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Hi all,

What a week, eh?!?

This edition is a bit shorter-perhaps because other developments dominated my social media feeds, but perhaps also because I worked on my Aidnography first newsletter in a long time, taught the first week of a new semester, held an important lecture & attended an interesting board meeting with inspiring colleagues!
Nonetheless, there's still plenty #globaldev stuff to explore from the poetics of the Arab Spring to language in Australia & non-profit diversity challenges!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week

International organisations are not reducing their capacity and ambition because they’re confident that local governments or NGOs can already meet needs better than they can, or because the job is done but because they simply don’t have the funding and people they need.
(Investing in a localised aid system must not mean stepping back from international assistance)

If we don’t have women and people of color in the not-for-profit sector, the disparities we already see in the donation patterns of philanthropy, the ability to really address the problems that are confronting the country right now will just grow because you will not have diversity of perspective in those decision-making rooms (Why Women Don’t Get Ahead at Nonprofits)

A Struggle Sustained by the Couches of Friendship
You will see homelands being shattered,
Crowds gathering and being scattered,
the world will stare, once again, amazed,
… and then life will simply move on, unfazed

So come along and saunter in
And until you’re here and we continue,
I’ll spread love and candy for you
On our living room couch.

(A Permanent Temporariness)

New from Aidnography




The recording of my Associate Professor lecture is now available.

Development news
‘Ocean 100’: Small Group of Companies Dominates Ocean Economy

Most of the revenues extracted from use of the world’s oceans is concentrated among 100 transnational corporations, which have been identified for the first time by researchers at Duke University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
Interesting new study-though I'm a bit less optimistic that this concentration can be leveraged into big corporations leading sustainability efforts...

Investing in a localised aid system must not mean stepping back from international assistance
International organisations are not reducing their capacity and ambition because they’re confident that local governments or NGOs can already meet needs better than they can, or because the job is done – it clearly isn’t – but because they simply don’t have the funding and people they need. Covid-related aid cuts, in terms of both planned responses and resources actually received, will almost certainly see a further step back in 2021. As a result, even with growing local capacity, there will be greater unmet needs and more preventable human suffering.
Gareth Price-Jones for the Humanitarian Practice Network with some important reflections that 'localization' of humanitarian efforts still needs funding and that it's not as simple as cutting back overhead cost of global players to pay for much needed local engagements.
“Downsizing Survivor Syndrome” in UN Peace Operations
To preserve mission productivity, the UN must do more to avoid downsizing survivor syndrome in its peace operations. It should finalize its downsizing policy and link it to robust staff transition tools that reduce stress and convey organizational support to UN personnel. More effective mobility planning would enable staff in downsizing operations to focus on their current jobs and prevent missions prematurely losing required personnel. Material support for employment transitions (e.g., small business start-up grants, partial funding for transitional positions) could supplement current job fairs and ad hoc efforts to lobby others to hire downsized personnel.
Katharina P. Coleman for the IPI Global Observatory adds an interest aspect to the discussion on how to manage downsizing missions without adding further stress to remaining personnel.

Aid spending in Africa must be African-led – it needs a Black Lives Matter reckoning
We are in an unprecedented moment of uprising and change in the world. If philanthropy is willing to acknowledge failings, practise radical imagination and take swift action, we are poised to unlock transformational change. Innovative, tenacious and optimistic African leaders are meeting the hopes and aspirations of their communities every day. Let’s meet that with the recognition and investment that they deserve.
Dedo Baranshamaje & Katie Bunten-Wamaru for the Guardian with some great reflections on 'localizing' philanthropy!

Why Women Don’t Get Ahead at Nonprofits
But internal practices can only do so much. When it comes to choosing who leads a group, the board of directors is in charge. Research shows that the presence of women on a board can make all the difference. Organizations where women make up from one-third to one-half of the board members are more likely to hire women CEOs than groups with fewer female board members, according to a study by the University of Central Florida’s Lee.
(...)
“If we don’t have women and people of color in the not-for-profit sector, the disparities we already see in the donation patterns of philanthropy, the ability to really address the problems that are confronting the country right now will just grow because you will not have diversity of perspective in those decision-making rooms,” she says. “It is really troublesome.”
Jim Rendon for the Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a long-read view on the complex challenges that women face in the (US) non-profit industry.

From Words to Action: How to Begin to Dismantle Racism in Global Health and Development
Organizations need to be intentional about this paradigm shift. It can’t be a one-off, “let’s talk about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) today.” DEI in a vacuum doesn’t change anything. Organizations need to reach a consensus about what they are trying to change. Often times this whole question of “dismantling racism” is a slogan. But in reality, it’s a lot of work. Most organizations aren’t up to the task. White people in these jobs aren’t giving up their privilege.
Angela Bruce-Raeburn for Vital Strategies adds her important reflections to the debates on how the non-profit can 'transform' in big & small ways.

The dangers of “policy-sising” social change
Fourth, it uncritically imagines the relationship between policy change and social change. Given that policy achievements culminate with the powerful, and not the powerless, the links to social change (let alone justice) are often diminished or severed. Some links between policy and social change are taken as given, despite research and reality checks showing them to be tenuous. Articulation of these links is oftentimes done inadequately or dismissed as someone else’s labour (i.e. leave it to those who work on these things).
Fifth, it is preoccupied with justifying rather than learning. This comes full circle through the monitoring and evaluation phase of the policy cycle. When the policy change process is disconnected from the social change process, then learning is confined to the policy space and how best to manoeuvre within it, leading to an evaluation exercise that is skewed towards justifying the existence of the policy actors and their organisations within the policy space.
Christopher Choong Weng Wai for fp2p asks some great question about 'influencing policy' & social change.
Who thought this was a good idea?
Just a few years ago, the fact that Afghanistan was unsafe was common knowledge and only hardline right-wing politicians would have disagreed.
Afghan asylum-seekers had good chances of receiving asylum in most EU countries. Since then, acceptance rates of Afghan asylum-seekers have dropped significantly in many member states.
What might be read as a positive development at first — indicating that the situation in Afghanistan has improved — is unfortunately not at all connected to a change of the security situation in the country.
It is not attributed to a change in the criteria deciding who is awarded refugee status either. It is, rather, attributed to a change in EU politics and a growing resentment towards refugees in European societies.
(...)
As furious as reading this email made me, I can only imagine what reading this must feel like for the people the UNHCR is tasked to protect — or for the baby’s parents who most likely have no idea what message it is being used for.
Natalie Gruber for the Civil Fleet on the complexities of UNHCR work & comms in an increasingly hostile global asylum regime. I agree with Natalie that Afghanistan was not a great choice for a positive message, but there is also so much that lies outside the control of the UN system that it's not an easy task to communicate as the leading agency for refugees & asylum seekers...


Hearing Directly from Programs Involving Online Volunteers
I think opening up the opportunity to your volunteers to create with you and to figure out what you’re doing together is really an amazing way to build something, to build a platform. It takes some humility because you don’t know everything, but the result can be – if you can find a way of gathering together and figuring out things together its amazing, and it created more dedicated volunteers if they really have a stake, not just in what they do, but how they do it.
Jayne Cravens with a summary of an interesting talk on online volunteering; I really think that we can learn a lot from this community when it comes to diversity, humility & breaking-up traditional notions of 'experts' & volunteers-but also that professionals (including us academics...) also need to be more humble when we discuss ICT4D or digital development with regular citizens...

A Permanent Temporariness
Egypt has become a far more dangerous place than it was before the revolution. Torture is rampant, forced disappearances are widespread, and jail cells are brimming with youth with boundless imaginations and a sense of entitlement to a better world. Our freedoms have been significantly curtailed. But the struggles continue, and not just on the streets and against the regime. The struggles continue in resistance to a patriarchal society, in deeper forensic research into the ugly practices of the state, in journalism, storytelling, and art. The military state may have world regimes on its side, money and ammunition, jail and sophisticated torture mechanisms. But we have generations that will know the truth, the truth of that state’s evil, and the truth of boundless possibility—that possibility we had a glimpse of. For a short moment, but one with so much eternity.
Alia Mossallam for the Heinrich Böll Stiftung with personal & poetic reflection on the aftermath of the 'Arab Spring' in Egypt.

Allusionist 126 Survival: Custodians of the Language
English is currently the most commonly spoken language in Australia, but before Europeans got to Australia - the Dutch arriving in 1606, then the British claiming land in 1770 - a lot of different languages existed in the lands.
KARINA LESTER: Many. Thousands. They are languages that are from those lands, and you look at a Horton map or an AIATSIS map, you see an interpretation - again by a non-Aboriginal person - but you see this very colourful map that has colours for every language group. And that gives you some indication visually of the number of languages that was spoken prior to contact. So there were thousands of languages. Dialects are what linguists have put in to our thinking, our indigenous thinking, because dialects are languages that have similarity in grammar structure and similarities in the way language is used, so they call them as dialects, but they are languages to speakers, to oral speakers, they are languages because they associate with that particular language.
The Allusionist podcast from Australia with Helen Zaltzman, Rudi Bremer & Karina Lester also raises all sorts of interesting questions how #globaldev does (not) deal with linguistic diversity!
Our digital lives
And Still She Rises: Dr. Maya Angelou Is One of Barbie's 'Inspiring Women'
In regard to that aforementioned reflection, Barbie’s rendering of a late-thirty-something-year-old Angelou is refreshingly evocative, featuring her warm, gap-toothed smile and a decidedly Black, non-traditional Barbie nose, as she beams from her book-lined box. As favored by its muse in the same era, the doll wears a Dutch wax-inspired floral print head wrap and floor-length dress, gold jewelry adorning the arms that hold a miniature replica of I Know the Caged Bird Sings, “so girls can be inspired by her stories through play.”
Maiysha Kai for the Root with a very different kind of 'savior Barbie' and the fine lines of commodifying compassion & genuine empowerment...

Publications

Using Social Media in Community-Based Protection
This guide is all about making the most of Social Media while avoiding the pitfalls that could compromise the very protection outcomes we seek.
This UNHCR guide is a whopper of a 242-page pdf, but it looks interesting and there are some basic, but relevant do's & don'ts included.

Reframing the Urban Challenge in Africa-Knowledge Co-production from the South
Drawing on the work of the African Urban Research Initiative, this book brings together contributions from local researchers investigating key themes and challenges within their own contexts. An important example of urban knowledge co-production, the book demonstrates the regional diversity that can be seen as the main feature of African urbanism, with even well-accepted concepts such as informality manifesting in markedly different ways from place to place.
Ntombini Marrengane & Sylvia Croese with a new open access edited collection from Routledge.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 180, 29 April 2016)
A former ‘frustrated senior aid official’ talks-and the Daily Mail is happy to spin a story of waste and lying bureaucrats
But obviously many aid critics (the article has been shared 4.2k times and has received more than 270 comments) have read enough by now as the article confirmed everything they always knew was rotten about UN bureaucracy.
Which is a shame, because Kleinschmidt shares some reasonable, albeit not exactly new, reflections on agencies competing for resources, the need for a changing attitude from seeing people as ‘victims’ and the risks of dependency in refugee camps as well as cynicism of the aid community.
I have stopped engaging directly with aid critics like of the Daily Mail, but in 2016 I was still young & annoyed ;)!

Barbie Savior: The parody that makes aid types feel good, but does nothing
But for the most part, the problem will persist and the next clever way to make fun of the white savior complex will emerge to the acclaim of the already-converted. It is not known how to cause needed changes in attitudes. Barbie Savior makes a worthy attempt, but let’s not overinflate what it can do.
Tom Murphy for the Humanosphere, a project I really miss in the #globaldev space...and a good link to my lecture on aid humour & challenges to assess its impact.

Solving for a Technology Revolution Designed Primarily for Men
Tech 4 Good has made it a part of its business culture to ask how we, as members of the tech industry, set our bar higher to create tools that shift social behaviors and cultural norms, to make the world a better — and safer — place?
We believe the answer is in ensuring that those who make the technology are representative of those who will use the technology — and come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and experiences. It is important to examine who is on your team, and ensure that the consultation and design process is connected to the community that it is intended to help.
Lina Srivastava for the Overlap with a discussion that is even more timely today, but also more broadly discussed.

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