Links & Contents I Liked 343

Hi all,

First half of the semester almost coming to an end and we enjoyed a great blog presentation day by our New Media, ICT & Development students! But there is always time to share some #globaldev food for thought!

My quotes of the week

“Despite the best of intentions, the sad truth is that visiting and volunteering in orphanages drives an industry that separates children from their families and puts them at risk of neglect and abuse,” she said.
JK Rowling urges students not to volunteer at orphanages)

The report finds that getting a job was not the only motivation to move, that not all irregular migrants were ‘poor’ in Africa, nor had lower education levels.
58 per cent were either employed or in school at the time of their departure, with the majority of those working earning competitive wages at home. They are of the ‘springboard generation’ – beneficiaries of two decades of remarkable development progress in Africa. Still, some 50 per cent of those working said they were not earning enough.

(Launch of Scaling Fences, Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe)


Development news

JK Rowling urges students not to volunteer at orphanages

“Despite the best of intentions, the sad truth is that visiting and volunteering in orphanages drives an industry that separates children from their families and puts them at risk of neglect and abuse,” she said.
“Institutionalism is one of the worst things you can do to children in the world. It has huge effects on their normal development, it renders children vulnerable to abuse and trafficking, and it massively impacts their life chances. And these dire statistics apply even to what we would see as well-run orphanages … The effect on children is universally poor.”
Kate Hodal for the Guardian. Nothing surprising for the #globaldev community, but always important when these insights reach the mainstream through educated celebrities!

EXCLUSIVE: EU transfers €500m Turkey aid project to IFRC – but mulls exit strategy

According to the internal documents, the IFRC initially bid a much lower overhead rate than its two rivals. Letters from the Commission dated 15 February to the three bidders asked for clarification, including on the justification for the indirect support costs, which were listed as follows – IFRC: €8.7 million; World Bank: €21.9 million; World Food Programme: €33 million.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian on how WFP wanted to cash in on the largest cash-based #globaldev program-and failed.

Launch of Scaling Fences, Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe
1. First, the report challenges assumptions around irregular migration from Africa to Europe. It finds that getting a job was not the only motivation to move, that not all irregular migrants were ‘poor’ in Africa, nor had lower education levels.
58 per cent were either employed or in school at the time of their departure, with the majority of those working earning competitive wages at home. They are of the ‘springboard generation’ – beneficiaries of two decades of remarkable development progress in Africa. Still, some 50 per cent of those working said they were not earning enough.
2. Second, that barriers to opportunity, or ‘choice-lessness’, were critical factors informing the calculation of the 1,970 people surveyed. That in spite of development progress at home, 77 percent felt that their voice was unheard or that their country’s political system provided no opportunity through which to exert influence on government.
3. Third, despite the danger and risks of the fraught journey from Africa to Europe, only 2 per cent of all those people surveyed said that greater awareness of the risks would have caused them to stay at home. In fact, 41 percent of respondents said ‘nothing’ would have changed their decision to migrate to Europe.
Achim Steiner for UNDP introduces a really interesting new report. UNDP reports rarely deserve the label 'challenging general assumptions', but this one really does! Important piece of research!

African migration and the charade of ‘return to safety’

Yet, making access to even the most basic safety dependent on immobility or return is a double-edged sword: while it saves lives in the most immediate sense, it also suggests that Africans should be grateful to just stay alive, and are only—theoretically—entitled to anything beyond that on their own continent. It seeks to confine Africans in Africa, urging them to accept their fate and, as a young Nigerian returnee wearily acquiesces, “stay in our country and feed on what we have.” Critically, using the language of protection also omits that evacuation has meanings other than the restoration of safety. To evacuate also means to empty out. To expel. After all, before the dream of “getting out of Libya,” there was another dream, now entirely eclipsed: to go to a place of one’s own choosing. This omission reinforces and naturalizes the idea that national communities best stay separate if they want to be safe and prosper.
Iriann Freemantle for Africa is a Country on the 'discourse' of returning refugees 'to safety'.

Aid agencies accused of failure to make good on Oxfam abuse scandal pledges
Measures by DfID and Bond aimed at providing better reporting and complaints mechanisms have focused too much on theory at the expense of ensuring changes in practice, the committee said. The MPs called for “an end to voluntary self-regulation” of aid agencies, which they said “allows failures on sexual exploitation and abuse to slip through the cracks”.
Karen McVeigh for the Guardian with an update one year after DfID's safeguarding summit (see below for full documentation).

Safeguarding Summit: One year on progress reports

Progress reports from those that made commitments at 18 October 2018 Safeguarding Summit in London.
Former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley shares advice with seniors at Chapin High School
She also asked students to be thankful they live in the United States and said while the world of politics is very divisive, she got a glimpse of "evil" through her job as ambassador.
"I've been in Venezuela and seen people starving, killing zoo animals to survive," she said. "I've seen pictures of children killed by chemical weapons attacks in Syria, children ripped from their mothers’ arms in the Democratic of Congo. When you’ve seen those images, that’s evil. What we need to remember is to be grateful because on our worst day we are blessed to be in America.”
Caroline Hecker for WIS News. Yes, let's all be grateful for what America has to offer to the world...

Scarlett Moffatt’s The British Tribe Next Door: what were the TV execs thinking?

I doubt I am the first to say this and I will not be the last, but: what? On paper, you would be right to think that this does not sound like a good idea. In practice, it is also very much not a good idea. The vague intention is: the Moffatts – dad Mark, who is boring; mum Betty, who is boring; the teen sister Ava-Grace is mostly mute – move in with the semi-nomadic Himba tribe in Namibia, and they stay in an exact replica of their home (frustratingly glossed over are the logistics of building an exact replica of Scarlett Moffatt’s house in the middle of the Namib desert. I would rather watch an hour of someone explaining how they erected an untethered terrace with electricity and running water in such a setting than, say, the dire five-minute segment where Mark Moffatt goes metal detecting and finds a whistle). The Himba – who are pitched somewhere between props for the Moffatts to bounce off and actual, rounded people with their own thoughts and feelings and to-camera segments – patiently explain to the Moffatts how much they prize their livestock’s health, shy away from excessive possessions and dress traditionally; the Moffatts nod and point to a plug socket and say: “That box, very spiky!”
Joel Golby for the Guardian. 'The British Tribe Next Door' has been discussed here before and will likely stick around for a bit of #globaldev analysis into yet another bad TV show...

Who is an expert?
All these additional steps – having the time to listen, to think and to explore – require budgeting. Is there a donor out there, public or private, that is willing to fund these intangible, but ultimately more effective, efforts on a regular basis? If not, let’s discuss why. I am ready to bet that donors find it hard to ‘sell’ these intangible efforts to their constituents (e.g. taxpayers), which takes us back to the importance of communicating what we do more effectively.
Four years from now, I hope there will be many more blogs amplifying voices from the Global South. The most important lesson I have learned so far is to walk the talk and start doing things differently, even if it just means writing one post at a time in plain English – and in other languages too.
Farida Bena for From Poverty to Power. Her post is a refresher that some of her observations and questions go back to at least the 'good old days' of Robert 'Putting the last first' Chambers...

How Ethiopia’s ruling coalition created a playbook for disinformation

A deep split that exists within Ethiopia’s ruling coalition — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (the EPRDF) -was made evident over the last few weeks when a Facebook row broke out between two major political party members who disagreed on the historical accounts of Ethiopia as a modern state.
The row revealed how party members within the EPRDF use social media — through posts and memes — to manipulate public opinion and spread misinformation and incendiary content.
Endalk for Global Voices shares some interesting insights into Ethiopia's social media conflicts and how global debates on platforms like Facebook materialize 'on the ground'.

Reflecting on the Last Decade: 10 Things We Got Right & Wrong

GiveDirectly is scrappy — and always will be. Staying scrappy is a prerequisite to efficiency. But there have certainly been times where we were scrappy at the expense of team efficiency. We think GiveDirectly’s CFO (and one of GiveDirectly’s very first employees) summed it up best in describing our very first office in Kenya.Over the last 10 years, we’ve developed a more sophisticated understanding of where to stay lean, and what investments are worth the return.
Give Directly's reflections on their work in the last decade is interesting-but also surprisingly tame and within the start-up discourse of praising 'failure' without questioning deep-rooted power relations.

I Was In Tripoli The Day Gaddafi Was Killed

That day, driving back from the airport, in a city somewhat controlled by revolutionaries and the people, remains one of the most surreal experiences of my life. The red, green and black tricolor of the revolution was everywhere. Open trucks, packed with young men in fatigues, drapped in flags, drove through the streets. People were dancing in the street. A man desperately wanted us to accept his offer of rose water, a traditional offering for guests. Children watched the impromptu celebration in awe. Variations on these scenes were everywhere.
My words can’t fully describe my feelings and memories of that day; nor can my photos, quickly snapped through the window as we drove through joyous crowds. It was like a yoke had been lifted from them, and for them, in moment, anything was possible. A future, free and bright.
After about an hour or so we made it back to the compound, safe, sound and drained. Over dinner, the death of Gaddafi, the future of Libya and its people, was all we talked about. Even though we knew the road forward would be rocky, optimism ruled over pessimism that night.
Brendan McDonald shares some great reflections on what it felt like to be in the eye of a revolutionary storm...

WHEN WOMEN ORGANIZE - Meet Beth From Dandora, Nairobi, Fighting Inequality on the Frontlines

Surviving kidnapping by criminals. Taking on police killings after her husband was murdered. Fighting sexual harassment at work. Beth Mukami – from the Dandora slum in Nairobi, Kenya – has seen it all. Today she’s a human rights defender, a feminist, activist and a “voice of the voiceless”. She and others started the Dandora Community Justice Centre which is on the front-line of the fight against inequality.
Great new podcast hosted by Oxfam's Winnie Byanyima!

Gatekeeper Fragility, aka Meta-Fragility, the Fragility Around Others Being Too Fragile

This belief that others are not “ready” for things, that they are too fragile to handle stuff. I’m going to call it Gatekeeper Fragility, aka Meta-Fragility, a sense of emotional discomfort caused by thinking of others’ potential experiencing of emotional discomfort, which leads to prevention of uncomfortable conversations and gatekeeping of progress. Here are other examples of this. While it applies to anything, for instance an ED afraid that their team can’t handle the truth about financial troubles, or a grantwriter afraid to give feedback to funders about their crappy grant practices, I’m going to focus on issues of equity
Vu Le for NonprofitAF is always a great read!

The foreign gaze: authorship in academic global health Academia

This editorial is based on my experiences as a journal editor, and also an academic who has been a local researcher and a foreign researcher. It is also based on a constructed ‘ideal’ of how things might have been without global health research partnerships, and when (circa late 19th to mid-20th century) many of the countries that are now high-income countries experienced significant improvements in health outcomes and equity, that is, an ‘ideal’ of local people writing about local issues for a local audience. I deploy this ‘ideal’ not as a prescription, but only as a heuristic device. And by applying this sense of ‘ideal’, I wrestle, rhetorically, with three questions that come to mind and give me pause, whenever I consider solutions to imbalances in authorship, especially those solutions that are based on mandates and strictures. The questions are: (1) What if the foreign gaze is necessary? (2) What if the foreign gaze is inconsequential? (3) What if the foreign gaze is corrupting?
Seye Abimbola for the British Medical Journal with an open access article.

Climate-related security risks and peacebuilding in Somalia

Climate-related change in Somalia has reduced livelihood options and caused migration. It has also left significant parts of the population in a vulnerable condition. These climate-related security risks contribute to grievances and increase inequality and fragility, which in turn pose challenges to the implementation of UNSOM’s mandate. The impacts of climate change have hindered UNSOM in its work to provide peace and security in Somalia and in its efforts to establish functioning governance and judicial systems.
Karolina Eklöw & Florian Krampe for Sipri with an interesting new report.

Accountability amidst fragility, conflict, and violence: learning from recent cases
Looking at examples from Colombia, Guatemala, India, Myanmar and Pakistan, the cases presented offer rough contours of the issues and their conceptual underpinnings that might be relevant for understanding and conceptualising empowerment and accountability processes in such settings. Taken collectively, this set of cases show that progress is possible in the conflict/post-conflict context despite the unfavourable terrain, but the paths that social action takes is heavily constrained by local understandings of empowerment and accountability, the configuration of pro‑accountability stakeholders, the history of the conflict and its effects on various groups, and how narratives are mobilised to serve political change. Moreover, any progress, we note, is transitory
Emilie Wilson for IDS introduces the latest IDS Bulletin-open access as always!

Interview – Chantelle Lewis

Throughout the PhD I draw upon the omnipresence of whiteness within the town and the Black mixed-race family as fundamental to the racialisation and racism narrated in the research. I discuss how negotiations of racism and racialisations that family members have endured have either remained silent, been purposefully muted or have been understood without – or even through dismissals of – recognitions of ‘race’. I’ve been interested in how families have collectively and individually made sense of the whiteness of their hometown, but also how this whiteness manifest as a subtle structure and ideological force within their own families. It is through this discussion where I break down the possibility that racial literacy is not a universal tendency for parents who have brought up Black mixed-race children within a predominantly white place. Finally, I explore how the specifics of mixedness can at times allow for whiteness -both structurally and demographically – to become partially habitable for Black mixed-race families. Though I outline that this habitability was not a universal experience for all participants, I contest that the lives and narrated experiences from various family members suggest that there have been times when their proximities to whiteness – or a lighter skinned privilege – has allowed the participants to have more space to negotiate structural inequalities individually and collectively as a family.
Chantelle Lewis for E-International Relations with fascinating insights into race, class & contemporary British society.

Imagining Africa as the Market for Profiting from Whiteness

Thus, capitalism in its ever-transforming material and ideational forms is perpetuating a myth of White virility that is best left to history. If the cover image of this book is to be taken seriously, the ‘Man with anxiety peeking through blinds’ resembles a puppet trapped inside a Matryoska style mummy, opening one layer, to peer out into the world. Gabay succeeds in tracing in a grounded, documented, justified way, the fluidity of White power as both structural and agentive: taking the classic sociological understandings and turning the gaze back on international relations of Africa. It is absolutely worth the peek out into the world of Whiteness.
Lisa Richey for the Disorder of Things with a great book review!

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 132, 2 December 2014)
Why Save The Children’s Global Legacy Award to Tony Blair matters for C4D

But at the same time the award was an eye-opener in terms of how the charity-industrial complex communicates with the rest of the world and how little critical C4D approaches often seem to matter in the mainstream.
Me on Save The Children US's award to Tony Blair which really seems like a lifetime ago now...

Stop Trying to Save the World

I came across the PlayPump story in Ken Stern’s With Charity For All, but I could have plucked one from any of the dozen or so “development doesn’t work” best-sellers to come out in the last ten years. In The Idealist—a kind of “where are they now?” for the ideas laid out in Jeffrey Sachs’s The End of Poverty—Nina Munk discovers African villages made squalid by the hopes and checkbooks of Western do-gooders. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee’s Poor Economics finds dozens of “common sense” development projects—food aid, crop insurance, microfinance—either don’t help poor people or may even make them poorer.
Michael Hobbes article also seems strangely contemporary and surprisingly outdated-but definitely featuring some classic themes of 2010s #globaldev discussions...

“An Idiot Abroad” on Geldof
This is what I wrote on Jennifer Lentfer's post in 2014:

How Matters has collected a great repository of links surrounding the Band Aid 30 debate-bookmark it for future references!


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