Links & Contents I Liked 291

Hi all,

Development news: Hollywood's depiction of 'development'? A Mission Impossible! The long road for aid worker safeguarding; securitization in North Africa; bad healthcare kills; what's the impact of the SDGs? Nepal's e-Waste problems; what makes an effective ICT4D project? Volunteering in global Southern communities; reflections on UN careers; a life in exile from South Africa; privatizing poverty.

Our digital lives: Mansplaining revisited: Female monkeys don't trust men; Facebook's violence problem at the periphery.

Publications: Highschoolers learn about orphanage tourism; systemic reviews' language problem; decolonizing the Cambridge curriculum.

Academia: Norway's struggle to decolonize academia; European science funders push open access; new documentaries on the paywall & female scientists in Canada; how can we get diversity without putting in the work?


Development news
'Mission Impossible' Fails At The Mission To Depict A Medical Camp

So what does a real immunization effort look like in the field?
Super casual.
We would have a really small tent, some benches and chairs for seating, and women coming in with their children. There would be a little table where vaccinators had their vaccination cards and sheets. The vaccinator would sit with his cold box of vaccines right next to him on another chair, and inoculations would happen right in the tent.
Malaka Gharib asked Aleena Khan for NPR Goats & Soda how realistic the new Mission Impossible movie depicts the medical camp in remote Pakistan. Her answers are not that surprising, but it's a light way to start off this week's link review...

Results from our First Survey

For now though, our analysis of the survey results from 51 aid workers working across the sector (8 UN agencies and 18 INGOS, 1 consultancy) finds without doubt, that aid agencies have focused on changing policies as a means to ‘prove’ that work on the issues of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse has happened – either to donors or to the media. It is important to note here that there are some outliers, but the majority of agencies are simply not working to change their culture.
Even though ChangingAid's survey results are based on a small sample size, it is important to follow up the #AidToo debate with more projects like this and more data and insights.

The Risks of Hardened Borders in North Africa

North Africa’s application of this simplistic model of Western border control risks a new crisis. The establishment of new forms of control, including restricted movement and the full taxation of previously smuggled goods, do not represent a re-establishment of state authority but rather the imposition of a completely new center-periphery relationship at the exclusive cost of the periphery. In the absence of alternative economic strategies, this risks the precise thing these controls were designed to prevent: the center’s loss of control over its borderlands.
Max Gallien & Matt Herbert for Carnegie with an interesting short piece on the discourses around securitization that determine much of the debate about refugees and migration on the 'periphery' (i.e. outside the European comfort zones).

What Kills 5 Million People A Year? It's Not Just Disease

We identified four universal actions. The first is establishing a system-wide focus on quality, because there's no accountability today. There's no system to sound an alarm, and there needs to be one.
Second, you've got to redesign health systems. A lot of health systems today are organized to maximize access — a lot of small clinics spread out over a large territory.
Third, the health workforce education in many low- and middle-income countries is just really outdated. Clinicians come out very good at identifying pathologies on slides but have a harder time doing problem-solving and connecting with patients.
And then the last area of improvement for us was public demand. In most service industries, it is the pressure of customers that often improves the product or service. Yet in health care, we ignore patients as consumers. Many people anticipate low quality and have low expectations. But people do want good care.
Melody Schreiber talks to Margaret Kruk for NPR Goats & Soda about her new public health study on the challenges around 'bad' health care.

So three years in, what do we know about the impact of the SDGs?

Maybe I was too harsh – the SDGs are showing signs of having a drip drip influence that is dispersed and hard to pin down. Lots of spin and lip service, but some impact, albeit softer, more pervasive and harder to measure than ‘have you halved X?’ The SDGs seem to fit a diverse, multipolar world where development priorities are quite rightly decided at a local level, not imposed from outside, and being being subsumed into national politics in different ways in different places.
But that still doesn’t answer the question of why we should devote so much time and attention to the SDGs, when other international instruments are more binding (ILO and UN Conventions). I have still have seen nothing that compares the SDGs against all these other agreements in terms of their impact on decision makers.
Duncan Green for From Poverty to Power asks some tough questions about the impact of the SDGs beyond rhetoric and sharing the nice chart featuring dove and fish...

What will Nepal do with its e-waste?

“We don’t know what to do with them. As of now we are holding the waste and trying to find a solution to manage it,” admits Pankaj Panjiyar of Doko Recyclers. “We have to find a sustainable solution to manage electronic waste before it becomes too big of a problem to handle.”
Sonia Awale for Nepali Times on a growing problem for developing countries: 'Development' means more and new forms of waste and a small, landlocked country like Nepal has yet to come up with anything that even remotely looks sustainable.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective ICT4D Initiatives in Africa
Way back in 2001, the SATELLIFE PDA Project demonstrated the viability of cutting-edge handheld computers at the time – Personal Digital Assistants or PDAs – for addressing the digital divide among health professionals working in Africa.
Do you even remember PDAs? Well, if you read their case study, you’ll be sure to recognize the seven lessons they learned. Check how far we’ve come with technology, and yet how good implementation practices don’t change
Wayan Vota for ICTworks. His 7 points are far from surprising, but are an important reminder of how difficult it is to achieve them-Silicon Valley philanthropist 'disruptors' take note-changing the world is still complicated!

Solidarity as Development Practice? – Insights from Volunteering Practices in Global South Communities

While our discussion so far generally paints an optimistic picture, there exist issues and challenges that need particular attention especially from development workers, institutions and governments. It is often the ‘poor’ and ‘vulnerable’ populations that are affected most by gaps in public services. When the arms of the government and institutions are too short, communities – through volunteerism – organise themselves to respond to each other’s needs. Over-reliance on these helping behaviours – without considering the very real vulnerabilities that these groups face – may lead to exploitation of the energies of the poorest in a given society. In this way, volunteering may contribute to the process of increasing responsibilisation – where citizens are expected not only to be active (as in ‘active citizens’) but responsible for (as in ‘responsible citizens’) their own service provisions. As a Peruvian woman volunteer expressed, “we have a lot of goodwill, but we also need to eat…”
Christopher Millora with another great piece for Convivial Thinking on volunteering in the Global South between exploitation and necessity for communities to keep services going.

Reflections on a UNICEF career ... on the inside and outside

Little did I realize then that I had landed the opportunity of a lifetime and 18 years later, I have to say that it was the best career and life decision I ever made.
Dan Thomas shares some reflections on a 'modern' career at UNICEF (as opposed to the 'first generation' of careers that I keep covering in some of my book reviews).

Working for the UN – “How do I get in?”

To me, working for a cause such as ours gives even mundane tasks importance. There are many aspects to the job that are difficult – the constant change of going from one duty station to the next, work-life balance when everyone around you is working around the clock, being away from home for extended periods of time and not seeing your family, lack of career opportunities for spouses etc.
Great to see that our ComDev alumna Linnea Van Wagenen shares her thoughts on more junior aspects of getting started in the UN system.

Always Another Country, But Only Sometimes Another Home

She learns in college of the gulfs between being politically aware and active, between the African and African-American experience, between superficial activist wins — like a black professor being given tenure — and stubborn institutional racism. She becomes strident in her fight for racial justice, as well as for gender equity.
Later in life, she is initially reticent to pursue a relationship with a white Australian man because he doesn’t fit her anti-racism politics. “I want him to be black and he is not,” she bemoans. Her younger sister swoops in with some tough sibling love: “Maybe you need to rethink your politics so they fit you better…. I mean, if you took it all to its logical conclusion you’d be married to a black lesbian who is five foot nine with dreads because the only lover who can ever know what it’s like to be you is you.”
Sarika Bansal reviews Sisonke Msimang's biography for Bright Magazine.

Privatizing Poverty

The underlying reasoning here is that poor mothers are reproductive subjects who, by dint of their failure to achieve economic success, are morally suspect, so much so that they are treated pre-emptively as though they constitute an immediate threat to their children. So as a perverse administrative outgrowth of this moral judgment, they are compelled to give up many of the normal rights attached to liberal individual subjects—effectively, to occupy a position in the postliberal social contract suggesting that they do not possess the fundamental rights thought to underwrite it.
Kim Phillips-Fein with a great review essay for The Baffler!

Our digital lives

Female monkeys don't trust males, even when they're obviously right

A study by St Andrew’s University established that even when males demonstrate superior methods of obtaining food, females would rather mimic each other’s techniques because of an innate distrust of the opposite sex.
Henry Bodkin for the Telegraph on how much female monkeys dislike mansplaining ;) !

Facebook now linked to violence in the Philippines, Libya, Germany, Myanmar, and India
Some would argue Facebook isn’t to blame for this any more than the phone company is. But social networks have allowed this problem to metastasize, and they reach orders of magnitude more people than would ever have been possible before. At what point does that become a social issue worth regulating?
Mathew Ingram for the Columbia Journalism Review. I would also add Sri Lanka to the list of countries with a problem of growing facebook-faciliated violence.
I suspect that as long as most of this violence happens at the unregulated Southern periphery not much will change

How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War

The story of Facebook’s rise in the Philippines is, in many ways, the story of Facebook’s original mission of “making the world more open and connected,” and its unexpected, calamitous consequences. It’s the story of Facebook working exactly as designed in a country that seemingly had so much to gain from embracing it. It’s the story of what happens in a society when truth no longer matters. And, if you’ve paid any attention at all to what’s happened in the United States this past year, what’s happened in France, in Mexico, and in Myanmar, it’s a familiar one.
“At some point they knew — we knew — that dissemination of fake news, propaganda and outright intentional manipulation and brainwashing was being committed through their platforms,” de Lima wrote from jail. “At that point, when they knew and did nothing to protect both their own platforms and the people who use them from these unethical, illegal or destructive practices, they played a part in everything that happened.”
Davey Alba for Buzzfeed News with a case about Facebook's influence on the politics of the drug war in the Philippines.

Orphanage Tourism & Volunteering-A practical resource for schools

Navigating the complexities of overseas student service and community engagement can be difficult for educators. ALTO, as part of the ReThink Orphanages Network (Australia), along with members Save the Children Australia and World Challenge have developed the following resources for schools and universities engaging in overseas student travel.
To support educators in teaching about the complex issue of institutionalisation, voluntourism and orphanage tourism, we have developed a set of curriculum modules aimed at Year 10 students.
Alto Global Consulting shares new resources to educate Australian children about orphanage tourism. Great idea to start educating pupils young before they start their volunteering adventures abroad.

The prevalence of and factors associated with inclusion of non-English language studies in Campbell systematic reviews: a survey and meta-epidemiological study

Literature on how to deal with non-English studies when conducting reviews have focused on the importance of including such studies, while less attention has been paid to the practical challenges of locating and assessing relevant non-English studies. We investigated the factors which might predict the inclusion of non-English studies in systematic reviews in the social sciences, to better understand how, when and why these are included/excluded.
Lauge Neimann Rasmussen & Paul Montgomery with an open access article for Systemic Reviews.

Part I HSPS Decolonial Reading List (2018-2019)
Moreover, there is increasingly a need to critically interrogate what decolonization means in the context of the University of Cambridge – an institution founded on racist, sexist, classist and ableist oppression; to reflect on what it takes to pursue a truly decolonized education; and to prevent the neoliberal university from transforming “decolonization” itself into a box to be ticked off through the “inclusion” of “diverse” names, rather than the rectification of epistemic injustice.
Cambridge University students created an alternative reading list for key social science courses with a focus on a range of awesome 'decolonial' readings!

Decolonizing the academy

However, one left the event with a strong feeling that one had born witness to a bit of preaching to the choir, and that it will take much more than this in the years to come to move from theory to practice. The reactions certainly indicate that institutional structures as well as hegemonic conceptions both right and left in Norway makes even the most modest part of this program, relating to an increased representation of scholars of minority and/or immigrant background in Norwegian academia, a fairer representation of past and present scholars from the Global South on university curricula in Norway, and a more equitable approach to co-operation and partnership with scholars and universities in the Global South a hard sell indeed. Critical whiteness studies will not be coming to Norway anytime soon either.
Sindre Bangstad for Africa is a Country on emerging (?) efforts in Norway to tackle decolonization of academia.

European science funders ban grantees from publishing in paywalled journals

Frustrated with the slow transition toward open access (OA) in scientific publishing, 11 national funding organizations in Europe turned up the pressure today. As of 2020, the group, which jointly spends about €7.6 billion on research annually, will require every paper it funds to be freely available from the moment of publication. In a statement, the group said it will no longer allow the 6- or 12-month delays that many subscription journals now require before a paper is made OA, and it won't allow publication in so-called hybrid journals, which charge subscriptions but also make individual papers OA for an extra fee.
Martin Enserink for Science on how European countries are pushing the open access publication agenda.

Open access — the movie

The film ranges over issues such as journal price inflation, researcher evaluation and impact factors, and the disparity of access between the predominantly wealthy global north and the mostly lower-income global south.
As a piece of advocacy, Paywall is compelling enough to attract new converts. It will not, however, educate the public in the complexities of open access.
Richard Poynder for Nature watches a new documentary on open/closed access to research publications.

Documentary about women in science puts gender issues under the microscope

The documentary also looks at what Yanchyk calls "unconscious bias," where female scientists deal with inappropriate comments of a professional or personal nature.
In one example, Jackie Dawson, an Arctic scientist and Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa, describes speaking on identical topics as a colleague, who is "a male scientist who has a big white beard and is a tall guy."
Her male colleague is often asked to share his data, while she is often challenged on the accuracy of hers.
For Prado, insensitive comments directed her way have been personal in nature, relating to her looks or her Latino background, Yanchyk said.
"Honestly," said Yanchyk, "someone even … made jokes about her being a stripper, made jokes about her makeup. It's very upsetting to hear her situation.
"They told her, 'You don't look like a scientist. And you have to choose being a scientist or being pretty.' That was basically it."
CBC News with another new documentary on another important issue in academia.

How Can We Make Our Funded Program More Diverse Without Hiring More Faculty and Students of Color?

Mostly this message is to say hi and that we’re available to have a meeting with you and your “marginalized” friends — preferably the ones who look good on camera. It would be an excellent photo op for the university’s Facebook page (caption: “Look at all this diversity!”). During the meeting we’ll talk circles around the topic, put the jumbled nonsense into an email, and if there’s any pushback against those notes (which will be forgotten by the end of the semester) we’ll plan another meeting about that email with the notes from the meeting before it, and keep having meeting after meeting after meeting until you give up.
Mark Galarrita for McSweeney's.


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