Links & Contents I Liked 380

Hi all, 

I will keep the intro short after a busy week with lots of inspiring discussions, a great panel at the DW conference, plus teaching, grading & student mentoring-very grateful I have the paid job that I have :)

My quotes of the week
You forced your civilisation upon us and now look where we are: global pandemic, climate crisis, species extinction and, driving it all, widespread spiritual poverty. In all these years of taking, taking, taking from our lands, you have not had the courage, or the curiosity, or the respect to get to know us. To understand how we see, and think, and feel, and what we know about life on this Earth.
(This is my message to the western world – your civilisation is killing life on Earth)

“I see it as a bit of a missed opportunity because I think organizations like the World Food Programme are fairly well known. They have large budgets. They have ample means to get out their own message,” Bosco said. “The Nobel has the opportunity to highlight organizations or individuals who don’t get much attention but may be doing heroic things.”
(WFP wins Nobel Prize but some question the choice)

“I wanted to show a network at international and European level.” The history of Africans in the west is not just about American plantations, that’s a particularly British obsession, she believes. “Black Lives Matter would not have had the European impact it had if there were no community-collaborative, powerful groups that exist and have been in place for decades.”
(Olivette Otele: 'Discussions of cancel culture are very middle class. Activists just survive and support each other')

Has Iceland adapted to the Instagram algorithm? Well, the landscape is the landscape; you can’t mold it, but you can build viewing platforms and selfie spots, encouraging more people to take more photos and fill out hashtags. So maybe it was pre-adapted to the Instagram ecosystem, just waiting for a faster, easier way to share images. (Algocult: Adapting to the algorithm)

Enjoy!

New from Aidnography


I participated in a really interesting panel as part of the Deutsche Welle Akademie's virtual conference and I'm quite proud that the 4 presenters & moderator really managed the 1-hour time slot well ;)!

Development news
This is my message to the western world – your civilisation is killing life on Earth
You forced your civilisation upon us and now look where we are: global pandemic, climate crisis, species extinction and, driving it all, widespread spiritual poverty. In all these years of taking, taking, taking from our lands, you have not had the courage, or the curiosity, or the respect to get to know us. To understand how we see, and think, and feel, and what we know about life on this Earth.
Nemonte Nenquimo for the Guardian with yet another reminder that there will never be such a thing as 'sustainable capitalism'...


WFP wins Nobel Prize but some question the choice
David Bosco, an associate professor of international studies at Indiana University, said the Norwegian Nobel Committee may have been trying to send a message about the importance of multilateralism in an age when international institutions have had funding shortfalls and have seen declining support, particularly from the U.S. WFP Executive Director David Beasley, an American who took up his post in 2017, has been successful at retaining U.S. funding for his agency.
The prize could have been better used to elevate lesser-known people or organizations, Bosco said.
“I see it as a bit of a missed opportunity because I think organizations like the World Food Programme are fairly well known. They have large budgets. They have ample means to get out their own message,” Bosco said. “The Nobel has the opportunity to highlight organizations or individuals who don’t get much attention but may be doing heroic things.”
Teresa Welsh for DevEx with an important reminder that this year Nobel prizes were in part motivated by showing positive American contributions in various fields.

Are warnings of a COVID-19 famine in Africa overblown?
The interviews point to the bruising experience of COVID-19 – with families losing income, and cutting back on food or school fees expenditure to see them through the difficult months.
“We must be cautious in using hyperbolic language,” noted Taylor of the NRC. “But we do need to recognise the economic hit of the coronavirus, and its impact on vulnerable people.”
However, aid workers pointed to longer-term structural problems – beyond COVID-19 – as the main drivers of risk in the African countries identified by WFP and FAO.
In South Sudan, for example, “it’s not COVID-19 that has driven people into extreme poverty, it’s the culture of violence among the political elites and the high level of corruption,” said Edmund Yakani, head of Community Empowerment for Progress, a local NGO.
In northeast Nigeria, “it’s the insecurity [as a result of Boko Haram violence] that is the major driver of needs, and this year won’t be any different,” Hussaini Abdu, Nigeria director at Plan International, told TNH.
There is “no harm in preparing for the worst”, said the aid official quoted earlier, but they then criticised some in the aid world for “jumping on [COVID-19] bandwagons”.
Obi Anyadike for the New Humanitarian investigates the tricky question of Covid-19's impact on African development.
International Development Committee, Tuesday 13 October 2020 Meeting started at 2.34pm, ended 5.07pm
Subject: Sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector: next steps
Paisley Dodds, Philip Kleinfeld, Nellie Peyton & Robert Flummerfelt talk about their investigation of aid worker sexual misconduct in a session of the UK Parliament's International Development Committee.

“They did nothing”: UN peacekeeping missions’ forgotten local staff
As a frustrated UN official who wished to remain anonymous told me: “The use of local staff is vital”, but these individuals often face impossible trade-offs between “their role as human rights officers, compassion about the suffering of people from their kin often coupled with psychological stress when listening to their stories, and concerns about their own safety”.
Tanja Müller for African Arguments with a story about the complex relationships between 'global' and 'local' aid workers/peacekeepers.

Global health: time for radical change?
The message of GBD is that unless deeply embedded structural inequities in society are tackled and unless a more liberal approach to immigration policies is adopted, communities will not be protected from future infectious outbreaks and population health will not achieve the gains that global health advocates seek. It's time for the global health community to change direction.
Richard Horton for the Lancet with an important reminder about the political context of the Global Burden of Disease and how it challenges global health further.
Beating the Drum – how do influencing networks get results?
To ensure an effective network that balances inequalities in power with capacity development, it helps to have clear governance structures in place that are representative of the diversity present in the network. Several networks have indicated struggles with diversifying their leadership or creating a genuinely equal power balance when in fact the financial resources seem to come from one larger organization in the network.’ All good stuff, but it left me with lots more questions (some acknowledged in the report). How to manage the inevitable tensions between insider and outsider strategies? How important is luck and accident and what does that mean for your planning processes? Does the inevitable move online come at a cost – networks spread quicker, but trust is diluted)?
Duncan Green for fp2p introduces an interesting report that raises further questions about the elusive quest for influencing politics.

‘Now we have room to speak. But we still have a long way to go’
My God, 100 per cent. Now we have room to speak. Before we didn’t. But we still have a long way to go. For example, in UNHCR, where I have been working, I can see a change, some women are in high-level management, but women are still underrepresented. I hope we can continue working towards gender equality in the UN to be an example for others.
My main concern is education. Today we see more girls in school, while 25 years ago they were mostly at home supporting with chores. It is still not enough. I would like to see 100 per cent of children, both girls and boys, in school, whether in or out of refugee camps. It does not matter if we are rich or poor, we need to focus on education.
Sarah Schafer talks to Juliette Murekeyisoni; since I don't always just want to criticize how large organizations like UNHCR communicate: This is a very good example of how you can convey some important facts and the work you do with an engaging story/teller!

The aid expectations gap: political analysis and how to deal with it personally
Consequently, the same program or objective can be repeated again and again, the failure of previous programs explained away by the difficult environment; this is convenient for not only the domestic, but also external parties. Increased financial scrutiny by donors or by the parliaments supervising them has led to increased layers of management and accounting (in itself an opportunity for obtaining lucrative positions or syphoning off funds), and more sophisticated mechanisms of obfuscation. Stringent security rules which increasingly apply also to journalists and academic researchers (see my recent post on this subject) keep prying eyes away. In truth, donors, implementing agencies and recipients have a shared interest in maintaining this system; the introduction of new parties such as independent ‘third party monitoring’ organizations has only added new players to the fold, and is incapable of reforming this systematic diversion of international funding.
I still like personal #globaldev blogs and I'm glad I found Robert Kluijver's!
CODESRIA Bulletin
This issue of CODESRIA Bulletin is divided into two; the first, a completely thematic cluster of essays on RCTs and, the other, a set of two essays on inequality and inclusive development (Jimi Adesina) and the final article on “Mandela-wash” that discusses how the statue of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, has been used to excuse, rationalise or simply clean up abhorrent acts of abuse, injustice and plunder associated with legacies of apartheid (Robin Cohen).
(...)
Wandia Njoya locates the persisting legitimisation of experimentation in historic Eurocentric assumptions about knowledge production in Africa. She notes the failure in RCTs experiments to seriously consider ethical questions, thus overlooking the principle of “do no harm” that is so critical to research design.
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa with 41 pages of great food for #globaldev thought!

Technology and Education for the most marginalised Post-COVID-19
There are five things that a government must do once a holistic vision has been crafted that is committed to using digital technologies to create a resilient education system that provides education and learning for all:
· Create a whole society approach that delivers equity in education;
· Enable access for all to digital technologies by providing resilient funded infrastructures for learning, funded by Central Government rather than Ministries of Education
· Be context specific at all times, especially in terms of the technologies used in education and the content crafted for learners;
· Ensure that appropriate pedagogies are used in the practices of teaching and learning; and
· Use digital technologies wisely and safely.
Tim Unwin, Azra Naseem, Alicja Pawluczuk, Mohamed Shareef, Paul Spiesberger, Paul West & Christopher Yoo for the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D with an interesting, but Word-doc-heavy resource.
An Old Conflict and a New Way of War
To summarise, what we are seeing in Nagorno-Karabakh is not just the revival of an old conflict, but also something new. Beyond the tragedy of the war itself, the first major state-on-state conflict of this decade should be viewed as a harbinger of what is to come. The effective and overwhelming use of armed drones and the deployment of quasi-state mercenary forces are likely to become the norm, especially in low-intensity conflicts in the developing world. The failure of international actors to apply de-escalatory political pressure due to distraction is also likely to be an increasingly common occurrence. Policymakers would do well to pay attention to these developments and the more dangerous world they create.
Michael Cruickshank for the Hertie School Security Club with a good overview over the developments around the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Olivette Otele: 'Discussions of cancel culture are very middle class. Activists just survive and support each other'
A rich theme in her work is that of communities and networks of support that have existed for centuries, and which were, and still are, crucial in the consolidation of African European communities. In her book, she describes enslaved populations in Europe not as atomised helpless individuals, but well read and informed about their legal rights in different jurisdictions. Slaves often challenged their owners in courts of law, and drew on the knowledge of other members of the liberated and indentured populations.
That is still the way forward for Otele. “I wanted to show a network at international and European level.” The history of Africans in the west is not just about American plantations, that’s a particularly British obsession, she believes. “Black Lives Matter would not have had the European impact it had if there were no community-collaborative, powerful groups that exist and have been in place for decades.”
Nesrine Malik talks to Olivette Otele for the Guardian including about her new that I already ordered, of course ;)!
Specialist publisher of Middle East books weathers Covid storm with subscription service
The Pandemic Century was one of the first works from Hurst’s recent publications and backlist that it is offering to readers through a somewhat unique subscription service to reach its readers directly during the pandemic.
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the publishing business across the world merely expedited plans that Dwyer had in the pipeline to launch the subscription service in the guise of the “Friends of Hurst” scheme.
“It's something we've been thinking of doing in the past for much of 2019 and the onset of Covid certainly quickened the pulse in terms of moving on that,” he told The National.
The pandemic has forced rapid change in virtually every aspect of life and publishing has been no exception. There was also a distinct paradox that demand for books increased during lockdown, but the means of printing and delivering them were put in a stranglehold, Dwyer said.
Callum Paton for the National; Olivette Otele's book is also published by Hurst and even though I'm not a member as I live outside the UK I try to order as many of their books as possible!

Leading Resilience: A Guide for Editors and News Managers on Working with Freelancers Exposed to Trauma

This guide is written to help you navigate some of these issues. It assumes, as a starting point, a number of important foundation points.
A culture of safety in the newsroom benefits everyone – permanent staff, freelancers, news sources and the wider community.
News gatherers are highly likely to be exposed to trauma during their course of their work.
Resilience is normal – most news gatherers can and do cope well with this aspect of their work – but sometimes the impacts are lasting.
The risk of serious mental health consequences can be mitigated by support from colleagues, managers and news organizations.
The best way to respond to these risks is to become informed about trauma and its potential impact on news gatherers and actively support and engage with your team about these issues.
Trauma informed journalism leads to better journalism.
The ability to acknowledge and discuss personal emotional reactions to stories is a sign of professional strength and resilience.
The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma published this great resource already in August, but sometimes it takes some digital trickling down (thanks Imogen!) before it appears here...
Our digital lives
Governance and Public Policy in the Digital Age
Ultimately the power of social media in this space is that it creates an unmediated symbiosis between the communicator and audiences, which traditional media does not do.
A lot of this is good. It has made international relations more visible to ordinary people and given citizens an inroad to participate in and influence public policy. But as the quality of global leadership deteriorates, so to do the filters that prevent them from abusing their power to intimidate other countries – just because they can. Imagine going to bed one night and waking up the next morning to find that your president has declared war on a country half way around the world, and you now have to live under that spectre of fear and uncertainty for an unspecified amount of time.
Nanjala Nyabola for Democracy in Africa with another thoughtful essay for the #ICT4D community.

Algocult: Adapting to the algorithm (Plus upstate Airbnb panic)
Has Iceland adapted to the Instagram algorithm? Well, the landscape is the landscape; you can’t mold it, but you can build viewing platforms and selfie spots, encouraging more people to take more photos and fill out hashtags. So maybe it was pre-adapted to the Instagram ecosystem, just waiting for a faster, easier way to share images. Locals told me it was the massive volcano eruption in 2010 that really sparked the new wave of tourism to Iceland, simply because so many people saw images of the landscape on TV. Then they were like, I want to go there. So they did and then posted their own photos.
Adaptation is a self-reinforcing cycle because the more creators match the established format, the more that format gets entrenched, the more the algorithm only spreads stuff that is similar to it and the more users come to expect it.
Kyle Chayka with a great newsletter/blog/substack.

Publications
Inclusive Coordination: Building an Area-Based Humanitarian Coordination Model
A reorientation is badly needed: toward a coordination and planning system that is foundationally organized around the needs of frontline aid recipients rather than the global sectors and mandates of the aid agencies that exist to serve them. A hybrid next-generation coordination and planning architecture, centered around principles borrowed from areabased programming, could retain strengths of the existing coordination architecture while addressing many of its weaknesses. Area-based approaches treat needs holistically within a defined community or geography; provide aid that is explicitly multisector and multidisciplinary; and design and implement assistance through participatory engagement with affected communities and leaders. Integrating these elements of area-based logic into the humanitarian coordination architecture would better align humanitarian action around the expressed needs and aspirations of crisis-affected people.
Jeremy Konyndyk, Patrick Saez & Rose Worden for the Center for Global Development with a new paper.

Beyond #MeToo – learning from anti-sexual harassment activisms globally
“From our point of view, working and living in Pakistan, it’s really important that publications like this [IDS Bulletin] help to provide evidence and the evidence for us, so far, has come largely from the Western world with respect to sexual harassment.
“It provides a very important evidence base for countries in the global south, which we can start using to lobby for more awareness and more protective measures in our country.”
New open access IDS Bulletin.

The Expertise Curse: How Policy Expertise Can Hinder Responsiveness
we find that officials with more expertise in a given domain are more likely to dismiss appeals from voters who hold contrasting opinions, regardless of their specific position on the policy, and less likely to accept that opposing views may represent the majority opinion. Consistent with the proposed mechanism, in a second experiment we show that inducing perceptions of expertise increases self-confidence. The results suggest that representatives with more expertise in a given area are paradoxically less capable of voicing public preferences in that domain.
Miguel Pereira & Patrik Öhberg with new open access paper.
Academia
In the current climate, Rapid Ethnographic Assessments are the research method we need
REA requires an understanding of the purpose and value of qualitative methods and ethnography, as well as the strengths and limitations of REAs. There is often a misperception among novices that REA is “just talking to people” and that anyone, regardless of training, can do it. We wrote the book because we feel that both the methods and results of REAs are not being shared widely enough with those who might wish to learn more about how to undertake similar work. Often REA reports are either restricted to a small audience, or circulated internally within an organization, appearing only in the gray literature, which makes them difficult to find and locate. Even when those conducting REAs try to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals, they face considerable challenges because findings based on rapid or qualitative methods are viewed as too narrow or not as trustworthy as those based on quantitative data.
I'm reading 
Thurka Sangaramoorthy & Karen Kroeger's insights REA for LSE Impact of Science blog as a reminder to go back to the old-school #globaldev discussion on Rapid Rural Appraisals ;)!

Science has been in a “replication crisis” for a decade. Have we learned anything?
But until those improvements translate to a higher percentage of papers replicating and a difference in citations for good papers versus bad papers, it’s a small victory. And it’s a small victory that has been hard-won. After tons of resources spent demonstrating the scope of the problem, fighting for more retractions, teaching better statistical methods, and trying to drag fraud into the open, papers still don’t replicate as much as researchers would hope, and bad papers are still widely cited — suggesting a big part of the problem still hasn’t been touched.
We need a more sophisticated understanding of the replication crisis, not as a moment of realization after which we were able to move forward with higher standards, but as an ongoing rot in the scientific process that a decade of work hasn’t quite fixed.
Kelsey Piper for Vox with a long & detailed review of the 'replication crisis'; I wonder whether we can view this debate independent from the (primarily North American) political economy of science production, journal publishing and career aspects of high-profile publications, though.

What we were reading 4 years ago

(Link review 169, 8 January 2016)
Why we need to stop turning refugee stories into aid agency vanity projects and start listening
The next time you start thinking about some sort of engagement or communications activity when we are ‘capturing voices’ of, say, refugees. Think about what they really need, what their concerns and fears are, and how this can not only be communicated to governments, aid agencies, and the actors immediately empowered to make changes, but that these agents are able to bring these voices – this feedback – into their programming and plans for the assistance they provide.
John Warnes' post for UNHCR is still succint & important!

Six communications trends NGOs should follow in 2016
We want real-life experiences from our communications so it’s no surprise that 2015 saw the steady rise of virtual reality, a trend that looks likely to skyrocket in 2016. The non-profit sector is leading the way, linking the emotional with “cold” facts in a drive to encourage fundraising and a connection with audiences. Take Amnesty International’s immersive experience of life on the ground in Aleppo, Save the Children’s East African Appeal or Oxfam’s Traces App. Rather than telling audiences or asking them to read about the issue, these examples help them relate to what they are seeing in a unique and immersive way. Could 2016 be the year we start to see development research teams sharing their experiences with policymakers like this?
Caroline Cassidy for the Guardian...whatever happened to virtual reality?!?

UNHCR Chief: Election of a Bureaucrat
Remaining “relevant” is a concern for most intergovernmental organizations. In theory the UNHCR should not have this anxiety — the list of people under its concern continues to grow year-on-year. Today it eclipses 50 million. And yet the decreasing appetite among states to grant asylum space, shrinking aid budgets, refusal to connect conflict with human spillage, and condemning of protracted refugee situations to recesses of collective minds makes the UNHCR something of the elephant in the room. There are other actors at play now too, not all of them tangible — climate change, urbanization, fragmenting power bases and their reconfiguration down private networks, non-state actors, explosions in communication. “Syria is the canary in the coalmine,” said Guterres. Whether the UNHCR will be permitted the funds and space to stand up to this reality is a pressing concern.
Helen Mackreath for the L.A. Review of Books; the questions are still valid, but UNHCR is also still very much alive & kicking...

Welcome to “The Development Set”
Over the coming months, we’ll publish a range of stories about global health and the business of “doing good.” They’ll be in the form of investigative features, photo essays, personal stories, letters from the field, wide-ranging debates, and more.
Sarika Bansal introducing the Development Set; this was a great project and their archive is well worth checking out!

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Links & Contents I Liked 378

Links & Contents I Liked 379