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Hi all,

The first week of our new semester was busy, but the #globaldev news front was actually a bit quieter...nonetheless some interesting stuff featuring Clooney, Prendergast & the Spice Girls, a strange tale of an American missionary who seems to have practiced medicine without a license in Uganda, a harrowing story about violence & trauma in South Sudan and the extension of imperialism via women at the top of the military-industrial complex & as political ambassadors in Germany...


New from aidnography

Can you imagine a world without Think Tanks?

Perhaps the answers to the title of the post are less rhetorical than the title suggests, but I have been wondering lately what the role of Thinks Tanks in the international development industry really is.
It’s 2019 after all and I wonder what would happen if they/many/some weren’t around anymore.
Haven’t other institutional arrangements caught up to think-tanky ways of working?
Development news
8 things we must do to tackle humanitarian crises in 2019

In the Sahel a new frontier is emerging: climate change is exacerbating the already devastating impacts of conflict, poverty and underdevelopment. People in the resource-scarce region already walk a tightrope of survival. With temperatures rising at almost twice the global average, we can only expect that without action, fragility and insecurity will escalate, as will the needs of the population.
There are no shortcuts for responding to or preventing the harm from these large-scale, complex dynamics. Emergency humanitarian relief will always be needed but it is not enough to meet the great demands.
ICRC's Peter Maurer with some better/more nuanced-than-usual beginning of the year reflections.

South Sudan: “The whole country is traumatised”
In her previous work in Afghanistan, many of the trauma patients had survived car bombs and explosions, but Safieddine said the majority of those in South Sudan had experienced something more intimate and personal, including abductions, being held at gunpoint, and the rampant use of rape as a weapon of war.
Witnessing someone be sexually assaulted or beaten perpetuates a feeling of helplessness because people are watching things they can’t do anything about, explained Safieddine. These attacks also take more time, which means people have longer to think about it while it’s happening.
Sam Mednick for IRIN with an important, disturbing report from South Sudan than contains very explicit descriptions of sexual violence.

World's biggest toilet-building project empowers India's women

Sharmila and her daughters are among the millions of people across Asia's third-largest economy who have benefited from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Swachh Bharat, or Clean India, mission. The campaign, launched in October 2014, aims to make the country open defecation free (ODF) by Oct. 2 this year -- the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, who also propagated cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation.A staggering 111 million toilets are being built under the program, mainly in rural India, at a cost of more than 1 trillion rupees ($14 billion). It is the largest toilet-building project in the world, and is expected to dramatically improve the nation's health and economy.
Kiran Sharma for Nikkei Asia Review with a good overview over the 'largest behavior change program in the world' that needs proper scrutiny to ensure to separate some of the impressive facts from Modi-fiction...

Should the UK’s Development Department be Merged with Foreign Affairs and Trade?

The UK is distinct in having a department for development with a cabinet-level Minister. Merging it with other departments seems likely on balance to make the UK less effective internationally, incur costs, reduce transparency and will only embolden those that think the UK does too much on development.
The Government could better-improve the efficiency of its development efforts by giving more through the multilateral system; developing a joined-up HMG strategy for each partner country; applying the fusion doctrine to all government objectives and exploring where Departmental policies could do more than aid in accelerating mutual development.
Ian Mitchell for CGD is skeptical of the UK following the Canadian or Australian model to merge development departments with trade. I'm sure in the current political climate everybody will think twice about 'taking back control' over an important policy issue...

Revealed: Spice Girls T-shirts made in factory paying staff 35p an hour
The T-shirts, which also have the words “gender justice” on the back, were made by workers earning significantly less than a living wage. The factory is part-owned by a minister in Bangladesh’s authoritarian coalition government, which won 96% of the vote last month in an election described as “farcical” by critics. There is no suggestion any of the celebrities were aware of conditions at the factory.
A spokesman for the Spice Girls said they were “deeply shocked and appalled” and would personally fund an investigation into the factory’s working conditions. Comic Relief said the charity was “shocked and concerned”.
Simon Murphy for the Guardian with a story that I seemed to have posted with slightly different iterations before, but it seems to generate clicks/engagement every single time...dear PR people, start doing your bleeding homework and if you affiliate celebrities or charities with swag make sure it's ethically can even make a thing out of it that it's produced in a more ethical way...

Where are George Clooney and co now that Sudan needs them?

The question of their organisation making no mention of Sudan’s uprising, and the deaths of protesters at the hands of such a brutal and vile regime can only be answered by the simplest of terms. Probably, they just don’t know.
Nesrine Malik for the Guardian is attacking celebrity activism (or the lack thereof) during the current crisis in Sudan...

Clooney and Prendergast: We're not silent on Sudan – we're going after the regime's loot

But over time, we realised that naming and shaming the regime and exposing its complicity in mass atrocities were not having sufficient impact on the policies of governments in Europe, America and Africa, so we decided on a new approach.
We assessed the most significant point of vulnerability of this unshamable regime to be all the money it has been stealing from its people and squirrelling out of the country into hidden accounts, real estate and shell companies, funnelling the rest of the funds into the machinery of state repression now responsible for killing and arresting protesters. So we decided to go after the regime’s massive corruption and illicit financial flows by creating an organisation called The Sentry, aimed at making it harder for them to loot the natural resources of the country to line their pockets and finance their repression.
...and Clooney and Prendergast provide a nice click-fest for the Guardian with their un-checked response about their 'background' activities to help to get rid of the Bashir regime...

Woman sued over death of babies, faking qualification

A woman who has been running a local non-governmental organisation and whose alleged activities involved treating malnourished children with some dying in the process, has been sued for her alleged actions on grounds that she was not a qualified medical doctor.
Anthony Wesake & Betty Ndagire for the Daily Monitor with what appears to be a truly 'WTF American missionary?!?' story from Uganda...this piece by No White Saviors from September 2018 seems to provide some background to the whole craziness...

Why are there no menstruation products in hibernation kits?
Until humanitarian aid workers stop pretending that women don’t have periods how can we truly understand the people we’re serving? How can I expect my male colleagues to understand what the women in that water line are coping with if none of their closest friends has ever mentioned the pain, inconvenience or necessities of a period?
I’m not saying that putting menstruation products in hibernation kits is the solution. But I am saying it’s a start.
Kelsey Hoppe for Safer Edge continues the debate around menstruation in #globaldev.

“They Returned My Daughter. But She Never Truly Came Home.”

In October 2018, Univision produced a written story and video about the journey of Adayanci Pérez, a 6-year-old girl from Guatemala who came to the United States with her father and was immediately separated from him.
BRIGHT Magazine commissioned graphic novelist German Andino to retell the true story of Adayanci Perez and her father, in comic form.
German Andino for Bright Magazine with a great example of how graphic novels can be used for #globaldev-related storytelling.

A technocratic reformulation of colonialism

Thus, in the midst of rightfully scandalizing Nooke’s racism and denialism, and discussing how it has become acceptable for government representatives to mull over openly neocolonialist models of migration control, it is also important to keep in mind that radical proposals like Nooke’s are very much embedded in technocratic, economically and geopolitically-driven migration and development policy strategies. These, in turn, interact with a public discourse that, under the influence of a growing far right, veers increasingly towards racism and economic nationalism.
Robert Heinze for Africa Is a Country takes a closer look at Günter Nooke, commissioner and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal representative for Africa in the German federal ministry for cooperation and development (BMZ) and his outdated views on Africa and migration.

The Philanthropy Con

By its nature, charity reinforces social inequities and encourages a deference to wealth incompatible with democratic citizenship. In a healthy democracy, taxes should be as “uncharitable” as possible: based in solidarity, not condescension for the poor and privilege for the rich. The first step is to recognize what opponents of democratic governance understood hundreds of years ago: that democratic taxation has within it the power of emancipation.
Vanessa Williamson for Dissent summarizes the argument that (super-)rich people should simply pay taxes instead of creating their own charitable outlets very well. But they won't listen at their fancy dinner tables in Davos, I'm sure...

There’s Nothing Feminist About Imperialism

Feminism, as the most recent wave of imperial-feminist articles shows, is increasingly being co-opted to promote and sell the US military-industrial complex: a profoundly violent institution that will never bring liberation to women — whether they are within its own ranks or in the countries bearing the greatest brunt of its brutality.
“It’s a very white, imperialist, liberal understanding of feminism to think that the promotion of women at the top of militarization and militarism is advancing women,” says Kara Ellerby, author of No Shortcut to Change, who derides what she calls the “add-women-and-stir” approach. “Sure, it’s great that you have a woman at the head of Raytheon, but what about the women who those bombs are being dropped on?”
Dean Spade & Sarah Lazare for Jacobin with a reminder that putting more women in charge of the military-industrial complex will unlikely challange its damaging impact.

Our digital lives

Foundation Funding and the Boundaries of Journalism

However, their involvement did make a difference. It created requirements and incentives for journalists to do new, non-editorial tasks, as well as longer-form, off-agenda, “impactful” news coverage in specific thematic areas. As a result, foundations are ultimately changing the role and contribution of journalism in society. We argue that these changes are the result of various forms of “boundary work”, or performative struggles over the nature of journalism. This contrasts with most previous literature, which has focused on the effects of foundation funding on journalistic autonomy.
Martin Scott, Mel Bunce & Kate Wright with a great open access article in Journalism Studies.

Digital Economies at Global Margins
Reporting on digitalization in countries ranging from Chile to Kenya to the Philippines, the contributors present a diverse set of case studies and develop a broad range of theoretical positions. They consider, among other things, data-driven disintermediation, women’s economic empowerment and gendered power relations, digital humanitarianism and philanthropic capitalism, the spread of innovation hubs, hackathons, the gig economy, and a rethinking of how a more progressive politics of connectivity could look.
Mark Graham with a brand new edited open access book from IDRC/MIT Press!


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