Links & Contents I Liked 382
A long week is coming to a well-deserved end...we examined great student blog projects this week and I also read really nice communication plans that make teaching during such a difficult time very worthwhile-even if that meant that I had to miss quite a few interesting panels elsewhere.
Quite a few interesting readings still appeared on my radar and I am happy share them with you!
My quotes of the week
“What prompts people to give is an emotional connection – that doesn’t have to be pity,” said Davison. “It can be joy, it can be anger, it can be a sense of positivity and hope.” (Comic Relief stops sending celebrities to African countries)
The logic of international development still relies on reproducing the same destructive economic model that drives inequality, environmental destruction, and climate breakdown. Aid is a precious and powerful resource for influencing norms and behaviour, providing global public goods, and protecting the most vulnerable. But following the same logic that got us here won’t end needs. (Crises have changed. Can the aid industry?)
There are so many things we do not know about Facebook’s content moderation practices, especially in African countries. For example, how many content moderators are there dedicated to the African region broadly and Nigeria specifically? How do these moderators work together with local fact-checkers and what informs their actions? When are human judgments brought into automated decision-making systems? Also, beyond Nigeria, how inclusive and representative are moderators with respect to language, subregions etc.?
(Facebook’s Content Moderation Errors Are Costing Africa Too Much)
New from our Communication for Development students
As I said, this week, we were busy wrapping up our New Media, ICT & Development module.
9 student groups presented 9 great blogs they have been working on since September. Such a great range of designs, topics & interpretations of #ICT4D & #globaldev! I am highlighting one post for each group, but do explore & browse!
Indigenous Languages: Part 2 – Digital Inclusion
Data by indigenous people for indigenous people – An Interview with David Berger
Stop filming us: a documentary film about white saviorism
DOs and DON’Ts of communicating social change
Waking up (in) the development sector – time to centre anti-racist efforts!
The Media is Whitewashing Climate Activism
Podcast: The Revolution Won’t Be TikTokked
An African Feminist Perspective: Online gender-based violence
The Mediterranean Women Digital Summit – Addressing the Digital Gender Divide
Comic Relief stops sending celebrities to African countries
“What prompts people to give is an emotional connection – that doesn’t have to be pity,” said Davison. “It can be joy, it can be anger, it can be a sense of positivity and hope.”Jim Waterson for the Guardian; I guess Comic Relief really wants to say good-bye to White saviour communication rituals in 10 easy steps...
As part of the new approach on Wednesday the charity will preview three films by filmmakers from across the African continent exploring the impact of mental health issues, climate change and young women escaping forced marriages.
The next Red Nose Day event is due to be held in March 2021, when the changes should become apparent to viewers. Rather than fronting films about work in African nations, white celebrities are likely to be used to provide introductions to films or asked to promote locally made films on their personal social media accounts.
Terje Rod-Larsen, a Norwegian Diplomat, Quits a New York Think Tank Amid Links to Jeffrey Epstein
As the Norwegian newspaper DN described it: “[T]he group was to consist of up to six members, each ‘accomplished and distinguished in their fields’. Together, they were to contribute expertise, analysis and guidance to the President of Mongolia, particularly with respect to regional and global peace and security.Dulcie Leimbach & Barbara Crossette for PassBlue; the link to Epstein makes for catchy headlines, but it's actually a rather inconvenient broader look into the murky waters of Think Tank funding...
“Each group member were to receive a payment of $100,000 from the Mongolian government annually,” DN said. “In addition, all expenses for two semi-annual meetings were to be covered, including any companion. IPI were to appoint the members, that were subsequently to be approved by the Mongolian President’s office.”
It is, therefore, difficult to understand why the Norwegian Nobel Committee found it fit to award WFP the Nobel Peace Prize, given that the UN’s food agency has failed to adhere to almost all best practices in human resources management, and has not done enough to protect those who report internal abuse or wrongdoing. Nor has WFP improved conditions for peace in conflict-affected countries or prevented the use of hunger as a weapon of war, as I have illustrated above.Rasna Warah for Africa is a Country; excellent food for thought-perhaps UN agencies & large bureaucracies should just not receive the prize anymore?
Why Diversity Training Has Been Suspended At USAID
That's why this move by the Trump administration and USAID is so worrisome to members of the aid and development community. Marie-Rose Romain Murphy, co-founder and president of Fondation Communautaire Haitienne-Espwa (the Haiti Community Foundation) said that in a global development system already "dominated by white privilege and white men," the executive order is a setback in the conversation around how racism and sexism are not just a matter of "a few bad apples" but rather systemic problems. "This is not a good signal," she said.Joanne Lu for NPR Goats & Soda provides more background to the impact of the diversity training ban on #globaldev.
US Christian right pours more than $50m into Africa
More than twenty US Christian groups known for fighting against LGBT rights and access to safe abortion, contraceptives and comprehensive sexuality education have spent at least $54 million in Africa since 2007. These are the results of a new investigation by openDemocracy, which documents the scale of this spending for the first time.Lydia Namubiru & Khatondi Soita for openDemocracy with a great investigation into the US Christian rights project to curtail (more) human rights.
Facebook’s Content Moderation Errors Are Costing Africa Too Much
Starting to look worse & worse for @VodacomTanzania & @VodafoneGroup. Prominent politicians and leading figures around the world have come out to condemn the company’s involvement in electoral manipulation in Tanzania. #Tanzaniaelection2020 #vodafoneshame https://t.co/H78Pnjk5GA— Prof Nic Cheeseman (@Fromagehomme) October 28, 2020
It’s that lack of specific answers that is particularly troubling here. There are so many things we do not know about Facebook’s content moderation practices, especially in African countries. For example, how many content moderators are there dedicated to the African region broadly and Nigeria specifically? How do these moderators work together with local fact-checkers and what informs their actions? When are human judgments brought into automated decision-making systems? Also, beyond Nigeria, how inclusive and representative are moderators with respect to language, subregions etc.? For example, how impactful is the Facebook team in Nairobi so far? Facebook now plans a local office in Lagos—what role will it and other regional offices play on content moderation policies? Beyond sales, partnerships, and communications, what specific policy roles will the Lagos office be playing?Tomiwa Ilori for Slate shares some scary insights into the power of Facebook & its black box of (local) content moderation.
Statement from Board of Directors on Women Deliver’s Transformation
The report’s findings can be reviewed in full here and our key takeaways are:Women Deliver asked a corporate lawyers to look into their organizational culture & received depoliticized corporate feedback so they can 'move forward' as they say...
Seen in context, Women Deliver exists in a society built on systemic racism and colonialism, which has traditionally excluded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, and other traditionally underrepresented groups from accessing power.
Women Deliver has undergone a period of rapid growth, during which its policies and practices lagged behind, which may have potentially left opportunity for bias in implementation.
The workplace culture has been too demanding, urgent, and high-pressure.
Women Deliver is prepared to address the challenges identified in the report.
Voices from the pandemic frontlines: Health worker protests and proposals from 84 countries
"Decolonization can't necessarily happen from within - we need outside pressure on institutions - and they will need to pay in order to decolonize." Lioba Hirsch on #decolonizing humanitarian action at #HCBerlin. pic.twitter.com/0RgIeeigBt— Lukas Zechner (@L_Zechner) October 26, 2020
Despite the challenges they are facing, health workers are finding increasingly creative ways of raising their voices and protesting the abysmal working conditions. Many do it not just for themselves, but the patients they take care of every day. “If I get sick, who will take care of you?” asked Peruvian health workers at a protest demanding better working conditions. Several innovative protests stand out, from health workers in France holding a “dancing protest” for better working conditions, to a Doctor in India attending patients outside as a form of protest against non-functioning air conditioning and unhygienic conditions inside of the hospital.Jennifer Johnson for fp2p with a great overview over global health worker protests.
Mongolia plans river diversion as mining boom sucks Gobi dry
Batulzii, a herder from Noyon, said, “In our county, there are two coal mines. Though we live about 7-8 kilometres from the mines, we people as well as animals are all covered with dust and breathe polluted air and drink polluted water. We started getting genetically mutated livestock like baby goats and camels born with extremely large heads, three hind legs and so on. That’s from drinking poisoned water. The well field where we used to water 500 camels dried up. It can’t even water 20 camels now. I had to reduce the number of livestock from 1,000 to 500 so that I can have sufficient water from the well fields around.”Batsuuri Khaltar for the Third Pole with more environmental bad news from another global 'periphery'...
Many herders in South Gobi have been forced to give up their traditional livelihood for similar reasons, though there are no official estimates of the numbers.
Crises have changed. Can the aid industry?
The international development and humanitarian systems developed specialised institutions and commitments to address the symptoms of growing risk, vulnerability, marginalisation, and exclusion. But the logic of international development still relies on reproducing the same destructive economic model that drives inequality, environmental destruction, and climate breakdown. Aid is a precious and powerful resource for influencing norms and behaviour, providing global public goods, and protecting the most vulnerable. But following the same logic that got us here won’t end needs. This should be our moment to constructively challenge the purpose and models of aid. We need to devise something better.Lydia Poole for the New Humanitarian with this week's must-read op-ed!
Crossing the Rubicon: virtual diplomacy in a changing world
The big question is whether we are dealing with ‘evolution’ or ‘revolution’. Is this diplomacy a new, revolutionary experience that requires new techniques and methods, or are we simply trying to replicate traditional diplomacy in an unfamiliar, virtual space? Whatever the case, we need to be able to adapt how we work so that we are not left behind.Nicholas Hawton & Shahrokh Shakerian for ICRC's Humanitarian Law & Policy. My question is if the ICRC and other diplomatic entities are still as much in charge as they think they may be; drone strikes, digital platform dominance, Internet disruptions, election manipulation, unpunished war crimes...the list of how human rights are violated is long (even in just one blog post...) and the traditional humanitarian system seems weaker than ever...
What is clear from the perspective of the ICRC is that physical proximity to populations in need is essential, and whilst virtual diplomacy can and will play an increasing role, the presence of ICRC delegates in the field, living, understanding and supporting the struggles of others will remain – using a principled humanitarian approach – the absolute raison d’être of the organization.
Fed up with what she calls government enabled endemic corruption and conventional approaches to expressing dissent, she discovers the way to get attention and build an audience around her fight against dirty politics is to get dirty herself.Gregory Warner, Eyder Peralta, Tina Antolini, Aviva DeKornfeld & Halima Athumani for NPR's Rough Translation podcast talk to Kenyan activist Stella Nyanzi.
She lobs personal attacks at the president, Yoweri Museveni, with elaborate curses, mockingly erotic poetry on Facebook, public nakedness, and other displays of "radical rudeness" in an effort to get under his skin.
The decolonization debacle
The main reason we can perhaps not successfully decolonize is because we have created an internal form of colonization within Pakistan, where the rich control the poor. Where the majority stalks the minority. A situation not very different from our pre-partition history, just perhaps, worse.Themrise Khan for the News in Pakistan.
How can we decolonize ourselves from the global power fraternity, when we have no way of doing it internally? How can we fight for autonomy and sovereignty, when our own citizens aren’t free and independent?
What Will It Take for Philanthropy to Trust?
As an African-American woman in philanthropy who has very few peers who look like me, I am all for philanthropy hiring more BIPOC. But the essential question that funders should be asking themselves right now is why hasn’t philanthropy hired BIPOC in greater numbers? Why don’t white people in philanthropy trust BIPOC enough to hire them, let alone fund them? What is that about? And please don’t answer, “We don’t know where to find qualified BIPOC to hire.” If we aren’t past this pathetic excuse, we should throw in the towel here and now.Lisa Jackson for the Center for Effective Philanthropy with a reminder that 'our' sector is full of reforms and good intentions, and less keen on fundamental disruptions...
The cry for trust in philanthropy is not new. In the span of my 25-year career, this is at least the second formal reckoning I’ve experienced. Anyone remember D5? Launched in 2010, D5 was a five-year coalition effort funded and led by several large foundations to address the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field. As D5’s mission stated, “As our constituencies become increasingly diverse, we need to understand and reflect their rich variety of perspectives in order to achieve greater impact.” That was 10 years ago.
Localize or Perish: What You Need to Know about Localization
Overall, localization, in its full meaning, entails fundamental transformation of international cooperation mechanisms. While its complexity cannot be overstated, one of the key ingredients is that of flexible and predictable funding directly oriented towards local actors, while ensuring flexibility of program design and collaborative agenda–setting. On the donor side, it means focusing on strengthening local actors and the processes, and not just the outcomes of service provision handled by local partners. Trust-based and inclusive relationships between donors and local partners are needed – and this is where the push to transition from compliance to accountability becomes important. Replacing outdated regulations, such as Canada’s direction and control rules, which ban charities from allowing the agency of their partners, would be a key step in this direction.Gloria Novovic for Cooperation Canada with a great overview over the 'localization' debate(s) in #globaldev.
Graphic Novel: Motherhood in crisis
1. Today @stewardingloss we're publishing our first set of materials to support better organisational endings and tend to and steward loss in nonprofits. In this blog @ionaflawrence shares some of what we’ve learned through the work so far https://t.co/wxwXsq75sL— Cassie Robinson 🏳️🌈 (@CassieRobinson) October 28, 2020
The journeys that pregnant women take to reach healthcare provision can be long and traumatic. In this comic series, four women share their stories of hardship and survival in a country where falling pregnant means risking death.Laurence Ivil, Alicia Prager & Saidu Bah for Al-Jazeera with a powerful new graphic novel.
Will it end with us?
While Mum loves her family, she has not loved her interactions with the state. One of her earliest memories is getting an “award” at school for the most absences: 112 days. The whole assembly laughed at her. No one knew that her mum was dying and that she had to stay home to help look after her younger siblings.The McCarthy children for E-Tangata & Maori (hi)story in New Zealand.
And, throughout Mum’s school years, nothing ever happened to the kids who constantly called her racial slurs. No teachers questioned why she and her siblings kept showing up to school with horrific injuries. No one was held responsible for the significant abuse she suffered after her parents died and she became a ward of the state. Nothing changed when she raised concerns about the standard of education we and our predominantly Māori classmates were receiving at our rural primary school.
And now, even in her 50s, she is still having terrible interactions with the health system.
Our digital lives
How Syria's disinformation wars destroyed the co-founder of the White Helmets
“The world is suffering from a crisis of hope. Our hope that a normal person can be heroic, that they can make a profound difference, is constantly under attack by dark and powerful forces. James stood up to those forces unflinchingly time and time again in the name of what was right. That he was ultimately felled by petty jealousy and grave injustice makes his loss even more absurdly painful.”Martin Chulov for the Guardian; the headline says it all, but it's still a sober long-read on how much the war in Syria has destroyed so far...
As Winberg was trying to restart her life, Vrieswijk was making headway in the investigation of Mayday Rescue’s finances. By mid-March, he was starting to doubt the tales of fraud and self-enrichment that he had heard when he first arrived in Istanbul. “It gradually became obvious that these allegations could not be true,” he said.
“We could not find a single penny spent that was not justified, or could not be explained,” he added. “My impression of James and Emma changed wholeheartedly. In the end, it was obvious that neither Emma, nor James, or any of the staff had embezzled money. I went 180 degrees on this. From starting out thinking he was a mob leader who had enriched himself in outrageous ways, I came to see him as somebody I really admire.”
The What and the How of Teaching Global Development
Drawing on writers and formats like films, indigenous poetry and activist blogs and declarations that are marginalised from Eurocentric knowledge production, the module not only introduces students to subaltern voices but also decenters written texts as the sole source of authoritative knowledge. By making marginalised perspectives and decolonial struggles the central focus of her module, Laing moves beyond the ‘just add and stir approach’ to decolonizing curricula, which is common but insufficient to decenter Eurocentrism. Students often describe this module as transformational and hopeful. One student commented how ‘having had to unlearn in third year was truly beneficial but I wish I had known sooner.’ Like other students, he felt that the teaching about (post)colonialism he had received prior to this module had not sufficiently shown him the ongoing effects of coloniality and especially that there are movements actively working to undo colonial legacies. Another student reflected that ‘the module ensured me that it was possible to follow a path which uses creative pedagogic approaches to work towards positive change, outside a more Westernised approach to education.’Anke Schwittay for Convivial Thinking on what decolonizing #globaldev teaching' can mean in practice.
Nora Cruz Quebral 1926 - 2020
The Nora C. Quebral, a visionary and DevCom pioneer. She was my adviser and later, a colleague at the College of DevCom at UPLB. Those were glorious years of learning and discovery for me - at the time, the nascent science and art of development communication as she conceived this field. Perfect blend of knowledge, which has gone a long way, that even my late father saw its fruition in my work life. Forever grateful that I got my graduate teaching assistantship at DevCom because of Ma'm Nora who told my father I can pursue my masters degree then at the Dept. through the Azolla Program. Indeed, she molded me on thinking deeply about things that should matter, the love for service and development work, the pursuit for eloquent thought when communicating, and being purposeful about change that needs to happen.Farewell to one of the founding mothers of 'Development Communication'!
What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 171, 29 January 2016)
Representation of aid in/and pop culture: Reading Living Level-3
The concept of ‘listening’ is featured quite heavily throughout the novel-maybe as a representation of how today’s aid work works. Leila’s story between ‘finding herself’ as an Egyptian-American expat aid worker, the real humanitarian demands in Iraq and a world where ‘our aid’ will not necessarily solve ‘their’ and our problems is a story fit for 2016 discussions on these topics and I look forward to discussing them with students and colleagues in more detail!Me, on WFP's venture into comics/graphic novels.
The European Refugee crisis: 10 Communications with Communities challenges
“It’s like no other emergency” or “there are huge challenges, like nowhere I’ve ever worked” are common phrases I’ve found myself saying post deployment to almost every humanitarian operation I’ve worked in. I’m definitely not alone – humanitarian workers are often prone to describing their latest field experience as ‘particularly difficult’, ‘unique’ or ( even more vaguely) as ‘complex’. Sticking with a ‘it’s like no other context’ mantra makes extremely limited headway in terms of defining the challenges and even less progress towards finding solutions.Katie Drew reflects on UNHCR's CwC challenges during the 'refugee crisis'.
Aid in contested areas — reflecting diversity in staffing and measurement
To what extent are process, societal change and ostensibly secondary changes in relationships important to them? The linkages between achieving the primary objectives of aid programs and the processes, and, potentially more critical, results emerging through subtle relationship-based approaches deserve greater exploration and research.Simon Richards on delivering aid in Myanmar.
Nuance, sensitivity and subtlety are not normally words that are easily associated with the humanitarian aid and development sector. The dominant aid methodology — of applying a linear model to change and the achievement of fixed objectives in a uniform way in any environment in a time-bound manner — does not lend itself to flexibility and complexity. It is hard enough for agencies to mainstream other dynamics, such as gender and conflict sensitivity, into programs in an effective manner; channelling social byproducts of integrated engagements takes this to the next level.