Links & Contents I Liked 426

Hi all,

Last week I included a Tweet about MSF using blockchain for patient data in my review; after a message from MSF ('Hi Tobias, just to let you know that MSF is NOT putting patient info on Blockchain') I deleted the Tweet from my review on Monday. Even though I am quite careful about my sources, mistakes like this can happen-so please get in touch if you see a link, story or resource that doesn't meet the high quality standards you should expect from the blog!

Otherwise, you can stimulate your mind with a new round of free readings-no Black Friday discount, no judgement from your family that you are into #globaldev, no pressure ;)!


My quotes of the week
Within the charity ecosystem, the critical friend sits on the margins, often in a smaller or more precarious organisation. The critical friend has less power (of course: otherwise they would be taking the advice and making the decisions). It is often the lone lived experience ‘voice’ in a room full of commissioners or service providers or professionals. (I am not your critical friend)

Blockchains can’t rebuild roads, or end sectarian violence, famine or natural disasters. When countries like Ethiopia need to bounce back from war, they ultimately need support rebuilding infrastructure and strong democratic institutions, including effective legal and tax systems. Fanciful libertarian experiments with cryptocurrencies, benefiting only crypto-rich investors elsewhere, should go find another sandbox. (The Headache of 'Crypto Colonialism')

Development news
I am not your critical friend
The critical friend often has the burden of representation thrust upon them, of the marginalised identity or community they are deemed to embody at the table. They are cast as the token presence with the weight of their whole community on their shoulders. The critical friend is often called upon to speak truth, to say the hard things, to carry the conscience in the room. I have no desire to be your conscience.
I am not trying to disrupt your thinking. I am trying to do my job, which is a fundamental challenge to the way you work, and rather than address that deeper challenge, you thank me for the provocation. But my provocation serves you. It legitimises the space I have joined, because I have technically been heard, and you are technically including me. But nothing changes.
Akiko Hart for Charity So White.

The agency of local people in the Pacific: indigenous responses to the global pandemic
The changes that came with the COVID-19 pandemic have spurred new patterns of adaptive behaviour across the Pacific wherever people have access to customary land, showing how local agency can not only mitigate setbacks, but also improve aspects of daily life, like food security. Adaptation in the face of tourism collapse is highlighting the value of traditional institutions and social relations. We see this materialise through, for example, young people being taught about customary methods of fishing, or the merging of kastom with technology via virtual means of fundraising.
The COVID-19 era, while disruptive and isolating for many Pacific rural communities, is showing how rural development assistance stands to provide more meaningful impact by building upon the strengths in communities.
Apisalome Movono, Pita Neihapi, Regina Scheyvens & Dirk Steenbergen for the DevPolicy Blog with some great insights into local responses to the global pandemic.

Blowing the house down: life on the frontline of extreme weather in the Gambia
“It’s all related: climate change, conflict, and hunger,” says Tsumura. “It’s intertwined.”
Lizzy Davies for the Guardian reports from the Gambia.

‘The war crushed our dreams’: Displaced again and again in Yemen’s Marib
As fighting intensifies around the central Yemeni city of Marib, thousands of people are being forced to flee the violence each week. But for many, this is just the latest upheaval in more than six and a half long years of war.
Mohamed Ghazi for the New Humanitarian; great to see that this is a contribution through an initiative that connects local journalists with international news platforms.

What happened at Wunlit? Reliving South Sudan's most successful peace conference
The experience of Wunlit shows us that the hostilities between the Dinka and Nuer pastoral communities cannot be solved by designing a technical political matrix, like the one provided by the R-ARCSS. What is needed is a more traditional approach, embedded in a Wunlit-like experience, which provides the space to reach an unconditional peace, forgiveness and stability without pursuing post-conflict justice—distrust of which has contributed to the stalling of the peace process.
Wunlit shows that grassroots peace can be achieved by working through local centres of authority, particularly chiefs and elders, who appreciate the benefits of sharing resources between communities. One week after the meetings at Nyal and Yirol, the people of Payinjiar and Yirol resumed their cross-border cattle trading, restarted the sharing of pastureland and stopped raiding. This didn’t require an elaborate agreement, disarmament or provision of peace monitors, it was brought about by local people working together with a shared goal.
Machot Amoun for the Rift Valley Institute with a great example of local peacebuilding.

Optimism and Advice for Advancing USAID’s Vision for Locally-led Development: A Conversation With Randy Tift
And traditional USAID partners do finally appear ready to support a bold, but practical, reform agenda. In a lengthy recent policy paper that a group of contractors delivered to USAID, their posture on localization was miles away from actions they took in response to Local Solutions a decade ago. Back then, contractors went behind USAID’s back seeking to kill Local Solutions on Capitol Hill. Many continued to grumble about NPI despite its more fit for purpose and accommodating approach to locally led development. Now, contractors appear more willing to consider a reality that USAID has begun to embrace: achieving enhanced autonomy and self-reliance of partner countries to “lead their own development mission” is more important than just achieving outcomes, and that there may often be tradeoffs between the two goals.
Sarah Rose for CGD talks to Randy Rift; I'm naturally less optimistic, but this is also a reminder that the power of contractors need to be limited to achieve any meaningful change.

WE Charity misled donors about building schools in Kenya, records show
Marc and Craig Kielburger's WE Charity routinely misled school-aged children and wealthy philanthropists across North America for years as it solicited millions for schoolhouses in Kenya and other projects in its Adopt-A-Village program, an investigation by CBC's The Fifth Estate has found.
Slick marketing videos, congratulatory social media posts and crowdfunding websites across the internet tell the story of two brothers on a mission to change the world, but under closer scrutiny those digital crumbs lead down a trail of contradictions and deception.
"I don't know how they thought they could get away with it for so long," said a former WE employee. CBC agreed to conceal their identity because they were concerned about legal reprisals from the charity for speaking out.
Matthew Pierce, Harvey Cashore, Mark Kelley & Kate McKenn for CBC News; the white-savior-philanthrocapitalism-complex is alive and well-and not surprisingly one of Canada's celebrity charities is right in the middle of it...
There are a billion reasons Elon Musk is not going to end world hunger
If Musk truly wants to help, he should stop centring himself in conversations about hunger for clickbait. It’s not about him.
World hunger and other humanitarian crises need a different generation of funders: funders who create spaces to have honest conversations about the real needs, while also understanding financial involvement doesn’t magically equate to expertise; funders who see it as their role to facilitate change rather than enforcing prescriptive “solutions”; and funders who are deeply committed to equity and recognise it as the baseline of a sustainable world.
Vineeta Gupta for the New Humanitarian stating a few important, but also seemingly obvious points about Elon Musk being more part of the problem than any solution...

Denmark’s Legislation on Extraterritorial Asylum in Light of International and EU Law
The Danish legislation, if implemented, will raise interesting constitutional problems in terms of the division of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, given that the ultimate decisions on the legal sustainability of transfers under an international agreement will be made by the quasi-judicial Refugee Appeals Board whose rulings are unlikely to be scrutinised by Danish courts before possible complaints may reach international monitoring bodies.
perhaps the key question remains whether Denmark can find a willing partner state. While Rwanda has been reported as a possible contender, it is to be seen whether an African state will be prepared to enter into an agreement with Denmark in light of the African Union’s condemnation “in the strongest terms possible” of the legislative amendment providing for the relocation of asylum seekers to countries outside the EU.
Nikolas Feith Tan & Jens Vedsted-Hansen for EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy; the country next door to where I live is determined to keep the EU's unwillingness to deal with migration and asylum to the next legal level-with very little political or social resistance in 'socialist' Denmark...

Our digital lives
The Headache of 'Crypto Colonialism'
Blockchains can’t rebuild roads, or end sectarian violence, famine or natural disasters. When countries like Ethiopia need to bounce back from war, they ultimately need support rebuilding infrastructure and strong democratic institutions, including effective legal and tax systems. Fanciful libertarian experiments with cryptocurrencies, benefiting only crypto-rich investors elsewhere, should go find another sandbox.
Pete Howson for CoinDesk; originally published in July, it's still a very timely commentary on the 'crypto will not solve your country's financial problems' debate.

What Is Feminist Digital (In)justice?
We must acknowledge that the broader digital economy is systematically structured to disadvantage women; from digital trade and e-commerce negotiations to the decision-making processes of internet governance. Recent years have shown us that we cannot trust platforms to regulate themselves and we must work towards developing a new global normative benchmarking exercise to regulate platforms and decolonize network infrastructures based on new economic models.
These theoretical underpinnings can strengthen our claims both for distributive, economic justice in a platformized, data-driven economy, and our rights for recognition and representation in the digital public sphere. I hope this will lead us, at this moment of systemic, multidimensional crisis, to fresh energy for new conceptions of feminist digital justice, combining, in the words of Nancy Fraser “a politics of redistribution with a politics of recognition”.
Becky Faith for BotPopuli with a great essay for a special issue on Feminist Re-imagining of Platform Planet.


See my latest newsletter for a few more readings suggestions


The Status of the BRICS, 20 Years Later
It is not possible to categorize the BRICS as an international institution, regime or organization. We defend the idea that the BRICS is a dynamic and in process phenomenon: dynamic because it is developed according to the members’ perceptions of the world scenario, without defining the limitations surrounding the strategies and initiatives of each member country; and in process because it is developed through specific processes, in which members do not determine end goals or institutionalization.
William Daldegan & Carlos Eduardo Carvalho for E-International Relations; so basically 20 years in and we still don't know what BRICS really is...

What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 216, 20 January 2017)

‘Stealing from earthquake victims’-a tale of laptops, overheads and journalism from Nepal
Yes, spending more than 500.000 Euros on salaries and allowances sounds like a lot, but it misses the time-frame, number of recipients and individual salaries.
As more and more young, well-qualified Nepali professionals enter the development sector they should be able to work in an environment of constructive debates-not one of mistrust and jealously. The development sector is an important aspect of Nepal’s economy and it deserves local professionals who can build a career in the industry, rather than looking for well-paid employment elsewhere-including outside the country.
Me on overheads & local #globaldev journalism from Nepal.

Time to stand up for foreign aid
We must look at the UK’s global engagement in tackling international issues such as poverty, inequality and tax avoidance and evasion. When it comes to dealing with these last two seemingly intractable issues, foreign aid can be an incredibly valuable tool. We are currently in the absurd situation where wealthy and corrupt politicians and businessmen—from countries that receive aid from the UK government—flout international tax laws and are able to purchase property in the UK with the wealth they have amassed.
Kate Osamor for Prospect Magazine on debates never really change-or in the case of DfID's demise only get worse...

“We are not alone”: Nicaragua’s rural youth tell their story
The project sough to strengthen the community’s understanding of the interrelation between improved environmental conditions, sustainable intensification, and increased crop yields, all the while fostering a process that celebrated indigenous knowledge while stimulating creative problem-solving by community members. The group’s final video revealed a strong gender and youth perspective around their community’s way of life, their experience transforming their resource-management practices, and how the positive changes they are capable of generating manifest on an individual and community level.
Shadi Azadegan for CIAT with a nice participatory video case study.


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