Links & Contents I Liked 390
Happy New Year!
Your favorite weekly #globaldev link review is back with a special 2020 review-2021 preview section & plenty of new interesting readings!
My quotes of the week
Senior leaders in non-profits need to critically interrogate the following questions as a priority: does your diversity and inclusion focal point have legitimacy among minoritised groups in your organisation? Be honest — in what ways might you be setting them up to fail rather than succeed? To what extent are you asking staff working on diversity to focus more on PR than systemic change? How will you support your diversity officer to act in the face of resistance? What does institutional transformation mean to you — and how far are you willing to go?
(So You’ve Hired a Diversity and Inclusion Expert? Here Are Six Ways You Could Be Undermining Them)
As the case of Kenya
shows, the introduction of centralized biometric systems increases the
risk of function creep. Even if intended for humanitarian protection,
data can be shared and technologies co-opted by donors, host states, and
security agencies, leading to the further securitization of refugee
policies. In Kenya, techniques intended to eliminate fraud and offer
more efficient service delivery to refugees have become a means for the
government to keep people out.
(Gateway or barrier? The contested politics of humanitarian biometrics)
We provide micro-level
evidence on how this common form of colonial extraction – concessions,
violence, and indirect rule – matters for understanding the comparative
development of sub-Saharan Africa. The results highlight that even a
short exposure to extractive institutions can have a meaningful impact
on the development of an area, particularly when local institutions are
integrated into supporting the extraction.
(Lasting effects of colonial-era resource exploitation in Congo: Concessions, violence, and indirect rule)
New from Aidnography
Docentföreläsning Tobias Denskus
Radi-Aid, Savior Barbie & Erbil cats-navigating the subversive worlds of humanitarian work and humorJoin me on Monday for my public lecture to conclude my promotion process to Associate Professor at Malmö University!
The interest in communicating development and humanitarian issues in digital, subversive and humorous formats has only recently received scholarly attention. Humor, irony and satire are increasingly used to engage audiences such as volunteers or voluntourists or to ‘hold up a mirror’ to the inner workings of the global aid industry.
The lecture introduces recent research and expands the discussion by using a netnographic and reflective practice approach to make sense of a meme-sharing Facebook group and the dynamics of fringe digital culture.
Perhaps it’s all just a joke anyway?!?
2020 in review-2021 in preview
In collaboration with The Continent Newspaper - these are the AFRICANS OF THE YEAR 2020.
In a strange year - these exemplary humans and collectives did much to make a difference in their own ways.The Continent continues to be one of the journalistic discoveries of 2020!
Papua New Guinea, Burundi, Pakistan: These Are the 10 Most Underreported Crises of 2020
In fact, the combined news coverage on these 10 humanitarian crises, in which millions have suffered, were less than that of American rapper and fashion designer Kanye West’s run for the US presidency, the Eurovision Song Contest or the launch of the PlayStation 5, according to CARE.Madeleine Keck for Global Citizens presents CARE's annual report on underreported humanitarian crises (a language a like better than 'forgotten'...).
Peter Walton, the CEO at CARE Australia, told Global Citizen why this isn't good enough. "Media coverage and public attention often translate to greater aid funding and political action,” he explained. “So by publishing this list we're not only attempting to increase awareness of crises that have been neglected by the media, but also to demonstrate how media coverage — or lack thereof — has a direct impact on the lives of people living in crisis.”
My hope for 2021 is...
From citizen-led aid to fostering successful mergers, check out TNH readers’ ideas for the future of humanitarianism.The New Humanitarian kicks-off the new year with excellent food for thought.
Best of the Blog 2020
We couldn’t travel so we wrote, publishing 364 blogs. Thank you to our authors and readers for supporting us throughout our tenth year of blogging.Arichika Okazaki & Stephen Howes for the DevPolicy Blog with a review of their year & lots of great Asia-Pacific #globaldev insights!
D-Econ’s 2020 Alternative Reading List
Here’s a list of the top 12 books of the year to help us understand and address the economic, social, and ecological challenges the world is facing at the end of 2020, from the dynamic group of young economists at Diversifying and Decolonising EconomicsD-Econ's reading list is a great resource for the annual transition period.
A New Year’s Wish: Invest in Data
Political leaders prefer statistics that are malleable or produced only when convenient, and in many cases may be happy to tolerate the continued dysfunction of their statistical agencies (if not actively commission it). Donors and outsiders can and should use pressure and funding to make this harder, though it may be in large part outside of their control. At the very least, by making it more affordable, and providing adequate financial and technical support they can remove “cover” for the intentional neglect of national data collection and reporting institutions.Ranil Dissanayake for the Center for Global Development with an important, but perhaps less 'sexy' topic for the new year's agenda...
Action to improve matters is urgent and has been for some time. A 2014 CGD Working Group made similar recommendations in more detail. Looking at the lack of progress in light of a pandemic where data disparities are as sharp as economic and vaccine inequalities is sobering and should shame both donors and national governments.
#221 Embracing Change
Wherever you are, whether you’re stuck at HQ or in some deep-field duty station, whether you think of yourself as expat or a local or something else, we hope you’ll check in, have a good laugh, and maybe also think seriously about issues of inequity, sexism, racism, and white supremacy in the aid sector.#SEAWL is back!
What went wrong for UK aid?
It’s been a year of crisis for the United Kingdom’s development sector. On top of the pandemic, it lost its two sacred cornerstones — the Department for International Development and the 0.7% aid spending target — within six months of each other.Will Worley for DevEx; though technically not a pre/review post an important summary of the developments in the UK.
As the end of the year approaches, development professionals have been left reeling by the speed and severity of their sector’s defeats, having enjoyed broad political support for decades.
Sexual exploitation of aid recipients remains 'a scourge', group of MPs conclude
“Leaders across the sector should understand, and step into, the pivotal role they play in creating and maintaining a safe culture that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse within organisations and programmes. Alongside better gender and ethnic diversity representation in leadership, this will help make good safeguarding standards a behaviour, rather than just another set of policies.”Andy Ricketts for Third Sector on a new UK parliament review around #globaldev, sexual exploitation and safeguarding; I think there's quite a lot of analysis out there now, so action speaks louder than another study...
After 3 years of #AidToo, the focus has shifted inward — but is that enough?
In the past three years, the development sector has needed to look inward on how it responds to allegations of sexual misconduct. The Oxfam sexual misconduct in Haiti and broader #MeToo and #AidToo movements have encouraged the transition from a focus on child safeguarding to broader safeguarding — including supporting internal harassment and sexual harassment investigations.Lisa Cornish for DevEx also looks at safeguarding in the aid industry.
“The focus shifted in because the sector has woken up to the levels of harassment within the development and humanitarian sector — particularly as a result of whistleblower cases that have emerged,” Richard Powell, director at Safe For Children, explained to Devex.
Politicians and media getting more hostile towards charities, poll finds
“It is a grave concern to see charity leaders being attacked at a time when charities’ funding is drying up. Increasingly, the government appears to engage with independent charities in a one-way process, making clear that it’s their way or the highway if you dare disagree with policy.”Patrick Butler & Haroon Siddique for the Guardian on the changing climate towards the charity sector that also affects how #globaldev is discussed by media and (Tory) politicians.
Sue Tibballs, the chief executive of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, said: “Civil society will keep working to defend rights and build a better world out of the pandemic. It’s time for politicians to work with us, even where we don’t always agree, not make us fodder in phoney culture wars.”
New white paper outlines China's development past and future
The “strong narrative around China’s responsibility to the rest of the world,” and about showing solidarity with the rest of the world by supporting global public goods, is targeted at a domestic audience, Ryder said. Language around how China prioritizes the needs of its south-south partners meanwhile, is “internationally focused and crafted in such a way that it brings out contrasts between China and other developed countries’ approach,” she added.Adva Saldinger for DevEx with an interesting overview over China's new white paper on #globaldev.
What Australian aid flows show
it’s the donor whose ODA/GNI ratio fell the most since the early 1970s. (In the figure below we’ve averaged ODA/GNI across five-year periods and compared the first (1970-74) to the most recent with data (2015-19). As we discuss in the report, there are other ways of making the comparison. Australia came out worst in almost all of them.)Terence Wood for Devpolicy Blog with some sobering insights into Australia's diminishing global engagement.
Poor data protection could put lives at risk, say Somalia aid workers
The UN and partner NGOs collect huge quantities of data, including personally identifiable information on vulnerable people, which is shared across multiple organisations and mobile network providers, increasing the risk of breaches.Moulid Hujale for the Guardian on the challenges of protecting data and privacy in humanitarian contexts.
“The telecom companies use the data obtained from humanitarian organisations for their own marketing, which is not what beneficiaries have signed up to,” said a senior local official based in Mogadishu, who did not want to be named. “Unfortunately, NGOs seem not to care about it, they don’t see it as an issue simply because vulnerable people would never complain about data breaches for fear of losing the assistance.”
Gateway or barrier? The contested politics of humanitarian biometrics
As the case of Kenya shows, the introduction of centralized biometric systems increases the risk of function creep. Even if intended for humanitarian protection, data can be shared and technologies co-opted by donors, host states, and security agencies, leading to the further securitization of refugee policies. In Kenya, techniques intended to eliminate fraud and offer more efficient service delivery to refugees have become a means for the government to keep people out. However unintentionally, biometric data-sharing and data consolidation have barred some of Kenya’s most marginalized populations from accessing the benefits of citizenship, as though the refugee system were working in reverse. This raises troubling questions for those who see biometrics as a potential technology of inclusion, capable of paving the way for a new politics of recognition and redistribution. It also reveals fundamental tensions around identification. To gain rights, one must be recognized. But for northerners in Kenya, being recognized on one database has led to expulsion from another. Biometric accuracy at the technical level has caused significant bureaucratic errors.Keren Weitzberg for Data Rights Africa takes a broader look at the 'biometric revolution' with a focus on Kenya.
This is an area the transparency, participation, and accountability can usefully invest in: building collaborative agendas with artists, musicians, and photographers that harness the power of creative expression for accountability. Rana Plaza taught us that pictures can help frame accountability demands clearly and memorably, turning problems into intolerable wrongs demanding action. But while we are using pictures and music in our work, we have yet to figure out when and how it works to advance accountability action. Thinking through the Rana Plaza experience, Ismail and I concluded that accountability action and research could do more to figure out what difference visual, artistic, and cultural repertoires make.Naomi Hossain & Ismail Ferdous for the Transparency & Accountability Initiative with a new paper on the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh & the use of visual tools for advocacy & accountability.
'There is no noise': inside the controversial Bhasan Char refugee camp – a photo essay
There are a lot of children here, and when they play and get noisy it makes this island feel better, to tell you the truth –and less abnormal. The buildings are all the same here. We live on the ground floor. There are some tall buildings. Refugees are not permitted on the upper floors. Maybe they think we will kill ourselves?Shafiur Rahman for the Guardian with images & a story from a new Rohinghya camp in Bangladesh.
Best of 2020: The forgotten fishers of Bangladesh
The oldest traditional fishing community in Bangladesh, around 600,000 Jaladash also battle extreme poverty, serious shortages of drinking water, healthcare, education, formal banking facilities and now loss of livelihood. They are routinely affected by the Bangladesh government’s fishing bans to let fish stocks improve; at other times, they are hit by the drying up of various rivers and creeks in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta due to dams and barrages upstream. Over the last two decades or more, they have also had to deal with increasing salinity that affected their freshwater sources, pollution and sea level rise.Rafiqul Islam Montu for thethirdpole.net with a great photo essay that breaks down many of our big '#globaldev' topics to the real lives and livelihoods of a fishing community in Bangladesh.
How Colombia erased its first and only president of African descent from history
Juan José Nieto Gil, a Colombian politician, army general and writer, became Colombia’s first president of African descent in 1861. For about seven months, he was the leader of the country or what was then known as the Granadian Confederation, which included Panama. Nieto Gil’s legacy as the first Afro-Colombian to hold such an office had been virtually erased from Colombian history when historian Orlando Fals Borda discovered a portrait of him while digging in a palace loft in Cartagena more than 30 years ago.Mildred Europa Taylor for Face2FaceAfrica with an interesting story from Colombia's black history.
Decolonisation is a comfortable buzzword for the aid sector
Missionary being eaten by a jaguar 🔥— 🪦 Tombsday ⚰️ (@Armed_Barbarian) December 17, 2020
(by Noé León, 1907) pic.twitter.com/QmfjnbUfw5
But the discussion around the decolonisation of aid practices is, in reality, extremely one-sided and Western-centric. It rarely includes the perspectives of those in the Global South. Many of us in the South do not agree with or relate to this terminology. In fact, we see it as a further imposition of a white saviour complex, with the powerful West once again deciding what is good for us and how this must be done.Themrise Khan for openDemocracy continues the discussion on the risk of buzzwordisation of 'decolonization'.
So You’ve Hired a Diversity and Inclusion Expert? Here Are Six Ways You Could Be Undermining Them
Senior leaders in non-profits need to critically interrogate the following questions as a priority: does your diversity and inclusion focal point have legitimacy among minoritised groups in your organisation? Be honest — in what ways might you be setting them up to fail rather than succeed? To what extent are you asking staff working on diversity to focus more on PR than systemic change? How will you support your diversity officer to act in the face of resistance? What does institutional transformation mean to you — and how far are you willing to go? How much personal responsibility do you take for this work — or are you really hoping to outsource the problem to your diversity lead? How you will support the mental health and wellbeing of the people you hire to lead diversity and inclusion efforts?Leila Billing for The Startup on how change does (not) happen...
Our digital lives
We need to talk about the anti-racism genre
Though discussion around race is a positive development, the way publishing houses package and inadvertently homogenise anti-racist literature needs continued examination, as does the practice of commissioning Black authors to write exclusively on race issues. We can continue to support the work of well-researched anti-racist writers, but we shouldn’t take our attention off the publishing industry – they still have a lot of work to do.Mishti Ali for gal-dem on the risks of commodifying new literary voices & homogenizing anti-racist writers & writing.
30 Months (and 8 years) of HumTech
Absurd as it might sound, the humanitarian sector has been extremely resistant in accepting even the mere concept of intersectionality. It’s beyond me to guess the deeply historical, cultural and sociological reasons behind this resistance, but I guess that the homogeneous socio-economical background of the aid workforce of the past century surely didn’t help.Giulio Coppi with a great long-read reflection on his work in humanitarian/tech sector.
Whatever the causes, as a result for a very long time humanitarians have considered some people to be “less equal than others” when it comes to the coverage offered by the humanitarian imperative. The complete erasure of non-binary people, indigenous communities’ rights, and the blind eye on sexual violence against men are just a few examples.
Even today, many NGOs M&E manuals don’t offer any other option apart from Man\Woman when registering people in situation of vulnerability. Unsurprisingly, this directly reflects parameters from donors. Many unfortunately sport very progressive policies at home, but don’t seem to mind a discriminatory approach in foreign policies.
Lasting effects of colonial-era resource exploitation in Congo: Concessions, violence, and indirect rule
The concessions in Congo were described by Joseph Conrad as “the vilest scramble for loot that has ever disfigured the history of human conscience”. We provide evidence on how exposure to the concession system, which was characterised by violence and indirect rule, has shaped the development of the DRC.Sara Lowes & Eduardo Montero for VoxDev with new research on the lasting impact of colonial exploitation and violence.
We provide micro-level evidence on how this common form of colonial extraction – concessions, violence, and indirect rule – matters for understanding the comparative development of sub-Saharan Africa. The results highlight that even a short exposure to extractive institutions can have a meaningful impact on the development of an area, particularly when local institutions are integrated into supporting the extraction.
The Sounds of Development: Musical Representation as A(nother) Source of Development Knowledge
We discuss the relationship between music and development in five specific domains: the tradition of Western ‘protest’ music; musical resistance in the Global South; music-based development interventions; commodification and appropriation; and, finally, music as a globalised development vernacular.David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers & Michael Woolcock with a new open access article in the Journal of Development Studies.
Evaluation of International Development Interventions-An Overview of Approaches and Methods
IEG is pleased to present this guidebook for evaluators and other evaluation stakeholders. It provides an introductory overview of a range of methods that have been selected for their actual and potential use in the field of international development evaluation.The World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group with a new resource that looks like an excellent primer for students & more!
What we were reading 5 years ago
My online teaching iceberg. Recognition of activities as a legitimate part of teaching decreases as depth increases. pic.twitter.com/6RAlOJmdzH— Tim Fawns (@timbocop) January 11, 2021
(Link review 179, 18 April 2016)
#allmalepanels in international development are about more than just the absence of women
Let’s put it very bluntly: The more men are in a group shot, the worse it looks; if you are organizing an event or communicate about it make sure you actually avoid the group photo; break up panels, add a female moderator, make sure at least one men does not wear a dark suit and tie.Me, with a post on a 'classic' topic from the archive...
This is window-dressing, absolutely, but at least you may be able to mitigate short-term social media communication fall-outs and viral spreading of the group shot such as this one I wrote about last year