Links & Contents I Liked 372
I said that last year as well and a week later I wrote a viral post about an organization that wanted to send used bras to Africa...
Stay healthy & safe!
The filmmaker has given us a wide lens in which to see China’s current strategy. I only ask that you open the lens a little wider and see how one colonial hand opens the door for another to stand back holding the camera, as the cycle continues. (Buddha in Africa)
New from aidnography
DfID-FCO Merger in the UK-a curated collection
Racism in the aid industry and international development-a curated collection
I updated both resources; The #DfIDmeger post now has almost 40 entries, still very much defending DfD's work while the actual UK aid budget will presumably be cut; and more #globaldev organization are speaking up about racism, pledging to change organizational structures & more.
Kidnappings Surge Amid Haiti’s Political and Economic Crises
Haitians say the kidnappings have transformed their lives and behavior, as they live in a state of fear.Anne Myriam Bolivar for Global Press Journal with an update from Haiti and more bad news.
Louis, a street vendor for more than 15 years, says one afternoon his cart was loaded with the electronic gadgets he sells when two men on a motorcycle abruptly stopped nearby. Noticing them, he sprinted through an open gate as they chased and shot at him. They missed, but he remains shaken.
“I doubled my vigilance,” says the friendly, muscular father of four. “I have to earn my living, but I have fear in my soul. These men are armed, but I have no weapon. I just give my day to the Almighty.”
He adds, “Each time I come home, I become anxious about the following day. We don’t know what tomorrow holds for us.”
A massive economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic are pushing Lebanon towards a famine
Lebanon's economic crisis, coupled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that shut the country down, could lead to a famine.Sarah Al-Arshani for Business Insider with an overview over the quick and steep decline in Lebanon.
The Toxic Legacy of 60 Years of Abundant Oil
“Over so many years both the government and the oil companies have made promises to clean up without doing so,” said Pius Waritimi, an art teacher and environmental activist based in the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt. “If oil loses its importance as a source of revenue, it’s likely the Niger delta will be abandoned to its fate.”Dulue Mbachu & George Osodi for Bloomberg report from Nigeria's Niger Delta.
The pollution endures. With damaged farms and rivers increasingly less rewarding, thousands of illegal micro refineries now tap oil from pipelines transporting the fuel to export terminals on the coast.
Spill data published by Shell show that in recent years more ruptures are being caused by theft and sabotage than by equipment failure or corrosion, a change from two decades ago when the reverse was the case.
How does change happen? Lessons from Malawi
Events in Malawi have rightly inspired pro-democracy activists across Africa, but they will be hard to replicate. Gradual institutional strengthening takes time, and mobilising large numbers of people requires a combination of effective civil society organisations and mass popular engagement.Nic Cheeseman & Golden Matonga for fp2p provide some context for the positive transition in Malawi.
Many countries in the region are starting from a less promising position. In nearby Zambia, the courts are under the thumb of President Lungu. In Zimbabwe, the military is deeply entwined with the ruling party. In Tanzania, civil society groups and the media have to operate under tighter restrictions. For these countries, Malawi will be a valuable role model, but a key lesson is that change will not be quick or easy.
60 years after Congo’s independence: decolonising the reading of history
Finally, any attempt to make a balance of Congo’s 60 years of independence not only should move away from such Euro-centered view, but also from Afro-pessimistic and Afro-optimistic perspectives. To speak of Congo in a decolonial manner is also to distinguish oneself from the Afro-pessimist discourse which essentialises, often with condescension, the challenges of Africans while removing them from their own socio-historical and political realities. It is also to leave the Afro-optimistic discourse which refuses to see what is not working, and thus is infantilising African people. What is needed is to admit that history is complex and that it is influenced by both structural and conjunctural factors which explain continuities and ruptures respectively. It is at the crossroads of such continuities and ruptures that the present is to be located, and that those achievements are to be found that include indicators for change.Aymar Nyenyezi Bisoka & Koen Vlassenroot for LSE Blogs with an interesting expansion of the decolonial lens.
Australian aid in five years’ time
I always find the “Africa is better off from the results of colonization” arguments amusing. What do people think happened with African empires & their European counterparts prior to colonization? Perhaps a history lesson is in order. Thread. 1/17— Suyi Davies Okungbowa (@IAmSuyiDavies) June 27, 2020
In terms of policy, the strategic goal of aid will be further subordinated to foreign policy objectives – poverty reduction will be a distant memory. The aid budget will fall further – to some irreducible minimum. The DAC ODA definition will be abandoned – by Australia and possibly by others too. Greater responsibility, authority and resources will be devolved to Heads of Mission. And funding for multilaterals will be further reduced.Graham Teskey for the DevPolicy Blog is not optimistic about Australia #globaldev future and I wonder how other countries will respond to new (post-)Covid realities...
In terms of geography, aid programs will be withdrawn in South Asia, as well as in much of mainland Southeast Asia, leaving only Indonesia, the Philippines, and possibly Myanmar and Vietnam. There will be greater focus on the Pacific, and PNG will remain inescapably critical.
In terms of sectors, Australian aid may be limited to agriculture (greater self-reliance), education and health. I am not optimistic about the long-term survival of infrastructure support as Australia discovers it cannot compete with China regardless of institutional innovation. An exit from governance is likely – too hard, takes too long and nobody understands it anyway.
Why so few women in EU missions?
Not only is there a lack of female personnel at the management level, the proportion of women in civilian crisis management missions of the EU must be further increased overall.Patricia Kruse & Tobias Pietz for EU Observer with a reminder that the EU's foreign (& #globaldev) policy could do better regarding female leadership.
The proportion of women in such missions currently remains at very low 25 percent. With a share of 29 percent, Germany is only in the middle of the field. Sweden with 39 percent and Finland with 42 percent are performing much better.
With non-uniformed civilian personnel, Germany is in the top group with 41 percent women.
The lack of women in missions, especially in leadership positions, can often be explained by a lack of political will. As long as EU states propose almost exclusively men for such posts, there will be no significant improvement.
Putting a Dollar Amount on China’s Loans to the Developing World
We are now in a new era where Chinese lenders are the big bilateral creditors. A non-OECD member that does not publish details of its loan commitments creates new difficulties for the kind of trust that needs to evolve for collective action on debt reduction. Yet our latest study of Chinese debt relief showed that China has already provided loan restructuring in a number of debt burdened low income countries in Africa. Joining the G-20 moratorium is a very positive step and should be welcomed.Yufan Huang & Deborah Brautigam for the Diplomat with some interesting numbers & concerns about China's engagement on the African continent.
Buddha in Africa
So, today as Malawi is being colonized by China, it is logical that the person shooting it all is a white South African. She is from a country that moved ahead economically between 1948-1994 while playing a large role in keeping Malawi from developing. During apartheid, men from Mangochi were forced to seek labor in the mines of South Africa. This system destroyed the possibilities for development in Mangochi and destroyed families that were left fatherless by the constant migration of able-bodied men. In this film, you see no adult men in Enoch’s village. That problem started with the help of apartheid South Africa. This is not the filmmaker’s fault but it is the nature of the history of the region. The filmmaker has given us a wide lens in which to see China’s current strategy. I only ask that you open the lens a little wider and see how one colonial hand opens the door for another to stand back holding the camera, as the cycle continues.Masauko Chipembere for Africa is a Country reviews a new documentary on China's engagement in Malawi.
The biggest threat to human development is the high-income economies that consume vastly in excess of planetary boundaries
Man, I was telling a friend we (local journalists) are getting more work (money) now that all the foreign (white) journalists are not around or can’t be flown down here to report on stories we can actually report on. https://t.co/o2AfumXUSi— Asha Jaffar (@AshaJaffar) July 2, 2020
One of the problems with capitalist civilization is that for 500 years we have imagined that humans are fundamentally separate from the rest of the living world, and that sense of separation is what has allowed us to treat nature and other human beings as objects to be exploited. What the 21st century demands from us is to restore a sense of our intrinsic connection to the rest of the living world.Jason Hickel for the International Science Council with food for thought on the future we need to envision.
Ultimately, what we call “the economy” is the material expression of our relationship with each other and with the rest of the living world, with all of life. We must ask ourselves, what do we want that relationship to look like? Do we want it be a relationship of extraction and exploitation, or a relationship of reciprocity and care? That is the question we have to ask ourselves. If our conception of human development does not take that broader picture into account, then I think we are missing the point.
My Journey to Virtual Volunteering, the United Nations & So Much More
Interest in my expertise in virtual volunteering and online communities really waned around 2015. I felt that virtual volunteering was so mainstream now, people didn't really need me anymore. And then came COVID-19. I am overwhelmed with inquiries and requests. I've ended up creating a series of free videos on my YouTube channel to train up people new to virtual volunteering, so they can begin creating roles and activities immediately - things are too urgent now for me to try to fill every request for basic training.Jayne Cravens for World Pulse reflects on her journey into virtual volunteering, a area that has gained traction again during the current crisis.
Our digital lives
Where are the robots?
The tech prophets have responded by rebranding. Hoping that we have forgotten their failed predictions, they are abandoning science fiction for the sheer magic of circular reasoning. A recent New York Times business report claims that social distancing is accelerating automation. In a remarkable sleight of hand, technologies that were supposed to trigger mass unemployment are now the latter’s solutions; cause has become effect. If business futurists cannot fit their technological determinism through the front door of history, they will bring it around the back while recycling all the old claims about worker redundancy.J. Jesse Ramírez for SwissInfo with a refreshing reminder about the 'robots will take over' discourse.
But the true redundancy belongs to automation hype. As we reorganise the ways we live and work, it’s high time to recognise the robots for what they are: a botched hypothesis about what work matters and what can be allowed to disappear. Robots will neither save or destroy us, for they cannot relieve us our own labour of building a more equitable and just world. In that world, we will compensate, safeguard, and respect the people whose work makes life possible.
Against My Will-Defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality
Every day, hundreds of thousands of girls around the world are subjected to practices that harm them physically or psychologically, or both, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities.I often complain about inaccessible UN reports, but UNFPA has done a great job on this important topic!
The practices reduce and limit their capacity to participate fully in society and to reach their full potential. The impact ripples throughout society and reinforces the very gender stereotypes and inequalities that gave rise to the harm in the first place.
Three widespread harmful practices are female genital mutilation, child marriage and son preference.
Researching Violence Against Health Care: Gaps and Priorities
This study aims to review the existing evidence base on violence against healthcare, and in doing so identify evidence gaps and prioritise areas for future research. This has been achieved through:A literature review (protocol-driven searches of CINAHL, SCOPUS and PubMed, together with searches of Google and Google Scholar in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese).Interviews with 15 stakeholders, including researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Internal workshops, including a prioritisation workshop involving senior RAND Europe researchers.A broad approach was applied to the review, covering research on physical, psychological and structural forms of violence carried out against healthcare professionals, workers, patients and infrastructure. It employed a global approach that included research from both conflict and non-conflict environments, and focused on three thematic areas: i) the nature of violence; ii) the impact of violence; and iii) interventions to reduce, prevent and mitigate violence against healthcare.Kate Cox, Richard Flint, Marina Favaro, Linda Slapakova & Ruth Harris for Elrha, ICRC & RAND Europe; unfortunately, while also on an important topic, the 24-page 'Executive Summary' pdf lost me very early on...
Predictive analytics in humanitarian action: a preliminary mapping and analysis
Forty-nine predictive analytics projects were mapped and analysed according to the main phases of the humanitarian cycle, type of predictions made, sector of application, geography of application, and technical approach used. Despite the limitations of rapid response research, some preliminary recommendations are made on the basis of the findings including: i) Governments, humanitarian agencies, funders and private companies should publish more open data in order to further extend the potential for predictive analytics; ii) Humanitarian agencies should apply the precautionary principle in data collection, data safeguarding and responsible data to protect vulnerable populations from harm; iii) To align practice with humanitarian principles and commitments, predictive analytics actors need to include affected populations in all aspects of the design and project cycle; iv) Funding of predictive analysis should be tied to risk assessment, risk mitigation and knowledge sharing on the ethics and downside-risks of predictive analytics; v) Funders should support the emerging ecosystem to develop geographical or thematic specialisms, convene knowledge-sharing events and produce ethical guidelines for practice; vi) Further research is necessary to build on this preliminary mapping and analysis in this crucial and rapidly developing area of humanitarian action vii) Primary research interviews with humanitarian agencies and key informants would make it possible to validate claims and establish the current status and future plans of initiatives; viii) A small number of case studies would improve depth of understanding about approaches being used and proposed pathways to scale; ix) Focus groups or a workshop would surface agency experience of risks and barriers not shared in publicly accessible documents and enable lesson learning.Kevin Hernandez & Tony Roberts for IDS with a new report.
Representations of Syrian Refugees in UNICEF’s Media Projects: New Vulnerabilities in Digital Humanitarian Communication
The study identifies how the platform design, user engagement, and racial codification of refugees contribute to a power (a)symmetry between depicted Syrian refugees, media makers, and audiences.Aysehan Jülide Etem with a new open access article in Global Perspectives.
Beyond the Stereotype: Restating the Relevance of the Dependency Research Programme
the article rectiﬁes previous misunderstandings of the scholarship and offers a new deﬁnition of dependency theory as a research programme, rather than a singular theory. Four core tenets of this research programme are identiﬁed: a global historical approach; theorizing of the polarizing tendencies of global capitalism; a focus on structures of production; and a focus on the speciﬁc constraints faced by peripheral economies. While each of these elements can be found in many contemporary theories, what makes dependency theory unique — and a particularly strong research programme — is the combination of these elements.Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven's open access article in Development and Change should be a great addition to your academic summer reading list :) !
The Sci-hub Effect: Sci-hub downloads lead to more article citations
Citations are often used as a metric of the impact of scientific publications. Here, we examine how the number of downloads from Sci-hub as well as various characteristics of publications and their authors predicts future citations. Using data from 12 leading journals in economics, consumer research, neuroscience, and multidisciplinary research, we found that articles downloaded from Sci-hub were cited 1.72 times more than papers not downloaded from Sci-hub and that the number of downloads from Sci-hub was a robust predictor of future citations.J.C. Correa, H. Laverde-Rojas, F. Marmolejo-Ramos, J. Tejada & Š. Bahník with an open access article for arXiv.org; if readers turn to Sci-Hub to access an article they are probably really interested to download/read it and subsequently use/cite it in their research...
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 161, 27 October 2015)
Geek Heresy (book review)
I believe that Toyama delivered one of the most interesting and intellectually astute contributions to the ICT4D debate in many years in an engaging format that effortlessly combines professional insights, relevant anecdotal evidence from ‘the field’ and a broader theoretical framework that demands serious discussions with the development industry.Me with a book review from an author I'd like to read more from!
Gloves off between local and international NGOs
But many local NGOs see in this view a Western, international dominance determined to maintain itself – while paying lip service to the idea of localisation. Patel is clear, for example, that she and her colleagues no longer consider reform of Western-led NGO consortia an option. “How many years has InterAction been around? 60? They’ve proved they can’t represent us.”Imogen Wall for the New Humanitarian...so how far have we come in this debate since 2015?!?
The debate raises fundamental questions about the role of international NGOs, bordering on existential crisis.
“The summit has forced some INGOs to look at their value-added,” said an international NGO representative. “WHS has brought out a whole lot of thinking, not just talking… If you’ve worked with partners [in a country] for 50 years, why do you still have an office?”
But for all the discussion around it, many aid agencies still don’t quite know exactly what localisation entails. They are also worried about the spillover implications of withdrawing their field presence, including making it harder to return if and when international assistance is needed, and an inability to authentically advocate for those in need.
Aid agencies accused of hiding scale of sexual assaults on employees
The source added that agencies needed to face up to their responsibilities and provide safer ways for victims to report attacks, and much better training for staff on how to handle incidents and support individuals. “We need to ‘do right’ by survivors by protecting their dignity, choice and confidentiality throughout the process,” the source said. “We need to prevent perpetrators from simply moving from agency to agency. We need to have much better conversations internally than we are having at the moment.”Sandra Laville & Anna Leach for the Guardian...so how far have we come in this debate since 2015?!?
Does This Picture Make You Feel Sad? Practical Questions for Ethical Photography
As a fundamental part of our approach, Reboot relies on imagery to capture the complexity and depth of human stories. As such, any member of our team is likely to find themselves behind the camera. We each have our own style and comfort level with photography. But whenever we take photos—whether in a rural village in Nigeria or a government office in Mexico—we try to be transparent, and make the research subject as comfortable as possible.Lauren Gardner for the Reboot with an excellent resource I'm still sharing with students and colleague...but how far...