Links & Contents I Liked 374

Hi all,

The first week of term kicked off with about 150 new & returning students, but there was still time to collect a few interesting readings this week as well...

My quotes of the week

“Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it,” he told the Guardian in 2015 – even admitting that his own work could be meaningless: “There can be no objective measure of social value.”
(David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs, dies aged 59)

The Haiti Community Foundation’s comprehensive, inclusive and bottom-up community planning process generated unprecedented community response, support and engagement because of its passionate emphasis on, and its deep investment in, the power of local communities and their leaders. In so many ways, our work has unleashed visceral enthusiasm and commitment because it has been about: building trust and confidence; connecting leaders within communities; connecting communities to other communities; urging local leaders to trust themselves again, and to take action. (You call It philanthropy, we call it ‘Devlopman Tèt Ansanm’)

Claims of effectiveness were made, but the lack of measurable objectives, theory of change, outcome indicators, and critical evaluation renders it impossible to determine whether the outcomes achieved by the campaigns can be attributed to celebrity endorsement. It thus remains unclear whether celebrity endorsement can contribute to conservation efforts.
(A scoping review of celebrity endorsement in environmental campaigns and evidence for its effectiveness)

Enjoy!

Development news

India Is in Denial about the COVID-19 Crisis
Just to cite one, 78 percent of the 25,000 respondents in the nationwide CSDS survey said that they had found it “quite difficult” or “very difficult” to feed their families during the lockdown. Acute food insecurity is very likely to translate into higher mortality. For children, it also means lasting damage from malnutrition. To invoke Bihar again, more than half of the workforce there consists of casual laborers who live on the margin of subsistence at the best of times. A recent survey of some 20,000 returning migrant workers found that 60 percent were unable to ensure two square meals for all members of the family. With the local economy in the doldrums, except for farming, casual workers are heading for a prolonged period of underemployment and hunger.
Jean Drèze for the Scientific American reflects on the longer-term impact of India's Covid response.

If you felt cooped up in lockdown, think of refugees confined indefinitely in camps

I had to wake up very early to join a long queue at the local Sainsbury’s. The lines of people holding carrier bags and trolleys to carry as much food and toilet paper as possible reminded me of queues in the camps where refugees wait for the monthly UN food distributions.
As no one respected physical distancing rules, I would hear people standing close to me complain about the lack of food in the supermarket, and wondering how they would survive with so little. I would think to myself: “Imagine if these people were in refugee camps where they would receive food only once a month? Imagine if they were forced to skip meals, sleep hungry until the next cycle of distribution?”
Moulid Hujale for the Guardian with an interesting analogy around the notion of 'lockdown'.

VIRAL CARE: Spectacles of Care as a Substitute for Domestic Workers’ Rights
The absence of the domestic worker during lockdown and her eventual return is not an ordinary longing but a crucial, milestone moment for the household. This was evident in a TikTok video (see below) welcoming the domestic workers in the future after the lockdown by an ‘aarti’, a Hindu worship ritual that involves circular motion of a lamp often in a plate with other objects in front of a deity. The aarti is sometimes a way of showering loving care to family members as they embark on or return from situations that are understood to be crucial and/ risky.
Certain figures in the household whose workload increased due to the domestic workers’ absence felt this longing the most. The daughter-in-law, for instance, is depicted as having recognised the value of the domestic workers’ labour now: “Now we have realised that our didi, the domestic workers are the ones who come handy..during this lockdown, we learnt that they are God’s second avatar…we’ve understood clearly that we have got to respect them.”
Simiran Lalvani & Sanjana Santosh for Solidarity and Care also report from India; I have some doubts that the precarious class of domestic workers will gain more recognition, rights and power after the crisis, but perhaps the political economy of (domestic) care will change for the better?

Investigation: African migrants 'left to die' in Saudi Arabia’s hellish Covid detention centres
Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, is keeping hundreds if not thousands of African migrants locked in heinous conditions reminiscent of Libya’s slave camps as part of a drive to stop the spread of Covid-19, an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found.
Graphic mobile phone images sent to the newspaper by migrants held inside the detention centres show dozens of emaciated men crippled by the Arabian heat lying shirtless in tightly packed rows in small rooms with barred windows.
Will Brown & Zecharias Zelalem for the Telegraph wit yet another reminder of how poorly migrants are treated around the world.

Raab addresses rumors around aid for defense, 0.7% commitment as FCDO opens
Despite direct questions, Raab did not commit to the continued independence of ICAI and denied that specific “deficiencies” had sparked the review. But he told politicians: “We are keeping and reinforcing ICAI. I pay tribute to the work it does. … It was not so much that it was deficient, but actually that it could do even better. …
“The illustration that I would give … is not just providing critical analysis, but with a renewed and additional focus — so not subtracting, but adding — on practical policy recommendations. What I really want … is critical scrutiny, practical advice on how we can make sure in the combined FCDO we combine maximum impact, particularly in the dispense of precious taxpayers’ money.”
Will Worley for DevEx has been following the transition from DfID to FCDO really well for DevEx; right now, it sounds more buzzword Bingo then substance and unlike many observers I don't have high hopes for UK's medium term #globaldev agenda...
We need a new way to think about aid
The goal of global justice makes every people and their government responsible for a fairer world and breaks aid’s dangerous idea that there are givers (who are responsible) and receivers (who are not). Structural injustices and poverty arise from reasons in the present as well as the past. The legacies of colonialism and white supremacism are wicked and deep but they are not the sole sources of poverty, environmental damage and suffering today. The wickedness of kleptocracy, negligence and the violence of supremacist ideologies in dictatorial governments, economic elites and armed groups also cause terrible damage to people’s life chances in many parts of the world.
Hugo Slim for the Blavatnik School of Government blog is perhaps more optimistic about the future of UK Aid than I am...

You call It philanthropy, we call it ‘Devlopman Tèt Ansanm’
The Haiti Community Foundation’s comprehensive, inclusive and bottom-up community planning process generated unprecedented community response, support and engagement because of its passionate emphasis on, and its deep investment in, the power of local communities and their leaders. In so many ways, our work has unleashed visceral enthusiasm and commitment because it has been about: building trust and confidence; connecting leaders within communities; connecting communities to other communities; urging local leaders to trust themselves again, and to take action.
In brief, our work has been impactful because it has leveraged Haitian communities’ yearning for a vision that includes them. Our work has been transformative because it has been relentlessly reconstructing hope. Local leadership matters.
Marie-Rose Romain Murphy for Alliance Magazine with a great case study on what 'localization' of #globaldev can mean in practice.

Mothers, sisters, wives: Kenyan women lead fight against police violence

Men are depicted as almost the sole victims of police violence. But the reality is more than one third of alleged police killings and disappearances involve women, according to Missing Voices.
One of the most high-profile cases was the death last year of Caroline Mwatha, who had campaigned against extrajudicial killings until she disappeared, and was found dead days later in a city mortuary.
And there is an additional terror – the sexual violence perpetrated by the police against women.
“There's been a lot of sexual assault on women,” said Fatuma Mohamud Mohamed, a commissioner with Kenya's Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), a statutory watchdog. “Even in traffic cases, you find that women get sexually assaulted.”
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has accused the security forces of committing more than half of the recorded cases of sexual violence during post-election violence in 2017.
Neha Wadekar for the New Humanitarian with reporting from Nairobi on putting police violence into the public discussion.

Kenya: how stark inequality frustrates the dreams of Nairobi’s jobless young men
Kenya has sometimes been described as a “hustler nation”. More than 80% of the population work in the informal economy, deriving incomes from hawking goods, fixing cars and working on construction sites.
These are often precarious and piecemeal arrangements, impermanent and low-paid –characteristic of what has been called an era of jobless growth, in which GDP rises without reducing unemployment. This is a problem experienced most sharply by the young, consigned to moving around in search of cash, all the while providing easy targets for police extortion.
But at the same time, Kenya is also a landscape of aspiration and luxurious wealth, particularly on the outskirts of Nairobi where the city’s urban sprawl is stretching out into poorer peri-urban areas. Shopping malls rise out of the landscape like fortresses.
Gated communities and apartment blocks spring up regularly, targeted at Nairobi’s “working class” – the permanent salaried workers. It is here that poverty and wealth coexist in a landscape of inequality, in which Kenya’s rich and poor live side by side.
Peter Lockwood for the Conversation shares some of his insights from his research which opens for difficult questions of how countries will cope with rising inequality due to the pandemic.

How do we develop work-ready youth in a digital age?
The future of work is exciting, but, in order to thrive in the digital age, individuals need to be equipped with a variety of skills, not all of which are strictly digital. Many channels exist to teach these skills, but certain limiting factors — access to smartphones, electricity, literacy — can hinder even the best laid upskilling plans. We hope that by looking at the bigger picture these skills gaps, digital and otherwise, will start to close.
Annabel Schiff for Caribou Digital with some excellent food for thought on how skills can be developed for meaningful work in the 'digital age'.

Creating an Afrofeminist Internet for African Women
There is an urgent need for:
Digital security resources to be adapted to local contexts and languages, as well as to be mainstreamed in educational curricula.
Training law enforcement personnel on a gender-sensitive digital safety curriculum to address complaints of online gender-based violence
Timely technical assistance, counseling, and support to women who do choose to report.
Data protection and privacy laws, as well as ensure that commissions and mechanisms are in place to implement data protection laws.
For many women across Africa, social media is the internet. And, perhaps social media has been a failed experiment altogether. With that in mind, we can continue to think critically about how we can co-create an internet that celebrates, encourages and provides safe spaces to a spectrum of identities.
Neema Iyer, Bonnita Nyamwire & Sandra Nabulega for ICTworks with an ambitious agenda for an afro & feminist Internet.

United Nations Tech4Good / ICT4D Initiatives
Various United Nations offices have launched initiatives to promote the use of computers, feature phones, smart phones and various networked devices in development and humanitarian activities, to promote digital literacy and equitable access to the "information society," and to bridge the digital divide.
Jayne Cravens lists a neat overview over the history of UN ICT4D programs.

Ethical NGO storytelling — aligning values and visuals
We can forget that the people in our pictures and videos, illustrations, and artworks have lives beyond our lens. Or we’re under pressure to find an image or clip that “works” – instead of one that is “right“.
Tara Todras-Whitehill shares some great reflections & resources on how to tell stories responsibly and respectfully!
Humanitarian crises Digital dilemmas
With the increased digitalization of our world, people affected by crises, natural or man-made, are exposed to new types of risks. This interactive website will immerse you in this chaotic adventure.
The ICRC with one new example of engaging storytelling...

Our digital lives

Malmö academics tweet their way into regional top 100 social media ranking
“Communication on social media has become an increasingly important aspect of how researchers engage with the public and build networks with colleagues. The ranking is a very useful resource to highlight active scholars in the region and the strong representation of colleagues from the Faculty of Culture and Society is one more indication of the socially relevant work we do in our research and outreach.”
A little bit of self-promotion from Malmö University regarding my appearance in a really interesting Öresund social media ranking of academics!

Publications
Decolonization and Afro-Feminism
Why do so many Africans believe they cannot break the “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” cycle? Six decades after colonial flags were lowered and African countries gained formal independence, the continent struggles to free itself from the deep legacies of colonialism, imperialism and patriarchy. Many intellectuals, politicians, feminists and other activists, eager to contribute to Africa’s liberation, have frustratingly, felt like they took the wrong path. Analyzed through the eyes of Afro-feminism, this book revisits some of the fundamental preconditions needed for radical transformation.
Sylvia Tamale for Daraja Press with a great new book which is also available as open access version.

A scoping review of celebrity endorsement in environmental campaigns and evidence for its effectiveness

Only four campaigns were evaluated, but none of the evaluations provided evidence of the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement. Evaluation focused instead on overall campaign outputs and outcomes. Claims of effectiveness were made, but the lack of measurable objectives, theory of change, outcome indicators, and critical evaluation renders it impossible to determine whether the outcomes achieved by the campaigns can be attributed to celebrity endorsement. It thus remains unclear whether celebrity endorsement can contribute to conservation efforts. It is essential for environmental practitioners and researchers to report the outcomes and lessons learned from celebrity endorsements to ensure that their future use in conservation marketing campaigns is evidence‐based, thereby improving conservation practice.
Alegría Olmedo, E. J. Milner-Gulland, Daniel W. S. Challender, Laure Cugnière, Huong Thi Thu Dao, Linh Bao Nguyen, Ana Nuno, Emelyne Potier, Martin Ribadeneira, Laura Thomas-Walters, Anita Kar Yan Wan, Yifu Wang & Diogo Veríssimo with a new open access article for Conservation Science and Practice.

Redefining Development-Resolving Complex Challenges in Developing Countries
Cross-sector collaboration worked where other, more traditional development interventions did not. This PAR intervention provides developing-country governments with a solution for complex challenges: a low-cost, locally-designed tool that dramatically improved participation and resulted in projects that impact the public good.
Jessica Kritz with a new open access resource from Cambridge University Press.

Academia

David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs, dies aged 59
A Theory, his 2018 book in which he argued that most white-collar jobs were meaningless and that technological advances had led to people working more, not less.
“Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it,” he told the Guardian in 2015 – even admitting that his own work could be meaningless: “There can be no objective measure of social value.”
Sian Cain for the Guardian.


 
As students return to universities around the world, four British-Somali students talk about navigating one of Britain’s most elite institutions: Cambridge University. Their identity is rooted in Somalinimo (‘the essence of being Somali’) and in this love letter to Somali culture, blackness and Islam, they reflect on both belonging and marginalisation. The women discuss conflicts with their parents, the sense of solidarity they have built at Cambridge, and the legacy they are creating for the next generation of British-Somalis. They give new meaning to an old Somali proverb: ‘Clothing that is not yours cannot shelter you from the cold’

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 163, 12 November 2015)

The answer to academic publishing challenges is not always open access
In addition to better and affordable open access options we need to challenge ourselves, disciplines and funders more on finding alternative valid and validated outputs in addition to a 100 Dollar edited book or a journal article hidden behind a paywall. Just turning the book into a 300-page pdf file and the journal article into an unformatted document on your website will not do the trick
Me on academic publishing-a topic that is still debated widely and hasn't moved into a positive direction in the last 5 years...

Does merging improve aid efficiency?
Firstly, the idea that an autonomous aid agency is less efficient than a merged structure appears untrue. Indeed, the UK example shows that autonomous agencies are capable of operating at low administrative costs. Combined with DFID’s reputation for high-quality and innovative aid programming, the UK’s experience suggests that autonomous agencies are not a less ‘optimal’ model than other forms of aid organisation.
Secondly, in the cases discussed, differences in the administrative efficiency of the three autonomous donor agencies suggests that efficiency may be more closely linked to donor-specific factors than to their choice in model. In other words, donors may be more or less administratively efficient with any given model, as long as it meets and is suited to their individual contexts and constraints

Rachael Calleja with a very timely reminder the week the UK launched the new FCDO...

Ebola: Lessons not learned
Can you imagine the WHO ordering the US or UK governments to end counterproductive measures such as quarantining returned Ebola health workers or banning airline flights to stricken countries? It will never happen.
Here is the true lesson to be learned: at a time of public fear and insecurity, it would be political suicide for any government to allow such external interference. The problem isn’t the institution, it only looks like it is; the problem is the governments that comprise it. That is not to say that WHO cannot and should not be improved. It is to say that the solution proposed cannot address the fundamental problem.
Marc DuBois' reflection on the WHO and Ebola offer plenty of food for discussion for our current pandemic.

Humans of New York and the Cavalier Consumption of Others
In this way, HONY joins organizations like TED and the Moth at the vanguard of a slow but certain lexical refashioning. Once an arrangement of events, real or invented, organized with the intent of placing a dagger—artistic, intellectual, moral—between the ribs of a listener or reader, a story has lately become a glossier, less thrilling thing: a burst of pathos, a revelation without a veil to pull away. “Storytelling,” in this parlance, is best employed in the service of illuminating business principles, or selling tickets to non-profit galas, or winning contests.
Vinson Cunningham's brilliant essay is still among the readings I often share with students.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

Links & Contents I Liked 373

Links & Contents I Liked 375