panel. But it's still important to take his ambitious vision and compare it to the last sad Powerpoint- or 6-people-who-had-to-sit-in-front-affair you experienced recently...

Introducing Our Guide to Great Events!

But we also see the need to diversify our event formats and challenge ourselves (and our peers) to reach a higher standard with these activities, which is why, with the help of our network of 40+ organizations and 200+ people, we produced this Crowdsourced Guide to Great Events.
After all, we all expend so much time and energy organizing and attending events, so why not think critically about how - through higher-quality events - we can have more impact?
OpenGovHub recently published a 25-pagw guide on how to organize better, perhaps even great event.

Inclusion at XOXO

This policy is a “living” document, and subject to refinement and expansion in the future. Last updated June 19, 2018.
We want XOXO to reflect the creative communities it showcases and celebrates. This policy serves as a list of our current inclusive production practices.
XOXO, 'an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet' shares a very comprehensive document around the inclusive environment they aim at providing at their next conference/event.

Just Out: Organization after Social Media by Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter

Organization after Social Media explores a range of social settings from arts and design, cultural politics, visual culture and creative industries, disorientated education and the crisis of pedagogy to media theory and activism. Lovink and Rossiter devise strategies of commitment to help claw ourselves out of the toxic morass of platform suffocation.
Geert Lovink for the Institute of Networked Cultures introduces his new co-edited open access book.

Is impact evaluation still on the rise? The new trends in 2010–2015

By using systematic search and screening techniques to populate the repository, which contains 4,205 development impact evaluations published between 1981 and September 2015, we can use the data to analyse the trends in impact evaluation research. Though we find early evidence of a plateau in the growth rate of development impact evaluations, the number of studies published between January 2010 and September 2015 account for almost two thirds of the total evidence base. Over half of all studies fall under health and education sectors, though we see in the current decade an emergence of studies in formerly unrepresented sectors. While development impact evaluations are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America (60%), studies are increasingly conducted in underrepresented regions such as the Middle East and North Africa.
Shayda Mae Sabet & Annette N. Brown with an open access pre-print for the Journal of Development Effectiveness.

The determinants of migration policies. Does the political orientation of governments matter?

Results consistently indicate that there is no clear association between the political orientation of governments and the restrictiveness of migration policies. Instead, we find that the restrictiveness of migration policies is mainly driven by factors such as economic growth and unemployment, recent immigration levels and political system factors such as electoral systems or the level of federalism.
Hein de Haas & Katharina Natter with new paper for Oxford's International Migration Institute.

The Decolonial Turn 2.0: the reckoning

As I watched events unfold online this week, I was buoyed by how people were speaking UP. After years of witnessing and experiencing grievously unprofessional and racist/sexist/elitist behaviour from so-called ‘leading’ anthropologists, my little heart soared. People are ANGRY! People are demanding CHANGE! This makes me imagine what our own version of Ragnarök might look like — the death of epistemic jealousy, the reckoning of racism, misogyny, classism, exploitation in our departments, classrooms, conference halls, and yes, journals. And the refounding of a configuration of thinking and engagement that centres reciprocity, generosity, fair compensation, and accountability at its core.
This Decolonial Turn 2.0 or the Decolonial (re)turn (to nod to Dr. Rinaldo Walcott’s work) is forcing anthropology, writ large, to engage with some of the underlying structural injustices that keep it from truly decolonizing. To return to the issues we thought had been addressed, to make an honest assessment of what behaviours, logics, and ethics currently drive the discipline. I am buoyed by the proposition Walcott (2016: 1) makes of returning to engage things we have previously explored with an ethos of “growth, change, and doubt”. Decolonization of anthropology is not a done deal, not a fact, nor a data point. It is a process, one that must be engaged and re-engaged for as long as it takes to build something that reflects the ethics of the worlds we want to build, tend to, breathe life into.
Zoe Todd for Anthrodendum continues the discussion on how academic disciplines can truly decolonize.


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