Links & Contents I Liked 359

Hi all, 

My weekly link review attempts on a modest scale to mirror key debates in the #globaldev community; so even though I included a special COVID-19 section again (the first one was last week) this review is shorter than usual but it is still important to look at 'other news' as well.
From refugees stranded in Libya to criticism of the peace deal by Afghan women and the appointment of a 23-year old female MP in Namibia as
information and technology deputy minister it is worth checking out these stories, often dealing with shifting civil society spaces, as well.

Stay safe & healthy!
 

My quotes of the week
Outreach staff will become more constrained in the level of contact they can have with communities as regulations on social distancing take hold. This is a huge challenge which also puts already vulnerable audiences at risk – imagine living in a rural community right now and facing the spread of COVID-19, with no access to any source of information about what it is or how to protect yourself.
(The COVID-19 ‘info-demic’: A view from Bangladesh)

“If you were really hungry and someone gave you a fifty-dollar donut, you would probably say thank you, rather than explain that some bags of rice would make more sense for that price,” Sharif said. “Especially if you weren’t asked until after you got the donut. Yes, they said the program was great, and it was, compared to what they had. But you’re failing because it wasn’t smart.”
(Afghan Women on the US-Taliban Peace Deal: We Refuse to Be Symbols)

“I want to be a dis-planner because planning has not done anything to undo the colonial grids of this city, and you can see that in the life that some residents live.”
(Policing & public services as seen from marginalised spaces)

COVID-19 & #globaldev
The Third Wave: Preparing for COVID-19 in a crisis

There will be many players involved. “Fundamentally, this is a huge coordination challenge” for the international aid system, said Konyndyk, and at “a much bigger scale than what we are used to dealing with.” Asked if we have the international machinery in place to manage, he said, “I don't think we do”, and referred to “a real struggle” during the West Africa Ebola crisis. At that time, the UN installed a “health-keeping mission” that “didn't work very well”, he said. This time, the UN-led international aid will be coordinated by the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, and the World Health Organisation. “They're trying a different way,” said Konyndyk. “We will see how that works.”
Blanchet said he was heartened by evidence of national and local solidarity: “People are helping each other, helping elderly people, and doing the shopping for them. It's beautiful.” But does that translate internationally? “We have closed our borders in a time where we need more international collaboration, and that's an issue for me,” he said.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian summarizes the recent panel discussion TNH organized about #globaldev responses to the current crisis.

When coronavirus came to Tanzania

“In Tanzania, people work to live for just one day,” Juma, the safari airline employee, said. “So people are really scared. If someone loses their job for just two days, that would have a massive impact on a person’s life. People wouldn’t be able to survive anymore and this is causing even more fear.”
“We know from the rest of the world how quickly this virus can get out of control,” he added. “So the fact that the government is not planning anything ahead of what’s right in front of them is causing all of us a lot of worry.”
Jaclynn Ashly also for the New Humanitarian with a powerful long-read from Tanzania, highlighting that disinformation & mistrust are powerful factors when it comes to responding to the crisis-and are probably more pervasive in some countries in Africa than Europe, for example.

The COVID-19 ‘info-demic’: A view from Bangladesh

But while much of this content is really good, some of it we describe as “yes, but…” efforts: mixed messages which might reinforce behaviours that risk transmission of the virus, for instance, showing people in crowds on the street, standing too close together or shaking hands.
So our challenge is not only creating content that applies to our country, our region and globally, but also working to help others do the same.
In Bangladesh, from where we’re managing the project, the situation is changing rapidly. Our main challenge is to keep our public service announcements, video clips and materials (some of which you can see here) up-to-date with official government and World Health Organization advice, and also to meet the fast-evolving concerns and needs of our audiences.
(...)
Outreach staff will become more constrained in the level of contact they can have with communities as regulations on social distancing take hold. This is a huge challenge which also puts already vulnerable audiences at risk – imagine living in a rural community right now and facing the spread of COVID-19, with no access to any source of information about what it is or how to protect yourself.
To help address this, we’re already working to make sure that front-line staff in healthcare facilities also have access to our content and receive basic training in how to communicate it, so that communities are still getting access to that vital trusted information.
Kate Gunn for BBC Media Action on the unfolding 'info-demic' and the chances & limitations of media and communication for development during the crisis.

Covid-19: five lessons from Ebola

Local cultural behaviours - such as communal eating and burial practices - were seen as obstacles to prevention and epidemic control efforts; but top-down, medically oriented messaging focused on the extreme risks of Ebola fostered stigma, triggered treatment avoidance and resulted in people seeking support from traditional healers.
Sorcha O'Callaghan for ODI outlines parallels between the Ebola and COVID-19 responses.

COVID-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch

Looking ahead, governments will have to decide whether to support more cooperative approaches to handling the crisis, not only in global public health terms but also as a political and security challenge. All leaders face pressure to focus on and spend money and political capital on domestic priorities, and in particular to ignore conflict risks in weak states that may seem hard to resolve or simply not important enough to worry about. But there will be a day after, and if the coming period is not dealt with wisely, it could be marked by major disruptions in already conflict-ridden areas, the eruption of new violence and a far more fragile multilateral system. In addition to following the negative and positive trends noted above, Crisis Group will also be watching to see if states and multilateral institutions take preventive and mitigating measures to limit the pandemic’s impact on peace and security.
The International Crisis Group with an important overview over global policy implication of the crisis.

‘None of Us Saw It Ending This Way’: Peace Corps Volunteers Evacuate Abruptly
In interviews, a handful of volunteers described shock, confusion and heartbreak as they arrived back home in the United States, jobless in the middle of growing outbreak and economic shutdown. All were asked to quarantine themselves.
(...)
The evacuated volunteers described a surreal return — a moment that was supposed to feel celebratory was made somber. Many worried about exposing their family members to the coronavirus after long legs of travel, and did not know how they’d adjust to a country vastly different from the one they left.
Mariel Padilla for the New York Times; given the current political climate in the US it seems hard to imagine how the Peace Corps can recover from this emergency shut-down...

In other news
Libya’s refugees face being cut off from aid due to coronavirus

Hundreds of refugees forced to leave a UN-run centre in Libya earlier this year, including survivors of the Tajoura detention centre bombing, are among those worried about being cut off from aid in the coronavirus outbreak.
Sally Hayden for the Guardian continues reporting from Libya and even if I don't like the term 'forgotten crisis' it is a reminder of how dire the situation looks for many citizens, refugees and migrants on the 'periphery'.

As Europe uses aid to push private investment in Africa, NGOs push back

“There is a narrative being pushed that argues that private investment is going to trigger economic growth and, as a result, development will happen automatically in developing countries,” said Maria José Romero, policy and advocacy manager at Eurodad, a network of NGOs working in 20 European countries.
(...)
African civil society organizations worked with Bread for the World to create their own list of recommendations that puts their governments at the forefront of decisions about what kinds of investments are needed and explicitly involves affected communities, both in identifying the types of projects that are funded and in overseeing their implementation.
Andrew Green for DevEx with interesting food for thought about the role of civil society, NGOs & (shrinking) civic spaces as #globaldev agendas become even more about private sector investment & growth.

Afghan Women on the US-Taliban Peace Deal: We Refuse to Be Symbols

“We need to acknowledge the fact that Afghanistan has a history of the West making promises to help and then disappearing,” Sharif, the Canadian-Afghan, said. Afghan women feel a “justified urgency” to take what they can and not complain.
“If you were really hungry and someone gave you a fifty-dollar donut, you would probably say thank you, rather than explain that some bags of rice would make more sense for that price,” Sharif said. “Especially if you weren’t asked until after you got the donut. Yes, they said the program was great, and it was, compared to what they had. But you’re failing because it wasn’t smart.”
“Giving” Afghan women a seat they have actually earned, without giving them a chance to substantively participate in the peace process, will only harm them, many women say. Ironically, excluding women also undoes what Atahi called the international community’s “investment” in Afghan women.
Samea Shanori & Fiona Shukri for PassBlue are also sharing important thoughts on civic spaces in Afghanistan from a gender perspective.

OPINION: As climate change impacts accelerate, we need to re-think the human right to water

The main problem for the realisation of basic human rights is not financial but political. The global recognition of water as a human right in 2010—following a decade-long protracted struggle—shows that ideas often rejected as utopian and impractical are realised when the time is ripe. The Human Right to Water and Sanitation should now either be expanded to include subsistence and productive uses while conserving ecosystem functions and supporting climate resilience or a separate human right for water for livelihood and subsistence purposes considered.
Lyla Mehta, Claudia Ringler & Shiney Varghese for Thomson Reuters Foundation News with another topic that deserves much more attention from the #globaldev community.

Policing & public services as seen from marginalised spaces

The recurring theme is the attempt to do things differently in the face of a stifling, or broken, status quo. What does public authority and urban planning when seen from the point of view of marginalised communities? What questions do those communities themselves want answered, as opposed to those that researchers want to focus on? And how do the answers fit into a political conversation that’s been built on the rhetoric of “development” for several generations now?
Ian D. Quick talk to Wangui Kimari for One Step Forward.


Nam's youngest MP takes office

RECENTLY appointed information and technology deputy minister, Emma Theofilus might have her work cut out for her, but says she is ready for the task.The 23-year-old became Namibia's youngest member of parliament.
Charmaine Ngatjiheue for the Namibian with some encouraging ICT4D news from Namibia!

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 148, 23 June 2015)
The new prophets of capital (book review)

Conclusion ‘At the end of the day, for capitalism to function most of us must believe in the system and voluntarily devote our energies to it’ (p.150)
(...)
Family, friends or student groups who may not have time to engage with critical journalism or long-read essays regularly will find this book a concise and readable overview that hopefully triggers critical questions or small behavior changes next time someone picks up an Oprah magazine, buys groceries at Whole Foods or is exposed to TED-style salvation speeches by development celebrities.
My review of Nicole Aschoff's book seems more relevant than ever...

In Haiti, the aid-industrial complex revives colonial stereotypes

Disaster is not a spectacle. The American Red Cross’ abuses in Haiti reveal that for the aid industry, it has become just that. On the one hand stand donors, eager to flatter themselves for having done their part with donated money while Western aid workers tell the natives how and what to rebuild. The losers in the equation are the disaster-struck — the homeless of Haiti, the diseased of Liberia — victimized first by disaster and then by humanity.
Rafia Zakaria for Al-Jazeera with another timeless reminder about the powerful grip of disaster capitalism on countries like Haiti.

Hotel Melancholia

There was a period in my life when I spent a lot of time in hotel rooms. It was normal to skit from Shanghai to Dublin via Vilnius and Rome in a month, and then begin the loop all over again: Athens, Novosibirsk, Kuala Lumpur. I travelled alone to these cities and when I got there I was required to stand on stages, sit on panels and talk endlessly. At the end of each jet-lagged and scrambled day, I would go back to my hotel room where sometimes the mini-bar was stocked, sometimes not. The aircon would rattle, or not work, or be set too high or low with a fixed dial, and I would attempt to relax on an oversized bed with stiff pillows, listening to the TV from next door or to strangers whispering in the corridor.
Suzanne Joinsen for Aeon. Reflections on travel and home are probably quite timely at the moment as well...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What the German government thinks a “Strategic Partnership for a ‘Digital Africa’” should look like

Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa

Racism in the aid industry and international development-a curated collection

NGOs scared, Think Tanks puzzled, Opposition silenced-What I learned after reading more than 40 articles on the DfID-FCO merger

Should I consider a PhD in International Development Studies?