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Hi all, 

We have a full #globaldev reading schedule this week!
From Plexiglass to child soldiers, from MSF to UN & FCDO, from Bolivia to Bangladesh & so much more!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
These institutions were designed under colonialism and they remain in key respects colonial in character. (Apartheid in the World Bank and the IMF)

The first priority of the FCDO’s strategy should be to ensure the UK lives up to its values domestically and in its relations with other countries, if it wishes to have its efforts taken seriously.
(To promote open societies globally, the FCDO must be more realistic, politically savvy and self-aware)

In a younger, angrier, increasingly impatient world, a distant club of men in dark suits is doomed to irrelevance. Where the UN matters is on the ground, deploying its remarkable mandate to fight for those who need it most.
(Slow Death or New Direction for the UN?)

As we deploy more and more plexi barriers to support our own purity and security, we also extend plastic’s longevity. The residues of our plastic age will linger in the environment for hundreds of years — by which time our own bodies may have succumbed to a new pandemic, or to the climatic crises effected by the plasticization and carbonization of our world. And as long as we address such existential threats by hiding behind (literal and metaphorical) plexiglass shields rather than making systemic changes, it’s all but certain that the microbes and environmental milieux from which we attempt to cordon ourselves off will instead become ever more entwined with human life. (Purity and Security)

Development news
Responsible business initiative rejected at the ballot box
Ten years in the making, a proposal to hold Swiss companies accountable for their actions abroad was rejected in a nationwide vote on Sunday despite it winning majority popular support.
Jessica Davis Plüss for SwissInfo; the Swiss business model will continue to be not challenged too much by regulatory frameworks...

Apartheid in the World Bank and the IMF

The inequalities that characterise voting power in the World Bank and the IMF have their roots in the colonial period. After all, these institutions were founded in 1944. Countries that were colonies at the time (like India) were integrated into the system on unequal terms, subordinated to their colonisers. Other colonies were not allowed to join until after independence, in some cases well into the 1970s and 80s. These institutions were designed under colonialism and they remain in key respects colonial in character.
Jason Hickel for Al-Jazeera; there has been some discussion whether or how the term 'decolonize' is appropriate for this discussion, but I very much agree with Jason that Bank & IMF still represent colonial structures within traditional North-South power frameworks.

How Women of Colour Are Fighting to ‘Decolonise’ Global Aid

The sexual abuse scandals demonstrate that, but everyday inequities can also be detrimental, although difficult to measure because they are mostly anecdotal. It's one of the challenges decolonising the sector, says Kimou, the PopWorks founder. Figuring out what data is needed to understand that at scale requires the buy-in and resources that aren't there yet.
However, part of PopWorks’ mission is to facilitate organisations to envisage doing development differently and dismantling some of the white supremacist paradigms in the sector through education on the impacts of colonisation, racism in international development, exploiting the trauma of Black people, and white saviourism.
Sophia Akram for VICE with a great overview over the current debates around 'decolonizing' aid, very suitable primer for a student or non-expert audience.

250 million people participate in countrywide strike in India
Despite police repression and the COVID-19 pandemic, workers and farmers and their allies across India participated in the pan-India strike action against the recent neoliberal reforms pushed through by the Narendra Modi government.
Peoples Dispatch with some powerful images from the farmer protests in India!
To promote open societies globally, the FCDO must be more realistic, politically savvy and self-aware
While in many instances Britain can be seen to be walking the walk, high-profile slippages such as the prorogation of Parliament, resumption of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and stated intention to break international law over Brexit tarnish its image, making it harder to exercise the kind of soft power Mr. Raab desires. And last week’s decision to cut the official development assistance budget invites questions about the government’s commitment to a development agenda, beyond primarily promoting British interests abroad. The first priority of the FCDO’s strategy should be to ensure the UK lives up to its values domestically and in its relations with other countries, if it wishes to have its efforts taken seriously.
Samuel Sharp for ODI continues the critical scrutiny of the new FCDO and its strategic developments.
Don’t just defend aid – make it just
Many of us are doubtless horrified by the opinion poll showing significant support for the cut in aid spending. But we shouldn’t be surprised. The aid budget has been mercilessly attacked by the rightwing tabloids, used to fund ideologically driven projects by government ministers, and unhelpfully framed as a form of charity even by many well-intentioned champions. We’re now at a crossroads. Either we accept the nasty party has finally got its way, or we remember what ‘aid’ was supposed to be about – and build the sort of movement which can win it.
Nick Dearden for the New Internationalist shares some excellent thoughts on how to discuss #globaldev further in the UK & beyond!
Kony’s children: The former child soldiers of Uganda
Local victims’ associations say tens of thousands of victims of the conflict are still hoping for compensation, including women and girls who were abducted and became pregnant in the bush. Aid has largely dried up. When South Sudanese refugees started arriving from across the border, after that country’s civil war began in 2013, many NGOs left Gulu and moved to the refugee camps instead.
It is hard for grown-up child soldiers to garner sympathy, particularly those who turn into adults with problematic behaviours and fractured personal lives.
Sally Hayden for the Irish Times continues her excellent reporting from Uganda.

Slow Death or New Direction for the UN?

Today, UN Special Representatives in conflict areas and UN Resident Coordinators elsewhere do much unsung good, working tirelessly behind the scenes to avert local conflicts, defend civil society, and address inequality and other root causes of political instability. This field-based UN thrives out of sight and out of mind, safely removed from the obstructive state-driven politics of the Security Council in New York City.It is here that the UN’s future will be secured or lost. In a younger, angrier, increasingly impatient world, a distant club of men in dark suits is doomed to irrelevance. Where the UN matters is on the ground, deploying its remarkable mandate to fight for those who need it most.
Mark Malloch-Brown for Project Syndicate shares some reflection on a different aspect of 'localization' of #globaldev away from HQ and more towards 'the field' which is probably more politicized & contested than he likes to mention in this op-ed.

MSF and the Rohingya 1992 - 2014

The case study "MSF and the Rohingya 1992 - 2014" brings to light two decades of MSF advocacy activities as part of its humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya people in Bangladesh and Myanmar and explores the questions and dilemmas the organisation was confronted with surrounding speaking out.
(...)
When MSF agrees to work concurrently in "ethnically exclusive" clinics to prove its impartiality, such as those clinics for the vulnerable Rohingya separated from those from the larger Rakhine population, is MSF thereby complicit in segregation policies? In so doing, does MSF reinforce the regime's policies of ethnic detention and "encampment" ?
Say what you want about MSF, but few organizations document their engagement & challenges as openly + critically as them!

How is Climate Change affecting Bolivia ten years on?

‘Many of the testimonies collected on the 2020 visit were similar to those heard during the first visit in 2009. In particular, the repeated experiences of hotter temperatures, unpredictable or shorter periods of rainfall, sudden downpours, and more droughts were a common refrain in all three regions we visited.
In some cases, local people said these weather patterns were getting worse.
Although there have been examples of improvements since 2009, climate change continues to have a much greater impact on women, particularly due to their being in charge of agricultural production.
Extreme weather events have continued, most notably extensive flooding in La Paz, Beni and Pando in early 2014, the drought in over half the country in 2016, and the widespread forest fires in Chiquitania in 2019 that were exacerbated by a changing climate.’
Duncan Green for fp2p summarizes a new report from Oxfam Bolivia about the long-term impact of climate change.

Harassment and Discrimination in the FEMA Workplace

Despite the majority of FEMA employees saying that leaders would respond appropriately to harassing behaviors, a fairly substantial proportion perceived leadership behaviors as neutral, at best, and perhaps actively harmful. FEMA employees' perceptions of their direct supervisors' responses to sexual and racial/ethnic harassment were consistently more positive than their perceptions of senior-level FEMA leaders' responses.
For example, 24 percent of women indicated that they were neutral about, disagreed with, or strongly disagreed with a statement that their supervisors would report sexual harassment to the right FEMA authority, while approximately 28 percent of African American respondents had similar opinions about how their supervisors would handle racial/ethnic harassment. Approximately 40 percent of women and 40 percent of African American respondents expressed similar sentiments about senior leaders.
Coreen Farris, Carra S. Sims, Terry L. Schell, Miriam Matthews, Sierra Smucker, Samantha Cohen & Owen Hall for RAND. A stunning 45% of FEMA staff responded to the survey which makes the findings very powerful & show how strongly many feel about these issues.
Covid-19 and reflections for participatory research
Participatory researchers and ethnographers remain keen to return to the field and conduct research face-to-face, under the tree. Yet we have an obligation to self-reflection. Is the shift in power best served by researchers from the global North returning to environmentally unsustainable levels of travel? Is the shift in power best served by our presence or our absence? Can we continue to reconfigure so that we build back more horizontal ways of working, so that we continue to support and accompany our partners, while ensuring that we hand over the stick and take a lower profile in our research partnerships?
Some aspects of our work as participatory researchers and ethnographers may not be possible, and have to be suspended until life returns to ‘normal’. In particular, how do we build new research relationships? How do we work with marginalised groups that do not have access to the internet? The barriers of digital inequalities become amplified as we struggle to connect with partners in some settings where authoritarian governments are restricting internet access. It is a challenge to find digital technology that is accessible to people with limited broadband but meet GDPR compliance requirements. WhatsApp is accessible but is not GDPR compliant. SMS has a wider reach but has less functionality and is not encrypted.
Joanna Howard & Tony Robert for IDS with some great reflections on the 'future' of participatory #globaldev research!

Come, tell me your story: A youth reporter and TeamUp Uganda
We all know these typical project videos in international cooperation telling about approach, impact and showing happy beneficiaries. TeamUp Uganda, partnering with Action 4 Health Uganda, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung, Siemens Stiftung and Whave Solutions aims to do something different. That is why the three-year program launches a Vlog-series with Shivan Kyakuhaire, a 20-year-old Ugandan and Youth Reporter. TeamUp Uganda asked Shivan to travel to Mityana, where TeamUp is implemented, to search for young men and women taking part in the program, she can accompany for the coming years in a series of Vlogs. Asking honest questions, showing life and concerns they have and how their life changes as part of TeamUp.
Jesko Johannsen for the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung; this may not sound like a big deal, but knowing German development cooperation & communication this sounds really new + exciting!
Our digital lives
Purity and Security-Towards A Cultural History of Plexiglass
As we deploy more and more plexi barriers to support our own purity and security, we also extend plastic’s longevity. The residues of our plastic age will linger in the environment for hundreds of years — by which time our own bodies may have succumbed to a new pandemic, or to the climatic crises effected by the plasticization and carbonization of our world. And as long as we address such existential threats by hiding behind (literal and metaphorical) plexiglass shields rather than making systemic changes, it’s all but certain that the microbes and environmental milieux from which we attempt to cordon ourselves off will instead become ever more entwined with human life. At least we’ll get a clear view of the destruction, through the screen
Shannon Mattern for Places with a long-read sociology-anthropological treatment of Plexiglass.

Uber made big promises in Kenya. Drivers say it's ruined their lives.
Estimating a car's cost at a fraction of its actual price gave a false picture of potential earnings, amounting to "a disingenuous tactic ... to artificially justify an unsustainable price," Orlando said. That specific model was not used, but Orlando contended that it was an example of the company's practice of cavalierly misleading itself about the real price of operations. She raised the issue at her peril. "I was told by multiple people, especially out of the Johannesburg office, that advocating for drivers was going to be detrimental to my career and progression within the company," she said.
Disillusioned, Orlando left the company after seven months. She is now launching a ride-share cooperative.
Amanda Sperber for NBC News with a long-read on well-known dynamics of global platform capitalism & the spread of rideshare capitalism, this time in Kenya.

Publications

Closing well: national and international humanitarian workers’ perspectives on the ethics of closing humanitarian health projects
We identified six recurrent ethical concerns highlighted by interviewees regarding closure of humanitarian projects: respectfully engaging with partners and stakeholders, planning responsively, communicating transparently, demonstrating care for local communities and staff during project closure, anticipating and acting to minimize harms, and attending to sustainability and project legacy. We present these ethical concerns according to the temporal horizon of humanitarian action, that is, arising across five phases of a project’s timeline: design, implementation, deciding whether to close, implementing closure, and post-closure.
Matthew Hunt, Lisa Eckenwiler, Shelley-Rose Hyppolite, John Pringle, Nicole Pal & Ryoa Chung with a new open access article in the Journal of International Humanitarian Action.
The Palgrave Handbook of Development Cooperation for Achieving the 2030 Agenda
This open access handbook analyses the role of development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda in a global context of ‘contested cooperation’. Development actors, including governments providing aid or South-South Cooperation, developing countries, and non-governmental actors (civil society, philanthropy, and businesses) constantly challenge underlying narratives and norms of development. The book explores how reconciling these differences fosters achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sachin Chaturvedi, Heiner Janus, Stephan Klingebiel, Xiaoyun Li, André de Mello e Souza, Elizabeth Sidiropoulos & Dorothea Wehrmann with a new open access book at Palgrave/Springer.
Academia
Teaching activism?
I wanted to combine theory and practice, to enact praxis in the classroom – introducing students to theories, methods and strategies of activist movements, illustrated with historical and contemporary examples and giving them the opportunity to apply their learning by working in groups to design activist campaigns on their own topics. Through such learning by doing, I wanted students to explore their own agency to engage structures of power and to experience activism ‘as a process of challenges and moral dilemmas more than as an experience that brings clear answers and solutions to social problems,’ as Huish has put it. This practical learning has been new for most students who have taken the module, who have usually not done much campaign work before and certainly not in a university context. When I do get experienced activists taking the module, it is an extra treat for all of us as we learn from their experiences. In addition, because the campaign design involves intense group work with students from lots of different disciplinary, professional and geographical backgrounds (since the module is offered to MA students from different degrees), this aspect of the module provides personal learning opportunities as well.
The groups produce a campaign report for assessment, and over the years I have received over thirty reports of amazing quality and variety, showing how deeply and intensely students engage with the campaigns. An overview of these reports reveals a commonality of themes and a localization of issues that show students’ interests and passions:
Anke Schwittay at Creative Universities introduces some thoughts on whether university courses can & should teach activism, a topic that will be covered by a forthcoming book to which I very much look forward!

What we were reading 4 years ago

(Link review 176, 17 March 2016)
10 ways for deskbound development workers to pretend they are 'in the field'
Be overwhelmed by the joy and innocence of children
Sure, every child is a miracle, but assuming they aren’t your own, western kids can be just a tad off-putting, what with their video games and complete inability to contextualise their own privilege. Kids in the field, you assume, will break your heart and send it soaring all at once, absolutely vindicating your decision to forego a private sector paycheque.
Maybe just stream The Goonies at your desk.
Nick Aveling's post for the Guardian deserves more than 25 shares... ;)

What Is Informed Consent in Digital Development Photography?
There’s one woman in particular that I think about often. I call her the eggplant lady. She was used by one of my organization’s designers in a toolkit I wrote a few years ago on low-cost video. Soon I started seeing her in other publications that my colleagues had written.
At first, I felt as if she was cheating on me, but after brushing aside my irrational reaction, I started to wonder how she would have felt.
Josh Woodward's post for ICTworks & the discussion in the comments are still a good place to start thinking about digital #globaldev photography!

Madam Secretary-General?
Appointing a woman to the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations would send a strong signal to the world that a person’s sex need not constrain their ambition. But it will not necessarily guarantee that women’s rights will be at the forefront of the UN’s agenda. What is needed is a Secretary-General with the commitment and determination to press the UN to deliver on its many unimplemented gender equality promises, and not to abandon the women’s empowerment agenda when it becomes politically uncomfortable – which it often does. In other words, we need a woman and a feminist.

Anne Marie Goetz' post for openDemocracy still asks challenging questions about UN leadership-even though the numbers are getting better and more women have joined leadership positions...

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