Links & Contents I Liked 429

Hi all,

This is the final link review for 2021 & Aidnography will be back in the second half of January 2022 (Twenty-Twenty-Too...).

Many of us will have a holiday break & I hope it will be a restful & joyful time.
This little guy below, Snoopy, has been one of the great gifts in our lives this year and so far he's turning every fiction of Simon's cat into reality :)

Stay well, eat well, read well!

Development news
How are global systems failing? Behind this year’s Emergency Watchlist
The International Rescue Committee’s Watchlist is an annual report on the countries most at risk of deteriorating humanitarian crises. This year’s list, which is led by Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen, indicates something more serious than things getting worse.
Instead, it reveals what the IRC is calling a “system failure” sweeping institutions from individual governments to organizations that uphold international law and diplomacy to the United Nations itself. The systems set up to prevent and address humanitarian crises are broken.
IRC's Emergency Watchlist provides a long & thorough review of concrete + systemic challenges for the humanitarian system in 2022 and beyond!

What's behind suicides by thousands of Indian housewives?
According to the recently released data by the government's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 22,372 housewives took their own lives last year - that's an average of 61 suicides every day or one every 25 minutes.
(...)"Housewives had a safe space after the menfolk would leave for work, but that disappeared during the pandemic. In situations of domestic violence, it also meant they were often trapped with their abusers. It further restricted their movement and their ability to do things that brought them joy or solace. So anger, hurt and sadness builds over time and suicide becomes their last resort."
If you're having thoughts of suicide, or know someone that might be, you can find support lines in India via the AASRA website or globally via Befrienders Worldwide. In the UK you can call the Samaritans Helpline on 116 123 or visit
Geeta Pandey for the BBC with a heartbreaking story from India & the bad situation for many women that has worsened because of the pandemic.

The WHO's Penny-Wise and Health-Foolish Members
It is simple: the greatest potential for global health solidarity lies with the WHO. Reliable financing by its owners – the 194 member countries – would make all the difference to global health cooperation and demonstrate the effectiveness of multilateral solutions to international challenges.
Mariana Mazzucato & Ilona Kickbuch for Project Syndicate with your regular reminder that the UN system is only as strong as member states wants it to be...

What my 20 years in Afghanistan taught me about the Taliban – and how the west consistently underestimates them
When I look back, it is clear that the Taliban were very visual and performative in their presence in the public space – and this is what gave them power. They did not, for example, simply tell people to keep their hair short; they would grab people and give them haircuts by force. They also had a stick specifically for checking whether men were shaving their genital area as instructed. Their actions spoke of domination and authority. They had a deep impact on Afghan society through fear. Every story told by Afghans since then links back to something which happened to them under the Taliban. They got inside people’s heads.
Sippi Azarbaijani Moghaddam for the Conversation looks back on more than 25 years of working in Afghanistan.

End the tokenism. Give refugees a voice on our own futures
Through Refugees Seeking Equal Access at the Table (R-SEAT), the organisation we co-founded and run, we are trying to change the glaringly unacceptable reality of refugees being left out of the conversations about policies that directly affect our lives. We are urging international institutions and countries to include us in the central decision-making bodies of the global refugee response system
Mustafa Alio & Rez Gardi for the New Humanitarian with another facet of decolonizing the ways #globaldev is often done.

New Position Paper: Building Equitable Partnerships
We recognize that structural racism and bias in our sector have led to the systemic exclusion of local civil society—and in particular refugee-led groups—within funding streams, as well as strategy development and decision-making processes. As a refugee human rights organization, Asylum Access believes a key aspect of our mission is to dismantle the structures that enable this exclusion (both within our own organization and in the ecosystem in which we operate) and to support or engender new structures that center people who have experienced forced displacement.
Asylum Access's new paper fits nicely into the conversation as well.

Preemptive Love: When a Charity Runs More Like a Cult
Nearly 15 years ago, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney moved to Iraq and started the charity Preemptive Love. They raise millions every year off humanitarian crises in several countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Mexico. They call their followers to “love anyway” and build a world “where everyone rises.”
Inside the organization, it’s a different story. The Courtneys govern by fear. They presume to be authorities on gender and racial equality, while embodying some of the worst forms of white saviorism. Staff are verbally and psychologically abused. The Courtneys have misled donors and, at times, possibly misused donor money.
Ben Irwin with disturbing insights into yet another 'celebrity NGO'...
The ultra-violent cult that became a global mafia
For two years BBC Africa Eye has been investigating Black Axe, building a network of whistle-blowers, and uncovering several thousand secret documents - leaked from the gang's private communications.
The findings suggest that over the past decade, Black Axe has become one of the most far-reaching and dangerous organised crime groups in the world.
BBC's Africa Eye with a long-read on Nigerian-based Black Axe; I'm certainly no expert on organized crime but this is a peculiar article because the claims that it's 'one of the most far-reaching and dangerous organised crime groups in the world' are not really supported by the's certainly a dangerous global network, but is it really that big & powerful?!?

Two sides of the same coin? International peacekeeping shapes domestic security in Ghana
Furthermore, one aspect that the Ghana Armed Forces excel at in peacekeeping, and are recognised for, is identifying and liaising with local authorities, including elders, chiefs and local warlords, often in physically and psychologically harsh conditions such as Darfur and South Sudan. It is an approach that is recognisable from how deployments are approached in Ghana, where it is essential that local hierarchies are respected and engaged, also – or perhaps especially – when state-sanctioned security agencies enter local communities. Very rarely, if at all, will Ghanaian soldiers exchange fire with adversaries, and evidently neither peacekeeping nor internal security operations are designed for warfighting.
Peter Albrecht, Fiifi Edu-Afful & Festus Aubyn for Danish Institute for International Relations with a great new paper on looking at the positive impact of peacekeeping on domestic security in Ghana.

How news coverage influences countries’ emergency aid budgets – new research
For aid agencies seeking to influence donor countries via the news media, these findings suggest that effective action is likely to involve generating intense, sudden-onset coverage via national news outlets. Effective action will also probably involve targeting governments with publicity-seeking ministers and larger emergency aid budgets.
Our research also suggests that government policymakers might rethink how and why they allocate funding to “forgotten crises”, based on an absence of news coverage. Other governments’ annual allocations are not necessarily influenced by news coverage, and may indeed be following similar funding principles, so in seeking to correct an imbalance or distortion in funding, they may well be creating one.
Martin Scott, Kate Wright & Mel Bunce for the Conversation with their latest fascinating research from their project on humanitarian news-making.

Doughnuts, Economics & Humanitarianism?
But, it does make you start to think about humanitarian response in a more sustainable or balanced way. Or simply raise questions for responders such as: How can we adjust our response to a location that has adopted such a model? How can we deliver aid in accordance with the underlying principles of this model even if the affected area uses a more traditional economic model? How can we better power the circular economy and support organizations like Rightboot who help solve problems that need to be addressed in order to balance the doughnut.
Andrej Verity with some great reflections on linking humanitarian action to doughnut economics.

Ghost riders: the invisible lives of Johannesburg food couriers – photo essay
These men are among an army of thousands of riders who spend up to 16 hours a day, usually seven days a week, frantically ferrying food around the city.
It is hazardous work. Accidents and muggings, sometimes at gunpoint, are common. Rainy weather, when roads are slippery and visibility poor, is feared most.
Stephan Hofstatter & James Oatway for the Guardian continue with their essay to make 'invisible' couriers more visible, perhaps one of the themes of 2021 when it comes to the impact of platform capitalism around the globe.
Our digital lives
How Shein beat Amazon at its own game — and reinvented fast fashion
At the heart of these issues is Shein’s aggressive business model. Comparisons to fast-fashion giants like H&M miss the point: it’s more like Amazon, operating a sprawling online marketplace that brings together around 6,000 Chinese clothing factories. It unites them with proprietary internal management software that collects near-instant feedback about which items are hits or misses, allowing Shein to order new inventory virtually on demand. Designs are commissioned through the software; some original, others picked from the factories’ existing products. A polished advertising operation is layered over the top, run from Shein’s head offices in Guangzhou.
Louise Matsakis, Meaghan Tobin & Wency Chen for Rest of World; sometimes I have difficulties envisioning the digital realities articles like this describe...

Evidence of racism found at prestigious London university
Ngozi Erondu, an epidemiologist and public-health adviser at Chatham House, a policy institute in London, notes that the LSHTM was founded before most colonized African countries became independent between the 1950s and the 1970s. “Pretty much any institution established before then really needs to review and reflect not only on its historical links to colonialism but also its current practices that may have just continued since that time”, she says.
Linda Nordling for Nature on a new report on the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's structural racism & de-colonial awakening.
The Truths of Anonymity: Ethnographic Credibility and the Problem with Pseudonyms
Pseudonyms are not always about protection. Sometimes they are about speaking truths in the world that benefit from foregrounding sentiment rather than speaker. This is one of the tensions of ethnography, of specific and generalizable knowledge, and why this essay is not an argument against the use of pseudonyms. It is instead an argument for clarity about what sort of knowledge ethnography is and about what sort of truth claims ethnography can and does make in and about the world. It is also an argument for the thoughtful, rather than default use of pseudonyms. Sometimes our claims require the naming of individuals. Sometimes individuals require that we name them. Other times, for other reasons, we choose not to use people’s real names. Each of these are ethical choices as well as methodological ones. They are choices we should make in dialogue with our research communities and not only with our disciplinary colleagues. The use of a pseudonym is not always the right ethical choice.
Carole McGranahan for the American Ethnologist with great reflections on a concept so central to academic research + writing!
What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 219, 10 February 2017)

The inconvenient truth about foreign aid
In sum, poorer countries routinely put more resources at the disposal of donor country interests than they receive in foreign aid, yet it isn’t easy to demonstrate this inconvenient truth conclusively. Estimating the extent of the aid system’s collusion in ‘perverse’ aid is often guesswork because the system’s upper reaches lack transparency. Laws, rules, political agreements and sheer inattention shield many counter-flows from public view. Every year, thousands of evaluations of aid’s ‘downstream’ activities take place but I know of no formal evaluation of aid mechanisms ‘upstream’ that would indicate with precision who benefits and by how much.
David Sogge for openDemocracy with a classic '#globaldev doesn't really work' essay.


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