Links & Contents I Liked 313

Hi all,

I attended Lisa Richey's inaugural lecture yesterday, wrote a new book review & travelled to Germany this morning for a trip to see family and attend a workshop next week!
So without further delay: Your #1 #globaldev link review for this week!


New from aidnography
Thirst (book review)

Like the pinkification of breast cancer awareness, the commodification of mindfulness or the depoliticization of Oprah’s book club, this mix of American ‘can-do-ism’, a good dose of ignoring learnings from the past and a firm neoliberal outlook that avoids any tough political questions (I don’t think ‘climate change’ or any other cause for dry wells is mentioned in the book) are bound to write a charitable success story!Water is always a source of life-never one of conflict or power. Wells are not part of broader civilian infrastructure, but holes in the ground that at worst pose technical challenges.
And similar to Silicon Valley-invented platforms all of this can be managed by a group of spiritual, dedicated Americans from an old printing warehouse in New York City.
Development news
Amnesty International leaders offer to resign over bullying culture

Amnesty International’s seven-member senior leadership team has offered to resign after a damning report warned of a “toxic” working environment and widespread bullying.A letter, signed jointly by the human rights group’s leadership team, acknowledged mistakes had been made, adding that the seven senior leaders took shared responsibility for the “climate of tension and mistrust” across the organisation.
Rebecca Ratcliffe for the Guardian with a wow-ser of a news item that will be interesting to follow as it unfolds in the era of #AidToo...

Danish economist chosen as new UN environment chief

The UN secretary-general has picked the Danish economist and environmentalist Inger Andersen as its new environment chief, according to a letter seen by Agence France-Presse, turning the page on a scandal over expenses that rocked the UN agency.
The Guardian with more senior aid leadership news.

USAID mulls proposal to train aid workers as special forces

“RED Team development officers would be deployed as two-person teams and placed with ‘non-traditional’ USAID partners executing a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations in extremis conditions,” it says.Those “non-traditional” partners might include U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Forces, the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the study.In order to gauge potential interest in the idea of RED Teams, the study’s authors consulted with representatives from a variety of military and civilian agencies where development officers might be embedded — including the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team Six.
Michael Igoe for DevEx with what sounds like a terrible idea to blur lines between humanitarian aid, military intervention & good old fashioned development further...

Rise in sexual abuse cases in aid groups as more victims speak up
Leading aid agencies received at least 539 reports of sex abuse and harassment last year, an exclusive survey showed on Monday, a 13 percent increase on 2017 which charities said shows abuse victims are more willing to speak up.The reports have led to the sacking of 91 staff, with many other cases under investigation, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation's second annual survey of 22 leading global charities, including the United Nations (U.N.), Oxfam and CARE."If we sustain momentum on this issue and keep working to ensure people feel safe coming forward to report abuse, the numbers of reported incidents will inevitably go up in the short term," said Mike Wright, of Bond, a network for UK aid groups."But as we reinforce the message that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and continue to improve our safeguarding practices, in the long term they will fall," he said.
Lin Taylor for Thomson Reuters Foundation continues the story of what happens one year after the #AidToo movement started in the aid industry.

Humanitarian aid has become the political weapon of choice in Venezuela's power struggle

But the strategy has raised alarm among leading aid groups like Mercy Corps, Oxfam and War Child, which have warned that the politicization of humanitarian aid could put those most in need at risk.“It is regrettable that aid has become a pawn in the political chess match between the governments of the United States and Venezuela,” said Provash Budden, Americas Regional Director at Mercy Corps, in a statement. “Aid should never be used as political bait. Both the people who need it and those who risk their lives to deliver it deserve better.”
Steven Grattan for Vice News with a contemporary update from Venezuela about the old tale of politicizing humanitarian aid and American meddling in humanitarian crises.

Can You Guess The Meaning Of These Humanitarian Icons?

"They were created to make crisis-related information easier to understand," says Russell Geekie, Jr., a spokesperson for UNOCHA. "When an emergency unfolds, it is important that humanitarians are able to gather and share data on the location and needs of affected people so that we can better coordinate our response."The icons were a hit. They've been downloaded more than half a million times from nounproject alone since 2012. "We soon realized that there was a great demand for icons, getting requests for downloadable files all over the world," says Geekie.
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda with another aspect of visual storytelling for #globaldev.

What Went Wrong?

“What Went Wrong?” is a citizen journalism project that focuses a critical lens on failed foreign aid interventions — whether they are stalled, unfinished, broken, insufficient, unusable, or otherwise unwanted. The project does this by inverting the traditional power dynamic and putting impact evaluation in the hands of the people directly affected by aid interventions: the recipients. The team spent six months collecting 142 citizen reports from aid recipients across Kenya and investigating the projects that these reports unearthed.Devex has collaborated with the team behind What Went Wrong? to produce six investigative stories exploring why some of these projects failed to deliver.
DevEx with interesting stories that link local citizen journalism from Kenya, global development reporting and appealing visual storytelling!
The F-Word of the Development WorldSometimes we see organizations not being able to articulate well enough their vision towards solving a problem. Solving a problem is very important, but the process is equally important. If the process is not anchored towards the community, if it’s not anchored towards actual real insights from the people themselves, then you are opening yourself up to a bigger risk of failing in a way that post-correction would be so much more expensive.
Hassan Ghedi Santur for Bright Magazine talk to BRAC about their approach to failing and learning.

Who’s reporting Africa now?
Despite the absence of obvious forms of poverty porn, the use of NGO material in news about sub-Saharan countries remains suspect, partly because it does not supplement other, varied sources of news about sub-Saharan countries. Instead, NGO content risks replacing other sources, at least in some international news outlets, which offered little other African news. Yet this colonization of African news by NGO content is invisible to Western audiences because it was only attributed half of the time.
Kate Wright for Africa is a Country highlights some of her recent research findings.

Twenty eight years holed up in Italian Embassy

The hope was that by now they should have left the Italian Embassy in Addis Ababa where they have been given refuge for the past 28 years, and walked free. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed embarked upon a new course of politics in the country and talked in a speech in the Millennium Hall on May 2018 about a culture of forgiveness and reconciliation that could even be extended to the two Derg officials, Berhanu Bayeh, 82 and Addis Tedla, 73, who are under the protection of the embassy walls. On June 2018, a local newspaper, Addis Admass announced their stay at the embassy could finally be drawing to a close.
Arefaynie Fantahun for Ethiopia Observer with a story that reads a bit like a plotline for a future Netflix show!

Oral democracy

Our book takes readers deep into the heart of Indian democracy. Within the chapters readers will encounter citizens talking to the state – conversing and arguing with public officials and demanding accountability about village infrastructure and services, expressing their needs and demands, pleading for attention, critiquing the local government, and even directing sarcasm and scorn at elected leaders and public officials. Immersed in these state-citizen deliberations are two of our most important findings, one regarding the role of the state and the other concerning the necessity of literacy for a vibrant deliberative democracy.We find that the quality of deliberation can be substantially influenced by state policy. States that prioritize citizen participation in local government have substantially better deliberative quality than states that de-emphasize local decentralization. For instance, citizens exercise pressure for public accountability much more forcefully in states that play an active role in sharing information and mandating the presence of public officials from line departments. States that adopt a system of selecting government subsidy recipients through the gram sabha significantly improve the volume and quality of public deliberations.
Vijayendra Rao for the World Bank introduces a fascinating new (open access) book that reminds me a bit of the classic Voices of the Poor project published in 2000...

Florida in the Global South: How Eurocentrism Obscures Global Urban Challenges—and What We Can Do about It

According to Richard Florida, the world is in the grip of a ‘New Urban Crisis’. In his most recent book Florida recounts a visit to MedellĂ­n that provoked an epiphany in which he realized that the New Urban Crisis is global in scope. Unfortunately, Florida's discovery of the global South is informed by a deeply Eurocentric understanding of urbanization. This leads him to conclude that Southern cities should ‘unleash’ creativity, and he proposes that the United States should develop a global urban policy that would export a version of American urbanism. In this essay we deconstruct Florida's notion of the New Urban Crisis and show that its Eurocentric assumptions obscure the very real environmental, economic and political challenges facing cities in the global South and their residents.
Seth Schindler & Jonathan Silver with a new open access article in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

Our digital lives
Cultural Course Correcting: Black Rock City 2019

One of the most distressing trends is the increase of participants (both new and experienced) who don’t seem invested in co-creating Black Rock City, and are attending as consumers. Mass consumption in our default world, ticket scarcity and some elaborate luxury camps have contributed to the rise of a playa “convenience culture.” In some cases, camps or companies are offering “all inclusive” pre-packaged Burning Man experiences, claiming they will preemptively meet all of their client’s needs. Burning Man is anything but convenient, and therein lies its transformative potential!
Marian Goodell for the Burnin Man Journal of how the festival is discussing the commodification of its brand...

Male teachers are most likely to rate highly in university student feedback

University students, like many in society, demonstrate bias against women and particularly women from non-English speaking backgrounds.That’s the take home message from a new and comprehensive analysis of student experience surveys.The study examined a large dataset consisting of more than 500,000 student responses collected over 2010 to 2016. It involved more than 3,000 teachers and 2,000 courses across five faculties at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney.
Merlin Crossley, Emma Johnston & Yanan Fan for the Conversation with new research findings on gendered bias in higher education.

Decanonizing Anthropology

This syllabus was assembled collectively as a final project of the graduate Social Theory class in the Applied Anthropology program at Oregon State University. It offers several in-class activities for the project of “decanonizing anthropology,” and overviews the work of ten theorists whose contributions to anthropology should be acknowledged and celebrated. The authors welcome new sections or additions in the comments. Keep in mind the core objective of this syllabus: to challenge the Eurocentricity of anthropological thought and education by exploring influential, though historically ignored, voices in anthropology.
Rebecca Renee Buell, Samuel Burns, Zhuo Chen, Lisa Grabinsky, Argenis Hurtado Moreno, Katherine Stanton, Froggi VanRiper & Loren White for Footnotes with foot for thought for the classroom...

Reimbursement policies make academia less inclusive

Requiring students to ante up conference funds up front without the hope of being reimbursed for months makes academia less welcoming for scientists who are financially disadvantaged. Yet universities and funding agencies seem unwilling or unable to do much to change the system. Perhaps changing the status quo requires too much work. Maybe it’s not a priority because many students come from privileged backgrounds that insulate them from the issue. Students for whom this is a real problem may feel ashamed to ask for help and be treated as an exception.
Jessica Sagers for Science with another persistent problem that makes #highered more unequal & inaccessible. I am lucky enough that we have a travel agency that takes care of my bookings so I don't have to pay for big ticket items such as flights or hotels...if Sweden can do it, other systems should be able to do it as well!


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