Links & Contents I Liked 340

Hi all,

Lots of new reports surfaced after UN GA week-but there have also been other interesting #globaldev readings popping up throughout the week from small island states to Lagos, and from critical commentary on the new EU aid commissioner to refugee numbers and 'tremendous progress' in global health!

My quotes of the week
Yet there is a persistent expectation from individuals, families, communities and governments that women’s care work is an endlessly elastic safety net that will meet increased needs in situations of conflict and austerity. In fact, this highlights the role of such labour in sustaining society and preventing further conflict. However, policymakers tend to overlook it, as well as women’s role in sustaining peace.(The hidden work of post-conflict recovery)

I realised that my carefully polished identity of helper and saviour of others in need was a way of avoiding my own need, my own suffering.
And paradoxically, when I managed to acknowledge and accept the parts of me that were needy and selfish, something magical happened: I was suddenly so much freer to explore what it means to be selfless and of true service to others.
(How (not) to be a change maker) 


Development news
Ten reports from UN General Assembly week worth noting

The UN General Assembly’s high-level week of debate has ended, and so too the hectic pace of international initiatives and summitry. Here’s a selection of reports that came out before and during UNGA that are worth your reading time if you’re following the humanitarian agenda.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian highlights key reports launch during and around UN week.

Small Island Nations: Climate-challenged, Malnourished and Underheard

With arable land scarce, an overreliance on unhealthy food imports has impoverished diets across the SIDS. In communities historically raised on fish and a variety of fruit, a newly-induced preference for meat – often of poor quality – is devastating public health. Fatty, highly processed and sugary foods have become the norm. Seven of the world’s most obese countries are Pacific island nations.
Nutritional failings reflect wider governance and development challenges. My own arid country keeps shrivelling as sandy beaches are excavated. Such are the tourist industry’s needs that they can only be met through massive imports. This leads to chronic trade deficits, while local agriculture struggles.
Maria Helena Semedo from Cape Verde for FAO with a reminder of how vulnerable small islands really are.

Tough questions for new EU 'development' commissioner

There is no sign of reflection on the flaws of the "European model of development" and its colonial legacy as such.
It does not matter whether the label is, "development" or "partnership", if the core features remain the same: the belief in endless economic growth, the rhetoric of progress according to the European standard setting, and a destructive anthropocentric worldview.
Sarah Delputte, Jan Orbie & Julia Schöneberg for EU Observer with an important reminder that #globaldev's core assumptions around economic growth and Western-centric aid won't be challenged by the new EU Commissioner.

Talk of an ‘unprecedented’ number of refugees is wrong – and dangerous

All this means we really don’t know if more people are displaced today than at any point in the past. So: such claims are usually incorrect.
They’re also highly misleading, because the absolute figures are less important than the relative figures.
Relative to the total global population, today’s figures are not exceptional.
This is why it’s misleading to stress that there are “record” or “unprecedented” numbers of displaced people, especially when the key issue is not the scale of population displacement, it’s the political will to resolve it.
Benjamin Thomas White for the New Humanitarian with an important reminder that issue around refugees and displaced people have much more to do with a political will to do things differently rather than just focusing on numbers for fundraising purposes.

Offline: The false narrative of “tremendous progress”

The truth is that women and children have been pushed to one side in global health policy making since 2016. There are no champions for women and children among Heads of State. Health is no longer prioritised by UNICEF’s leadership. And even WHO has stepped back from the front lines of programmatic advocacy. It is a pitiful state, revealing the cruel weaknesses of global health where issues are chosen and dropped with brutal expediency. And those who suffer these cruelties, women and children and young people living in poverty under regimes that care too little or not at all, remain invisible and forgotten
Richard Horton for the Lancet with poignant op-ed on the state of global health governance & implementation.

Hundreds of civil society organizations worldwide denounce World Economic Forum´s takeover of the UN
240 civil society organizations and 40 international networks have called on the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General to end the recently signed UN’s Strategic Partnership Agreement with the World Economic Forum (WEF). The call, made in an open letter, condemned the agreement for ‘delegitimiz[ing] the United Nations and weaken(ing) the role of states in global decision-making.
Signed in June, the agreement promises to “accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” by deepening institutional coordination and collaboration between the UN and the WEF. Furthermore, the agreement grants transnational corporations preferential and deferential access to the UN System at the expense of States and public interest actors.
This “preferential access,” would undermine the mandate of the UN as well as its independence, impartiality, and effectiveness when holding businesses to account. “This agreement between the UN and WEF formalises a disturbing corporate capture of the UN. It moves the world dangerously towards a privatized and undemocratic global governance” said Gonzalo Berrón of Transnational Institute in presenting the letter.
FIAN International sharing an interesting open letter. I am also highly skeptical about the WEF and its contributions to #globaldev debates and actions other than through neoliberal plastic speak...


Winners and Runners-Up of the 2019 Award Competition for Evaluation for Transformational Change announced.
IDEAS announced the winners of their evaluation competition...On the one hand, I look forward to reading the awarded contributions, on the other hand, I'm a bit worried that I may get overwhelmed with a lot of evaluation jargon...

Kenya’s Identification Ecosystem

Stakeholders’ within Kenya’s fragmented identification ecosystem view identity systems as tools for development and control. Some champion identification to better provide government services and expand the digital economy; others to monopolise opportunities and address security threats. These sometimes stand in tension.
Ongoing exclusions prevent some marginalised ethnic groups from accessing identity systems that are vital for participating in political and economic life. Women and girls also face unique challenges to accessing identity systems, including application processes that do not account for their needs and exploitative officials.
Emrys Schoemaker for Caribou Digital introduces a new paper on Kenya's ID ecosystem; really interesting investigation with lots of food for discussion for the ICT4D and digital rights communities!

The miscalculations African governments keep making with social media and internet blocks

But as the use of cutoffs spread across Africa, many more users will resort to virtual private networks to circumvent censorship says Berhan Taye, who leads a global campaign to stop internet shutdowns at Access Now. Legal challenges against government-ordered shutdowns have been increasing too, with cases, some successful, filed in nations including Uganda, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, and DR Congo.
Ultimately, Berhan says, “the nuclear option of shutting down the internet is not going to be sustainable.”
Abdi Latif Dahir for Quartz Africa on the blunt tool of Internet shutdowns across Africa.

Are Aid Agencies Abetting ‘Surveillance Humanitarianism’?

“The terms of the document we signed with the Sana’a-based authorities last week specify that neither side should provide details,” says a WFP spokesperson. The organization would not comment on whether it had shared biometric data with the Houthis.
But this opacity is what makes both privacy experts and aid beneficiaries feel uneasy.
“We need to be able to trust the humanitarian sector, and, importantly, the humanitarian sector is dependent on our trust for its resources and its license to operate,” says McDonald. “That trust starts with being explicit about the compromises and partnerships that frame their data-sharing relationships.”
Morgan Meaker for One Zero with a very good overview over recent debates around humanitarianism in the age of platform capitalism.

The hidden work of post-conflict recovery
Yet there is a persistent expectation from individuals, families, communities and governments that women’s care work is an endlessly elastic safety net that will meet increased needs in situations of conflict and austerity. In fact, this highlights the role of such labour in sustaining society and preventing further conflict. However, policymakers tend to overlook it, as well as women’s role in sustaining peace. But when states don’t support women, they set the conditions for further conflict, depleting households and leaving whole families and young people vulnerable to recruitment by militias, warring groups and violent extremists.
Jay Lingham & Melissa Johnston for Open Democracy share interesting findings from their research project on social reproduction and gendered roles of post-conflict peacebuilding.

What’s wrong with old wine in new bottles? Using rigorous qualitative research to “do development differently” with SPRING

SPRING research thus spoke to what I see as the core tenant of the doing development differently agenda: working in partnership with local people to identify and better understand problems and potential solutions in order to enable greater local ownership, and ultimately more impactful and sustainable development. In fact, I would argue that SPRING’s success was largely shaped by using qualitative research to do development differently.
Rebecca Calder shares interesting reflections on 'doing development differently' (i.e. 'as it was always supposed to be done'...) through her examples of qualitative research.

Lagos's chequered history: how it came to be the megacity it is today

The city still has far too many slums and squatter settlements, it lacks a functioning public transportation system, proper traffic management, efficient waste disposal, sanitation, adequate potable water supply and routine road maintenance.
Lagos also suffers because of problems that afflict the country. There isn’t regular electricity supply, and there are high rates of poverty and unemployment. And, as elsewhere in the country, many residents don’t comply with laws on building, traffic and sanitation.
Ndubisi Onwuanyi for the Conversation describes some of the challenges that seem all-too-common in many growing mega-cities around the world where 'development' and growth seem much to fast to think about sustainability and livability...

How (not) to be a change maker
First, I realised that in my desire to help and rescue others, I had mistaken charity for justice, and pity for solidarity.Unintentionally, as the rescuer, I had boxed everyone else into corresponding categories
Second, I realised that my carefully polished identity of helper and saviour of others in need was a way of avoiding my own need, my own suffering.
And paradoxically, when I managed to acknowledge and accept the parts of me that were needy and selfish, something magical happened: I was suddenly so much freer to explore what it means to be selfless and of true service to others. With a newfound lightness: because my deeds of service to others are no longer required to cover up the lie that I am never selfish.
Agnes Otzelberger for the Good Jungle with an excellent speech about her personal transformation from #globaldev do-gooder to change maker...

Our digital lives
Zuckerberg is frustrated because people don't realize how much he cares

"I think some of the most devastating critique is not around substance in terms of what the companies do, it's around a motive," he said. "So, either we don't care because we just care about making money because we're a business. Or we don't care about certain issues because we're biased to not care about them."
You know, I feel he has a point. That's exactly what many people think, principally because it's been shown, time and again, to be astoundingly true.
From the earliest stages of Facebook, when the company showed a complete disregard for users' privacy, it was evident that power, money and the copying and destruction of all competition was all.
It's only recently, when Facebook was implicated in perhaps helping alter the fate of democracy in several countries, that Zuckerberg suddenly experienced peculiar conversion therapy.
When you've been fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission, it may not be much money to you, but the perception is that you're a considerable fraud.
Chris Matyszczyk for ZDNet on the recently leaked tape of Zuckerberg...scary to keep in mind that these are the personalities that will be driving the philanthropic agenda in the future...

De‐centring the ‘White Gaze’ of Development

However, in the midst of a 21st century, de‐colonial scholarly pivot, ‘opening up development’ fundamentally demands turning the colonial, ‘white gaze’ on its head. In particular, contemporary social media movements challenging white supremacy such as #BlackLivesMatter have gained prominence while non‐white development actors such as China have emerged as enticing alternatives. These phenomena have pried open development with both positive and negative results, intended and unintended consequences. This article seeks to put Critical Development Studies into fluid conversation with Critical Race Studies in an examination of how scholars, policy makers and practitioners have simultaneously succeeded and failed in subverting the ‘white gaze’ of development.
Robtel Neajai Pailey in Development & Change is not open access, but free to access at the moment and very worthy of your time!


This issue of Crisis Magazine brings together a range of expert perspectives that reveal the deeper dynamics behind Syrian migration. With this issue, we aim to encourage a more coherent political narrative from the Left that replaces the limiting frame of “the migrant crisis.”
A new magazine and really interesting collections of essays I wish I had time to appreciate and read properly!

Data Politics

Data and politics are now inseparable: data is not only shaping our social relations, preferences and life chances but our very democracies. Expert international contributors consider political questions about data and the ways it provokes subjects to govern themselves by making rights claims. Concerned with the things (infrastructures of servers, devices, and cables) and language (code, programming, and algorithms) that make up cyberspace, this book demonstrates that without understanding these conditions of possibility it is impossible to intervene in or to shape data politics.
Didier Bigo, Engin Isin & Evelyn Ruppert with a new open-access book with Routledge!

The Behavioural Drivers Model

There is a need to make behavioural models more practical and attractive to those who are supposed to use them in real life, filling this operational gap. And in doing so, help reduce the frequent resorting to ‘’go-to’’ default interventions, such as trying to solve any behavioural issue with a communication campaign, regardless of what may explain the practice of the behaviour. In this document, we try to make the explanation of complex phenomena more accessible, and systematically link every conceptual element to an approach that can influence it.
Vincent Petit with his latest report for UNICEF.

Gender mainstreaming principles, dimensions and priorities for PVE

This guidance note offers comprehensive background information and resources, along with guidelines and guidance for the UN system, in supporting Member States in their efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and terrorism (P/CVE)—with a primary focus on preventing violent extremism (PVE). It proposes a model for gender mainstreaming across PVE efforts that is human rights–compliant.
Katherine Brown, Jayne Huckerby & Laura J. Shepherd with a new report for UN WOMEN.


“Working in silos doesn’t work for outbreak response”: Localising social science response efforts in West Africa

By the time notification of an outbreak has been received, it is generally too late to establish the networks required to support the collection of good quality social scientific data. Networks like WASSERN embed social scientists at the national level, linked up with their colleagues in universities, NGOs, health ministries and national public health agencies, so that they can be called on to offer insights for all disease outbreaks, including more common ones like cholera, measles and malaria, as well as rarer diseases like Ebola or Rift Valley Fever. A robust localisation agenda can only help to facilitate improved global health security and creative ways of responding to the increasing complexity of the humanitarian/development nexus.
Hana Rohan , Gillian McKay & Baindu Agatha Khosia for Plos Research Analysis & Science Policy share their insights of localized, social science-informed responses to smaller outbreaks.

The Rules of the Diversity and Inclusion Racket

Along with these questionable intentions, there are a whole set of rules that govern the conversation, which I have come to call the “Diversity and Inclusion Racket.” Below, I present just 50 of them. They are not the rules as I would write them. They are the hellscape I’ve learned to live in.
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein for the Riveter on her lived experience on diversity & inclusion in #highered.

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 129, 27 October 2014)
Are 80 million potential voluntourists, slacktivists & DIY humanitarians the future of charity?

In the end, we teachers, researchers, educators and citizens will have to live with a growing demographic of people who will be demanding their full charity investment experience-either abroad and/or in connection with online activities…it means that traditional charities have to change from the printed newspaper to a New York Times online to Buzzfeed model of charity or the attention, clicks and dollars will go elsewhere-potentially traveling with a new generation of entrepreneurs who want to experience quick impact during a short sabbatical…
Let’s Talk About Sex: why sexual satisfaction & pleasure should be on the international development agenda
A revised approach to sex within the international development community would make the link between sexual pleasure and power dynamics, choice, health, and rights. It would account for the realities of people’s holistic (and sometimes pleasurable) sexual lives, and further, move beyond the gender binary of women and men. We must acknowledge that our sexual selves, experiences and choices do not exist in a vacuum and are linked to issues of class, race, norms, caste, sexual and gender identity and expression, and other forms of privilege and exclusion.
The Data Manifesto


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