Links & Contents I Liked 297

Hi all,

Welcome to your weekly gateway to #globaldev readings!

Development news: Impressions from the Safeguarding Summit; foster care instead of orphanages; foreign aid in Indonesia; do no digital harm; Canada's development policy; Kenya's devolution; Vox's journalism on Effective Altruism; Canada's famous development twins under critique; remember Thomas Sankara; plus, snarky tweets all through the section ;)!

Our digital lives: Small-scale tourism in developing countries in an age of platform capitalism.

Publications: Successful campaigns; humanitarian journalism; breastfeeding at the workplace.

Academia: An African feminist reading list; reviewing the fall of the HAU publication project.


New from aidnography

Who really needs a World Development Report?

If nothing else, Changing Nature of Work is an interesting case study on the communicative and discursive environment around so-called ‘flagship reports’. Their framing, but also the framing of the critique, have become performative non-places based on traditional assumptions what development organizations are, what they do and who they can influence with their knowledge.
In the case of the future of work an accelerated, overheated and unequal world will surely be less impressed with a World Development report than it was with some of the true ‘flagship reports’ of the past.
Should aid workers fly less? Yes, but it’s a bit more complicated
Over at From Poverty to Power my dear colleague Thea Hilhorst shared some reflections on why aid workers should fly less and how the industry needs to address air travel in its efforts to lead climate and social change work by example.

I generally agree with her sentiment to fly less, have tougher discussions within aid organizations about (air) travel and be the change they want to see from other actors. But as basically everything else in #globaldev, things are a bit more complicated...

Development news
Safeguarding Summit 2018

Schemes to stop sex abuse in the aid sector off to a shaky start

UK Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has probably had better days. As the host of the 18 October London conference on steps to address sexual abuse in the aid sector, she went for a bumpy ride: a prominent activist conspicuously boycotted the event; a whistleblower interrupted Mordaunt’s keynote address, walking on stage and charging that victims were not being heard; and the agenda, speaker list, and planning process all came under heavy fire in private and across social media. On top of all that, critics charged that the event was elitist and white-dominated.
Penny Mordaunt confronted on stage by protester over failings on aid sex abuse
In an interview with the Guardian on Wednesday, Donovan said the conference amounted to an “abuse of power”, complaining that its agenda left no room for critics or analysis from civic society.
“You cannot have a dog and pony show with people in high level positions from institutions that are at the core of this problem standing up and declaring their shame and despair and their commitments and then that’s the end of the summit,” said Donovan.
“The UK government has been touting its leadership on tackling sexual exploitation in the aid sector for months, advertising an international summit with the objective of ‘Putting people first’. But then we were met with radio silence and with no information on the chosen experts or what kind of forum there would be.”
Mordaunt admitted to the conference “that we haven’t done all we should have done”, but added: “From my perspective, I think we have made good progress in the last few months.”
We interrupted Penny Mordaunt to demand aid sector abuses end now
Yet no amount of snazzy IT systems will stop sexual abuse. It is only through an independent mechanism holding power (currently overwhelmingly white, male and privileged) to account in this sector that victims and survivors will be protected. Until those accused of abuse are referred to the authorities rather than to opaque internal HR systems designed to protect organisations, there will be no change.
Ben Parker for IRIN, Karen McVeigh, Hannah Summers & Shaista Aziz for the Guardian with impressions from the Safeguarding Summit in London.

Blog: There’s no place for hierarchy in safeguarding
Traditionally safeguarding is a word synonymous with bureaucracy. It’s an essential branch of humanitarian action that has got caught up in policy and fell down in practice. Historically, it’s been addressed top-down and from an organisation first perspective. Complaints and whistleblowing systems are in-house, often out of reach and inappropriate for staff and the people receiving aid.
Aid providers have made concerted efforts to create awareness among people accessing their services about their rights and what recourse they have to make complaints about sexual exploitation and abuse. Yet, safeguarding remains one of the most under-resourced and under-explored areas.
Marian Casey-Maslen for CDAC Network with a warning about the risk of 'professionalizing' and depoliticizing safeguarding.

International Ombuds for Humanitarian and Development Aid Scoping Study
A review of existing mechanisms yielded a list of key characteristics, including that these mechanisms usually function as a last resort, serve to make recommendations instead of as a direct enforcement authority, publish their findings, actively reach out
to make themselves known and proactively instigate enquiries. Key lessons identified from existing initiatives are the need to have a variety of methods available (face to face, phone, complaint boxes, help desks, etc.) and the need to be open to all complaints to be responsive to the true concerns of aid recipients. A typical challenge of existing complaint and reporting mechanisms is low usage unless efforts are made to publicise the methods, to reach out to target groups and to embed such mechanisms in a wider portfolio of accountability measures.
Dorothea Hilhorst, Asmita Naik & Andrew Cunningham for ISS with an interesting background paper for the summit about the role (and limitations) of Ombuds concepts.

How politicians failed to learn from the charity sex abuse scandal

Such forensic reports are all too rare in a political system that clams up against aid critics, a civil service that stifles dissent and an industry that talks of transparency yet silences whistleblowers. They shatter the conspiracy of incompetence in a sector that swelled to obscene proportions despite persistent failure, shocking waste and evidence that aid thwarts democracy by inflaming corruption, fuelling conflict and fostering a culture of dependency.
Ian Birrell for the Spectator. I thought long and hard before including it in a '...I Like' review: Birrell has these nuggets of insight, truth and food for thought, but then he opens the sewer floodgates of 'aid is a waste of money' and pours tons of crude, generalizing and ill-informed language over those nuggets. That's what gets you a regular income from the Daily Mail, but is absolutely not helpful for any constructive debate. The nugget is that under neoliberal conditions the aid industrial complex could do with some more reflection of how much they have become an industry that puts self-interested before 'eradicating poverty'.

The Lasting Pain of Children Sent to Orphanages, Rather Than Families

A much more widespread problem is that children in foster care don’t get the services they need, and many wind up dropping out of school, pregnant, or incarcerated. (The outcomes would be far worse and tragedy more common if those children came from orphanages.) Foster care is neglected and underfunded. It needs more services and better monitoring. Despite foster care’s troubles, however, no one in America is clamoring to bring back orphanages. In poor countries, however, the picture is the opposite.
Tina Rosenberg for the New York Times with a reminder that we should pay more attention to foster care if we want to get rid of orphanages and orphanage voluntourism.

Why Indonesia’s rules on foreign tsunami relief are rattling the aid sector

“Gone are the days when you're going to have a humanitarian sector that comes into a disaster situation with a very heavy footprint and sets up as almost an auxiliary, or a replacement of government services.”
Irwin Loy for IRIN with an update on the story about Indonesia 'banning' foreign NGOs from tsunamis assistance that I featured in last week's review.

“Do no digital harm”-A conversation on handling sensitive data

Ciccolini: “We deal with people that sometimes have a very low level of education or data literacy. How can we pass all these messages about new technology or even more basic messages? And from a data protection point of view, it is, how can we say that consent is informed and valid?”
Naomi Cohen with another interesting feature from IRIN-a discussion between Maria-Elena Ciccolini, Paul Currion, Zara Rahman & Karl Steinacker.

Beyond Aid Budgets: What Canada can do to promote international development

The other 13 recommendations address ways the Canadian government could improve the quality of its development assistance. Among them are: strengthening its engagement with Canadian, international and local civil society organizations; developing a strategy for working with private sector partners; providing more guidance and tools on how to implement the new feminist aid policy; and reducing the earmarking of its contributions to multilateral organizations, which prevents them from spending funds where they are most needed.
Several recommendations pertain to how Global Affairs Canada is organized internally and implements its aid programs, including: streamlining and harmonizing procedures within the department, which has still not adjusted to its absorption of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) five years ago; cutting the red tape, notably by giving officials in the field greater power to approve programs without undergoing burdensome approval processes in Ottawa; better supporting its staff; and being less Canada-centric by aligning more with recipient countries’ own data and results.
Stephen Brown for Open Canada looks at bit closer at Canada's OECD peer review that seems to point out things that most countries will find in many of their peer reviews as well...I guess it's time for tougher 'Reviewer 2' feedback ;) !

Kenya: Is devolution working?

As an initial step, it’s time to stop seeing devolution as an end in itself – it is a process that can lead in a number of different directions, and perhaps even increase the short-term risk of conflict. It merits more critical engagement – instead of supporting county institutions as a de facto good, focus should be on how they function in ways that contribute to peace and stability. This requires two things: firstly, proper oversight and accountability mechanisms, both in terms of an impartial media, and more formal structures within the county government; and secondly, and above all, full political inclusion must be the central aim of those supporting devolution and the over-riding measure of its success. To do otherwise would be to fall back on blindly supporting formal institutions and procedures even as those in power continue to ignore the needs of many of their citizens.
Will Bennett for Democracy in Africa project with a reminder that devolution (aka 'can Nepal/Kenya/...become the new Switzerland') is still a 'thing' in development.

Will Vox’s new section on effective altruism…well, do any good?

The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting with a $380,000 grant over 14 months to launch Future Perfect, Rockefeller spokesperson Matt Herrick told me. Think of it as market research.
“From our perspective, to make a big impact in the world and to lift as many people out of poverty as possible in a responsible way, it’s going to take big, bold ideas, and new people and organizations with wealth and means are stepping forward to make those big bets,” Herrick said. “This project by Vox explores the social impact of those efforts, and we feel that’s an important, worthy endeavor and in the public’s interest.”
Christine Schmidt for Nieman Lab about a new philanthropy-supported journalism project.

Craig Kielburger Founded WE To Fight Child Labour. Now The WE Brand Promotes Products Made By Children.

A CANADALAND investigation reveals that WE is connected to no fewer than three companies known to use child and slave labour in their supply chain. In fact, WE logos can be found promoting products made in part by children, including Hershey’s products that contain cocoa farmed by child labourers in West African countries, and Kellogg’s products that contain palm oil farmed by child labourers in Indonesia. WE also has a large partnership with Unilever, which has been a major purchaser of palm oil produced with child labour.
WE’s partnerships with these brands involve promoting the message that by purchasing their products, children in impoverished countries will benefit. For example, child-labour-sourced chocolate is presented in stores with the face of a smiling African child, the logo of ME to WE (a WE organization), and a promise that the companies involved “help children here and everywhere.”
Jaren Kerr for Canadaland with insights into the operations in the Kielburger twins-two of Canada's few do-gooding-development 'celebrities'.

The Philanthropy Racket

He sums up this government-market synergy, daftly, as “Optimism.” After all, the neoliberal elite has found a remedy for the savage inequalities of the market—a suite of cosmetic social fixes that abide by market logic, such as micro-loans and school vouchers.
Chris Lehmann reviews Anand Giridharadas' 'Winners take all' for Jacobin.

Remembering Thomas Sankara Through Art and Music

Collaborating to organise public events to mark Sankara’s life is an activity that remains fraught with logistical difficulties of travel and visas for activists and scholars whose work and lives remain threatened. The silhouette of danger emerges in those moments when excessive documents are demanded before the issuance of visas, when letters of support are invalidated or when friends and colleagues kindly but prudently decline to disclose their accommodation locations and hotel venues in electronic correspondence.
Patricia Daley writes that, ‘In the era of neo-liberal individualism and the free market, it is often seen as outmoded to think in revolutionary ways’—indeed, it is often seen as naïve or cruelly optimistic. Yet, people around the world continue to be motivated by the story of Sankara and the Burkina Faso August Revolution. Events honouring Sankara are being held in Washington D.C., Toronto, Paris, Ouagadougou and elsewhere today to remember and to reflect on the life and legacies of Thomas Sankara.
Amber Murrey for Verso commemorating the anniversary of the assassination of Thomas Sankara and new artistic expressions to remember him.

[Review] Urgence Niveau 3

Bref, Urgence Niveau 3 est une lecture complexe, aussi délicate que difficile à chroniquer pour la simple raison que si des défauts sont présents, ils ne doivent pas occulter l’importance du comics. C’est un coup éditorial réussi, une lecture qui veut faire prendre conscience d’une réalité que l’on passe trop facilement sous silence et le réussit très bien.
Comics Grincheux reviews a new UN comic for Les Comics (in French).

Our digital lives
Falling Through the Net

Prior to online communication, some tour operators e.g. specialized on hiking in Rwanda or community-based tourism initiatives in Kenya had very little visibility. ICTs have helped to put them on tourists’ maps and reach customers, that are not the main stream platforms’ target group in the first place. Focussing on unique products and nurturing business and customer relations through direct online communication can be a potential viable strategy.
Last but not least, I see a lot of potential in the new and emerging tourism markets from Africa and Asia. The number of tech-savvy tourists from these markets could be an interesting group that SMEs can reach through ICTs.
Laura Jäger talks to Christopher Foster for Tourism Watch about the challenges and opportunities of small tourism businesses in the global South to benefit from platform capitalism...

Lessons learned from successful public awareness campaigns

Make sure you can sustain the campaign over the planned period
Running an ongoing campaign through a loose coalition or group of volunteers is difficult to sustain.
Even if your campaign is planned so that different partners or chapters work autonomously, organizing and coordinating this centrally can ease communication and workflows.
Be aware that you often need a range of skills in a campaign, from web design to fundraising.
Martin Vogl & Kate Hairsine present a new report from the Deutsche Welle Akademie.

The State of Humanitarian Journalism

We found that:
1  Very few international news organisations routinely cover
humanitarian affairs. Only 12 news outlets reported on all four of the humanitarian events we analysed in 2016. Because of the high costs of producing regular, original journalism on humanitarian issues, commercial news organisations do not usually cover humanitarian issues, with the exception of major ‘emergencies’.
2 Most humanitarian journalism is now funded by states or private foundations. This is worrying because claiming that particular actors or activities are ‘humanitarian’ is a powerful form of legitimacy. It is important that media about the suffering does not
become a vehicle for commercial or political interests.
3 A major challenge of foundation funding is its unsustainable nature, as most foundations want to provide start-up money, rather than giving ongoing support. Meanwhile government funding can constrain where and how humanitarian reporting takes place because of foreign policy objectives and diplomatic tensions
Martin Scott, Kate Wright & Mel Bunce with their latest report.

LET’S MAKE IT WORK! Breastfeeding in the workplace

The objective of the mother- and baby-friendly workplace initiatives is to increase working mothers’ demand for and access to
facilities and services that support appropriate breastfeeding practices and care in the workplace.” In doing so, the initiatives aim
to generate evidence on the operational feasibility, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of supporting breastfeeding in the workplace, and to showcase its benefits for children, families, communities and businesses. UNICEF applied the Communication
for Development (C4D) process to design social and behavioural change communication strategies to increase acceptance of, and demand for, workplace breastfeeding programmes in each context
A recent UNICEF C4D case study/report.

Cite African Feminists: Some Readings

In response to Jessica’s request, I have extracted readings by African Feminist scholars that I include in the syllabi of the three courses I convene. These are postgraduate courses and they are not Africa specific. They focus on Gender Theory, Research Methods and Queer Politics. My syllabi cover Africa, Asia and the Middle East, which are SOAS areas of “specialisation”.
In crafting this list for a general audience, I have not highlighted specific articles from Feminist Africa and Agenda. Instead, I have noted the two journals as important sites for African and diasporan feminist scholarship and intellectual contributions. This also applies to Readers which include different contributions. These readings are not only assigned for classes that are focussed on Africa but are also part of other thematic issues covered in gender theory, queer theory and research methods.
Awino Okech with some great reading, discussion and citation suggestions!

#HAUTALK: the tyranny of structurelessness and no end in sight

By the time the social media discussing these kinds of arguments had had their say on the HAU project, it became hard to understand why so many people felt so passionately about it when it had begun. The project had focused squarely on open access and the idea that anthropology needed to get back to taking ethnography seriously in developing its concepts, rather than borrowing from western philosophers (which could also be seen as a neo-colonial, masculinist practice). Yet at the time at HAU, everyone was so busy trying to meet the next impossible deadline that these additional political issues circulating in anthropology more widely, and brought up in the subsequent social media storm, were not a strong focus. Moreover, there was nothing in the structure of the project that would ensure that such issues would be critically examined on a regular basis.
Sarah Green for Allegra Lab revisits the fall and fall of the HAU publication project.


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