Links & Contents I Liked 330

Hi all,

Glad Midsommar from Sweden!

This will be one of the last link reviews before the summer break and from a communication for development perspective this one almost has it all-from terrible ideas of how to spend your honeymoon to female leadership, capitalist-fix critique & instructions on how to reboot your lightbulbs!


My quotes of the week

There’s a real need for Arab women in our field. We’re based in a region where most countries have experienced wars, disasters, crises and upheavals, so there’s a need for more hands, especially in the form of Arab women,” she added. “We have empathy, we understand the culture and we speak the language. It makes a big difference.
(Rana Sidani Cassou, Why more women should take up humanitarian work in Middle East and North Africa)

We have a strong recommendation for a reparations fund.
(...) we would like to see this fund actually being focused on the individual survivors and helping them repair their lives. We know that when people are abused, their lives can be permanently damaged psychologically, physically. (Katherine Sierra on Reparations and rehabilitation – how Oxfam can build back better)
A reckless depiction of #voluntourism benefits highlighting experiences for volunteering w/o regard to ethics or long term effects of projects. It even promotes #orphanage voluntourism, which countless studies demonstrate is harmful to children. (Noelle Sullivan on Just married and just giving back: Charitable honeymoons are trending) 
Development news
UN report condemns its conduct in Myanmar as systemic failure

Smith welcomed the fact that the report had been written but was critical of its content. “The report repeatedly states that it’s difficult to assign responsibility to individuals, which is ironically representative of the problem,” he said. “Failures in the UN rarely lead to accountability. Who else could be responsible for a systematic failure than the individuals involved?
“This report will be helpful if it can push the UN in a better direction, but it appears to have dodged the most difficult task of unearthing what specifically went wrong in Myanmar. There are no easy answers but some level of accountability is needed.”
The former assistant UN secretary general Charles Petrie, who in 2012 authored a report on similar UN failures in Sri Lanka during the endgame of the civil war, said he thought Rosenthal had “done a very good job” but that “ultimately he doesn’t say anything new”.
“It’s really a question of the system not having the determination and courage to implement the lessons that are so blatantly clear,” he said .
Hannah Ellis-Petersen & Emanuel Stoakes for the Guardian. You could almost replace 'Myanmar' with 'Rwanda' and many findings would be similar. I understand (the limitations of) the UN's mandate, but this is also about bureaucracy and a strange persistence of sending not the right people to some of the most important humanitarian crises...

Q&A | Reparations and rehabilitation – how Oxfam can build back better

Sierra: We have not done a roadmap for how reparations would work. We just didn't have the resources to do a full design, but we have a strong recommendation for a reparations fund.
Unlike other funds, which are kind of community-based – working on girls’ education or job creation or the like – we would like to see this fund actually being focused on the individual survivors and helping them repair their lives. We know that when people are abused, their lives can be permanently damaged psychologically, physically.
It is easier to get agreement over a new policy in a new procedure and to put that in place and to say it's done. It's not done until it really reaches the furthest outpost of the organisation. And so testing for that, and putting the money behind it, making sure it actually gets to people that have to implement these new policies and procedures – with teeth – is going to be very important.
The second piece is the culture change, which we haven't talked too much about and that's hard to measure. It's really about changing the hearts and minds of individuals so that they see this is their business. This is not an add-on to their business. It's fundamentally part of the work that they do to protect people.
Ben Parker talks to Charity Commission's Katherine Sierra for the New Humanitarian about the bigger picture of #AidToo & #oxfamscandal.

Why more women should take up humanitarian work in Middle East and North Africa

Looking back on her life as a humanitarian worker, Toukan said she would not only like to see more Arab women in the profession, but also more of them in decision-making roles.
Toukan’s views are echoed by Cassou, who said there is a desperate need for dedicated female humanitarian workers in the region.
Nevertheless, “there’s a real need for Arab women in our field. We’re based in a region where most countries have experienced wars, disasters, crises and upheavals, so there’s a need for more hands, especially in the form of Arab women,” she added. “We have empathy, we understand the culture and we speak the language. It makes a big difference.”
Jennifer Bell for Arab News with an important aspect for the 'localization of aid' agenda-MENA female leadership!

Uganda: 100 Babies Dead - NGO Wants U.S. Missionary Prosecuted in Virginia

So how then did an American missionary without any medical qualification end up allegedly performing medical procedures and giving treatment to children even after her facility was ordered to shut down?
Nontobeko Mlambo for AllAfrica continues to follow the scandal of an American missionary NGO in Uganda.

The African 'poverty safari' on wheels
It had the feel of a makeshift museum gift shop. Instead of buying coffee-table books and overpriced T-shirts, you could spend time flicking through the profiles of children in Africa, South America and Asia. Each child has had a rough life and a tragic story to tell.
Naima Mohamud for the BBC gives the Compassion UK, a Christian NGO with a terrible child sponsorship fundraising model, surprisingly a lot of space after the initial critique of their campaig. 'Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name', 'Sponsor a waiting child', log into 'MyCompassion'-this is some of the terrible language used on Compassion's website and goes far beyond the exhibit-it's about outdated #globaldev on every level!

Just married and just giving back: Charitable honeymoons are trending

“I danced with some elderly ladies and made their day,” he says. “We cried hard leaving them. They were nice, happy and expressed gratitude.”
At an orphanage, Andrew skateboarded with a little boy who was missing a leg.
“He didn’t want us to leave. It was neat to be attached to someone in that way.”
Erika Prafder for NY Post. Whatever 'award' for the worst in #globaldev writing exists-this is already a strong contender! This is thinly veiled PR for a company called 'International Volunteer HQ' that actually includes orphanage tourism and is wrong on every level. I posted Leigh Mathews' excellent piece 'Everyone Must Contribute to End Orphanage Tourism' only 2 reviews ago...

Boarding the Climate Bandwagon
Why does a financially independent institution full of progressive do-gooders, of people interested in change and talented enough to deliver on it, consistently and rather easily dismiss responding to climate crisis, either by reducing its own footprint or by paying attention to the harm playing out almost everywhere it worked? That (quasi-rambling) question is less rhetorical and more instructive than meets the eye.
Marc DuBois shares some difficult reflections on the aid industry missed out on walking the talk on climate change before it became a mainstream topic.

Sudan and the Instagram Tragedy Hustle

When tragedy breaks out, it’s natural to turn to social media to find ways to help. But legitimate aid organizations—most of which don’t have the social-media prowess of top Instagram growth hackers—are no match for the thousands of Instagram scammers, meme-account administrators, and influencers who hop on trends and compete for attention on one of the world’s largest social networks.
Taylor Lorenz for the Atlantic with this week's ICT4D edition of 'why we can't have nice things'...

How Twitter has been used in Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis

The actual impacts of activists’ and citizens’ attempts to garner international attention using Twitter – when they shared horrific images of killings and destruction – did not get the results they hoped for. And these attempts to increase awareness did not appear to reduce the violence, at least during the time of our study.
However, there is growing international awareness with recent reports about human rights abuses and how the Cameroon crisis is one of the most neglected. Finally, while there were posts about peace, we did not see a strong peace building social movement.
Julius T. Nganji & Lynn Cockburn for the Conversation share interesting finding from their social media research in Cameroon.

The Problem With HR
Like everyone else who understands the problem, including the EEOC, the HR workers I met at the conference reported that there is only one way to eradicate harassment from a workplace: by creating a climate and culture that starts at the very top of the company and establishes that harassment is not tolerated and will be punished severely. Middle managers can’t change the culture of a company; only the most senior people can do that. And expecting an HR worker—with a car loan, a mortgage, college tuition around the corner—to risk her job in a fight against management on behalf of an employee she barely knows is unrealistic.
HR is no match for sexual harassment. It pits male sexual aggression against a system of paperwork and broken promises, and women don’t trust it. For 30 years, we’ve invested responsibility in HR, and it hasn’t worked out. We have to find a better way.
Caitlin Flanagan for the Atlantic. Her long-read offers important insights that are also highly relevant for the current post-Oxfam #AidToo debates...

The Curious Case of M-Pesa’s Miraculous Poverty Reduction Powers

We are calling for more serious scrutiny of the claims made in Suri and Jack’s study, and hope to prompt a more critical assessment of digital-financial inclusion strategies across the board, before it is too late. We worry that digital-financial inclusion through innovations in fin-tech have simply replaced microcredit in development strategies without addressing any of the fundamental issues that made microcredit such a developmental disaster for the global poor. We also fear that fin-tech has the potential to exacerbate the worst forms of extraction perpetrated by microcredit. Fin-tech’s obvious potential for doing good, such as when deployed by community-owned financial institutions that aim to serve the poor and not push them into un–repayable levels of debt, has been almost entirely overlooked in the investment community’s rush to get rich and to locate the next fin-tech ‘unicorn’.
Rather than being lauded as the new panacea for development and poverty reduction, digital-financial inclusion initiatives like M-Pesa should, therefore, be rigorously scrutinised. If this does not happen, we can look forward to two more decades of failed development policy with hugely negative outcomes for poor households around the world.
Milford Bateman, Maren Duvendack & Nicholas Loubere for Developing Economics. This week has been all about Facebook's Libra, but we need to pay closer attention to the fintech market in #globaldev more generally.

Book Review: The Business of Changing the World, by Raj Kumar

I found reading The Business of Changing the World rather disturbing – a bit like being taken hostage by a cult and submitted to polite but persistent brainwashing for several days (I’m a slow reader). The cult in question is what Anand Giridharadas calls ‘MarketWorld’ – an effusive, evangelical belief in the power of markets, data and new tech to solve almost any problem. It didn’t help that I read the two books back to back.
Duncan Green reviews a book for fp2p that is also on my reading pile for the summer-and his review will be difficult to top ;)!

“When will we get a report on your findings?”: reflections on researcher accountability from DRC

Moreover, we realized that this lack of accountability also creates a lost opportunity for the projects in question. Local views on researchers’ findings could add something to subsequent analyses. The communities in which we carry out research projects must be informed of our findings; they must be given a stake in the research results. Otherwise, what is the point of research? To make findings available only to elites? So that they in turn can use their knowledge and claim to be able to speak for the poor…?
Christian Chiza Kashurha for fp2p is asking some important questions that should have better answers by know, but lack of time, communication strategy and shifting priorities along the aid chain still create important accountability problems.

Our digital lives
The mindfulness conspiracy

But none of this means that mindfulness ought to be banned, or that anyone who finds it useful is deluded. Reducing suffering is a noble aim and it should be encouraged. But to do this effectively, teachers of mindfulness need to acknowledge that personal stress also has societal causes. By failing to address collective suffering, and systemic change that might remove it, they rob mindfulness of its real revolutionary potential, reducing it to something banal that keeps people focused on themselves.
Rober Purser with a long-read for the Guardian. Critiquing the idea that we can have it all, that we can live nicely and have technological fixes so that empowered social entrepreneurs can deliver sustainable #gobaldev has always been a theme of this blog...

Scaling Impact: Innovation for the Public Good

Scaling Impact introduces a new and practical approach to scaling the positive impacts of research and innova­tion. Inspired by leading scientific and entrepreneurial innovators from across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East, this book presents a syn­thesis of unrivalled diversity and grounded ingenuity. The result is a different perspective on how to achieve impact that matters, and an important challenge to the predomi­nant more-is-better paradigm of scaling.
Robert McLean & John Gargani with a new open-access book for IDRC/Routledge.


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