Links & Contents I Liked 346

Hi all,

Friday, end of a packed week; the weather is really grey and miserable in Sweden today and I will head home soon to enjoy some hot chocolate + a good book :) !

My quotes of the week

There are so many events on women’s rights going on, Abirafeh later told Quartz, that the feeling is they have just become avenues for a community to talk to each other.
(The case against holding any more women’s rights conferences)

Are we sure we are accounting properly for costs? What are the associated costs of locally sustaining such systems? How will we determine those costs if markets are only minimally functional in this space? And more importantly, the benefits have to be understood broadly, systematically, and comparatively. What is the value of improved speed in critical logistics? How do we make sure that improved health outcomes are both understood in these projects and adequately accounted for in our understanding of financial benefit?
(WeRobotics, Pfizer Use Cargo Drones for Public Health in the Dominican Republic)

@ZoeSTodd discusses how the obligation to travel to conferences forces her to "literally consume ancient fossil kin and relations" which violates Indigenous laws of reciprocity. What can we do, what can @AmericanAnthro and @CASCATweet do to be in better relation? Enjoy!
Development news

Less than 10% of EU aid reaches world's poorest countries, study finds

Less than 10% of EU aid money reaches the countries where it is most needed, according to a study that found levels of assistance had dropped for the second year running.
The EU and its member states remain the biggest development donor group in the world – investing €71.9bn ($61bn) in 2018, more than half of global aid – but its contribution was 5.8% lower than in 2017, the European NGO network, Concord, found in its AidWatch report.
Lucy Lamble & Karen McVeigh for the Guardian with some interesting numbers on #globaldev spending.

How a Catholic order dedicated to protecting children failed them

A pedophile priest was sent to work for an aid organization helping vulnerable families in an African country, even though his Catholic order knew he had been convicted of abusing children years earlier in Europe, a CNN investigation has found.
Father Luk Delft is accused of abusing at least two other boys in the Central African Republic (CAR) while in a key role at Caritas, a leading Catholic charity.
When CNN confronted Delft at his Caritas office in Bangui about the abuse, he was unapologetic.
Nima Elbagir, Barbara Arvanitidis, Katie Polglase, Bryony Jones & Alex Platt for CNN. I guess in the age of #AidToo this means that donors will stop supporting Caritas and other Catholic organizations, right ??!!

How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups

The Trump administration’s efforts to influence USAID funding sparked concern from career officials, who worried the agency risked violating constitutional prohibitions on favoring one religion over another. They also were concerned that being perceived as favoring Christians could worsen Iraq’s sectarian divides.
“There are very deliberate procurement guidelines that have developed over a number of years to guard precisely against this kind of behavior,” said Steven Feldstein, a former State Department and USAID official during the Obama administration. When politics intrude on the grant-making process, “you’re diluting the very nature of what development programs ought to accomplish.”
Yeganeh Torbati for ProPublica...of course nothing good will come out of story that has 'Mike Pence' in the headline...

Chagos Islands dispute: UK misses deadline to return control

The UN said that the decolonisation of Mauritius "was not conducted in a manner consistent with the right to self-determination" and that therefore the "continued administration... constitutes a wrongful act".
The UN resolution came only three months after the UN's high court advised the UK should leave the islands "as rapidly as possible".
As the six-month period came to a close, Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said the UK was now an illegal colonial occupier.
Between 1968 and 1974, Britain forcibly removed thousands of Chagossians from their homelands and sent them more than 1,000 miles away to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they faced extreme poverty and discrimination.
BBC News on UK's colonial legacy & unwillingness to contribute to decolonize (just in case anybody at FCO or DfID starts to 'discover' the term...)

International research collaborations need solid investment and a fair visa system
However, all of this will be undermined if the UK does not immediately implement a fairer visa system. This is a major component that is missing from the remit of this review and as the authors themselves say, an exploration of future arrangements for international collaboration in R&D is incomplete without addressing the UK’s immigration policy.
The UK should be welcoming the best and brightest minds from across the world to our research institutions and nurturing a new generation of global thinkers and leaders. We need to make it easier, not harder to study in the UK and we need to welcome visiting scholars and partners to share ideas and knowledge.
Melissa Leach for IDS Sussex with another reminder that 'decolonization' is not just a fancy term used in academia...

The case against holding any more women’s rights conferences

There are so many events on women’s rights going on, Abirafeh later told Quartz, that the feeling is they have just become avenues for a community to talk to each other. Women Deliver, the Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum, the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Convention on Women, the International Conference on Family Planning: These are only some of the events that will take place between this year and 2021. And these are only the international ones. Large, high-profile gatherings to discuss gender inequality have become the staple of agendas for both the poor and the rich, yet true gender equality is still thought to be generations away, even in countries with smaller gender gaps.
Annalisa Merelli for Quartz on one of the default responses in both #globaldev & #highered: Organize a conference!

What’s special about feminist research?

It’s true that many politically progressive development researchers who don’t see themselves as feminists are preoccupied with the questions of inequality, exploitation and oppression. True too that many of their organisations are currently interested in the methods and approaches associated with feminist research, as a way to address intersecting issues of race and the colonial legacy in development.
feminists employ different theoretical underpinnings to make sense of the experiences they research and the data they collect. Feminist economics, feminist anthropology, feminist politics, and many other disciplines offer fresh and pressing insights into the damage caused to human beings and our planet by complex, ancient-yet-modern, inequalities of gender, race, and class. An example is the work of feminist economists to theorise the value of unpaid work, challenging ideas that this happens without cost to women and girls.
Caroline Sweetman for fp2p with a good introduction and food for thought on 'feminist research'.

The Open Heroines Guide for the Guy Who Got Stuck on a Manel

If you have done the steps above, but still find yourself on a manel, you can still take action. Here’s what you can do.
- Walk out. This is the boldest choice out of all suggestions, but it sends a clear message about why having only men on a panel is no longer acceptable.
- If you have decided to stay, ask the moderator to acknowledge that this is a manel. Ask them to ask for a woman volunteer from the audience – we’re sure there will be at least one woman attending that can speak on the topic.
- If the moderator refuses to acknowledge the manel, address the topic while speaking.
- If you are travelling with a colleague who happens to be a woman or a nonbinary person, suggest them to the moderator (with their permission, of course!)
Reference women’s work while speaking on the panel.
- If a woman can’t be on the stage, centering on their work is a good way to bring attention to their absence and ensure they’re getting adequate credit for contributions.
- Tweet about it after the event, and mention women’s work by name. In general, it is a good practice for men to highlight the work of women’s and queer peoples’ work even outside of the context of a manel. It helps A LOT to raise awareness.

- Give a shout out to the women on your team. They are a huge part of the reason why you are there in the first place!
Open Heroines with a handy guide on how to deal with #allmalepanels before, during & after events!

The McKinsey Way to Save an Island: Why is a bankrupt Puerto Rico spending more than a billion dollars on expert advice?

To Puerto Ricans who came in contact with McKinsey consultants, however, it was a shock — like an emergency airlift from Harvard Business School. The firm recruits from the most prestigious universities and M.B.A. programs, with the majority of its young consultants staying only a few years before seeking their fortunes in the upper echelons of business and public life. Alumni include Sheryl Sandberg, Chelsea Clinton, and presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In September, according to a filing in the bankruptcy case, the senior full-time consultant in Puerto Rico — acting as its “integrating thought leader” — was a 31-year-old graduate of Harvard and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. A recent graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government was doing “deep dives” into the education and tourism budgets as well as examining police-department pension projections. A 2016 graduate of Columbia University helmed the “right-sizing” initiative and assisted with financial calculations to, for example, identify a date when the government “would run out of funding were it to defer reductions” in personnel costs. The analyst handling hurricane-damage assessments was from Yale’s class of 2017.
Chappuis won’t offer much detail about the firm’s interactions with the government, but court filings, as well as oversight-board emails obtained via a lawsuit brought by Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, reveal the dimensions of its intervention. McKinsey set what it refers to as an “aspirational vision” for the island. It advised the board on the proposed repeal of labor laws deemed too protective of workers. It tracked tax collections and projected health-care-cost inflation. According to invoices, it worked on “privatization options” for the highway authority and also the insolvent, patronage-riddled state-owned power company. McKinsey stopped visiting in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but its consultants were back within weeks to survey the devastation, working on “power restoration” and “operational stabilization” at the power company.
Andrew Rice & Luis Valentin Ortiz with an article for NY Mag that I must have missed when it came out in April 2019...the corporate version of 'white saviors'-highly educated graduates from elite schools who tell Puerto Rico how to fix the island...

WeRobotics, Pfizer Use Cargo Drones for Public Health in the Dominican Republic

As such, the economic data alone while a requisite is only one piece of the larger puzzle. The analysis must be more comprehensive and extended to include performance improvements, access, equity, patient outcomes, and of course, the transformation of health care logistics. The best way to get to that larger puzzle is by unpacking what is contained within the cost-benefit discussion. Are we sure we are accounting properly for costs? What are the associated costs of locally sustaining such systems? How will we determine those costs if markets are only minimally functional in this space? And more importantly, the benefits have to be understood broadly, systematically, and comparatively. What is the value of improved speed in critical logistics? How do we make sure that improved health outcomes are both understood in these projects and adequately accounted for in our understanding of financial benefit?
Patrick Meier for WeRobotics with some great insights and questions on how to make cargo drones work beyond some 30 second corporate video.

Opinion: AI For Good Is Often Bad

After speaking at an MIT conference on emerging AI technology earlier this year, I entered a lobby full of industry vendors and noticed an open doorway leading to tall grass and shrubbery recreating a slice of the African plains.
It should involve local people closest to the problem in the design process and conduct independent human rights assessments to determine if a project should move forward. Overall, companies should approach any complex global problem with the humility in knowing that an AI tool won’t solve it.
Mark Latonero for Wired states a lot of obvious, albeit important things, but could have included some reflections on how the MIT-Harvard-Wired-conference industrial complex is actually part of the problem as well.

Participatory Video In The Era Of Emerging Technologies: Interview with Nick Lunch

The advice I would give to a younger version of myself or someone starting up is to practice in your community! Do as much facilitation work in communities close to your home. Reduce the logistic challenges – make it as simple as possible. Offer your services for free and trust that the results will be so exciting and so powerful for the organisation or group that you are working with that more work will come from it. Start building a portfolio through volunteering. Offer a very concise curriculum, say five sessions or ten sessions. Bring in the equipment and try to carry out a short PV process from beginning to end including right through to the screening process. It is at the screening you will feel that sense of collective celebration and achievement with the group you have been working with. You will start noticing the transformations in the individuals and will get a sense, a taste of what we call the “magic of PV”.
King Catoy talks to Nick Lunch for Video4Change about his career/work/life in participatory video.

10 Reflections to mark 10 Years in the Social Change Sector (part 2)

We invest an awful lot into getting people to take action, but we rarely go backwards and think about how we could raise a generation of people – some who will go on to walk the corridors of power – with a foundational commitment to compassion, kindness and justice. Now wouldn’t that be long-term work worth investing in?
Ruth Taylor with some wonderful reflection on her work that ring probably true for many of us who work in 'the third sector'!

Deterrence, Mass Atrocity, and Samantha Power’s “The Education of an Idealist”

Power suggests a range of non-violent responses to mass atrocity prevention in A Problem from Hell, but her memoir reveals the limits of these tools. This should trouble analysts who value non-violence and the protection of civilians; analysts who value restraint in foreign policy; and analysts who fear even the implicit threat of force may preclude states from accepting meaningful aid and relief that might help civilians. If unwilling actors cannot be swayed save by the use of force, and we are reluctant to use force for practical or ethical reasons, then we are left with two options: we can address the root causes of conflict, and we can help those refugees and internally displaced people who manage to escape violence. The first set of options requires reimagining the fundamental structures of foreign policy; the second set of options is currently so politically unpopular that it is remaking domestic politics across refugee-receiving countries.
Anjali Dayal with a thoughtful essay that tackles Samantha Power's new memoir.

Tazeen Ahmad 1971-2019

sister-hood founder Deeyah Khan added, ‘Tazeen was a pioneering figure in British media, She was amongst the first Muslim Asian women to rise to the top, becoming widely admired and celebrated for her courage, compassion and ground-breaking accomplishments and confronted sensitive issues in her community with honesty and integrity. She paved the way in an industry that is not always accepting or supportive of women from minority communities. Here’s to you Tazeen. You will be missed, but there will be many young women following in your footsteps.
Remembering Tazeen Ahmad on sister-hood.

Compassion, Inclusion, Resilience – New Workshops, and New Website!

It was interesting that one volunteer commented that mental health isn’t just an individual’s problem or responsibility; we must always remember the structural dynamics at play that lead to health problems. This very much chimes with my own understanding of how we address mental health and wellbeing as change-makers; it is never just an inside job, and we must always be aware of how socio-economic factors, workplace environment and government policies (and if we’re talking about Britain this implies austerity!) influence the degree to which people are able to look after themselves and each other.
Gemma Houldey is a great digital friend and I have been following her excellent work for a while-and you should also check it out!

Embodying Change : A Second Online Conference about Re-Imagining International Development

What it means to be practitioners committed to embodying and practising the changes we want to see in the context of international 'aid' and 'development'.
How to identify and disrupt the ways in which our sector manifests the things we abhor; colonial attitudes, racism, professional bureaucracies out of touch with their values.
What it means to be resilient and be self-reflective as practitioners
How we can build just cultures in organisations, communities and initiatives which create the collective care we crave.
Join Mary-Ann Clements a great group of speakers for a free online conference next week!

Learning from the success of ‘Leading Inclusive Development using Media and Communication’ Roundtable

The focus of this year Roundtable, in particular, was to review and discuss the different uses of the media and communication in ‘leading inclusive development’. Within this framework, participants shared their experience in either implementing or investigating media and communication interventions designed to engage citizens (in general) or disadvantaged and marginalised groups (more specifically) in participating and having a voice on issues that affect them.
Valentina Ba├║ and Bhupesh Joshi with a new report for the C4D community.

Reimagining the Annual Meeting for an Era of Radical Climate Change

This roundtable explores alternative models for the annual meeting and other professional conferences in anthropology. The roundtable brings together prominent anthropologists of climate change and ecological ethics, together with those who have devised alternative modes of conferencing in anthropology and reflected on their climatic, ethical, and access-related ramifications. Can such efforts generate strategies to reconfigure meetings like this AAA/CASCA gathering in Vancouver? Can virtual meetings meet the needs of scholars for face-to-face conversation and interaction? What hybrid forms may be devised to respond to such needs, while also reducing the carbon footprint of physical meetings? And can such efforts address concerns over precarity, disability, and other scholarly constraints on travel, side by side with climate?
Anand Pandian for the Society of Cultural Anthropology. See also the thread on Twitter below.

Science funders gamble on grant lotteries
Traditionalists beware: the forces of randomness in research are, if not quite on the march, then certainly plotting their next move. At a meeting at the University of Zurich in Switzerland on 19 November, supporters of the approach argued that blind chance should have a greater role in the scientific system. And they have more than just grant applications in their sights. They say lotteries could be used to help select which papers to publish — and even which candidates to appoint to academic jobs.
“Random chance will create more openness to ideas that are not in the mainstream,” says Margit Osterloh, an economist at the University of Zurich who studies research governance and organized the meeting, which was intended to promote the idea among academics. She says that existing selection processes are inefficient.
David Adam for Nature on how much of a literal lottery #highered has already become...

What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 135, 22 January 2015)

Chasing Misery (book review)

It is difficult to do the book justice by highlighting a few themes, vignettes and quotes. Chasing Misery is a mature, well-written and –edited anthology that represents many of the aspects that make aid work(er) literature important and powerful.
Whether you add the book as a teaching resource, share it as an inspiration for students to reflect on their own professionalism or give it as a gift to aspiring aid workers or curious ‘civilians’, this is a book that should be shared widely.
Me, with yet another great aidwork(er) reflection book recommendation!

On Sentimentality: A Critique of Humans of New York

HONY presents photographs derived from this tradition but divorced from its vast potential for social import. Its brand of “humanity” requires no scrutiny, for it is designed to do what photography’s critics have accused the medium of doing at its worst: to capture, to possess, and to provoke in the viewer unprocessable, useless emotion. Yet this is precisely why the blog has not only garnered such an audience, but has also engendered a mass of imitators. It is not the artistic quality of the photographs that entices, but their reproducibility.
Melissa Smyth with her critique of HONY that has stood the test of time really well!

What does the future hold for the next generation of development practitioners?

No more heroes. We don’t need people who want to save the world, but want to understand it through critical and complex lenses and then work with communities to design programs accordingly.
More innovators, not just program managers and technical experts who treat the world as a simple, predictable place. We need those who can combine the best of a generalist and specialist. Devex’s Kate Warren calls them integrators.
Demonstrated interpersonal skills. Everyone says they have them in the interview, but rarely do they exhibit these skills in day-to-day work. Most of the time, we are generally poor at connecting, handling conflict, and working together effectively.
More networked people. No we don’t need you to name drop or brag about the time you met Jeff Sachs or Paul Farmer. We need people who know what it means to work across networked systems – people who see the connections, dependencies, and incentives and make them work.
Nuanced communicators, or, the ability to communicate all this to a broad range of stakeholders: government, public, private, communities, individuals. Messaging is still very simple and unproblematic, but we need people focused on how we can communicate complexity.
Willingness to fail. If you are willing to fail and can do it with learning and adjustment always as the goal, you can persuade others of the need to do it too. Success is most often hard won.
Brendan Rigby-one of those great #globaldev bloggers from the good old days...

Book review of ‘The Shift-The future of work is already here’

The key problem I have with her analysis is that it puts the onus of becoming ‘future-ready’ solely on the individual and conveniently leaves out any institutional and economic underpinning of this model. People don’t just spend their money on ‘stuff’, but on rent, utilities, mortgages, credit card payments, student loans, child care, health care and care for ageing relatives. I’m sure many industries will be happy to offer ‘flexible’ solutions, but in corporate-speak that’s most likely a term for ‘more expensive’. How can we as society avoid a flexible future that turns into a rat-race against inflexible institutions that benefit handsomely from monthly contracts, regular payments and late fees?
For reasons only the Internet's algorithm Gods know, my book review from 2012 received a lot of traffic this week...


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