Links & Contents I Liked 393
Another week completed-great online teaching seminar with a fantastic group of colleagues from all around Europe, delivered my second newsletter with '3 mid-week links' & I'm enjoying daylight again when I leave the office in the afternoon!
My quotes of the week
White people, who make up the biggest part of the global development sector, tend to be very sensitive when a rural poor African like me has anything to make of poverty in Africa, e.g. what needs to be done to accelerate the end of poverty, and will therefore try to ensure that people like me aren’t heard anywhere.
On the other hand, Africa’s own kinsmen and kinswomen, i.e. black people both in Africa and in the African Diaspora, tend to be very defensive, and very dismissive, upon any mention of the need for the black community to work together and help our motherland, Africa, end poverty. (It is very hard to end poverty in Africa because of white people, and black people)
(Hunger deaths aren’t simply about famine or no famine)
The UN’s First Feminist, ‘Peg’ Snyder, Is Dead at 91
My UN career began at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa 45 years ago. I was hired to design a five-year program to implement 1960s resolutions adopted by African women at five regional conferences sponsored by the UN and the commission, with support from the Swedish development agency. I was the first to be hired. I had worked with women in Kenya on two national women’s seminars and one East African women’s seminar, where women defined how they wanted to participate in their soon-to-be independent countries.Barbara Crossette for PassBlue remembers Peg Snyder.
Report clears Muslim charity of institutional antisemitism
It added there had been “significant improvements to the recruitment and oversight of trustees and senior staff at the charity”.Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian with another update on how #globaldev organizations are changing their internal structures and processes.
Grieve’s report makes 19 recommendations to improve the charity’s governance, including more non-Muslim and independent trustees, a better gender balance in the organisation, updating its code of conduct and developing a new personal social media policy.
Hunger deaths aren’t simply about famine or no famine
The word “famine” causes alarm. It holds emotive power due to the extreme loss of human life it implies. But just as it’s a dangerous misconception to believe people aren’t dying from hunger and malnutrition-related causes until an actual famine is occurring, a famine must be accepted as such when it is declared.Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, Abdullahi Khalif, Andrew Seal, Alex de Waal, Nicholas Haan & Francesco Checchi (a bit heavy on the male gender side...) for the New Humanitarian with an important reminder that hunger is more complicated than the headline-catching term famine suggests.
It shouldn’t, however, become a distraction. Humanitarians, donors, and governments responsible for the well-being of their own people should be focused on loss of life – and urgently trying to prevent it – rather than whether the word “famine” has been invoked.
Should we discriminate in order to act? Profiling: a necessary but debated practice
MSF organised a workshop in Dakar on staff profiling in operations in the Sahel. Profiling involves the selection of staff based on non-professional criteria, including nationality, skin colour, gender and religion. As such, it raises a number of ethical and practical concerns. As a result of profiling, US nationals have not been deployed in MSF operations in Colombia because of the risk of kidnapping, and Chadians and Rwandans have been excluded in the Central African Republic and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo respectively, because of regional conflicts. The use of profiling has increased in recent years in West Africa, as the threat of kidnapping of Westerners by radical jihadist groups has intensified.Françoise Duroch & Michaël Neuman for the Humanitarian Practice Network with an interesting aspect of delivering humanitarian aid in today's complicated & dangerous (not least for aid workers) world.
A Doc Was Mad That People Die From Preventable Diseases. So He Wrote A Book About It
I have a nagging question I need help with. What do you think when you see/use the typical Toyota Land Cruiser in Humanitarian operations?— Tammam Aloudat تمّام العودات (@Tammamo) January 30, 2021
The image is so abundant that it is almost equated with humanitarian work.
Do you think of it as a positive or negative symbolism? Why? pic.twitter.com/9zTUk8C9gg
And what do you mean by "mental coloniality?" What does that look like?Joanne Lu for NPR Goats & Soda features Eugene Richardson and his new book on 'Epidemic Illusions'.
One example I used in my book is from the [2018 to 2020] Ebola outbreak in the DRC. I was working for the World Health Organization there in 2019 when a group from Harvard did a study trying to explain why it was such a huge outbreak. They found that people were believing in misinformation and conspiracy theories and essentially concluded that these people had their own ignorance to blame.
So what sounds like people not believing in science turns out to be people who are so used to being preyed upon that any time foreigners show up in white Jeeps, they react as if it's a plot to harm them. It's actually really logical. But coloniality tries to dictate how people perceive the world around them. It deems its view as the only legitimate scientific interpretation.
Stop branding Canada’s aid to development
Focusing on ensuring that everyone knows where the money comes from, also speaks to the well-articulated trope of whoever has the money pulls the strings. It also falls prey to the very northern attitude of the White Saviour Complex, whereby those getting the aid, could not manage unless they were helped by the great “white” north (pun not intended). Simply the use of the word “poor countries,” found actively in Canada’s development vocabulary, as with all northern donors, is in itself a condescending and colonial approach to equitable development. Attributing a logo to this that screams Canada Aid/Aide behind every workshop, seminar or training backdrop in recipient countries, only further demeans this.Themrise Khan for Policy Options continues the '#globaldev branding...it's complicated' debate.
The 7 biggest mistakes the humanitarian makes when she/he handles digital data
Responsible data means to collect the data you really need to inform your programme, not more!Nanthilde Kamara for Future for Change with some great insights into the practical application of responsible humanitarian data.
If you decide to collect data:
· Harness secondary data first!! You do not necessarily need to collect data if they are already available: this step is usually forgotten
· Only collect personal data for specific and justified use: be clear with the objective of your survey or data collection exercise before designing your questionnaire
· Minimize data collection – avoid 7 rounds of monitoring with the same beneficiaries
From the pineapples to the mangos, our fruit is 10/10🤤🤤 https://t.co/WCifRAzIOs— Chels🤍 (@Chelschelsea_x) February 5, 2021
Toolkits are great. They can solve just about any problem in any context. They are one of the most versatile and scalable solutions in the aid world. If you really can’t figure out how to solve a problem, it’s probably because you haven’t invested sufficiently in toolkit development.Shotgun Shack continues the excellent work of #SEAWL! Did you know that almost exactly 10 years ago I wrote Stuff expat aid workers like: Looking down on academics as a contribution to SEAWL that I published on this blog??!!
So get yourself a consultant, put together an advisory group, and get to work on developing a toolkit. You will be well on your way to changing even the most intransigent behaviors, addressing complex historical legacies, and shifting power dynamics that contribute to poverty and conflict.
It is very hard to end poverty in Africa because of white people, and black people.
White people, who make up the biggest part of the global development sector, tend to be very sensitive when a rural poor African like me has anything to make of poverty in Africa, e.g. what needs to be done to accelerate the end of poverty, and will therefore try to ensure that people like me aren’t heard anywhere.Anthony Kalulu is a farmer in rural Uganda and an excellent blogger, too!
This is then complicated by the fact that, other than rolling out their own solutions, the people in the development sector are also the ones who are least likely, or outright not likely, to say yes to any slight form of collaboration with those of us at the very bottom of the pyramid.
On the other hand, Africa’s own kinsmen and kinswomen, i.e. black people both in Africa and in the African Diaspora, tend to be very defensive, and very dismissive, upon any mention of the need for the black community to work together and help our motherland, Africa, end poverty.
West African Elites’ Spending on UK Schools and Universities: A Closer Look
Many West African political elites send their children to boarding schools and universities abroad, especially in the UK. Yet some appear to be using unexplained wealth to pay for it, creating thorny anticorruption challenges for educators, policymakers, and law enforcement.Matthew T. Page for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace with a really interesting paper on global elites & the UK education business.
The liberation stories of Guinea Bissau
Amilcar Cabral is a household name. But what happened to the young women like Joana Gomes who helped lead Guinea Bissau’s independence struggle?Ricci Shryock for Africa is a Country with great essay and the complexities of liberation movements and their afterlives.
Nairobi’s airports – windows on Kenya’s colonial past and top-down planning
My research shows that planning was actually slow and fraught, especially when Britain declined to pay the entire bill. And airports in Nairobi were not imagined and planned as part of organic city land use or changing urban ecology. Instead, airports happened to colonial Nairobi.Gordon Pirie for the Conversation on the colonial practices of establishing an airport in Kenya.
In a jarring application of colonial practices, costs were saved during preparation of the new site by using Mau Mau prisoners as manual labourers.
Philanthrocapitalism explained in 1 simple Tweet https://t.co/xtYrNf3oLX— Tobias Denskus (@aidnography) February 3, 2021
COVID-19 from the Margins. Pandemic Invisibilities, Policies and Resistance in the Datafied Society
Featuring contributions in five idioms, the anthology explores five core themes of the first pandemic of the datafied society seen from the perspective of the disempowered: human invisibilities and the politics of counting; perpetuated vulnerabilities and inequalities; datafied social policies; technological reconfigurations in the datafied pandemic; and pandemic solidarities and resistance from below. The five themes offer a snapshot of the social costs of the pandemic in countries as diverse as South Africa, China, Peru, Iran, Spain, New Zealand, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia—and counting. It gives voice to the untold stories of communities struggling to survive in the crisis, such as gig workers, indigenous groups, domestic violence survivors, impoverished families and vulnerable people, racialized individuals, migrants, rural dwellers, and the LGBTQ+ community.Stefania Milan, Emiliano Treré & Silvia Masiero with a great new open access collection with the Institute of Network Cultures.
Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition:A Literature Review and Proposed Conceptual Framework
This paper begins by locating the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition project (GODAN) in the context of wider debates in the open data movement by first reviewing the literature on open data (OD) and open data for agriculture and nutrition (ODAN).Tony Roberts & Kevin Hernandez with a new IDS Working Paper on open data.
Round-up: OA Articles Published by Global South Authors (31 Jan. 2021)
This is a round-up of open access journal articles produced by authors based in the global South (GS) and other geographic areas that are less well-represented in the domain of scholarly forced migration literature.Forced Migration Current Awareness with an excellent curation of new articles!
Africa Development, Volume 45, n° 2, 2020
CODESRIA's flagship journal with one of the last essays written by Samir Amin.
Stichproben Nr. 39/2020
a concern for Kenya, an interest in social justice, a passion for literature as a means of intervention and change, and an interest in a literary culture that speaks to the values, imaginations and experiences of Kenyan and East African audiences rather than to the expectations of Western readers. Kopf’s essay thus explores the changing history of Nairobi's literary scene and its significance within a larger process, in which Kenyan writers have redefined themselves and their country since the historical elections of 2002. The essay portrays some of these cultural initiatives, which have taken place since the founding of the literary magazine Kwani? in 2003.Vienna Journal of African Studies with a special, open access section on literature and literary studies in Kenya.
Climate Risk in Africa
Chapters then move on to explore examples of using climate information to inform adaptation and resilience through early warning, river basin development, urban planning and rural livelihoods based in a variety of contexts. These insights inform new ways to promote action in policy and praxis through the blending of knowledge from multiple disciplines, including climate science that provides understanding of future climate risk and the social science of response through adaptation.Declan Conway & Katharine Vincent with a new open access book from Palgrave.
Short notice research funding calls are bad for researchers and research
Short notice calls are unfair on researchers with caring responsibilities, on those with larger teaching or leadership and management responsibilities, and on those who are struggling to work from home. This was true before COVID, though COVID has shone a belated spotlight on the issue. Short notice deadlines provide an unfair advantage to those who are able to drop (nearly) everything else to work up a proposal. The greater the scale and ambition of the call, the greater the advantage. It’s one thing if it’s a short notice call for a small project or pump-priming grant, but if it’s for seven figure sums, requires complex collaborations, and/or is for cutting edge interdisciplinary science which requires careful negotiation and discussion between partners, it’s much harder to do.Adam Golberg for LSE Impact of Science on the research funding game.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 182, 13 May 2016)
How Aid Became Big Business
This is the myth of corporate-led global development: that companies have “seen the light” and become more progressive, and therefore should be embraced as partners. While they may sing hymns about their development “impact” and “sustainable” operations, many of these same companies continue to avoid taxes and fight against regulation. The fact that this embrace of corporations in aid and development has happened in the wake of the global financial crisis, and amid increasingly mainstream questioning of deregulated capitalism, is astonishing. It is a grand accession of power, good for profits, but delivering questionable short-term benefits for the poor and worrying long-term impacts for the world. It is a many-sided hall of mirrors that is meant to blind good-willed people and the aid agencies they work with to the reality of unchecked corporate power.Matt Kennard's & Claire Provost's long-read in the Los Angeles Review of Books is still excellent food for thought!
What is the Writer’s Place in a Violent World?
I’m speaking of violence that is put on display. At its most aesthetic, it strips back and erases a harsher reality. At its most garish,it is a billboard for all our most human and most primal fears: a symbolic language come to us so fully and frightfully formed that we have not always found the words to confront it. When it comes to war, when it comes to violence, it seems that we have not always been able to keep up. We have not always been able to locate the vocabulary that will take us from shock and stunned silence toward a coherent, visceral speech, one as strong as the force that is charging at us.Maaza Mengiste's poetic essay for the Literary Hub concludes this week's post!