Links & Contents I Liked 327

Hi all,

We just received a record number of 26 MA theses that need grading, I managed to publish a new book review & there's plenty #globaldev stuff to read as well

Happy weekend!

My quotes of the week
The process of receiving, studying and responding to an RFP doesn’t do much to further a relationship. I get a general email, read a general document and write a response. There’s no space built in to that process for us to get to know one another.
Instead, you are left making assumptions about me, and I about you – based on a single RFP. (Mary Cahalane)
“The reason we have the triple threats of disconnection of people from society, mistrust of institutions, and the rising tide of populism is because we have structurally underinvested in [civil society],”(...) “We have let the local community pillar break down and wither.” (Andy Haldane, Chief Economist Bank of England)

New from aidnography
Humanitarian Wars? (book review)

Brauman revisits those ‘forgotten’ interventions from a unique perspective of a French intellectual, critical humanitarian involved with MSF and journalist who is not satisfied with the dominant discourse and convenient explanations. His perspective helps to include a European perspective in these US-driven interventions with an important reminder that the military-industrial complex, foreign policy establishment and international law system are truly global constructs that can align rather well if their is a consensus about a ‘humanitarian’ emergency.
Development news
Menstruation In Crisis

What we need in refugee and displacement camps is women-centered design. That is, approaches that account for women’s stated needs and bodily integrity.
Such an approach would involve consulting women and girls. For instance, asking them about the availability of toilets and washing facilities and whether they would prefer pads or tampons, reusable or disposable products. We know, for example, that meaningfully including women and young women in the design of responses to MHM in humanitarian crises is one of the most surefire ways to improve health and safety conditions. But a participatory approach that centers women and girls’ immediate needs is relatively uncommon across emergency, humanitarian, and refugee contexts.
The humanitarian sector should invest in consultative processes that center women and girls’ needs and perspectives around MHM and, in turn, use these insights to design projects that prioritize the creation of safe, functional spaces and the provision of appropriate products.
Tara Patricia Cookson for Bright Magazine with an excellent contribution to this week's Menstrual Hygiene Day!

Andy Haldane: ‘We have allowed the voluntary sector to wither’

He is clear that civil society – neglected politically and financially – is not currently in a fit state to fulfil this role. “The reason we have the triple threats of disconnection of people from society, mistrust of institutions, and the rising tide of populism is because we have structurally underinvested in [civil society],” he says, citing former Indian central banker Raghuram Rajan’s book The Third Pillar. “We have let the local community pillar break down and wither.” One way to renew it would be to make it more visible and prominent, he says. It is not taken seriously like the private sector, or even the public sector, because we don’t measure it.
Patrick Butler for the Guardian. Although this is strictly speaking not about #globaldev, it is an important interview-with the Chief Economist of the Bank of England, no less. Neglecting civil society is not just a problem in the UK, but in many Northern/OECD countries-so we need more #globaldev thinking and activism at home!

Amnesty loses five bosses after report on 'toxic workplace'

In the review one staff member described Amnesty as having "a toxic culture of secrecy and mistrust".
Amnesty said the senior leadership team accepted responsibility and all seven had offered to resign.
Five of the seven senior leaders, based mainly in London and Geneva, are now believed to have left or are in the process of leaving the organisation.
BBC News with one of the biggest scandals in recent non-profit history-how could a global brand protecting human rights take such a wrong turn ?!?

US seeks to extradite ex-NGO worker over Syria aid fraud scandal

A former logistics officer for Irish NGO GOAL was detained last year in Ukraine and is now facing US extradition on charges of corruption and witness tampering related to US-funded aid projects in Syria, The New Humanitarian has learned from court documents.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian. I was joking the other day that this story almost sound like a plot twist from J.'s latest novel...

How mountaineering has affected the Sherpa community

With the rapid cultural, linguistic and geographic shifts in the Sherpa community the Kancha Sherpa documentary depicts, it is likely more and more of us will go digging for our history and sense of identity in the ever-growing detritus of mountaineering media. Thankfully, this film offers something more than just working and dying on the mountain as an example of what being Sherpa means. Instead, it contains an inheritance of quiet, philosophical reflections on long lives fully lived, delivered in the rumbling, murmuring cadence of spoken Sherpa and accompanied by subtitles for those of us who need them.
As the discussions around an overcrowded Mount Everest make global news, Jemima Deki Sherpa for the Kathmandu Post reviews a documentary that looks behind the Western discourse of conquering the world's highest mountain.

Gender equality top 100

Featuring politicians, civil servants, academics and activists, the list both recognises high-profile icons and shines a light on the unsung heroes whose work is indispensable to creating a fairer world for everyone.
This is an excellent list from Apolitical with lots of #globaldev potential-even though I'm not the biggest fan of rankings supported by corporate entities...

Female military peacekeepers left feeling overwhelmed after inadequate training

Women waiting to deploy felt confident that the training equipped them for all protection of civilian tasks they would be assigned. But women who’d returned from dangerous peace operations felt the pre-deployment training didn’t adequately equip them. They found it especially challenging to handle complex cases where women and girls had experienced sexual violence related to conflict, were extremely traumatised, or required urgent assistance. These challenges were exacerbated by the difficulty of communicating with local woman through an interpreter – a skill that had to be learnt on the job in difficult circumstances. A 27-year-old liaison officer, who was critical of the military training’s emphasis on processes and procedures, suggested that “more information on the psychological impact violence has on survivors” was required. She said encountering gender-based violence in camps for internally displaced people (IDP) “was not easy” and the training hadn’t prepared her for sustained engagement with survivors.
Georgina Holmes for the Conversation. The findings are based on a relatively small sample, but an interesting picture is emerging that we basically know from many other sectors: 'Add women and stir' will unlikely lead to gender empowered results.

How Disney Princesses Influence Girls Around The World

Her concern is that the girls in her study said they lack what they perceive as princess characteristics – beauty, desirability and Americanness.
"Beauty in itself isn't inherently good or bad, but it's been assigned this importance culturally as what makes someone who is female valuable. At the very least, we hope a girl doesn't feel excluded from having value," Hains says.
Of course, Disney is not solely responsible for white and Western notions of beauty: Both Fiji and India were colonized for many decades, ingraining the concept of whiteness-as-beauty before Disney products ever reached their shores. But Uppal's findings show that Disney may bolster these notions, Hains says.
"It's another data point that reinforces these stereotypes and harmful beliefs about who's good enough and who can be considered beautiful."
As 'Aladdin' kicks off around the globe, Susie Nelson for NPR Goats & Soda with a picture around Disney, gender and American popculture.

Putting “Account” at the Center of “Accountability”: Why ICT Won’t Improve Education Systems (and Beyond), and What Will

Even if cameras are the most straightforward way to improve teacher attendance, they are in our view the wrong one. This is because a teacher who shows up because they are being observed may add value over an absent teacher, but is not likely to do all the other (unmonitorable) things needed to produce high levels of student learning and growth. And teachers that are likely to produce high levels of student learning and growth are likely to be repelled by a system that focuses on accounting-based accountability and top-down control and observation.
The road to a high-functioning education system not only addresses teacher attendance but also what happens when teaches do show up. Education systems steeped in accounting-based accountability will sometimes be better than the status quo, but won’t be able to deliver the education all children deserve. A misplaced focus on accounting-based accountability moves us away from, not towards, our broader goals. Systems transformation in education and far beyond depends on our ability to differentiate account-ability from accounting ability.
Dan Honig for the Center for Global Development on why a, shock, horror, surprise! more nuanced and qualitative view is necessary in teaching and accountability!

Can tracking people through phone-call data improve lives?

But there’s no indication that the findings triggered actions that helped refugees. And critics argue that open-ended analyses, such as the refugee challenge, play fast and loose with sensitive information for the sake of exploring big data — rather than doing good for the people in the studies. “Is there no way around understanding how isolated refugees are besides using an invasive technique to track people through mobile technology?” asks Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion, a programme leader at Privacy International in London, a charity that advocates for the right to privacy. Another way to find out whether refugees are isolated would be to ask them questions, which allows them to decide what to share, she adds.
Amy Maxmen for Nature with a great, long article discussing the nuances and recent research on using phone data for #globaldev interventions.

How Nigerian NGOs Utilize Social Media Platforms
The content analysis found that the majority of tweets (55.7%) from Nigerian NGOs could be classified as “one-way communication”. These were primarily tweets that shared information with the audience. Only 39.8% of tweets could be considered “highly interactive”. Although most tweets were one sided, this proportion of ‘interactive tweets’ is actually higher than the authors were expecting. Specifically, these levels were higher than researchers have found in similar analyses of NGOs in the US.
This finding provides some reason for optimism in relation to the likelihood that social media usage by groups within Nigeria might contribute to a more vibrant civil society. However, as the authors note, only a very small portion of Nigerian NGOs in their sample utilized social media at all. As such, there is still significant room for growth, information dissemination and engagement online.
Caroline Are for the Humanitarian News Research Network with an overview over interesting research from Nigeria; as with most cases: We probably tend to overestimate the role, power, depth & breadth of social media in #globaldev communication...

Dear nonprofit: Why I didn’t respond to your RFP

The process of receiving, studying and responding to an RFP doesn’t do much to further a relationship. I get a general email, read a general document and write a response. There’s no space built in to that process for us to get to know one another.
Instead, you are left making assumptions about me, and I about you – based on a single RFP.
I am happy to talk with you. I might even be able to give you free advice during that conversation that solves some of your problems. While talking, I can get a better sense of your staff, your mission and how you work. As we get to know one another, we’ll know whether a client-consultant relationship makes sense.
Mary Cahalane on why requests for proposals are not a great way to start engaging with 'stakeholders'.

The Psychological Health of Relief Workers: Some Practical Suggestions

relief workers do not usually benefit from being in a well-trained, tightly knit unit with a clear command structure. In addition, training and briefing, particularly with regard to psychological issues, is generally inadequate. This is particularly pertinent for those organisations which deploy a high proportion of first assignment volunteers. Third, aid workers are often called upon to perform duties outside their realm of professional competency and experience. Finally, there is the pressure when the drive to ensure the visibility of their own organisation may over-ride questions of the appropriateness or quality of interventions.
Concurrently the humanitarian sector is becoming larger and more professional, and we are seeing a new type of professional: the career relief worker. These environments, however, are not ordinary work places; they expose individuals and organisations to new dilemmas and new challenges. Staff turnover is high and burnout is common. Perhaps the crucial element in the achievement of the humanitarian goal today is the development of a stable and experienced workforce whose energies are effectively harnessed through more enlightened organisational policies.
Fiona Dunkley also wrote an excellent book on this topic!

So Glad to be Alive

Fearful, ashamed and lonely, he embarked on a years-long, arduous journey to overcome the debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Rising to the position of UN Assistant Secretary-General, he is now committed in helping others to fight the stigma of mental health problems.
Melissa Fleming talks to Silvio Hochschild for the first episode of the new season of UNHCR's great 'Awake At Night' podcast!


I'd blush if I could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education
Siri’s ‘female’ obsequiousness – and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women – provides a powerful illustration of gender biases coded into technology products, pervasive in the technology sector and apparent in digital skills education.This publication seeks to expose some of these biases and put forward ideas to begin closing a digital skills gender gap that is, in most parts of the world, wide and growing.
The publication explains the role gender-responsive education can play to help reset gendered views of technology and ensure equality for women and girls.
UNESCO with a new 146-page pdf document that looks interesting-and difficult to read/digest...

YOUR world research – Insecurity and uncertainty: Marginalised youth living rights in fragile and conflict affected situations in Nepal and Ethiopia

By regarding youth as experts in their lives the team understood how some young people embrace uncertainty to find hope. Their certainty is persistent poverty and insecurity. Some from environmentally fragile earthquake affected and drought prone rural areas face increasingly severe difficulties in subsistence farming or finding local paid employment to help provide for their families. Others, especially rural girls, want to escape expectations of early marriage. Many want to break with family expectations and social norms in their communities and move to uncertain situations and seek new social bonds to gain a sense of belonging. Many young people have been migrating to urban centres and when they still find poverty, insecurity, lack of social status or respect, they migrate internationally to seek different futures.
Interesting research on perhaps not the most user-friendly digital environment at Brighton University...

University counselling services 'inundated by stressed academics'

The average increase in referrals to counselling services, whether self-referred or otherwise, was 77% but, in many universities, rates of increase between 2009 and 2016 were much higher:
University of Warwick- 316%
University of Kent - 292%
Brunel University - 177%
Newcastle University - 126%
University of Bristol - 88%
University of Portsmouth - 74%
University of Edinburgh - 72%
And the rates of growth were steeper between 2013 and 2016, when the new fees regime, with its higher expectations from students paying up to £9,000 a year for courses, came into force.
Dr Morrish said so many in-house counselling and occupational health services had been overwhelmed that many of these programmes had since been outsourced to the NHS or private practitioners.
Hannah Richardson for BBC News on the sad state of large part of UK #highered environments...

#Podcast Round Up: Best of March & April
Drawing from Sylvia Wynter’s call for rethinking our category of “human”, Melissa Johnson’s ethnography Becoming Creole: Nature and Race in Belize (Rutgers University Press, 2018) demonstrates how entangled people are with the other-than-human that surrounds them. Mud, water, trees, animals and people form assemblages and shape particular identities. These relationships were also intrinsic to social and political contingencies. Johnson notes the historical legacies of slavery and the search for mahogany in the 19th century and the emergence of ecotourism in the 20th century as part of the process of becoming Creole.
Ian M. Cook for Allegra Lab with some great food for your ears & brains!


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