Links & Contents I Liked 292

Hi all,

Development news: Thailand's slave fishermen; UNEP boss' problematic travel arrangements; UNSG talks about a complicated world; long-term benefits of cash transfers-it's complicated; redefining aid in the 21st century; revisiting the depoliticizing women's empowerment debate; new UNHCR aid worker podcast; long-read on voluntourism-also complicated; Nkruma's legacy in Ghana; the rise of the inequality industry; plus: more #globaldev podcasts, tweets, videos!

Publications: Mapping the landscape of foundation support for #globaldev news; cash transfers can have positive impacts on intimate partner violence.

A peer review special: Reviewing trends, radical reforms & a scathing critique of the academic publishing-industrial complex; plus: Ethnography at African borders.


Development news

Thailand's slave fishermen: What's needed to solve the crisis?

Chairat, Patima and the TMFG team have developed a system whereby slave workers can make calls for help on their mobiles while at sea without being detected.
The details of this scheme, Chairat said, must be kept secret.
He now sees the release of slave fishermen as his central aim and is committed to freeing the workers and raising awareness of their plight.
A consumer war on the industry, he says, is not the answer.
"We don't want to pressure consumers to stop buying seafood," he says.
"A boycott affects the fishermen too. The solution is that the workers have to have power. There has to be collective action."
J.J. Rose for Al-Jazeera. Interesting story about exploitation, the complexities of value chains and how new and old forms of labor activism are both needed for change.

Erik Solheim accused of squandering by UN auditors

the leader of Greenpeace Norway, Truls Gulowsen, who commented on the UNEP-leader’s extensive travels and lack of routines for emission of greenhouse gases.
«Erik Solheim has made the UNEP much more visible, which is a good thing. Part of the reason of course being his travels and discussions with so many persons. But this report puts him as well as the organisation in an extremely bad light. It weakens the credibility of UN’s entire environmental organisation.»
Kristoffer Rönneberg for Aftenposten. A lot of food for thought beyond the apparent irregularities around UNEP's Solheim's travels. How can the UN system respond to climate change, emissions & frequent (air) travel? What to do with some rules that very likely are 'bureaucratic' and 'political'? And how to implement change in a UN system that is usually strapped for cash in its core budget?

UN Secretary-General: American Power Is in Decline, the World Is ‘in Pieces’

Guterres is in the perhaps impossible position of leading something called the United Nations at a time when, in his own view, the world is fracturing. And as he tells it, it’s not just dysfunctional democracies and xenophobic nationalism that made it this way. The culprits also include shifting power dynamics and resurgent great-power conflict in a world organized neither by the bipolar competition of the Cold War nor by the singular leadership that the United States exercised after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “We live in a … chaotic world,” he said, in which “impunity and unpredictability” have become “the name of the game.”
In the case of the Syrian war, for instance, “you have the involvement of the superpowers. You have several regional actors, be it Turkey, be it Iran, be it Saudi Arabia, Qatar. You have terrorist groups. And then you have all kinds of Syrian movements,” observed Guterres, who days earlier had appealed to the Syrian government and its Russian patron to not perpetrate an expected bloodbath in the last rebel-held stronghold of Idlib. “It’s very difficult to put the puzzle together, and it makes peace much more difficult to achieve. First it makes prevention more complex, because we have more actors and the risks of conflict increase. And then it makes conflict resolution even more difficult, because of all the contradictory interests of these … actors.”
António Guterres talks to Uri Friedman for The Atlantic. This is actually quite an interesting piece beyond the discussion around US involvement in the UN. As always, the UN is a mirror of 'the world' & powers outside and only as strong as members want her to be!

Study: giving out cash in Uganda helped after 4 years. After 9 years, not so much.

Now he and his co-authors have checked back in again nine years after the intervention, and the results are a great deal less promising than after four. While the people who got cash were earning 38 percent more money than the control group in year four, the control group caught up to the cash recipients by year nine. Overall income was no higher in the treatment group, and earnings were higher by a small (4.6 percent), statistically insignificant amount.
The recipients did have more assets on average than people not getting the money, which makes sense; they had a sudden influx of money, some of which was sure to go toward buying durable assets like metal roofs, fruit-bearing trees, or work tools.
“The right way to look at these results is that people were richer for a while and then they have nicer houses,” Blattman said. “Consuming that stuff makes you less poor. But I think what a lift out of poverty means is not just that you have some extra savings and a buffer, but actually that you have some real, sustained earnings potential, and that’s not what we’ve seen.”
Dylan Matthews for Vox with an overview of the new paper by Chris Blattman et al.-cash's complicated.

It is time to redefine ‘aid’
We need a new narrative around international economic assistance fit for the 21st century. Current thinking is little changed since the 1940s – portraying aid as a short-term charitable act and dividing countries into ‘developed’ (aid providers) and ‘underdeveloped’ (recipients) – and is conceptually flawed in today’s world.
Gail Hurley for Public Finance International. Good primer for discussions with students for example on 'the aid system'.

The Missing Politics of Female Empowerment
The solution begins with an uncomfortable conversation within the development industry on the complicity of various actors in the pattern of de-politicizing marginalized women in the Global South; a dismantling of the guise of empowerment in order to reveal the funding, incentives, colonial legacies, and political agendas driving the design of programs. In Sri Lanka, Colombia, and elsewhere, female activists are wary of both the political elites in their own country and the ideological strings tied to Western NGOs. As these collectives eke out their own political spaces, they each offer distinctive ways forward to address the deep-seated causes of inequality.
If donors and practitioners are serious about greater access to power for marginalized women, the entire framework of contemporary empowerment programming needs to be examined and restructured to allow women to find the cultural, economic, and political space required to address inequality in all its forms.
Nimmi Gowrinathan for SSIR revisits another 'classic' #globaldev question around the disempowering power of the empowerment industry.

Awake at night
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is launching a podcast series entitled ‘Awake at night’ focused on the incredible people who have dedicated their lives to helping people who have been forced to flee. Listeners will join UNHCR’s communications chief, Melissa Fleming, in personal conversations with an array of humanitarian workers, and learn what drives them to risk their their own lives protecting and assisting people displaced by war.
UNHCR's Melissa Fleming joins the #globaldev podcast world!

A really interesting thread of digital journalism on detention camps in Libya:

The business of voluntourism: do western do-gooders actually do harm?
Organisations around the world have been working for years to end orphanage tourism. Their work is starting to bear fruit. Australia is now discouraging the practice, and the Australian parliament is considering a law to label orphanage tourism as child trafficking and ban it entirely. In July, the UK international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, announced that the government’s foreign aid programme would now support family- and community-based care for all children. In May 2016, the London School of Economics set up a consortium of universities pledging not to advertise orphanage placements to their students.
Many major tourism companies – for example, Global Crossroad – still prominently feature orphanage work. Nancy McGehee, a professor of hospitality and tourism management at Virginia Tech University, says that companies send representatives to speak on campuses. But some companies are closing their voluntourism programmes. The International Volunteer HQ announced that it would stop sending volunteers to orphanages by March 2019. Projects Abroad stopped in January 2018. “I don’t think we’ve lost any business from it,” says Jessi Warner, chief operating officer of Projects Abroad. “Quite often someone will phone and say: ‘I want to work in orphanages.’ When our team explains why we don’t do that, everyone is open to it. They often join our community care programmes. It’s just about awareness.”
Tina Rosenberg for the Guardian. As glad as I am that this topic is regularly featured in the media now, I'm reaching 'peak voluntourism journalism' soon, I think.

The Pride and the Power

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated after leading the most influential protest movement in American history. King revolutionized the use of nonviolent resistance to combat racial injustice in the United States, but the Alabama preacher did not always believe in nonviolence. In fact, early on, King relied on armed guards for his protection until an older Quaker activist named Bayard Rustin walked into King's home and changed the direction of the civil rights movement.
Ozy kicks off a new season of their podcast with A History of Nonviolence.

The contested legacy of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana

The plantations and factory alike are engulfed by tangled outrage and nostalgia, ubiquitous reminders of unfulfilled potential and the uneven dividends of economic growth. People in the vicinity of these relics of Nkrumah’s modernizing mission, however, have not given up all hope that they may “redeem” the fruits of his development visions. What efforts are people taking now to stake claims to rubber’s rewards? What does it mean to seize the future of a hurtful past? What would substantive decolonization of Ghana’s rubber industry look like?
Keri Lambert for Africa Is a Country with an interesting essay about the past, present & future's of Ghana's rubber industry. 

The Inequality Industry
Now that we understand these phenomena better, we need radical solutions to come into play in the political arena as well as the intellectual one. And they need to be animated by an egalitarian spirit, not a technocratic one that, in the current context, is doomed to fail. Boushey suggests going back to basics and figuring out what it is we’re referring to in the first place when we talk about economic growth. The gross domestic product “has been our measure,” she points out. “We think that if GDP went up, that’s good! But we need to show people what matters is not how much it grows [but] to whom the gains go.” “We need to make sure wealth is not self-perpetuating,” Boushey adds. “We got here by saying, ‘Rich people and Wall Street have our interest at heart, and they’ll regulate themselves and there will not be bad outcomes if we let them do what they want.’ We saw how that turned out.”
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian for The Nation. 10 years after the end of Lehman brothers & the start of the so-called financial crisis, the buzzword of 'inequality' is critically examined in this great essay!


Foundation support for international news: Mapping the landscape
In this short report, we describe the key features of the landscape of private foundation support for international non-profit journalism. Our findings are based on interviews with representatives of a range of relevant foundations, intermediaries and non-profit news outlets in 2017.
Martin Scott, Kate Wright and Mel Bunce with a new report.

A Mixed-Method Review of Cash Transfers and Intimate Partner Violence in low- and Middle-Income Countries

Drawing on these studies, as well as related bodies of evidence, we developed a program theory proposing three pathways through which CT could impact IPV: (a) economic security and emotional well-being, (b) intra-household conflict, and (c) women's empowerment.
Ana Maria Buller, Amber Peterman, Meghna Ranganathan, Alexandra Bleile, Melissa Hidrobo & Lori Heise with a new open access article for the World Bank Research Observer. 

Peer reviewers unmasked: largest global survey reveals trends
Scientists in developed countries provide nearly three times as many peer reviews per paper submitted as researchers in emerging nations, according to the largest ever survey of the practice.
The report — which surveyed more than 11,000 researchers worldwide — also finds a growing “reviewer fatigue”, with editors having to invite more reviewers to get each review done. The number rose from 1.9 invitations in 2013 to 2.4 in 2017.
Inga Vesper for Nature with some data & trends around peer review.

Mieke Bal: Let’s Abolish the Peer-Review System

All this can be organized in relation to the purpose of academic publications, and what the PRS precludes: a constructive production of the tools, the basis for debates, made available for the workers in academic research.
Mieke Bal for Media Theory Journal with some interesting food for discussion on why we should get rid of peer's complicated.

Scientific publishing is a rip-off. We fund the research – it should be free

Now libraries feel empowered to confront the big publishers. They can refuse to renew contracts with companiesas their users have another means of getting past the paywall. As the system has begun to creak, government funding agencies have at last summoned the courage to do what they should have done decades ago, and demand the democratisation of knowledge.
George Monbiot for the Guardian. Nothing new for those who work in the sector, but a good primer for non-academia friends and family who want to get an idea about the academic industrial publishing complex!

‘Why should we speak with you?’

I think we should instead pay much more attention to the kinds of mobility that are important to people’s everyday lives, such as habitual cross-border movement and trade. We need to arrive at a much deeper understanding of the role of movement in people’s lives, including how dreams and desires for mobility interact with immobility of different kinds. In this way, we can turn the table on the official gaze and on public debates surrounding African migrants, who are often seen as “problems” in official European discourse and policy.
And finally, we must keep shifting our gaze, to not look simply at migrants themselves, but at the powerful sectors that work on migration and the actors who shape our understanding of migration. Researching these actors, which is a way of “studying up,” is also very important.
Africa Is a Country talks to Ruben Andersson about his research, writing & scholarship around migration and border (crossings) in Africa.


Popular posts from this blog

Links & Contents I Liked 450

Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa

Lords of Poverty (book review)

Links & Contents I Liked 449

Links & Contents I Liked 444