Links & Contents I Liked 295

Hi all,

Let's just say it was a long week, the link review is quite extensive & there's also a new book review-so check things out, enjoy your weekend & keep reading!

New from aidnography
Learning service (book review)

Learning Service is an important, positive, constructive and encouraging collection of volunteering best practices and food for thorough reflection as well as an excellent introduction for all those who may be approached by young people or co-workers who are excited about saving the world and want to do it as ethically as this imperfect offering allows.
Development news
Nobel peace prize 2018 won by Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad - as it happened
Haroon Siddique for the Guardian with live updates & background readings on this year's Nobel peace prize winners.

Aid charities ActionAid and Plan 'to be turfed out' of Pakistan
Eighteen charities have been expelled from the country, ActionAid told the BBC.
The move comes amidst increasing concerns by human rights activists and press freedom campaigners about freedom of expression in the country.
Secunder Kermani for BBC News on the closing civil society space in Pakistan.

How the BBC verified that video of a grisly murder in Cameroon, step-by-step

While exhausted by the attention, Strick said it was welcome. After all, it took three months to finish the in-depth, open-source investigation that he helped produce for the BBC.
The media requests (including this one) came after the news organization’s new investigative unit, Africa Eye, published the project in a Twitter thread Monday morning, racking up nearly 70,000 likes and more than 50,000 retweets as of this posting. The thread, which summarized a video report, outlined how a team of open-source investigators verified a video from sub-Saharan Africa that had gone viral on social media.
Daniel Funke for Poynter with a detail analysis of the BBC's successful efforts to identify anonymous murderers in Cameroon.

I'm glad Melania is in Africa, but her trip won't change anything

They might want to discuss the implications of the difference between being an immigrant and an expatriate. Or maybe Melania might have some words of inspiration for them, being an immigrant (not an expatriate) herself into the United States.
But none of this will happen.
And so, her extended photo-op tour will be largely pointless, particularly given that she doesn't really dictate US policy. And even the thought that merely her raising awareness over an issue facing Africans will bring substantive change is insulting on two fronts. It assumes that Africa is a blank slate mired in problems waiting for a savior to project her good intentions on. It also assumes that those problems are so basic and ultimately so ethereal that the mere presence of an American first lady would make a difference.
To be sure, sometimes a first lady does bring that charisma, star power, and je ne sais quoi to have a symbolic, yet tangible sway in government policy (I'm looking at you, Michelle Obama). But what use is symbolism in an administration where norms have been shaken from their foundations, where political mores have been trashed and where seemingly naked power rules the day?
Christine Mungai for CNN. As much as I try to avoid stories involving America's first family this makes a broader point about politicians/celebrities visiting 'Africa' to 'help'/raise awareness etc.

Charities must stop being 'uncharitable' if they are to survive, warns watchdog
Baroness Stowell will say that charities are expected to display high standards of conduct.
She will say: “It [a charity] must behave like a charity, not just call itself a charity because of the aims it has and the work it does.
“Charitable aims cannot justify uncharitable means. Our evidence shows that many people from all walks of life, across all backgrounds, ages and inclinations, feel this way.
"They may arrive at this point for different reasons […] but they all end up at the same place. Our evidence shows that people want to see charities being held, and holding themselves, to the highest standard of charitable behaviour.”
The Charity Commission itself, which has been criticised in the past for taking too much to carry out investigations, “must become a more effective, robust and proactive regulator”.
Robert Mendick for the Telegraph. Yes, the charity sector has homework to do-but it's not exactly an unaccountable, unregulated industry and exercising control over civil society can easily lead to closing down critical spaces...

Shaista Aziz: keynote speech at Humanitarian Congress Berlin, 5 Oct 2018

At the heart of the story is patriarchy, power, privilege, race, toxic masculinity, women, men, girls and boys, harmed and damaged by systems and structures and power that is overwhelmingly white, western, male and has its roots in the legacy of colonialism and neo colonialism.
Also at the heart of the story are the women whistleblowers, many of whom have paid a heavy price with their careers put on hold, or destroyed; some who have been painted as villains in the story for bravely speaking out to protect vulnerable people and to instigate change.
The way the story was framed, however, by many seeking to only look inward during this “scandal” was that the reporting was a right wing and orchestrated attack on the aid sector, that the UK government, hostile in its attitude towards international development and the previously ringfenced international budget was using the Oxfam “scandal” as an excuse to cut funding for the development and aid sector.
Alexia Pepper de Caires for NGO Safe Space documents Aziz's speech from Oxfam scandal to the sector's remaining issues around diversity, safeguarding & power.

Tanzania Outlaws Fact-checking, Seeks World Bank Aid to Create New Facts

Faced with uncomfortable realities, Magufuli is now seeking to outlaw facts—and in particular fact-checking. Earlier this month Tanzania's parliament passed an amendment to the statistics act, giving the government broad authority to set standards for independent data collection, and making it a criminal offence to publicly question official government statistics. One amendment states: “A person shall not disseminate or otherwise communicate to the public any statistical information which is intended to invalidate, distort, or discredit official statistics.”
Justin Sandefur for CGD on increasing authoritarian dynamics in Tanzania that also include engaging with statistics now (data is the new oil etc etc).

Ten years of aid transparency – Fulfilling the dream of Accra

Our vision was an open data standard, easy to access, free to use, that would underpin any conversation about aid. There would be a single version of the truth, shared between governments, civil society and citizens. A bit like accounting standards, the aid information standard would vastly reduce the costs of collecting, publishing and using information about aid. The information costs that made it hard for aid to be accountable, coordinated, complementary, and efficient would be swept away as more and more of the international development community adopted IATI. Or so we hoped.
A huge amount of progress has indeed been made over the last ten years. The establishment of the original, agreed IATI Standard provided a foundation on which organisations could publish a range of aid and development data. Publication rates have increased with more than 800 organisations publishing data on IATI by July 2018, encompassing more than one million activities.
Owen Barder for Publish What You Fund reflects on a decade of aid transparency standards, data & more.

The best thing about cash benchmarking is it highlights just how small most aid is

Last year, DFID gave £2.6 BILLION pounds to countries in Africa. That's so much money! How are they still so poor when we give them BILLIONS of pounds every year? Well, hold on, there are 1.2 billion PEOPLE in Africa. So that works out at just over £2 each for the whole YEAR. Of course it doesn't go to everyone, let's say the money is perfectly targeted on the poorest 10% of people. So they get £20 each.
Somehow there is a lot of magical thinking that by pooling money together it somehow automatically has totally outsized impacts. Of course its possible that smart investment in research or better governance can have truly outsized impact if it can nudge a country toward a slightly higher growth rate, but that isn't what most aid is even trying to do, and even when it is they stuff is wicked hard and we can expect most attempts to fail.
Lee Crawfurd for Roving Bandit. I doubt that all of the 2.6 billion pounds of UK aid actually arrive in 'Africa', but that only supports his point of how little money we talk about.

Civil rights leader William Barber awarded MacArthur grant

Announcing the 2018 awards, the MacArthur organization wrote: “Barber approaches social justice through the lens of the ethical and moral treatment of people as laid out in the Christian Bible, the Reconstruction and civil rights movements of the South, and the US Constitution.” The program added: “He is effective at building unusually inclusive fusion coalitions that are multiracial and interfaith, reach across gender, age and class lines, and are dedicated to addressing poverty, inequality, and systemic racism.”
Erin Durkin for the Guardian on an innovative 'genius grant' winner who is redefining 'civil society' in the USA.

Mumbai Artist’s ‘Menstruating Durga’ Hurts Religious Sentiments, But Has Its Supporters

Isn’t it hypocritical that we treat Ma Durga as our daughter, but we can’t accept a natural process that all daughters go through? Who are we really shielding when we become so angry about talking about gods and menstruation. Celebrating the menstrual cycle of a goddess at the Kamakhya Temple every year is convenient, but this is not?
Jinal Bhatt for Storypick on the growing movement in South Asia to challenge the stigma around menstruation!

Decolonizing streets

The renaming of streets is an important urban decolonial practice. Names and naming, one of the panelists at the August 2018 street renaming festival pointed out, is fundamental to human communication. To name is to render or revoke dignity. But if South Africa is used as a barometer of the work street renaming is meant to do, then it is not at all a straightforward process, and one that can surface all kinds of tensions in black communities.
In Berlin, however, where colonial histories are often silently accepted, the inscription of new names is surely a good thing
Duane Jethro for Africa is a Country with a practical example of the growing 'decolonization' debate.

Before Hopping On That Plane To Teach Abroad, Read This

So I made the only string of decisions that felt rational at the time. I quit my job in Atlanta, Georgia as a National Football League (NFL) reporter, turned in my car, informed my apartment complex I would not renew my lease, filled a couple of suitcases, and soon stepped foot on the sand in Huanchaco, Peru: a small, arid beach town known for its surf, seafood, and laid-back lifestyle.
On May 11, 2017, as I sat along the shore and watched the sun set below the Pacific for the first time, the gravity of my choices became clear. I took an enormous risk — one that, for better or worse, would drastically alter my future.When I decided to teach abroad, I had no particular destination in mind.
Andrew Hirsh for Bright Magazine. His story links nicely to my latest book review and how to prepare and learn better when planning to volunteer!

The gentrification of movements: 4 Ways funders can stop putting raisins in the potato salad

Build your muscle to work against implicit bias and structural racism and misogyny on a daily basis. Beverly Tatum describes structural racism as a moving airport walkway. Virulent racists are running on the walkway. Some people who disagree with racism think they are disengaging from it by standing still, but the walkway still moves them toward the same destination of racial disparities and discriminatory outcomes. In order to take an active role in dismantling white supremacy and any system of oppression for that matter, one must turn around on the walkway and walk faster in the opposite direction. This takes strength, backbone, endurance and tenacity. For many white people, it takes building muscle groups that they have never had to use.
Vanessa Daniel for Responsive Philanthropy on how donors can avoid gentrifying social movements!

Our digital lives
Organisational Use of Social Media: A Perspective on International Development NGOs

This work-in-progress artefact provides a useful and nuanced starting point for development NGOs to explore their organisational use of social media and align these to the NGO activities as mentioned in the columns of the table. Based on the NGO’s activities one or more columns are relevant for assessing the use of social media. The cells in the table that are found when intersecting the column with the rows provide information on how social media acts for that specific development purpose and social media activity in the context of development in mind.
Anand Sheombar for the ICT4D Blog with some useful tables and categorizations around using social media in #globaldev organizations.

The data imaginary: six reasons why data analytics have become so powerful

The data imaginary that I discovered seemed particularly powerful. The data analytics industry present a series of problems and inadequacies to which data analytics are offered as the solution. This builds up a kind of allure of data analytics that speaks to a sense of limitation, lack or deficiency. Notably, the data imaginary is geared toward the idea that we can always be better, quicker, more efficient, more productive, more intelligent, more strategic and more competitive. The data imaginary plays to our fears of being left behind in a speedy world, of lacking a competitive edge, of being out of touch, of not matching up. The data imaginary blends together promises with fears of what we might become. A life without data is left unimaginable, and a life with data is glossy, shiny, and full of hope. That is the image that is conjured. The result is that data analytics become much harder to turn away from.
Dave Beer for LSE British Politics and Society on the data analytical industrial complex.

Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking

In this guide, we explore how funders can engage in participatory grantmaking and cede decision-making power about funding decisions to the very communities they aim to serve. Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking illustrates why and how funders around the world are engaging in this practice that is shifting traditional power dynamics in philanthropy. Created with input from a number of participatory grantmakers, the guide shares challenges, lessons learned, and best practices for engaging in inclusive grantmaking.
Jen Bokoff & Cynthia Gibson for Grantcraft with more food for thought on how to re-invent philanthropy!

Digital Lives: Creating Meaningful Connections for the Next 3 Billion

This report is guided by two central truths. One: digital technologies are rapidly revolutionising many aspects of life as we know it. Two: not everyone benefits from access and effective usage of these technologies. Women, people with low levels of education, people living in poverty, and rural communities often benefit less from the great opportunities of digital technology. Unless we are deliberate about empowering these already marginalised groups to participate in our increasingly digital economies, societies and political systems, new digital opportunities may only magnify inequality and exclusion.
The Pathways to Prosperity Commission with a new report that is not *that* surprising, but includes some nice data visualizations ;)!

Classical humanitarianism and resilience humanitarianism: making sense of two brands of humanitarian action

This paper discusses the two paradigms and the incongruent images they evoke about crises, local institutions and the recipients of aid. The article puts forward the case for studying the ways in which these contrasting aid paradigms shape practices, dealing with the importance of discourse, the social life of policy, the multiplicity of interests, the power relations and the crucial importance of understanding the lifeworld and agency of aid workers and crisis-affected communities. The article demonstrates how the stories that humanitarians tell about themselves are based on highly selective views of reality and do not include the role they themselves play in the reordering and representation of realities in humanitarian crises.
Thea Hilhorst with a new open access article in the Journal of Humanitarian Action that should be a great addition to course reading lists on the history of humanitarianism!

Rise of the Corporate NGO in Bangladesh

Nevertheless there has been very slow progress in poverty reduction, and there has been catastrophic destruction of environment and increase of inequality. An attempt has been made to explore the role of NGOs, their emergence with the rise of the neo-liberal world view and new economic order, as also their retreat, polarisation, integration and subsequent corporatisation.
Anu Muhammad for Economic & Political Weekly with a great long-read on the NGO-industrial complex in Bangladesh.

Extractive Industries-The Management of Resources as a Driver of Sustainable Development

While resource wealth can yield prosperity it can also, when mismanaged, cause acute social inequality, deep poverty, environmental damage, and political instability. There is a new determination to improve the benefits of extractive industries to their host countries, and to strengthen the sector's governance. Extractive Industries provides a comprehensive contribution to what must be done in this sector to deliver development, protect often fragile environments from damage, enhance the rights of affected communities, and support climate change action.
Tony Addison & Alan Roe for UNU-WIDER with a new open access book!



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