Links & Contents I Liked 369

Hi all,

This week's journey takes us from the places of privilege & structural inequalities within aid organizations & academia to the 'front lines' in Congo, Bangladesh, Lebanon/Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya as well as the UK & US. Books on feminism & patriarchy, failed fieldwork & an awesome #globaldev syllabus ensure that you will have enough food for reading, sharing & thinking for a while!


My quotes of the week
To be an intravist is to relinquish your privilege. Decline a speaking gig and nominate a minority you know would be overlooked. Ask if a qualified person of color in your organization who could use the exposure more than you can attend a conference in your place. Give up the board chair you’ve kept warm for a decade and nominate a young person, a black woman — the type of people who don’t make it to the boardrooms of the organization you advise.
(On equity in the international development sector — we need more intravists)

In recent weeks, as many as 50 Ethiopian women, formerly employed as domestic workers in the homes of Lebanese citizens, have been abandoned by their employers outside the Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Employers apparently resorted to this after being unable to pay their salaries.
(Abandoned by their employers, Ethiopian domestic workers are left stranded in Beirut)

The articles show how democracy in East and Horn of Africa has over time become synonymous to patriarchy. The line between the two is blurry. However, the journey through these articles is not all doom as the hope for equal and democratic states is not lost. The need for equality and equity is overdue.
(Challenging Patriarchy-The Role of Patriarchy in the Roll-back of Democracy)

Global crises & #globaldev
On equity in the international development sector — we need more intravists
To be an intravist is to spend your privilege. When you put in a good word for a qualified candidate who lacks connections, you are spending your privilege. When you as a white person, disclose your pay to a person of color, you are spending your privilege — too many of us are devalued. When you speak up for a junior colleague who is being mistreated by their manager, you are spending your privilege. When you speak out about a microaggression a colleague of color experiences, you are spending your privilege — too many minorities carry the burden of silence to be deemed professional.
To be an intravist is to relinquish your privilege. Decline a speaking gig and nominate a minority you know would be overlooked. Ask if a qualified person of color in your organization who could use the exposure more than you can attend a conference in your place. Give up the board chair you’ve kept warm for a decade and nominate a young person, a black woman — the type of people who don’t make it to the boardrooms of the organization you advise.
Blessing Omakwu for DevEx.

Please Stop ‘Checking In to See If I’m Okay’

And then there’s the larger conversation happening in many workplaces reminding managers to “check in on POCs this week.” Again, right intentions, but this ain’t it. Here, I think the ideal thing to do is create a culture where people feel heard and cared for in general, not just during a week of protests and national unrest. It’s great to acknowledge the news of the week and make the connection that it may burden some more than others. But I do not want to feel even more singled out than I already do any time there are talks about diversity, microaggressions, and retention. I’d recommend not making assumptions about the heaviness of the news or how it is impacting them. I hate structural racism and that black people are dying at the hands of police violence. I wish it would stop and I had a pretty good week last week. I am thankful for life, my health, and my safety, and I am doing what I can to make things better. If a sense of outrage is new for you, welcome. I’ve got low-level outrage stasis going on over here.
Priska Neeley for the Cut.

Aid workers: It’s time to practise what you preach
Grief and outrage do not even begin to describe the emotions I have experienced watching the news. That “lodging of the knee” unravelled so much for any black person, or person of colour who has ever been slighted in meetings, been told they need to get a native British or American intern to read over their document; ever watched a team slowly get decimated to undermine you; or been passed over for promotions; ever got strategically written out of your job when it’s changed to perfectly fit that intern; found yourself stuck at the same level after 10 years of loyalty and hard work...
Maybe you have simply watched how management systematically empowers certain groups by giving them opportunities that place them at an advantage over you, the black woman or man, or you, the person of colour.
Or perhaps you are privileged to silently watch these things I describe, and may have in fact benefitted from these systems and probably find this conversation uncomfortable and noisy.
You alone can start to make a difference in your space, by not pretending the world is not in crisis, and speaking up when you see wrong.
Thandie Mwape Villadsen for the New Humanitarian.

This global pandemic could transform humanitarianism forever. Here’s how
Here are 13 ways the pandemic may change the future of humanitarianism – and the forces of resistance that may get in the way.

Heba Aly for the New Humanitarian.

An Unprecedented Health Crisis: Didier Fassin on the Global Response to the Covid Pandemic
The rest of the world did not count any more. It is true that, in the United States, even before the pandemic, the ignorance of the state of the world was abyssal among a majority of the population and that the attention of most media beyond the borders of the country, and for many, even beyond the gates of the White House, was close to zero.
But with the pandemic, things have gotten worse. We have lost sight of the thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean, of the tens of thousands of Yemeni who suffer from famine under Saudi bombs, of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya trying to flee Bangladesh for Malaysia who are left for weeks drifting at sea. We no longer hear about the Syrian refugees at the Turkish border and the Muslims excluded and persecuted by the Indian government. Taking advantage of the absorption of our attention onto ourselves, China tightens its hold over Hong Kong, India oppresses its Muslim population, and Israel proceeds with the annexation of the West Bank.
Our vision of the world has narrowed. We have become short-sighted about what happens to the majority of human beings because it is remote from our own problems.
Joanne Lipman talks to Didier Fassin for Princeton's Institute of Advanced Studies.

“But I wanted to help POOR people…”
A friend works as a manager of volunteers at Meals on Wheels somewhere in the USA – I’m not going to say exactly where, to protect her anonymity. She recently got a response from a volunteer that left her head spinning. “He said his experience has been 5/10 so far because he didn’t expect to deliver Meals on Wheels to people in such nice houses!”
This volunteer is serving in a county where there are not many people living anywhere near the poverty line. Home ownership is quite high. She calls the county “affluent.” However, as she points out:
Meals on Wheels has no age requirement and no income requirement to receive our services. People who have greater incomes do pay a higher fee for their meals, and it’s not like they’re stealing food or volunteer time someone who “needs it more.” I can’t get over this volunteer. You expect for volunteering to magically lead you to a pocket of poverty, and you’re the only person from the outside going in to help?
Jayne Cravens for Coyote Communications; her post is from 2018, but I felt is speaks to our current time and crises so well-especially in the #globaldev sector

White Academia: Do Better.
Yet this moment we’re witnessing across the country is not about White feelings. It is about the constant trauma, historic pain, and dehumanization that Black people experience, and frankly, have been experiencing long before the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Jasmine Roberts for The Faculty.

An empire in turmoil-African writers on the American Nightmare

As we witness America’s turmoil, we should take a long, hard look at ourselves. At least 18 Kenyan citizens have been shot dead by police officers so far this year. In Nigeria, a human rights body recorded the extrajudicial killing of 18 people in just two weeks in April. Ethiopian security forces were accused last month of burning homes to the ground, summarily executing civilians and raping women. And in South Africa, with its long history of violent reprisals to protect capital, soldiers were exonerated after a beating left Collins Khosa dead.As we watch America rise up, we need to ask ourselves: are we numb?
Mail & Guardian's The Continent with some powerful journalism.

One of Africa’s smallest economies is plugging social welfare gaps with digital cash transfers
But Togo’s system isn’t without potential flaws as digitization, by itself, does not represent a silver bullet. “Digitized systems are built on existing systems and one has to be very careful when building a digital system to ensure that the shortcomings of the base systems are not reflected,” Mukherjee says. For instance, the Novissi scheme’s requirement of a voter’s card represents a limitation for eligible beneficiaries who do not participate in electoral processes.
And despite the clear utility of the program, there are also questions over its sustainability: the Novissi scheme paid out $4.3 million in its first week alone. But while the Togolese government has said payouts will only last as long the declared state of emergency, there is long-term potential for using the scheme, and aggregated data, for more targeted disbursements, including pensioners, Mukherjee says. “Right now, it is basically a blunt instrument but what can you do after fine-tuning it?”
Yomi Kazeem for Quartz Africa with some interesting insights into cash transfers in Togo.

Development news
'What does the UN stand for?': anger follows memo on anti-racism protests
In a letter to staff that followed public pushback from the UN’s own special rapporteur on freedom of assembly, Guterres insisted that a memo from its ethics board did not mean that staff were required to “remain neutral or impartial in the face of racism”.
“The position of the United Nations on racism is crystal clear: this scourge violates the charter and debases our core values,” Guterres wrote to staff.
“Every day, in our work across the world, we strive to do our part to promote inclusion, justice, dignity and combat racism in all its manifestations.”
The letter follows guidance, issued late last week, which caused concern inside the UN secretariat after employees were told that as “international civil servants” they should not participate in public demonstrations.
“Participation in public demonstrations in the current circumstances may not be consistent with the independence and impartiality required of us as international civil servants,” said the memo, first reported in Foreign Policy, which was endorsed by Guterres and also cited health concerns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Peter Beaumont for the Guardian follows up on the widely discussed & criticized story/comms disaster about UN staff being told not to participate in protests in NYC.

The operational review also concludes that while the taskforce that was set up has decreased the “taboo” around discussing corruption, aid groups remain reluctant to share information that might help each other combat the problem.
Aid officials from NGOs involved in the taskforce have urged that more money be put into anti-corruption measures – a call that has been widely echoed by experts.
As one of the larger NGOs in terms of staff numbers, Mercy Corps was ideally placed to investigate the fraud. Other NGOs said they have fewer resources to spend on compliance and risk management.
Leaked review exposes scale of aid corruption and abuse in Congo
Short funding cycles from donors, and an emphasis on speed – in the form of rapid response programmes – have “weakened” the overall quality of response and increased the opportunity for aid funds to be diverted, the review states.
Communities, meanwhile, have built in-depth knowledge of the response mechanisms aid groups have used over the years, while the aid groups themselves often lack understanding of the local context and power dynamics.
Majid, of the London School of Economics, said the corruption described in the report would require far more than “technical fixes” to solve. “There are too many vested interests; it's a hugely complex industry,” he said.
John Githongo, a Kenyan anti-corruption campaigner, said the “exploitation of the most vulnerable members of the population” was the most “disconcerting” finding of the review, which he read for TNH. He said DFID was courageous for having commissioned it, but added: “the real courage, of course, will be in doing something about it.”
Philip Kleinfeld & Paisley Dodds for the New Humanitarian with so much food for thought at a time when #globaldev talks about 'localization', 'coordination' or 'rapid responses'.

Locals stage latest fight against PNG mine dumping waste into sea
The world’s most productive battery nickel plant, Ramu NiCo, has been dumping millions of tons of mine waste into the waters of Papua New Guinea since 2012.
After a series of tailings pipeline spills, evidence for environmental and health impacts is accumulating.
In February, a coalition of more than 5,000 villagers and a provincial government sued the company, demanding its owners pay $5.2 billion in restitution, stop dumping mine waste into the ocean, and remediate the allegedly contaminated waters.
The lawsuit appears to seek the highest environmental damages in the country’s history, and relies on some of the biggest studies on the ocean dumping of mine waste ever conducted.
Ian Morse for Mongabay reports from Papua New Guinea.

Bangladesh has saved thousands of lives from a devastating cyclone – here’s how
Three weeks after the programme ended, Cyclone Roanu ripped through the south coast of Bangladesh on May 21, 2016. Pashurbunia and Nowapara reported successful warning and evacuation, no casualties, livelihoods with limited interruption, and a water supply and latrines that functioned afterwards.
Similar success is now repeated with Amphan. Despite the cyclone’s devastation, the people are alive and are returning home to rebuild. In Pashurbunia and Nowapara, seven kilometres of polder length were destroyed while the villages and agricultural lands were inundated.
The local population is repairing the damaged polders, houses, and latrines while restoring the drinking water supply and resuming their livelihoods. This is mainly through self-help, without much external assistance so far. It is not easy, but much better than before.
It required nearly 50 years from the 1970 calamity to achieve this state of disaster risk reduction and readiness. Plenty of work remains since Bangladesh faces many other hazards, including human-caused climate change, sea-level rise, earthquakes, and landslides. The country is also coping with one of the largest current refugee crises following genocide against the Rohingya.
Ilan Kelman & Bayes Ahmed for the Conversation with some encouraging news from Bangladesh.

Abandoned by their employers, Ethiopian domestic workers are left stranded in Beirut
In recent weeks, as many as 50 Ethiopian women, formerly employed as domestic workers in the homes of Lebanese citizens, have been abandoned by their employers outside the Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Employers apparently resorted to this after being unable to pay their salaries.
The women spend their nights sleeping sprawled across cardboard laid out on the pavement, surrounded by an assortment of luggage and food packages donated from the community. They are on the consulate premises, but Ethiopian consular officials refuse to let them enter the building.
“They don’t let us in,” said Rediet, who says she spent two weeks on the pavement outside the consulate. “My employer just dropped me here and disappeared. The security guard won’t let us near the door. I have nowhere else to go.”
Zecharias Zelalem for the Mail & Guardian. When the economists use an abstract term such as 'remittances' it often tends to hide the exploitative global inequalities when workers from the 'South' are forced to work under terrible conditions in the 'North' and can literally dumped in front of a building...

Mental Health in Aid with Imogen Wall
In this show, you'll hear Mary Ann interview Imogen Wall, an independent consultant working in the humanitarian aid sector, mental health advocate and a specialist around well being in the sector. And also Founder of the 50 shades of aid Facebook group that. They talk about the lack of attention to Mental Health in Humanitarian Settings and the huge amount we can learn from other sectors about the impacts of dealing with crises on our mental health.
Mary Ann Clemens talking to Imogen Wall for Embodying Change is my podcast of the week.

MPs publish interim report calling for DFID to stay independent
The case for an independent aid-giving department, with a Cabinet-level Minister leading its work, is imperative if the UK is to help end extreme poverty. DFID’s focus on this mission is reflected in its contributions to address global development goals, and the Committee is concerned that any changes to current Government systems could undermine the UK’s reputation and influence overseas.
The UK House of Commons wants DfID to remain independent-but expert advice obviously hasn't stopped the government to do exactly the opposite...let's keep fingers crossed...

Challenging Patriarchy-The Role of Patriarchy in the Roll-back of Democracy
The authors take the reader on a realisation journey of how the above threshold of democracy is unattainable in a patriarchal society. The articles show how democracy in East and Horn of Africa has over time become synonymous to patriarchy. The line between the two is blurry. However, the journey through these articles is not all doom as the hope for equal and democratic states is not lost. The need for equality and equity is overdue. The consistent and continuous use of various platforms to express the discomfort of oppressive states is commendable. It is interesting to note how the utilisation of these platforms for the expression of anger and unsettlement for the governance systems in Africa is picking pace; it is evident that upheaval is imminent.
Caroline Kioko, Rosebell Kagumire, Mbalenhle Matandela for the Böll Foundation in Kenya. Can't wait to read this during the summer 'break'!

Don’t forget the consultants
Consultants are the forgotten workforce at the UN, even if they sometimes or often sit side by side with colleagues. With precarious contracts, low wages and a status that keeps them half in and half out of the UN system, it’s time to shed a light on the way the UN treats so many of its workers.
Ian Richards for UN Today. While it's tempting to become a bit cynical, because UN consultants enjoy some relative privilege over many other workers in #globaldev, the article highlights the outdated and exploitative work practices of the UN system, a system that was never set up for professional consultants.
Activism Trough Art with Johny Dar: Jeans For Refugees and liberation during lockdown
A talented polymath, and a passionate philanthropist, activist and humanitarian, Dar founded Jeans For Refugees in 2016, promoting inclusivity and the equal value of every human life - a message that evokes even deeper resonance today, given recent world events.
Championing values of peace and unity, the production seeks to inspire viewers to return to an innate connection with nature and each other. Following a lonely, locked-down girl’s journey from an outer world of chaos to an inner world of peace, the video celebrates the power of creativity and our unbreakable connection with each other and all life. A euphoric but reflective experience, the video reminds audiences to seek freedom and empowerment within, and ‘rise above the fear’ into a more conscious awareness of being ‘together’.
Sponsored by Jeans for Refugees this piece for Fashion United puts celebrity humanitarian bullshit Bingo to a hard test...

The sounds of development: Musical representations as (an)other source of development knowledge
The experience of development, as well as understandings of and responses to it, are uniquely rendered via popular culture generally, and popular music in particular. It has been a medium of choice through which marginalized populations all over the world convey their (frequently critical) views, while in the Global North music has also long played a prominent (if notorious) role in portraying the plight of the South’s ‘starving millions’ as an emotional pretext for soliciting funds for international aid. We discuss the overlap between music and development in five specific domains: the tradition of Western ‘protest’ music; musical resistance in the Global South; music-based development interventions; commodification and appropriation; and, finally, music asa globalised development vernacular. We present our analyses not as definitive or comprehensive but as invitations to broaden the range of potential contributions to development debates, and the communicative modalities in and through which these debates are conducted. Doing so may lead to key stakeholders of development such as the poor finding said debates, and possible responses to them, decidedly more open, authentic and compelling.
David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers & Michael Woolcock with a new LSE Working Paper continuing the discussions around Popular Representations of Development.
Fieldwork as Failure: Living and Knowing in the Field of International Relations
This volume fills that lacuna by engaging with fieldwork as a site of knowledge production and inevitable failure. It develops methodological discussions in IR in two novel ways. First, it engages failure through experience-near and practice-based perspectives, with authors speaking from their experiences. And secondly, it delves into the politics of methods in IR and the discipline more generally to probe ways in which the realities of research condition scholarly claims.
Katarina Kušić & Jakub Záhora with a new open access E-Book for E-International Relations.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 158, 2 October 2015)
Dealing with digital in media development — 7 things to consider
My reflections focus quite a bit on the digital (although my own ‘filter bubble’ is probably to blame for this). But from discussions with the colleagues mentioned in the introduction or from my involvement in a research project in Kenya, I am well aware that many media ecologies are still firmly rooted in ‘1.0’ realities—from community radio to watching TV in public spaces or writing text messages as user feedback. Nurturing local talent and local approaches while keeping an eye on broader strategic developments will be increasingly important for media development advisors—they need to be(come) translators between ‘good enough’ local approaches and innovative global developments.
Me for the Deutsche Welle Akadmie on media development & the digital-I think this aged reasonably well ;)!

Sustainable Development Goals Offer Something for Everyone--and Will Not Work
Let’s be honest: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the United Nations is expected to formally approve this week, are a mess. As they currently stand, the goals neither organize nor prioritize global efforts to improve the human condition while serving as stewards of the planet. As a result, they risk becoming an empty exercise that empowers business as usual in the field of global development.
Ed Carr for Scientific American; yep, it's now 5 years since the SDGs were launched and everybody agrees that they are great :).

9 Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist and More Accessible
Social justice and feminist culture are incredible positive forces that can transform the way we see ourselves and the world around us. Without social justice and the activist communities that form around it, I literally wouldn’t be alive today.
But sometimes those same activist cultures can be unnecessarily exclusive – and worse, inaccessible and elitist. I even feel myself doing it sometimes:
I roll my eyes when someone at a community meeting asks a “stupid question” about feminism. I snap unnecessarily when someone doesn’t know the latest politically correct terminology. I make assumptions about people who I perceive (usually wrongly) as either too young to know anything or too old to be down.
Social justice is such a beautiful, powerful part of my life that I want – need – it to be open to those I care about, from my fifteen-year-old sister to my corporate lawyer friends to my racist grandparents.
Kai Cheng Tom for Everyday Feminism-still a timely reminder when we discuss structural inequalities and how to change them.

How corporates co-opted the art of mindfulness to make us bear the unbearable
And this is perhaps the crux of the problem of the mindless application of Buddhist meditation practice: the marketing of mindfulness as a solution to work stress and life balance rather than the complex spiritual approach to living it is meant to be.
This confusion, of what is essentially a way to exist with full awareness, with a one-size-fits-all treatment strategy for everything from depression to premature ejaculation, has placed a powerful way of life into a tiny box reserved only for the treatment of behaviours we currently see as unacceptable. Stressed at work? Having trouble containing your grief at the office? Struggling with the uncertainty of your position during the 7th restructure in as many years? Do some mindfulness.
Zoë Krupka for for the Conversation; a long history of articles have engaged with the 'neoliberalisation' of mindfulness-it's still a timely reminder when we discuss structural inequalities and how (not) to change them.


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