Links & Contents I Liked 375

Hi all, 

Welcome back! Link review #375 is another (smaller) milestone in my regular curation efforts & I hope you have a great weekend and time to enjoy some critical #globaldev readings!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
Dos and don’ts for international development partnerships
DO – Be crystal clear about what impact you aim to achieve.
DO – Work with a stakeholder map.
DO – Build trust.
DO – Be transparent about the type of partnership you have.
DO – Be realistic about the challenges you may face.
DON’T – Don’t determine your impact goals through partnership processes.
DON’T – Don’t partner if you believe you can go it all alone.
DON’T – Don’t manipulate, bluff, or overpromise.
DON’T – Don’t partner just because everyone else does.
DON’T – Don’t set up your staff for failure.

(International Development Partnerships – Dos and Don’ts)

One lightbulb moment was when one of the staff involved in lobbying with politicians gently pointed out that evidence actually isn’t that important in shaping their decisions (tough message, in a project explicitly aiming to get more and better evidence into policy). What mattered, he said, is relationships – connections, trust etc. CGG needs ‘to shift from producing evidence to creating influence’.

(In advocacy, which matters more – evidence or relationships? How has Covid changed the balance?)

The default assumption by many philanthropists is that local organisations have no broader relevance. My work was once described as “a wonderful fit for the environment in which you work, but should not be forced to fit our particular focus on scalability”. Had the funder instead asked, instead of pre-judging, they would have learned of the momentum we already had towards rapid national scale and of my vision for an Africa-wide slum transformation movement.

(Closing the race gap in philanthropy demands radical candour)

Development news
Local Villagers Just Waiting Around For American Volunteers To Leave So They Can Rebuild School Correctly

“We definitely appreciate the attempt, and it was nice of them to donate the actual building materials, but these Americans have seriously no clue as to how to frame a building, hang drywall, or wire an outlet,” said parent Michael Ogweyo, echoing the sentiments of residents who expressed their disappointment upon realizing the volunteers had no professional construction experience, confessing how awkward they felt feigning gratitude for their new structurally unsound firetrap.
Two words: The Onion :)

Change in the humanitarian sector, in numbers
We ploughed through 25 years of data to show just how much the sector has changed. Here’s our breakdown of how things looked then and now.
Jump to chapters:
Mounting displacement
Growth of the aid agency giants
Growing humanitarian spend
Increasing number of jobs
War and peace
Rising and falling humanitarian trends
Shifting focus
Riskier work environment
Cost centres
Scaling up cash assistance
Jessica Alexander & Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian with a great feature based on Reliefweb data!
Lebanon, where humanitarian vultures descended
This self-centered approach by most large aid agencies became apparent in Iraq in 2003, in Syria for the past 10 years and now in Lebanon. These organizations are no longer primarily motivated by a humanitarian imperative but rather by the prerogatives of self-perpetuation and an insatiable drive to forever grow: Hence the need to be seen in the right place at the right moment to support their fundraising drives from governments and individuals.
This modus operandi is primarily fed by a global system that is unable and unwilling to deal with the political drivers of the catastrophes they intervene in. Aid organizations, which help people in need with food, shelter and medicine therefore grow bigger, with fancier offices and larger budgets, while people in the region become poorer, more desperate and dependent on handouts. The underlying political and economic causes remain untouched, while the ruling corrupt and failing regimes and the chaotic conditions they engender continue to prevail. The political class and their cronies also directly benefit from contracts and jobs with these agencies.
I find Khaled Mansour's critique a bit too simplistic; especially UN organizations' humanitarian work is not driven by a growth imperative that regards every crisis an an opportunity. Blaming UN organizations for the failings in Iraq, Syria, Yemen or Lebanon where they often work with local staff and partners is ignoring the failings of the 'international community' and in the case of Lebanon of local decision-makers as well; and no one gets a bigger office and a nicer 4x4 because WFP's budget is growing...

Aid Workers in Conflict Zones: not heroes, not spies
Aid workers are thus exposed to multiple risks, of a physical, ethical and political nature, or in terms of their reputation. They can make mistakes that are at times fatal to their teams and/or to the local people. Complete control of the situation in the areas partially controlled by armed groups (as in Mali) is not possible, just as it is complicated to resist State pressure (as in Niger).Nevertheless, to deal with these inescapable constraints, a culture of reflection about processes and practices is gradually being built up and is promoting the professionalization of the humanitarian field specific to armed conflict zones.
Tatiana Smirnova for AFD's Ideas 4 Development with a far more nuanced engagement with humanitarian challenges than the previous post.

Following the Odisha example for developing community based disaster management in India

Disaster preparedness at the community level is conducive for speedy dissemination of alerts and mobilisation of the people necessary for effective implementation of evacuation operations-one of the primary reasons behind Odisha’s success in disaster management. As the World Bank puts it, Odisha has a good community outreach system through which people can be contacted on time. There is a network of 450 cyclone shelters and each shelter has a maintenance committee trained in rescue and relief activities. Through a network of these shelters and committees, the state has involved the entire community making it easy to disseminate warnings and evacuate people.
Sohini Bose for the Observer Research Foundation. This is an interesting success story, but disaster preparedness is far more than a technical exercise and goes beyond saving lives (which is important, of course). Addressing the underlying vulnerabilities and inequalities of climate change is a far bigger challenge and if one point becomes clear after reading this article it's that communities by the sea are and will be at the forefront of climate change and responses to it.

Patterns of Genocidal Rape in South Sudan
While I argue that the function of these rapes was to destroy the target groups, I hope to advance our understanding of genocidal rape beyond what it does to the victims, to highlight what it does for the perpetrators. I find that genocidal rape fosters the perpetrators’ cohesion and ethnic groupness. It also consolidates their ethnic ascendency, through the destruction and appropriation of the non-Dinka victim groups’ wealth, including land. I rely on past and recent research on the topic of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Rape can be a war crime, a crime against humanity, and a crime of genocide. Not every instance of mass rape is genocidal. What distinguishes genocide from crimes against humanity is that genocide means to destroy groups as such.
Clemence Pinaud for Democracy in Africa with important and harrowing insights into her research in South Sudan.

Parliamentary scrutiny of the government's approach to development aid has never been more vital

It seems the Government is advocating that the Foreign Affairs Committee will create a few additional seats to accommodate development. But is it realistic that issues IDC has championed will be picked up by a Committee that already has its hands full with the diplomatic issues of the day?
Will parliamentary scrutiny for humanitarian issues be side-lined as the new world order sees the threats of Russia and China becoming increasingly dominant? Let’s also be realistic, much of the work for select committees is actually done by remarkable staff teams – and if the Government has its way, none of those will continue with a sole focus on international development.
The Government will have us believe that the new FCDO will champion diplomacy and development together. But they are two monster remits in their own right, and it will be incredibly challenging to ensure justice is being done to both.
Sarah Champion for the House on why an independent parliamentary committee on #globaldev should stay (and probably won't...).

In advocacy, which matters more – evidence or relationships? How has Covid changed the balance?
One lightbulb moment was when one of the staff involved in lobbying with politicians gently pointed out that evidence actually isn’t that important in shaping their decisions (tough message, in a project explicitly aiming to get more and better evidence into policy). What mattered, he said, is relationships – connections, trust etc. CGG needs ‘to shift from producing evidence to creating influence’.
Duncan Green for fp2p on the limits of 'evidence' in advocacy & policy-making/-influencing.

Bigger than aid: Vanuatu’s citizenship schemes

Passport programs have a long and murky history in the Pacific. Yet many countries around the world have such schemes. In fact, there are more than 200 investment migration programs globally, by which you can buy citizenship or residency. Such programs are run not only by small island countries, but by large countries such as Australia, the US, the UK and Spain. Vanuatu’s scheme is not that dissimilar from those offered by several other small island states. Five Caribbean countries have citizenship by investment schemes. Antigua and Barbuda requires only five days of residence on the part of investors within the first five years. The other four, like Vanuatu, do not impose any minimum residence requirement.
The remoteness of Pacific island small states means that conventional routes to development are closed off, and alternatives needed. We refrain from advising Vanuatu what to do with its citizenship schemes. A full appraisal would require, among other things, familiarity with screening processes, which we lack. Nevertheless, we congratulate it on its success with and economic management of these schemes to date.
Sherman Surandiran & Stephen Howes for the DevPolicy Blog on the economic success story of Vanuatu's citizenship program and the remaining questions of signs up for it and what the overall global and reputational trade-offs could be.
International Development Partnerships – Dos and Don’ts
Dos and don’ts for international development partnerships
DO – Be crystal clear about what impact you aim to achieve.
DO – Work with a stakeholder map.
DO – Build trust.
DO – Be transparent about the type of partnership you have.
DO – Be realistic about the challenges you may face.
DON’T – Don’t determine your impact goals through partnership processes.
DON’T – Don’t partner if you believe you can go it all alone.
DON’T – Don’t manipulate, bluff, or overpromise.
DON’T – Don’t partner just because everyone else does.
DON’T – Don’t set up your staff for failure.
Katri Bertram for Partners for Impact shares some great reflections on partnerships for #globaldev.

Closing the race gap in philanthropy demands radical candour
The default assumption by many philanthropists is that local organisations have no broader relevance. My work was once described as “a wonderful fit for the environment in which you work, but should not be forced to fit our particular focus on scalability”. Had the funder instead asked, instead of pre-judging, they would have learned of the momentum we already had towards rapid national scale and of my vision for an Africa-wide slum transformation movement. Perhaps my own imagination would have been cut down by the reality of short, restricted funding cycles that defined my early years, if not for my optimism.
As a black community organiser who has achieved some success in navigating the business of philanthropy, I feel at the intersection of these dynamics. I have an obligation to open the door for the next generation of Africans beginning their journey as leaders and grassroots organisers.
Kennedy Odede for the Guardian continues the debate on how to decolonize #globaldev & tackle inherent racist tendencies of traditional 'partnerships'.

Online, virtual and remote debriefing.
The framework we use was specifically developed for non-clinical practitioners to use, has ten steps and is similar to a semi-structured interview. The debriefer asks questions, and the de-briefee responds with as much or as little detail as they are comfortable with. One of the questions is about the challenges or difficulties of the placement and the de-briefee is asked to think about three or four issues that come to mind.
There is a great deal of overlap between what is operational and what is personal on an international volunteering for development placement. A person may say that they hated their accommodation, which might feel like a relatively straight forward operational complaint. However, if you listen carefully you might discover that it was not the accommodation that caused distress or living with four colleagues, one of whom liked to listen to loud music late at night and one who never cleaned up their own dishes. Rather, with the gentle excavation tools of silence and time, you might discover it was in the accommodation that the volunteer wondered if they had made the right decision by leaving Ireland. It was there they questioned if their unique imposter syndrome was founded in truth. It was there they worried they wouldn’t be able to live up to the new professional expectations on their shoulders. Nothing to do with the accommodation at all.
Comhlámh shares some practical insights into virtual debriefings of their volunteers.

Lost in Cambodia

Why did a radical British professor become a cheer-leader for Pol Pot? And why was he murdered on the very day he'd met the brutal dictator? Andrew Anthony on the extraordinary life and death of Malcolm Caldwell
Andrew Anthony for the Guardian with a long-read from January 2010 that is worth your weekend reading time.

The Good Problem
I invited Jade Lillie, Head of Sector Development at the Australia Council for the Arts to chat with me about the role art plays in our everyday lives, how it can be used as an effective tool to address social issues, and the complexities surrounding the funding and delivery of arts project in Australia and overseas, particularly in an international development context.
We had a great chat about arts in international development, and the ethical implications of funding the arts. Have a listen to her episode: https://apple.co/2FsQILy and come back and tell us what you think!
Leigh Mathews with the latest episode of her great podcast!


Our digital lives
Biometric Bribery: Inside Semlex’s Global Playbook
OCCRP investigations have found that it has used bribes, kickbacks and insider dealing to secure contracts around the world, inflating the cost of vital documents for ordinary citizens while lining the pockets of wealthy elites.
In many of these countries, Semlex followed a similar playbook to forge a path into new markets. Executives would befriend high-level government officials or politically connected middlemen, promising to pay them for made-up services. Then the company would win lucrative contracts to supply the new biometric documents, structuring kickbacks as payments from the publicly funded contracts. Throughout, Semlex sought to cloak its actions in a veil of legal and financial secrecy.
The Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project with a new investigation.

Meet the influencers
Thinzar Shunlei Yi is a democracy and free-speech activist who has been hailed as an influential female voice in Myanmar. For her role in organizing public protests and advocating freedom of assembly, she has been called to court more than 60 times in the past two years.
(...)
When I used to advocate for youth policy, people cheered me on, and I received awards. But when I started speaking out against the current leadership and about the Kachin Civil War and discrimination against Muslim minorities, I faced a lot of opposition. Not just from pro-military groups, but from pro-nationalist, pro-government, and pro-ruling-party groups too.
Rest of World with great portraits of unusual influencers from around the globe!

Publications

Humanitarianism: Keywords
Humanitarianism: Keywords is a comprehensive dictionary designed as a compass for navigating the conceptual universe of humanitarianism. It is an intuitive toolkit to map contemporary humanitarianism and to explore its current and future articulations. The dictionary serves a broad readership of practitioners, students, and researchers by providing informed access to the extensive humanitarian vocabulary.
Antonio De Lauri edited a great new open access resource for Brill!

Global patterns of ecologically unequal exchange: Implications for sustainability in the 21st century
We provide empirical evidence that supports the theory of ecologically unequal exchange.

High-income nations are net importers of embodied materials, energy, land, and labor.

High-income nations gain a monetary trade surplus via this resource appropriation.

Lower-income nations provide resources but experience monetary trade deficits.

The observed inequality is systemic and hampers global sustainability in multiple ways.
This open access article in Ecological Economics has been shared widely-often with the comment that economists finally 'discover' what critical #globaldev researchers have been know for decades...
Contact and Commitment to Development: Evidence from Quasi‐Random Missionary Assignments
Those assigned to Africa self‐report greater interest in global development and greater charitable attitudes and behaviours. However, they also express stronger opposition to immigration from poor countries, and are less likely to be involved in political campaigns to address global development. Spending time in lower income countries may lead to greater support for charity but less support for political change.
Lee Crawfurd's article in the International Review of Social Sciences is not open access, but a working paper version of the paper is available.

'From start to success' — New handbook to support startups striving for media viability
'From start to success' is a practical guide for digital media entrepreneurs, who have founded a media outlet and are seeking sustainability whilst staying true to quality journalism. This media viability handbook is unique in that it has been written by media startups themselves and presents the learnings of 21 digital pioneers including the Philippines' Rappler, Egypt's Mada Masr and Animal Politico in Mexico. The pages are filled with tips and information these media startups from 18 different countries wished they had when they first started out. It includes lessons learned, advice for successful growth and perhaps most importantly, how to sustain a startup's success.
Deutsche Welle Akademie with a new useful resource.

Academia
NEW FOR 2020: The Decolonizing the Academy Reading List
This reading list was collated in 2015 in solidarity with those who are currently attempting to decolonise the academy. We have updated it for 2020 to reflect our continued commitment to this goal, and our support for the #BlackInTheIvory and #BlackLivesMatter movements. To be clear, our efforts here are simply to make available as many sources as possible written by African scholars.
I am a big fan of curated resources and Democracy in Africa's reading list is a great one indeed!

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 164, 20 November 2015)
If you want more diverse conferences & panels, make technology part of your diversity strategy
My points are not simply self-indulgent because I like technology in the class- and conference-room. They 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.
On the one hand, my post from 2015 has aged really well given where we are in 2020 and the year of Zoom; at the same time, Tweets from this year's APSA conference this week suggest that they charged 300 USD for virtual participation, selected a proprietary platform that didn't work (well) and in the end switched over to Zoom...inclusive digital conferences are still easier said than done, it seems...

CNN Hero of the Year event offers a glimpse into today’s depoliticized charity industry
In short, while many of the projects are commendable efforts that certainly have made an impact on vulnerable people’s lives, the award is a celebration of the American charity hero figure. It is a well-rehearsed display of how individuals can make small differences-without rocking the social boat or engaging with root causes or systemic problems. Firmly embedded in notions that outside ‘heroes’ will bring ‘change’ and ‘fix’ peoples’ lives the award is essentially a celebration of the North American non-profit industry model that is firmly embedded in philanthrocapitalistic notions that ‘we’ can help ‘them’ to become better consumers in the biggest sense of the word of our products and beliefs.
Me on the white/individual savior model that we are still critiquing today.

A discourse on Fundraising: Child Sponsorship
Archaic fundraising practices might still be in use because we can’t think of a better model, but that’s probably our fault for not trying hard enough. Brani Milosevic’s recent articles on the role of digital media in third sector fundraising are timely and poignant. In a time where digital innovation is revolutionising entire industries and sectors, non-profits are still lagging behind, seemingly devoid of the necessary innovation to offer donors the opportunity to move beyond these outdated systems of patronage. For international development practitioners, that means we need to engage donors and recipients in much more of a partnership where what’s being shared isn’t just money, or potentially isn’t even money at all sometimes, but ideas and access to each other and a 21st century version of sponsorship where we don’t create fixed identities into camps of generous benefactor and grateful, helpless victim of poverty.
Ben Francis on child sponsorship, another of those ideas we thought would be history in 2020...

Big NGOs prepare to move south, but will it make a difference?
“It’s not a bad thing that these organisations are moving. There are practical benefits to being located closer to the ground. The realities of development will be much more real if you’re in the south, compared to being in Oxford or London, he says
“Added to this, the positive spin-offs from these organisations – the trained activists, lobbyists and professional campaigners – are going to European cities at the moment. Having that community of professional people working for social change in cities such as Nairobi will benefit that city. If Oxfam ends up employing a few hundred Kenyans in their Nairobi office, that will have a positive impact on Nairobi society.
Joanna Moorhead & Joe Sandler Clarke with a discussion that seemed like a big deal in 2015 and has been sidelined in many of the current discussions around decolonizing aid...

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Links & Contents I Liked 374

Links & Contents I Liked 373