Links & Contents I Liked 334

Hi all,

Welcome to another #globaldev link review...let's start at the end: I added a new section (What we were reading 5 years ago) to the blog and will dig up interesting stuff from 2014 link reviews...let's see how themes change, remain, disappear, reappear...but there is also plenty of interesting new stuff this week-with a particular focus on #globaldev & fintech...

My quotes of the week

They’re turning to a screen that’s producing some results, that says, “You are high risk,” or “You are low risk,” you know, and then they’re acting on that.
And so I really want us to become attuned to this intermediary that is not, in fact, objective in the way that we are being socialized to believe it is

(Black Communities Are Already Living in a Tech Dystopia)

These movements lent their charisma, their ideology, to give these horrible policies — financialization, the precarization of work, and the driving down of wages — the veneer of being pro-gay, pro-women, and so on. That definitely happened, and this is why it is so important that the new wave of feminism should break with that kind of feminism and chart a new path
(The Feminism of the 1 Percent Has Associated Our Cause With Elitism)


New from aidnography

Schwarze Hilfsobjekte, Weiße Retter

Das Ausmaß schlechter Entwicklungshilfe könne nicht unterschätzt werden, glaubt auch Tobias Denskus, der an der Universität Malmö Entwicklungs-Kommunikation unterrichtet. Dass sich nach Jahrzehnten erfolgloser Hilfsrezepte aus dem Ausland Frust aufbaue, versteht er.
Marc Engelhardt for Migazin. A short piece on the 'white saviour' debate in German.

Development news
Ugandan mothers want justice for their children who died in care of an unlicensed American health worker

Primah Kwagala a Kampala-based lawyer who grew up in Jinja town now represents the women. “I knew the context so we moved as fast as we could. We are talking about illiterate women. If you are a white woman speaking English, wearing telescopes around the center and workers addressed her as “musawo” meaning doctor in the local language [Lusoga], they will assume you are one,” says Kwagala.
The lawyer says Bach’s misconduct went on for far too long partly due to the status of women and children at the receiving end of these medical experiments.
“She targeted women for whom a lot of violence is already normalized and many lack the language to describe the violations as they happen. They can’t write, they can’t read. They would never understand the health system. These are several layers of marginalization.”
Rosebell Kagumire for Quartz Africa. I missed the piece in last week's review, because it's important to hear voices from Uganda, from affected mothers, about the damage Renee Bach inflicted on their families.

"It's time to end the gentleman’s agreement" – an open letter to the IMF

The ‘gentleman’s agreement’, which has ensured that the IMF managing director has for 75 years been European and the World Bank president a US national, is undemocratic, illegitimate, and rooted in neo-colonial principles.
International institutions currently face a crisis of legitimacy, as faith in the multilateral system of global governance withers. If the IMF and World Bank want to present themselves as modern institutions capable of tackling today’s challenges, it is imperative that they become democratic and accountable to all of those they represent.
The Bretton Woods Project on open democracy. The issue is certainly not new and unlikely to change, but worth pointing out time and again during appointment processes.

Perpetual Debt in the Silicon Savannah

Two of the most prominent fintech apps are Tala and Branch. From their California headquarters, these firms export Silicon Valley’s curious nexus of technology, finance, and developmentalism. Small shops across the country are painted in Branch’s brand of blue, with slogans offering “loans for the way you live.” Quickly downloaded onto Kenya’s proliferating smartphones and utilizing the country’s ubiquitous mobile money transfer system, these apps mine people’s devices and social media accounts for signs of their creditworthiness. While their lending algorithms are closely guarded secrets, industry insiders suggest an ambitious effort to track everyday behavior and social relations. In line with the belief that “all data is credit data,” these firms seek to analyze everything from whether you call your family regularly, go to the same workplace every day, and have an extensive network of contacts. Tala’s CEO reported that “repayment of a loan is more likely by someone whose contacts are listed with both first and second names.”
Kevin P. Donovan & Emma Park for Boston Review about the digital lending market in Kenya & how the algorithmic power of (Western) companies is taking over early development ideals of 'banking the unbanked'...

Saving lives and making money: Can humanitarian impact bonds marry the two?

Although the ICRC’s first bond had been complicated to set up and manage, he said, the organisation is pursuing other such bonds. One involves a city-wide sanitation project in a “biggish” city in Africa, he said, declining to give more specifics.
The bond concept may also widen the field of organisations that take part in relief or development projects: donors tend to contribute based on tenders, or Requests for Proposals (RFPs), de Borchgrave said. “The one who wins is the one who’s actually very good at giving an answer to an RFP, not necessarily the one who’s the best at delivering on the ground.”
Looking back now that the first impact bond in the humanitarian sector is well under way, was the experience worth it to the ICRC? “Absolutely,” Coderque said, noting that his organisation had not turned to the bond as a last resort for a difficult funding situation but had instead opted to use the bond as a tool for innovation: “We had a solution, an impact bond, and we were looking for a problem.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian on another fintech innovation that gets adapted to #globaldev...

Behind the scenes at a GiveDirectly call center

The second-to-last call I had, I was talking to the chief of one of the villages. One of the questions we ask is about sexual harassment because we want to be sure that recipients are being treated appropriately and respectfully. When I asked her, “Did anyone maybe show any inappropriate interest in you?” she laughed and said, “No, I’m old! But thank you so much for checking up on me.” Even though she thought the question was strange, it’s an important question we need to ask.
Heidi Hirvonen for GiveDirectly. Even though this is posted on a corporate blog, I think it provides some interesting insights into the localization of financial services and call center work in Malawi.

Kiva’s Crowdfunding Platform Transforms Into Hub for Impact Investing and Financial Inclusion

Crawley has committed Kiva to a bold strategy that extends far beyond its original mission and legacy as a crowdfunding platform for microfinance. The effort has required significant restructuring and staff turnover, as Kiva continues to figure out its new identity. “Last year was our low point around morale, mostly around employee concerns about culture and how they fit into the new world at Kiva,” says Pam Yanchik Connealy, Kiva’s CFO and COO since 2018. “But we have seen employees embrace the new strategy with a positive energy around their futures here at the organization.”
The question of Kiva’s new identity is far from settled, though. Should it see itself first and foremost as a technology venture? As a nonprofit trying to become a self-sustaining social business? As an impact investor? Is it really possible to have all of these identities on an equal footing? Only time will tell.
Jasjit Singh for Stanford Social Innovation Review with another aspect of the #globaldev fintech market & a good amount of philanthrocapitalistic plastic-speak along the way...

The “local” researcher – merely a data collector?
First of all, the research assistant loses any chance of involvement in decisions as to how the data ought to be analyzed, published, and disseminated. Nevertheless, on the ground, the research assistant remains the face of the research project – in the eyes of the local community, as well as in the eyes of political authorities and armed leaders who may be displeased with the resulting analysis. He may even risk finding himself subject to prosecution after the publication of the data they provided, and may have to contend with various expectations from one group or another. Secondly, the research assistant is rarely acknowledged in the publications that result from analyses of his/her data. Now, why should those who do the writing and analysis have a greater claim to authorship than those who negotiated the access to the field and gathered the actual data?
Stanislas Bisimwa Baganda for From Poverty to Power. Some areas of development studies are actively addressing these issues in their discussion around 'decolonization', but definitely room for improvement...

White Women Doing White Supremacy in Nonprofit Culture

Women have inherited patriarchal, capitalist models of leadership. A focus on growing, expanding, or working towards an ambitious vision often trumps what is happening in the present moment. Relationships aren’t cultivated. Feedback is dismissed. This obsession with what is coming (over and above what is) leads white women to overlook challenges that need tending in the current moment. We justify this by imagining that the future vision will magically address the problems of the current reality. Ironically, dismissing present realities in favor of a vision of the future is a surefire way to undermine the future.
Antidotes: Grounding practices that build our capacity to regulate nervous system reactions that feed urgency and anxiety. Regular check ins with staff, boards, and volunteers and reflect on the following questions: Does the way we conduct this meeting reflect our values? Are my values (and our organizational values) reflected in the way I am behaving and the choices I am making in this moment and in this situation? Taking deep care to build relationships that center people’s present needs. Crafting culture-building goals that center on transforming existing organizational patterns of white supremacy culture. Articulating and developing accountability processes on benchmarks for gauging organizational transformation.
Heather Laine Talley for Tzedek. The notion of white women 'doing white supremacy' is provocative, but she makes some interesting points about 'white saviorism' at home...

Guidebook for Single Parent AIDworkers
My life had turned into the nightmare of any single working mother topped by multi-day field trips, conferences, evening receptions, and workshops. If I saw my daughter, I was either too tired or mentally already occupied with the next application, collecting examples for competency-based interviews, written tests or searched for new open vacancies.
Each day when I got home, I had a toddler waiting for me, happy to receive mommy’s attention and energy, of which I felt I had so little to spare. Often nights included sleepless hours of caring for a sick child just to then get up and be ready for work. Like a machine, I just functioned based on other’s needs, neglecting my own.
I hit the point where I felt that none of my efforts led anywhere, yet, I was still trying whilst running on a low flame. I thought my ambitions were too high, that I had not realistically estimated my competencies and that this was the reason I could not land a position. I felt like an absolute failure confronted with numerous opportunities for others and none for me.
Martina Voss for Changing Aid with honest, difficult, yet ultimately positive reflections on being a single mum in the #globaldev industry.

Colonialism is sticky, it gets into and onto everything (Temi Odumosu’s keynote in IRSCL 2019 conference)

Maria Laakso with some unique drawn feedback to my colleague Temi Odumosu's lecture!

Our digital lives
‘Black Communities Are Already Living in a Tech Dystopia’

And this is happening in almost every social arena. Policing is just one of the most egregious, but it’s happening in terms of education, which youth to label “high-risk,” for example; in hospitals, in terms of predicting health outcomes; in terms of which people to give home loans to or not, because of defaulting in the past. And so our history is literally being encoded into the present and future.
And the real danger that I try to highlight in the book is that it’s happening under the cover of a kind of veneer of objectivity, in which we’re less likely to question it, because it’s not coming from a racist judge sitting in front of you, or a racist teacher who’s doing something. They’re turning to a screen that’s producing some results, that says, “You are high risk,” or “You are low risk,” you know, and then they’re acting on that.
And so I really want us to become attuned to this intermediary that is not, in fact, objective in the way that we are being socialized to believe it is.
Janine Jackson talks to Ruha Benjamin for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. This is excellent!

“The Feminism of the 1 Percent Has Associated Our Cause With Elitism”

Liberal feminism along with liberal antiracism and liberal LGBTQ movements and what has been called “green capitalism” were hegemonized — incorporated into — a hegemonic ruling bloc which in the United States took the form of what I call “progressive neoliberalism.”
These movements lent their charisma, their ideology, to give these horrible policies — financialization, the precarization of work, and the driving down of wages — the veneer of being pro-gay, pro-women, and so on. That definitely happened, and this is why it is so important that the new wave of feminism should break with that kind of feminism and chart a new path.
It’s always possible to be hegemonized and recuperated by more powerful forces whose ultimate aims are deeply at odds with one’s own. It is always important for emancipatory and left-wing movement to be wary of this.
Today, we are told that we really have only two options — either right-wing authoritarian populisms, which are racist and xenophobic, or else go back to our liberal protectors and progressive neoliberalism. But this is a false choice — we need to refuse both options.
This is a moment of huge crisis in which we have the chance to chart a different path, building a truly anti-systemic movement for the 99 percent in which feminism for the 99 percent is one current along with labor movements, environmentalism for the 99 percent, the fight for migrant rights for the 99 percent, and so on.
Rebeca Martínez talks to Nancy Frazer for Jacobin...another must-read for the weekend!

On me, and the Media Lab

Truth is I’m privileged enough to afford to be brave. For those of you who love the Media Lab and want to see it sail through these rough waters, please take time to reach out to people who may not be able to be as visible in their next steps. Make sure they’re doing okay. Support them whether their decision is to leave or to stay. So many of my colleagues at the Media Lab right now are hurting, and they need your support and love too. Hope we can redirect some of that love folks are sharing with me to them too.
Ethan Zuckerman on his decision to leave the MIT Media Lab due to its connection to Epstein.

IZA DP No. 12504: Secondary School Enrolment and Teenage Childbearing: Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities

Our most conservative estimate suggests that for every 9.7 students enrolled there is one fewer teenage births. These findings are robust to a number of specifications and sensitivity tests. Our estimates imply that Brazil's secondary school expansion accounts for 34% of the substantial decline in teenage childbearing observed over the same period.
Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner & Jesse Matheson for the Institute of Labor Economics with a new paper suggesting that secondary school expansion is great to reduce the number of teen mothers!

Decolonizing Extinction: An Interview with Juno Salazar Parreñas

The gendering of care is all over the book, but the fight over whether the wildlife center was a zoo or a rehabilitation center especially highlighted how working with animals was shaped by gender, race (via the idea of “looking local”), and class. I did agree with the men who worked there, which was that rehabilitation required inhabiting a very vulnerable and dangerous space, but I also saw that doing so would mean that the local women doing this work were more vulnerable than their male colleagues, because of a specific orangutan’s alleged hatred of local women. I also agreed with the person who I call Cindy and her point that zoos were accessible to those unable to go jungle trekking. Part of my preliminary research entailed interning at a zoo, and I appreciate the role zoos can play in pedagogy, especially if captive animals’ needs are taken into account, for example when it comes to providing animals with hiding spaces that are unpopular among visitors.
Colin Hoag spoke with Juno Salazar Parreñas for ASA Engagwement about her new book which is about orangutan rehabilitation in Malaysia-and so much more!

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 123, 15 August 2014)

Letters Left Unsent (book review)

Understand that this work will take as much as you have to give it. It will let you choose to work rather than spend time with your family. It will let you choose to deploy rather than to work on your relationships. It will let you spend your hard-earned pittance on therapy or medical bills not covered by insurance. You will not get a gold watch when you retire, and there will be no memorial for you when you die.
A quick guide to getting out of aid work
Get involved – on a regular basis – in some activity in your chosen home community. You’ll start to feel connection and commitment in a new way. You may also find that your experience in international development is actually relevant and useful. You may meet other people who have had made other big life transitions, not necessarily from international development, who you can really relate to. Or you may simply reap the benefits of knowing your neighbours, sharing and creating around you. Do not fear investing in a home.
Celebrity promotion of charities ‘is largely ineffective’
Celebrity promotion of charities is ineffective at raising awareness, but can make the stars more popular with the public, new research says.
The Data Revolution Will Fail Without A Praxis Revolution
We have not yet connected the data revolution to a praxis revolution for development. The data revolution takes advantage of technical changes to deliver new volume, speed, and variety of data. The praxis revolution makes changes to development processes and structures in order to turn that data into development outcomes.


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