Links & Contents I Liked 356

Hi all, 

This week's #globaldev readings take you on a global tour from Canada to the US, El Salvador, Nepal, India, Kiribati, Kenya & the UK! 
Plus, a special section on digital/virtual meetings & conferences in a time of crisis!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week

The Commission finds that there were weaknesses in the charity’s workplace culture, and that Save the Children UK let down the complainants, its staff and the wider public. The charity’s handling of the complaints was so poor in certain respects that it amounted to mismanagement.
(Save the Children UK let down complainants and public over handling of allegations of workplace harassment)
  
The relationship between mother and daughter is out of sync. Devi is worldlier after her time in the city. When she and her mum go to sign the documents confirming her return, Devi signs her name, but illiterate Kalawati can only leave a thumb print.
“Once they come back to their family, there is a hierarchy of family members. They have to respect each of the family members differently,” says DB Llama.
The reintegration officers will monitor Devi for the next three to five years. Funding will be provided for her to attend the local school so she will receive an education, but be safe with her family.

(The difficult journey home)

(T)he use of the term ‘host community’ in refugee policy often implies qualities of homogeneity and solidarity that grossly mischaracterise the socioeconomic stratification and diversity of interests in the local population.
(What Does ‘Social Cohesion’ Mean for Refugees and Hosts? A view from Kenya)

Meetings & conferencing in the time of #covid-19

Coronavirus Canceled Your Conference – Let’s Organize a Virtual Event!

One good outcome of the coronavirus spread is a general question of the need for big in-person conferences where participants fly from around the world to the event, spending thousands of dollars on travel and produce copious carbon footprints.
Wayan Vota for ICTworks with some great pointers on how to get your virtual meeting started!

So You Want to Host a Web Meeting?

A well designed and run meeting with a clear purpose can enable a group to do and experience many things.
Nancy White, Pete Cranston, Susan Stewart & Bonnie Koenig guide from 2015 is still a great starting point to think about virtual gatherings more strategically.

Virtual Annual Conference 2020 Agenda

Protecting principled humanitarian action: an honest conversation on risk, 18 March 2020
From the Aidnography archive
If you want more diverse conferences & panels, make technology part of your diversity strategy (2015)

(Technology) can easily increase diversity when those who cannot afford to travel and those who may be unable to join can be included. And it helps to push the boundaries of ‘pale male panels’: A pale person who sits in the country or region that is the focus of your panel for example can be a much more useful resource person in a mediatized context. Go to experts and expertise rather than asking them for time- and money-consuming Visa applications.
But the primary focus of technology should be on getting less well-off experts on board-or parents, care givers, people with mobility issues etc. etc.
Now more than ever: Academic conferences need to embrace the digital age! (2017)
I think that every association should have a digital communication champion in their senior management. By clinging to an outdated, but relatively convenient model for a large group of mainstream academics, academic associations ultimately undermine key functions of their mandate.
Academic conferences as neoliberal commodities (book review) (2017)
If Donald Nicolson’s book can achieve one thing, then hopefully more discussions on the purpose of academic conferences across disciplines, privileges and inequalities!
Development news
Save the Children UK let down complainants and public over handling of allegations of workplace harassment

In a report published today, the Commission (the regulator for charities in England and Wales) finds that there were weaknesses in the charity’s workplace culture, and that Save the Children UK let down the complainants, its staff and the wider public. The charity’s handling of the complaints was so poor in certain respects that it amounted to mismanagement. These allegations, and the way in which the charity responded, had a corrosive impact on its internal culture.
The report finds a wide range of failings
- the charity failed to consistently follow its own processes when staff members made allegations of inappropriate conduct against the charity’s CEO in 2012 and 2015
- the decision to deal with those complaints informally, rather than to investigate them fully, ran counter to the charity’s own disciplinary procedures
- the whole trustee body was not made aware of important issues as early as it should have been: the trustee body was not informed of allegations made against the charity’s CEO in 2012, and did not receive a copy of the full findings of an external report on corporate culture in 2015
The UK's Charity Commission's official report on Save The Children UK's management failures.


Harassment at UNAids and Save the Children and what needs to change
The inquiries into UNAids and Save the Children both pertain to claims made against senior managers originating from their head offices in the Global North. These are high profile cases that have taken years to fully come to light. What about other incidents of harassment and abuse that we can assume continue to take place today, in the field offices of organisations such as these? If it’s this difficult for women in European or American head offices to have their claims taken seriously, it’s likely to be far harder for women who are national staff in field offices in the Global South – and also women of colour in those head offices in the Global North – to speak up. In an organisational culture where the opinions of the white saviour, the originator of this unbalanced aid system, still matters more than anyone else, routing out the ‘bad apples’ is not enough. They can still be replaced with others who continue to perpetuate particular hierarchies and working practices that keep the old boys club in place, alongside its macho and abusive working culture.
Gemma Houldey puts the Save The Children and UNAids cases of abuse into a broader #globaldev inequalities perspective.

UN Chief Condemns Male Privilege as Many Nations Defy Such Bashing

“Just as slavery and colonialism were a stain on previous centuries, women’s inequality should shame us all in the twenty-first,” he said in a speech, “Women and Power,” to a university audience in New York. “Because it is not only unacceptable; it is stupid.”
His remarks on Feb. 27 at the New School, a progressive university in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village — which was awarding him an honorary doctorate — sounded a lot like an indictment. Man-made cultures still cling to powers, publicly obvious or more subtle, that circumscribe the lives of women and girls, he said. “The state of women’s rights remains dire,” he noted.
Barbara Crossette for PassBlue has a look at the UNSG's recent speech on gender inequalities.

Human Rights Watch Took Money From Saudi Businessman After Documenting His Coercive Labor Practices

“Nevertheless, accepting a grant with such a condition was clearly wrong and is deeply disappointing to us,” Rao and Rimer wrote to staff last month.
Human Rights Watch will launch “a comprehensive independent investigation to understand why our stringent protocols and policies on vetting grants and donors failed,” according to its online statement.
“The investigation will start soon and will provide the basis for any further Board and management action,” the statement said. “To prevent this from happening again, we have created an additional policy explicitly prohibiting restrictions on gifts that would exclude particular social groups or fundamental rights issues.”
Alex Emmons for the Intercept that raises important questions about HRW's fundraising strategies...

Canadian Firm Can Be Sued for Alleged Eritrea Abuses

For the many Eritreans living abroad, the court’s decision shows there can be accountability for abuses suffered in Eritrea. The ruling also means Canadian companies operating abroad need to be diligent about preventing abuses – or face consequences at home.
Laetitia Bader for Human Rights Watch with an important ruling from Canada.

Data shows scale of gang killings in Central America

When compared with the size of the overall population, the number of deaths in acts of “violence against civilians” listed by ACLED offers a rough idea of how intense a country’s violence is. Three of the deadliest 12 countries are in Central and South America.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian with some interesting new data on violence from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Australian aid promotes inclusive education in Kiribati, but will it last?

As someone whose career has been dedicated to the education of those with disabilities, both in Australia and more recently in Kiribati and the Maldives, I am of course delighted that Australia has taken up this cause. At the same time, without domestic ownership it is hard to be confident that these initiatives will take root and be sustainable. Aid dependency is often thought to be a bad thing, but in this case the Australian aid program is supporting a human rights issue of access and equity in education. However, with evidence of only limited attitudinal change to date, dependency on Australian aid will need to continue well into the future for inclusive education initiatives to be sustained in Kiribati.
Rodney Yates for the Devpolicy Blog with a fresh dose of '#globaldev-it's complicated...'.

What Does ‘Social Cohesion’ Mean for Refugees and Hosts? A view from Kenya

Finally, social cohesion programmes remain focused on tensions between refugees and hosts. But the humanitarian presence has also contributed to rifts within the host population. Across Turkana, there are deepening cultural and class divisions between those who access school – most of whom move to town in search of jobs – and those who pursue wealth through pastoralism, the primary livelihood in the rural drylands. In Kakuma, pastoralists are largely excluded from the most lucrative business and employment opportunities afforded by the humanitarian economy, which are best suited to the capacities of urbanites. This leaves pastoralist with diminishing social capital and a sense that they are being left out of the progress in Kalobeyei. As I recently argued in the Journal of Refugee Studies, the use of the term ‘host community’ in refugee policy often implies qualities of homogeneity and solidarity that grossly mischaracterise the socioeconomic stratification and diversity of interests in the local population.
Cory Rodgers for the Centre on Migration Policy & Society engages with the social cohesion discourse.

The difficult journey home

10-year-old girl forced to pose as an orphan walks the road back to life with her parents in the remote Himalayas. Her story reveals the harm being done by the good intentions of charitable Australians.
(...)
The relationship between mother and daughter is out of sync. Devi is worldlier after her time in the city. When she and her mum go to sign the documents confirming her return, Devi signs her name, but illiterate Kalawati can only leave a thumb print.
“Once they come back to their family, there is a hierarchy of family members. They have to respect each of the family members differently,” says DB Llama.
The reintegration officers will monitor Devi for the next three to five years. Funding will be provided for her to attend the local school so she will receive an education, but be safe with her family.
Together, mother and daughter begin the walk from Simikot back to their village of Thali. Two aunties join the hike, Devi leads the way.
Her face is animated and full of contentment as she walks the tracks of the valley with her family.
Sally Sara for ABC News Australia with a multimedia story on the long-lasting effects of orphanage tourism-cudos to Australian media, activists and civil society for being so persistent on this issue!

Voluntourism Is Colonialism Wrapped In The White Savior Complex

Right on cue, the performative nature of white allyship immediately surfaces when any legitimate criticism to challenge voluntourism is challenged by abandonment altogether. We aren’t saying that donating to charity should be discouraged. Successful organisations run by locals like No White Saviours exemplify that you shouldn’t be the ones steering the wheel. According to NWS, “The problem arises when you receive praise for simply being…in close proximity to Black bodies.” NWS encourages well-wishers abroad to identify local organisations and support their specific needs. This way, you are entrusting development work to experts who are not only formally trained but who are culturally sensitive. So far, NWS are successfully crowdfunding private investigations to ensure perpetrators like Renee are held accountable for their crimes.
Naila Aroni for Wear Your Voice Mag. I know, I know, I have shared critical voluntourism readings before, but Naila's post is still a great primer to get discussions started wherever they are necessary.

Shadowing Kishore on his waste-picking route in Vijayawada

Until dawn I was in an ambiguous state – oscillating between comfort and discomfort with the shadowing experience. Once daylight broke and we were going through residential areas, I began to feel distinctly uncomfortable.
I worried people might think I was the contractor overseeing Kishore.
Despite my best efforts to put him at ease. Kishore felt guilty and he paused almost every hour to ask me whether he should stop. So even though I did not intend to intrude, I was still being an ‘intrusion’.
(...)
I have been associated with communities for quite some time. But the emotional churning that kept happening through the nine hours with Kishore, from when I saw children sleeping in the open to the end of the day, was way too much for me. I was switching between saturation and fatigue. Kishore went on about his business bending and lifting. I was struggling to just be a by-stander without being of any help to him (since we did not have the ethical clearance to intervene). I wanted to point out the recyclables which he had accidentally overlooked. After the shadowing, as part of my solidarity with Kishore, I thought it would be insensitive on my part to freshen up and change my clothes. During the subsequent team debriefing, I was visibly distressed and broke down.
Prasanna Subramanya Saligram for Arise shares some reflections on why it is important to engage with inequalities & the complexities and emotional issues they have on research(ers).

Reflections on my first HEAT course

On reflection, the value I got from HEAT related mostly to the truly personal security practices that it taught me. By that, I mean the actions that I myself can take to improve my own security. Whilst I enjoyed the trauma first aid training and learnt a lot that I otherwise wouldn’t have, as the time has passed, I’ve certainly become less confident in my skills. In general, I think HEAT can be a very useful exercise and one that certainly shouldn’t be written off as old-fashioned. As the sector changes and security risk management gains prominence, there are many ways in which HEAT can develop. The ones I’ve identified – encouraging frank conversation about realistic expectations from NGOs, and giving participants tools to raise security concerns when travelling – are just some of the ways in which training providers might develop their courses in the future.
Aisling Sweeney for the European Interagency Security Forum on why HEAT courses are still useful.

The Particular Challenge of Community Engagement in Chinatown

“Chinatown was built off of exclusion,” Kong says. “Everyone has just been running on their own. There’s a bit of distrust, there’s not a practice of cooperating with the city or needing things from the city, so I think there needs to be an extra effort to build that connective tissue to ensure equity in resources coming to our neighborhood. You can complain all you want about the galleries coming in, but the first thing you can do is make sure the small businesses, the grassroots arts groups, are getting the same resources that all the other neighborhoods get. Start there.”
Oscar Perry Abello for Next City on the challenges of participatory work in New York's Chinatown & broader questions of tackling 'development' questions 'at home'!

Publications
Confronting indifference toward truth: Dealing with workplace bullshit

Many organizations are drowning in a flood of corporate bullshit, and this is particularly true of organizations in trouble, whose managers tend to make up stuff on the fly and with little regard for future consequences. Bullshitting and lying are not synonymous. While the liar knows the truth and wittingly bends it to suit their purpose, the bullshitter simply does not care about the truth. Managers can actually do something about organizational bullshit, and this Executive Digest provides a sequential framework that enables them to do so. They can comprehend it, they can recognize it for what it is, they can act against it, and they can take steps to prevent it from happening in the future. While it is unlikely that any organization will ever be able to rid itself of bullshit entirely, this article argues that by taking these steps, astute managers can work toward stemming its flood.
Ian P. McCarthy, David Hannah, Leyland F. Pitt & Jane M. McCarthy with a new open access article in Business Horizons.

Learning from the past-Protracted displacement in the post-World War II period
From a historical perspective, efforts to resolve specific protracted displacement situations have been diverse, devised in response to both domestic and international constraints and opportunities. The current shift away from the conventional durable solutions—return, integrati on and resettlement—to less fixed solutions thus can be seen as a return to historically dominant practices of a more context-driven search for solutions.
Albert Kraler, Margarita Fourer, Are John Knudsen, Juul Kwaks, Katja Mielke, Marion Noack, Sarah Tobin & Catherina Wilson for Transnational Figurations of Displacement with a new working paper.

Academia
The LONG READ on DECOLONISING KNOWLEDGE: How western Euro-centrism is systemically preserved and what we can do to subvert it

In this light, I would urge a reconsideration of standards of ‘excellent’ research and what makes a ‘good’ researcher or academic to move toward a model that places personal reflexivity and ethos higher than qualifications and publications. As Akosua rightly pointed out, education is not only about learning the sciences, but also about cultivating values to become good people. I like to tell my own students that as instructors we are not here to tell them what to think but how to think critically and reflexively about the world, but this requires authentic humility in engaging with others and openness to life-long learning.
Lastly, as someone trained in multiple languages and having recently set up my own voluntary study group to help second-generation Ethiopian students improve their Amharic (while maintaining and refining my own!), I am convinced that it is essential to reconsider the role of language learning and teaching in decolonising higher education and explore how multilingualism might be structurally accommodated in research development processes and international collaborative research.
Romina Istratii for Convivial Thinking with more great food for thought on decolonising our worlds!

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 145, 30 April 2015)
Of drones, encounters nothing short of life-changing & building a movement – how the BBC reports on ICT4D & technological solutionism

As the articles reaches its conclusion, it is time to bring out the big ICT and ICT4D discursive guns: ‘failure is not an option’ emphasizes the underlying maker culture and that individual hard work will eventually pay off; if failure is not an option we move dangerously close to the declaration of a success story that leaves very little space for learning and critical reflections. In development, failure, or incomplete success, is almost always an option.
Ending the article on a ‘movement’ note helps to put the project into perspective-even though the only places we have visited so far are an airfield near Sacramento and a Stanford dorm room-but ‘movements’ usually grow from top to bottom as all the pre-digital movements of the 20st century have taught us.
I have never been happy about ICT4D solutionism...

UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troops

“We have represented many whistleblowers in the UN system over the years and in general the more serious the disclosure they make the more ferocious the retaliation,” said Edwards. “Despite the official rhetoric, there is very little commitment at the top of the organisation to protect whistleblowers and a strong tendency to politicise every issue no matter how urgent.”
UN sources confirmed an investigation by the French was ongoing – in cooperation with the UN – into allegations of a very serious nature against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.
Protecting civilians and whistleblowers is also not a new phenomenon...

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