Links & Contents I Liked 399

Hi all,

Another week, another great range of news, essay, podcasts, open access books & more!
This week applications for autumn courses in Sweden opened so do share the link to our only blended learning part-time MA in Communication for Development (now in its 21st year & still free for EU citizens & Swedish residents!)


My quotes of the week
(D)onors expect women refugee-led organisations to compete for the same grants male-led organisations apply for and report on them on the same schedule. This is not feasible. Men have women taking care of their children, cooking their meals, and cleaning their houses while they are working. Women are doing both. (How the aid sector marginalises women refugees

Ironically, Chinese expansion in Africa, so frequently depicted by journalists as rapid, exciting, and even violent, was experienced by those on its front lines as dull, repetitive, and monotonous—experiences similar to those anthropologists have observed among unemployed African youth. (Doing Time, Making Money at a Chinese State Firm in Angola)

Development news
'This happens in Brazil, not Britain': academics in despair as global research funds pulled

When Alison Phipps, of Glasgow University, launched a new programme of grants for small community organisations working to tackle violence against women and girls in some of the world’s poorest countries, she had no idea that just three days later she would be told to pause the project, remove the notice about it, and that the future of the entire £2m global research scheme she runs would be in jeopardy.
She was stunned by the sudden announcement on the UKRI website on Thursday last week that its budget for international development research had been nearly halved, from £245m to £125m. UKRI has confirmed that in all, 900 projects have been affected.
IDS response to the UK’s Integrated Review
“The lack of ambition for the UK’s role in international development is seriously disappointing and goes alongside the damning decision to reduce the overseas aid budget and funding for international research. These budget cuts will dramatically reduce the UK’s ability to deliver high-quality, interdisciplinary research essential to improving the lives of people around the world."
Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian & Melissa Leach for IDS on this week's headline-making decisions in the UK that will impact #globaldev research & engagement significantly.
Haitian court orders UN peacekeeper to pay child support in landmark case
A landmark legal decision has been made in a Haitian court, ordering a former UN peacekeeper from Uruguay to pay child support to a woman he impregnated in 2011.
Paisley Dodds for the New Humanitarian with good news & an important verdict from Haiti.

A Political Movement Debuts to Run ‘Global Primaries’ for the Job of UN Secretary-General
A new grass-roots campaign, called #Forward, is launching open, digital global primaries to find a “people-backed” candidate to run for United Nations secretary-general this year, for a five-year term starting in 2022. The campaign aims to make the selection process more transparent and democratic while also attracting more attention to the election itself.
Stéphanie Fillion for PassBlue also shares positive #globaldev news, even though such a campaign may be more symbolic than actual leading to changed process-but people are increasingly dissatisfied with how global leaders are selected.

The Amazon Rain Forest Is in Worse Shape Than We Thought
Degrading the Amazon is kind of like balancing a bank account, Covey said. By clearing out forests that serve as a massive sink not just for carbon but for other greenhouse gases, “you’re losing income and doing a lot of spending out of your accounts at the same time,” he said. Now, as researchers discover other potentially significant sources of emissions, “we may have a whole bunch of expenses on the forest books that we haven’t accounted for.” Instead of looking to rain forests in terms of capitalistic resources—timber, gold, beef, crops—we should value the important services these intact ecosystems offer, he said, and start “paying the real cost of degrading the Amazon.… People will pay the cost down the line. There’s no avoiding the check coming due. But I think if we’ve focused attention on any one thing in the past year, it’s that not everybody’s going to pay those costs equally.”
Melody Schreiber for the New Republic with more bad news from Brazil...

Vaccine politics in Zimbabwe
As team members commented, the shifts in behaviour over the past year around hygiene in particular have been impressive. As one commented, “you go to people’s houses and there’s hand sanitiser or soap to wash; even the kids will pull you up and ask if you’ve washed your hands!” The village health workers reinforce health messages, and continue to work on small allowances, but are widely respected in local communities. With schools opening soon again, school development committees have been mobilised to supply sanitisers and masks and parents have set up duty rotas to clean and sanitise classrooms.
Despite the lack of coronavirus, people have seen the potential risks through high-profile deaths and sickness (including of relatives) in towns and in the diaspora, in South Africa and the UK in particular. This has prompted local mobilisation and collective action in the absence of state support.
Ian Scoones for zimbabweland with an interesting update from the (not-so-)frontlines of Covid in rural Zimbabwe.

Africa’s Land Rush – what do we really know?
Taking into account all these elements, although we know that the demand for land and natural resources has significantly accelerated in the last decade, it remains difficult to gauge the exact size of the land rush. Even so, the Land Matrix allows users to explore a wealth of individual deals and investors through its platform. Deals can be filtered by a wide range of variables, such as location, negotiation and implementation status, and intended use.
Wytske Chamberlain & Wegayehu Fitawek of Land Matrix Africa on the complexities around the data of 'land grabbing'.

'Only woman in the room': alarm as peace summit held with just one Afghan woman
“Why should (I) be the only woman in the room? We have not been part of the war, we can certainly contribute to peace,” she said, according to a tweet from a fellow negotiator that she shared.
“Fifty-one percent of people should not be ignored.”
Orooj Hakimi & Charlotte Greenfield for Reuters as the history of ignoring women in peace processes seems to repeat itself once again...

How the aid sector marginalises women refugees
International humanitarian organisations should dedicate a specific percentage of funding to build the capacity of refugee women-led organisations to help these basic goals become a reality.
Instead, donors expect women refugee-led organisations to compete for the same grants male-led organisations apply for and report on them on the same schedule. This is not feasible. Men have women taking care of their children, cooking their meals, and cleaning their houses while they are working. Women are doing both.
Even me, I am currently pregnant with my third child. When I give birth, I will need to stay close to my baby for at least the first three months to feed and care for them. I won’t be able to leave my child to put in an eight-hour work day. I will need more time to complete the work I usually do, and I will need donors to understand this and adjust accordingly.
But the humanitarian sector does not make any accommodations for the realities we face as refugee women. As a result, it is difficult for women refugee-led organisations to reach the same level as organisations led by men. This means that we are often denied a seat at the table to talk about the situations we face and to propose solutions.
Shima Bahre for the New Humanitarian on structural inequalities for women-led organizations in Sudan.

For ‘love’: charity-washing colonialism, fascism and genocide
Against this colonial caritas, communities and movements are demonstrating their own forms of decolonial love: building up interfaith and intercommunal solidarity against the politics of genocidal nationalism and fascism, from Myanmar to India to Israel to the US.
As philosopher Cornel West said, “justice is what love looks like in public” – even if it continues to be punished by the “charitable” state.
Azeezah Kanji for Aljazeera shares some good reflections on the nexus between 'charity' & the colonial mindset.

Decolonise Global Health

ActDGH is an activist, action-oriented collective of global health academics, practitioners, and students coming together to put forward ideas, arguments, and strategies to reconstruct our global health system. We will move to a system that has more a equitable concentration power, where extractive policies are replaced with greater autonomy of people and communities.
A great new blog & initiative curated by MSF's Tammam Aloudat!
Does the policy of deterring asylum seekers actually work?
If politicians were honest and open about the fact that most asylum seekers arriving in the UK are now genuine refugees, this might start to shift public attitudes. The majority will ultimately be allowed to stay in the UK anyway and it is time to start recognising that truth. Once they are allowed to remain, do we want them to be isolated, disadvantaged and perhaps even resentful because of their harsh and inhumane treatment on and after arrival? If we were less hostile and more respectful, it is likely that they would find it easier to integrate and build new lives for themselves when they are allowed to stay, which, in turn, might help to shift negative public opinion.James Vincent for the Verge with an old Bill Gates story to wrap up this week's review!
Colin Yeo for Free Movement shares some interesting ideas from his new-ish book.

Winnie Byanyima's Lifelong Fight for Equality
Through being part of these struggles of injustice, I’ve learned to find my place. To know that I’m just one person with a lifespan that’s so many years–not so long–and that these struggles continue for generations. You do your bit and you pass on the baton to others. You’re contributing to a historic struggle, and I think young people are going to challenge inequality. We’re going to see some revolutions that equalize. Just like how out of crisis people rebuild, this huge inequality is going to cause a reset—and we’re going to see young people lead that.

Winnie Byanyima talks to the Talk Easy podcast.

Grammy Winner Burna Boy Makes Music — And Social Noise
The singer supports a pan-Africa as espoused by the great Afrobeats legend, Fela. Through his beats, outfits and lyrics, Burna Boy expresses Fela's ideals despite the two artists being a generation apart – Fela died in 1997 and Burna Boy was born in 1991.
In early 2020, Burna Boy shared an undated handwritten letter by Fela on his Instagram page that urges a more generally unified Africa to end poor governance across the continent. Responses on Instagram to the letter were mainly positive.
That outlook is reflected in Burna Boy's acceptance speech on Sunday, which was not dedicated to Nigeria but to all of Africa.
Ifeanyi M. Nsofor for NPR Goats & Soda on the Nigerian Grammy winner & activist for social change.

South African history through new ears

this project represents the first of a series of podcasts based on materials contained within the APC’s 500 Year Archive, a digital research project designed to allow interested parties “to dive into the southern African past up to five centuries before colonialism.” The podcast project is also geared towards recovering “South Africa’s past before colonialism,” according to Carolyn Hamilton, NRF Chair of the APC project and a noted historian/anthropologist. “We are sharply aware of the dearth of accessible, publicly appealing, historical materials concerning South Africa’s past before colonialism . . . especially in local African languages,”
Liz Timbs for Africa is a Country with a really interesting memory/history/culture/decolonial project from South Africa.

Doing Time, Making Money at a Chinese State Firm in Angola

Boredom, in this case, was not imposed on company men as a form of discipline. Rather, what enabled employees’ exploitation and therefore moneymaking was the fact that their aspirations were always oriented elsewhere, so that progressive time, and therefore ‘life’, could be suspended, while work, which was actually an unenjoyable kind of leisure, could take its place for a year, two years, or ten. Ironically, Chinese expansion in Africa, so frequently depicted by journalists as rapid, exciting, and even violent, was experienced by those on its front lines as dull, repetitive, and monotonous—experiences similar to those anthropologists have observed among unemployed African youth.
Cheryl Mei-ting Schmitz for the Made in China Journal; this article was already published in January, but it is a great ethnographic essay that tackles many of the ‘China in Africa’ myths! (This was also included in my new weekly newsletter Mid-week #globaldev Links I liked)
Our digital lives
The pandemic is giving start-ups a shot at replacing teachers with technology
A side effect of this line of thinking has been the transformation of students into customers and teachers into corporate pain points. After all, conventional teachers aren’t as close to the action as industry experts, nor are they as cost-effective as automated apps or online courses. Covid-19 did not create this trend, but it did exacerbate it. Every edtech that responded to Rest of World made it clear that teachers who stick to their old ways will go the way of the chalkboard. The problem is that many educators, including the ones teaching Salon’s daughters, can’t afford anything but chalk. The question is whether there’s a market for this new model. At a time when the region’s economy is in crisis, access to a yearly Platzi subscription costs at least a month’s earnings on the Colombian minimum wage. More than half of the country still doesn’t have access to the internet, according to Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications. It leaves both teachers and millions of poorer students out of Vega’s reach.

Megan Janetsky & Alex González Ormerod for Rest of World with a nuanced essay on #EdTech disruptions in Colombia.

Behind the Brands Independent Evaluation on the Implementation of Gender and Cocoa Commitments
Overall, the companies are doing significant work to improve the gender realities of many women cocoa farmers on the ground. But much of that information goes unpublished, making it difficult to assess what progress is being made. While all three companies presented consolidated gender assessments of the three countries, those assessments did not appear to have any connections to the action plans produced, nor were they produced in the sequence expected. The evaluation inquiry suggests that the overall quality of the gender assessments has declined for two of the companies since the last independent evaluation, commissioned in 2014.
Ritu Mahendru for Oxfam USA with an important evaluation report.

Studying Humanitarianism - A Course Audit of Master's Degree Programs in Humanitarian Action
Despite this trend, there is no universal agreement on a core course curriculum in Humanitarian Studies. This working paper surveys 23 ‘humanitarian action’ master’s degree programs offered in the US, the UK, Europe, Australia and Nigeria to identify key commonalities across courses. This paper does not put forth a proposal of how a core curriculum should look like; rather, it highlights core commonalities across programs.Gates announced the chicken initiative — dubbed "Coop Dreams" — earlier this month as a partnership with Heifer International, a charity that aims to eradicate poverty by giving away livestock and agricultural training. The gift of 100,000 chickens is to be distributed among countries with high poverty levels: mostly nations in sub-Saharan Africa, but also including Bolivia, reports Reuters.
Adrina Stibral for the Humanitarian Leader with a new open access article.
Refugee Journeys-Histories of Resettlement, Representation and Resistance
Refugee Journeys presents stories of how governments, the public and the media have responded to the arrival of people seeking asylum, and how these responses have impacted refugees and their lives. Mostly covering the period from 1970 to the present, the chapters provide readers with an understanding of the political, social and historical contexts that have brought us to the current day.
Jordana Silverstein & Rachel Stevens with for ANU Press with a new open access book.

Shaping Africa's post-Covid recovery
This eBook summarises recent research on the economic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in the continent covering a wide array of topics focusing on the response of firms, households, governments, and international organisations.
Ugo Panizza, Rabah Arezki & Simeon Djankov for the Centre for Economic Policy Research with an open access book.

Readings in AI Ethics
Amid a maelstrom of articles and academic papers addressing the ethics of artificial intelligence, the following selection of readings aims to highlight some key issues. While it is by no means exhaustive, we hope it will provide a useful starting point for conversations about AI ethics.
Irina Raicu of the Internet Ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics curates this excellent collection!

Rethinking the Social Sciences with Sam Moyo
Moyo belonged to the generation of Pan-Africanist intellectuals responsible for defending the gains of liberation and devising strategies of epistemic survival in the midst of structural adjustment. Their epicenter was the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), of which Sam eventually became president. He distinguished himself by his relentless drive to build and defend research capacities in Africa, refusing the lure of professional stability and fame abroad. Those who had the good fortune to meet him would affirm that he pursued this mission with flair, generosity, and a ‘charming inflexibility’ on matters of ideology. In 2002, he founded the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS), in Harare, Zimbabwe, against all odds, in the midst of radical land reform and Western sanctions.
Praveen Jha, Paris Yeros & Walter Chambati for Developing Economics introduce their new book.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 188, 24 June 2016)
Disrupted (book review)
Lyons manages throughout the book in sometimes ethnographic detail to contrast the ‘brave new world’ of start-ups and IT companies with a reality that is less glamorous than tours through Silicon Valley offices would suggest. He also offers glimpses into a capitalist bubble that has a long way to go before it can fulfill the aspirations of disruptive social change, new forms of working and making profit or creating anything meaningful in the digital economy.
Me with a review of a book from inside Silicon Valley that seems both timely & outdated at the same time...a real Schrodinger's book ;)!

Digital Bangladesh? Are we really connecting the unconnected?

One common refrain I hear a lot from the tech sector in particular in Bangladesh is around the use of apps and internet-enabled services to reach the marginalised – ‘this is Digital Bangladesh, everyone has a smartphone these days, low-cost smartphones like Symphony (made in China for the Bangladesh market) are everywhere, we need to get with the times and design an app for these people, IVR is dead, 3G
Alexandra Tyers's piece for Panoply Digital raises the interesting questions that are worth re-investigating 5 years later...


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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa