Links & Contents I Liked 395
My highlight of this week was definitely an opportunity to deliver a short keynote and participate as a judge in the annual challenge of Engineers Without Borders Germany where the shortlisted submissions from 1200 engineering students from 9 universities were presented; I was really impressed how reflexive, participatory & thoughtful the finalists had engaged with the challenges that community forest management in Nepal poses and how they embraced a lot of good #globaldev thinking rather than presenting simple technological 'fixes'!
Now it's time for your weekly #globaldev readings-everything from Third World history, to celebrity fails & great insights from Bangladesh to DRC, South Africa, Nigeria & Kenya, extractive tourism, the IFC & new publications!
My quotes of the week
They've been photographing me and using me since the time I was a baby in a refugee camp. I remember getting those headshots taken and it made me feel, it's very dehumanizing. And so I wanted to show UNICEF, too. How does it feel to be used? It's not a good feeling. And so let's stop using people.
('I'm Not A Cover Girl': Halima Aden On Why She Decided To Leave A Modeling Career)
The challenge is especially acute in rural areas, where cultural stigma, religious beliefs, lack of transport and a dearth of mental health professionals all conspire against Congolese seeking to address their psychological issues — the hidden toll of DRC’s conflicts. (Mental Illness: The Vast, Hidden Toll of DRC’s Armed Conflicts)
Despite the end of the Cold War, and the tragic death of the Third World, the development trap is still with us today. It lives in the failed states which never recovered from the Communist collapse, the producer economies that remain locked on the periphery of the capitalist world system, and, increasingly, it is festering in the heart of the imperial core itself, in the working-class communities abandoned by governments in the service of international financial capital. (The Real Third World)
Foreign Aid Is Having a Reckoning
Too many aid groups continue to ignore the desires of the people they claim to serve. The Australian Red Cross stands out as an international organization that has shifted its own role to meet the moment. It has reduced its own staff to provide more funding to overseas partners and reoriented its activities around areas of added value. Other organizations should follow this example.This New York Times piece has been shared widely in all sorts of networks and it provides a good overview of some of the key contemporary debates in #globaldev that 'we' have been discussing for a while, but now reach a larger audience thanks to NYT amplification dynamics...
Aid is not all about saving those in need. Development assistance is one of the three D’s — alongside diplomacy and defense — considered crucial to cementing alliances and advancing donor countries’ interests around the world. That’s a big reason it might be resistant to reform. President Biden has issued an executive order mandating that every government agency review policies to identify barriers to racial inequity and issue a report within 200 days. Many people inside USAID hope the review will be an opportunity to improve the agency by making it more nimble and thoughtful, using lessons learned from the recent past.
Great that the NYT piece is widely shared; but there’s nothing in it that hasn’t been discussed in #globaldev for a few years & is only acknowledged because NYT talks about it; perhaps an indicator of how insular aid industry & discussions are? https://t.co/nzINzeY1C6— Tobias Denskus (@aidnography) February 14, 2021
Shell in Nigeria: Polluted communities 'can sue in English courts
THREAD I was excited to see the NYT editorial board take on the colonial undercurrents in foreign aid. Then I read the piece, and wound up even more frustrated than usual about the abysmal state of this sector. https://t.co/VGKOngYv94— Alex Simon (@AlexGSimon) February 19, 2021
The Supreme Court, the UK's final appeal court for civil cases, ruled that the cases brought by the Bille community and the Ogale people of Ogoniland against Royal Dutch Shell were arguable and could proceed in the English courts.BBC News with a landmark ruling on the real issue of corporate social responsibility...
Teed off: As COVID fuels S. Africa's housing crisis, golf courses feel the heat
"Golf courses occupy expansive tracts of land in well-located areas across cities," said Edward Molopi, a researcher with the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), which uses litigation and advocacy to support human rights.Kim Harrisberg for the Thomson Reuters Foundation; South Africa already has 450 golf courses and even if the land they occupy can only be 1 aspect of a broader solution to housing problems, the environmental cost alone should make everybody think twice before even more pop up.
"South African cities face an acute need for affordable housing and this land can be used to address the problem," Molopi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that he knows of hundreds of housing evictions since lockdown began.
It is time to end extractive tourism
These different forms of affording sovereignty around the tourism sector offer a clear strategy to rethink travel in a post-pandemic world and to prevent the reproduction of new injustices in light of the coming “vaccine apartheid”. They build upon the unique moment that the pandemic has offered to structurally transform the tourism industry in a way that puts the autonomy of all workers first in demanding culturally sensitive, climate responsible, and equitable and manageable working conditions.Vijay Kolinjivadi for Al-Jazeera with a great piece on how 'mass tourism' should, but unlikely will, change under the 'new normal'.
Together these strategies disincentivise the “work hard, play hard” mantra of capital that is ultimately a zero-sum game, generating enormous inequality and leading us to a destructive future.
Mental Illness: The Vast, Hidden Toll of DRC’s Armed Conflicts
“When we noticed she was not herself anymore, we thought she had been bewitched or possessed by evil spirits, so we took her to a healer,” says Mwasi, who lives in a village near the city of Sake, also in North Kivu. “The healers asked us for goats and chickens, but nothing has changed so far.”Noella Nyirabihogo for Global Press Journal reports on an important issue not just relevant for DRC.
Kunda’s story is a familiar one in DRC, where 25 years of armed conflicts have ravaged the mental health of its people, as hundreds of thousands have been separated from their families, displaced from their homes, or exposed to scenes of violence or torture.
The challenge is especially acute in rural areas, where cultural stigma, religious beliefs, lack of transport and a dearth of mental health professionals all conspire against Congolese seeking to address their psychological issues — the hidden toll of DRC’s conflicts.
Ashley Judd Shares Photos from Her 'Grueling 55-Hour' Rescue After Shattering Her Leg in the Congo
Speaking from her hospital bed with The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof for an Instagram Live session last week, Judd said she is "in an ICU trauma unit in beautiful South Africa, which has taken me in from the Congo: a country I deeply love, which is not, unfortunately, equipped to deal with massive catastrophic injuries like I have had."Gabrielle Chung for People Magazine with a celebrity travel story that my colleague Lisa Richey unpacks in her Tweets below.
'I'm Not A Cover Girl': Halima Aden On Why She Decided To Leave A Modeling Career
Dear Ashley, how much salary did you pay to those "locals" who are carrying you in that aerial yoga hammock? Everything that is wrong with #globalhealth + #celebrity #humanitarianism @aidnography @ncsullivan @SeverineAR @danbrockington @seenfromafar 1/6 https://t.co/hxq0dS5DML— Prof. Dr. Lisa Ann Richey (@BrandAid_World) February 18, 2021
I'll be honest with you, the feelings that I've had towards the fashion industry and UNICEF, it was just multiplying as the years went on. So it was just festering. You know, because the fashion industry is very known to use these young girls and boys while they're young — age 14 to like 24, I think, is the average career of a model. And then they just replace them and move on to a newer model. And same with UNICEF. They've been photographing me and using me since the time I was a baby in a refugee camp. I remember getting those headshots taken and it made me feel, it's very dehumanizing. And so I wanted to show UNICEF, too. How does it feel to be used? It's not a good feeling. And so let's stop using people.Ziad Buchh for NPR talks to Halima Aden-including on her experiences with UNICEF campaign materials.
UN Women dragged for ‘ignorant’ portrayal of Black woman in Valentine’s Day post
United Nations Women is facing backlash for its Valentine’s Day graphic shared on social media. The now-deleted post depicted three diverse couples either embracing or holding hands and an individual dark-skinned Black woman left to embrace herself.DeMicia Inman for the Grio with another UN organization communication idea with good intentions & problematic execution...
“The fact that you left the Black woman out in the cold to love herself really accurately represents the historic and current way the world views Black women as unworthy of receiving love, doesn’t it?” she tweeted. “If that’s what you were going for, you nailed it. If not, seek antiracism help.”
Aspiring farmer TV star: Abdullah's story | Gazi, coastal Kenya
Unlike the other farmers I have spoken with so far in this region, Abdullah is trying to prepare. He can see that the rains are less dependable, and he sees the benefit of installing irrigation for the vegetables and fruits that he grows. There is a deep well on the farm, but he needs a pump, elevated tank and piped sprinkler system. He has been slowly working on this investment - and has already purchased the tank, built the tower (shown in photo), and installed some of the piping. He just now needs to raise the tank and set up the sprinklers!Before we get too distracted with celebrity (non-)news, Sara Delaney on LinkedIn with her story that reminds us about the 'real' people in #globaldev & how they are coping.
The gangster, the general and the prime minister of Bangladesh
It was an extraordinary display of wealth and power. It was an even bolder act of public defiance. The four Ahmed brothers, two of whom were criminals on the run, were paraded before the political and military elite of Bangladesh. The guest of honour was the president of Bangladesh, Mohammed Abdul Hameed.Will Thorne for Al-Jazeera with a fascinating long-read frok Bangladesh that reads a bit like a Netflix show, but is unfortunately based on real events...
It has been a long journey for the Ahmed family but they have finally arrived. From being a small-time mafia on the dangerous streets of Mohammadpur, the clan now has a firm grip on the institutions of the state in Bangladesh.
The concert for Bangladesh half a century later
What if The Concert for Bangladesh had never happened? The global public would have known even less of the genocide by the West Pakistani army against the people now known as Bangladeshis. There would have been no Live Aid, because Bob Geldof took direct inspiration from George Harrison’s big event.Naomi Hossain launches her 'personal lockdown project' Becoming Bangladesh to commemorate the 50th birthday of the country's independence.
But in its use of searing messages of human pain, the Concert also left a darker legacy - an image of Bangladesh as a place of misery and destitution that persisted long after it had turned its fortunes around. One theme I explore in this reflection on the Concert for Bangladesh, almost 50 years ago at the time of writing, is that this depiction of human pain was necessary not to call for charity, but to conceal a more subversive and solidaristic political agenda – to sing Bangladesh into being, at least in the minds of the world audience commanded by an ex-Beatle.
An Agenda for Makhtar Diop at the IFC
The IFC’s failure to pivot reflects a culture that still favors deals over development impact: rather a big, simple investment in Brazil than a small, time-consuming project in Burundi. The “deals over development” culture also affects the impact of the projects the IFC does support. Take the energy sector: in his experience both as World Bank vice president for Africa and for infrastructure, Diop will have seen the harm done by unsolicited, non-competitive, and opaque power purchase agreements. He’ll know that the World Bank has consistently advised against that approach thanks to expensive failures in countries including Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya. And yet unsolicited power deals accounted for an average of 37 percent of the megawatts the IFC co-financed between 2015 and 2019. And the IFC keeps on financing sole-sourced power projects, usually shrouded in secrecy, sometimes throwing in a subsidy on top. Given that, it isn’t surprising the available evidence suggests that the IFC is failing to convert its investments into development impact at the sectoral level.Charles Kenny, Vijaya Ramachandran & Scott Morris for the Center for Global Development; I really appreciate the CGD's research on important, but perhaps less headline-catching news as the first Senegalese head of IFC starts his tenure.
Seema Jayachandran interview: On deforestation, corruption, and the roots of gender inequality
When economists and policymakers think about active labor market policies or programs to improve skills and success in the labor market, we usually think of policies around adding human capital and giving access to credit.Douglas Clement & Anjali Nair for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis talk to Seema Jayachandran about her research.
But my takeaway from this research is that for women, at least in some societies, there’s a whole other set of policies related to addressing these restrictive social norms that should be an important part of the portfolio of labor market policies.
More than a freedom fighter
I think she always wanted to tell her story. It’s just that no one had thought of asking! I know that people would interview her when they wanted to talk about the cabinet crisis in Malawi—way before I came in—and she would tell them her story, solely in connection to the cabinet crisis. But I think no one had come and said, “Tell me about you.” She wanted to talk about Malawi; she really wanted to talk about her experiences. She wanted them to count for something.Michelle Chikaonda talks to Timwa Lipenga for Africa is a Country about the book project on the live of Malawi's Rose Chibambo.
Way before we even had a publisher, in fact, she would talk about it as “our book.” So, she believed, even before the manuscript was accepted for publication that there would be a book. Even when I told her I hadn’t found a publisher yet, she would talk about that. When she died before I even found a publisher, that was hard. She would have loved to see this. She really wanted to tell her story.
The Real Third World
In case you missed it: the video of "The Case of Haiti" is online, on how to build solidarities and futures "beyond colonial relationships" (Nixon Boumba). Re-watch, re-discuss, above all imagine alternatives & engage in new practices 🙏#re_construction21https://t.co/miQNypDhpY pic.twitter.com/dKBGXG8f34— Andrea Steinke (@and_steinke) February 13, 2021
The political project of the Third World was a gleaming jewel of optimism and pride in a world system more generally characterised by the grim cynicism of the superpower conflict. However, whichever way these new regimes reached, the development trap gripped them like a vice.Robert Maisey for Tribune with a great essay on the history of the real Third World movement (not the problematic term we have abandoned to refer to Southern/peripheral countries.
Some, like Puerto Rico, abandoned all their sovereignty to the United States and resigned themselves to poverty in exchange for access to First World investment and consumer goods. Others, like Cuba, became fortified islands, cut off from the capitalist world market and entirely reliant on their own resources and the political commitment of their populations to sustain them.
Despite the end of the Cold War, and the tragic death of the Third World, the development trap is still with us today. It lives in the failed states which never recovered from the Communist collapse, the producer economies that remain locked on the periphery of the capitalist world system, and, increasingly, it is festering in the heart of the imperial core itself, in the working-class communities abandoned by governments in the service of international financial capital.
Shaping Social Change with Music in Maputo, Mozambique
Shifting the focus from music as a teaching medium to music as a rich source of information can provide vital insights into public opinion and political ideas, and significantly impact the development of citizen engagement projects. Maximum gains for development and civil society agencies can be achieved by mainstreaming gender into mutual learning activities between singers, audiences, and academics.Katia Taela, Euclides Gonçalves, Catija Maivasse & Anésio Manhiça with a new IDS Working Paper.
The United Arab Emirates as a global donor: what a decade of foreign aid data transparency reveals
Particular attention is paid to analyzing three primary recipients of its aid (Egypt, Serbia and Yemen) and the implicit motivations driving those decisions. The majority of Emirati aid to these three countries was granted as general budgetary support, often in tandem with efforts to achieve political, economic and/or military aims. Based on the findings, an evaluation is made regarding Emirati narratives of South-South cooperation and its seeking of mutual benefit as well as critiques put forward within the literature countering this. In addition to critically assessing the details of an under-researched aid portfolio, this paper highlights areas for further study to deepen our understanding of the UAE’s foreign aid.Logan Cochrane with a new open access article in Development Studies Research.
Remote Warfare: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Modern warfare is becoming increasingly defined by distance. Today, many Western and non-Western states have shied away from deploying large numbers of their own troops to battlefields. Instead, they have limited themselves to supporting the frontline fighting of local and regional actors against non-state armed forces through the provision of intelligence, training, equipment and airpower. This is remote warfare, the dominant method of military engagement now employed by many states.Alasdair McKay, Abigail Watson & Megan Karlshøj-Pedersen for E-International Relations with a new open access edited collection.
Critical Perspectives on Open Development: Empirical Interrogation of Theory Construction
Over the last ten years, “open” innovations—the sharing of information and communications resources without access restrictions or cost—have emerged within international development. But do these innovations empower poor and marginalized populations? This book examines whether, for whom, and under what circumstances the free, networked, public sharing of information and communication resources contribute (or not) toward a process of positive social transformation. The contributors offer cross-cutting theoretical frameworks and empirical analyses that cover a broad range of applications, emphasizing the underlying aspects of open innovations that are shared across contexts and domains.Arul Chib, Caitlin M. Bentley & Matthew L. Smith with a new edited open access collection for MIT/IDRC.
How to include Indigenous researchers and their knowledge
Before you join a department or choose an adviser, it’s really important to talk to people of colour or those who are from Indigenous communities about their experience with that particular adviser. I know well-meaning scientists who want to bridge these cultural divides. Some will even try to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into their work. But they should be committed to doing this in a meaningful way by uplifting and centring Maori communities and knowledge. Recently, I saw a panel in New Zealand about decolonizing the academy — and all the speakers were white and non-Indigenous people. There is a fine line between creating spaces in institutions for Indigenous people and taking up those spaces.Virginia Gewin for Nature with a great career feature on indigenous researchers and their challenges in #highered.
Maori researchers maintain almost a whisper network of white researchers who don’t do this well. I can always tell whether a non-Maori researcher genuinely cares about addressing the problems that Indigenous communities face, such as the ongoing degradation of freshwater environments and decline of our culturally important native species, or whether they are doing the research only to advance their own career. For example, the biggest red flag is when white scientists want to do research on us without involving us.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 184, 27 May 2016)
Why you should be critical of Professor Angelina Jolie Pitt’s LSE gig
It is in this particular contemporary context that we should have more critical debates beyond shallow Tomb Raider jokes or serious head nodding when emphasizing Jolie’s work as a UN goodwill ambassador.Whatever happened to Professor Jolie? Me, wrapping a up this week's focus on celebrities in #globaldev with a post from the archive.
Carrie Reiling elaborates on how celebritization ‘reinforce(s) stratification and hierarchy’ in the field of women, peace and security in her excellent post.
As much as I agree that academia needs to be open and accessible, there are still elements of my actual job that I trained and studied hard for – just as my aid or humanitarian professional colleagues did.
UN Bureaucracy? No, Thanks
Too often, the choice is between what makes sense for the mission and what complies with unwieldy procedures, and usually the choice involves doing what is compliant. The result, an underperformance of mandates, poses extremely high risks to operations as well as to reputations.Franz Baumann for PassBlue said good-bye to the UN after 30 years within the organization.
A well-functioning Secretariat will not necessarily overcome crises of multilateralism, but a dysfunctional Secretariat is grist for mill for those who see the UN as an incompetent and wasteful distraction. Considering the UN’s symbolism, legitimacy, convening power and mission across its 70 years, the importance of good internal governance cannot be overemphasized. It will require considerable effort by the next secretary-general — woman or man, but preferably not a bureaucrat — to undo the symptoms of neglect and reverse the decline of the Secretariat.
We need less paperwork and more aid in humanitarian work
Slimming down the aid machine would require some difficult decisions about reducing the number of organisations working in crisis areas, and reducing the autonomy of individual donors to adapt what they require of partners as they agree on a common reporting template. The prize, however, is more freed-up resources and more effective action to help people in life-threatening situations.
Julia Steets & András Derzsi-Horváth for the Guardian are also beefing with #globaldev bureaucracy.