Links & Contents I Liked 441

Hi all,

A nice potpourri of #globaldev-related readings is served once again (before a short Easter break next week) & it takes from the Mount Kenya Safari Club in the 1960s to today's five-star hotels in Qatar, from Canada all across the globe to the courtrooms of the Pacific-and in-between we deconstruct discourses around 'adaptive management' + 'trust-based philanthropy'!

My quote of the week

One respondent in Les Cayes told us, “We don’t want to be made into victims for a sack of rice,” alluding to the fact that often the effort of knowing about, registering for, and accessing aid in Haiti’s south can be dangerous, degrading, and barely worth the goods provided – a bottle of oil here, a bag of rice there. (There’s a wide gap between aid’s promise and reality, Haitians say)

Development news
Haunting image of Kamloops residential school memorial named World Press Photo of the Year
"I could almost hear the quietness in this photograph, a quiet moment of global reckoning for the history of colonization, not only in Canada but around the world."
Mike Corder for CBC on the World Press Photo of the Year.

UK Foreign Office rushed £4.2bn of aid cuts, official audit finds
The British government forced through £4.2bn in aid cuts so quickly it had little time to plan the impact they would have, or consult partners, according to an official audit.
These offices were left to make their own decisions about what to cut, according to criteria such as performance, but, because of previous cuts, even well-performing programmes faced spending reductions.
Ministers told offices not to discuss the cuts with their local partners, which the audit said meant staff could not get advice from them.
Kaamil Ahmed for the Guardian; the decline of UK #globaldev never ceases to amaze me...

There’s a wide gap between aid’s promise and reality, Haitians say
Very few respondents reported having good experiences when aid is distributed. They spoke of insecure, crowded, and disorderly distribution sites, which often contribute to violence and injury. Such settings perpetuated feelings of shame, as well. One woman said: “We always have a feeling of shame during the distributions. It’s because of this that some people never go to one.”
One respondent in Les Cayes told us, “We don’t want to be made into victims for a sack of rice,” alluding to the fact that often the effort of knowing about, registering for, and accessing aid in Haiti’s south can be dangerous, degrading, and barely worth the goods provided – a bottle of oil here, a bag of rice there. This is perhaps why, despite their general politeness, some people were clear that they should have a right to refuse either the presence of aid workers or the assistance offered to their community.
Meg Satler & Jessica Alexander for the New Humanitarian with interesting new survey data on the reality of aid in Haiti.

What is happening with Chad’s peace talks in Doha?
But as one rebel said, “The pre-dialogue is already in full swing … it’s happening everywhere, at the cafe, at the corridors, in the rooms of this hotel.”
Some rebels, having spent decades in exile, describe a sense of distrust and unease being in the same spot as representatives of the power in N’Djamena. Others talked about the uniqueness of the “historical moment”, noting that many among them were cousins who had never seen each other.
“It’s like a big family that hasn’t agreed yet on how to build its own house,” another rebel leader said, adding that by placing all of them in the same hotel, the host proved a “brilliant strategy” to smooth tensions among rival factions.
Virginia Pietromarchi for Al Jazeera looks behind the scenes of peace talks in Qatar.

5 Things I'd change about Netflix's 'Young, Famous & African'
But the constant flaunting of wealth from the characters – among many other annoyances — grated on my nerves. Does South African actress Khanyi Mbau really wake up to someone playing The Godfather theme song on piano every morning? Does Tanzanian musician and businessman Diamond Platinumz really take a private jet every time he flies the 5 hours to Johannesburg, South Africa, where the show takes place?
Ifeanyi Nsofor for NPR's Goats & Soda watched a new Netflix show that says as much about 'Africa' as it does about the globalizing narratives & power of streamed content?!?

When judging meets development: foreign judges on Pacific courts
The extent to which foreign judges can – and should – be seen as capacity builders is open to question. Foreign judges can provide a link between courts and legal professions in the Pacific state and their home state. For example, several judges have helped to facilitate training, research assistance and donations of legal materials for Pacific legal communities. There are, however, objections to judges performing a capacity-building role themselves.
Some judges I interviewed were firmly of the view that their role was purely judicial: they were appointed to be judges, and capacity building of the kind sought by development agencies was neither required nor appropriate. The idea that foreign judges are there to ‘teach’ local judges carries colonial overtones, and risks creating a perception, internally and externally, that local judges are not sufficiently qualified and able in their roles. The practicalities of foreign judging – in which many foreign judges visit the Pacific sporadically or serve on short-term contracts – limit the opportunities for foreign judges to build their knowledge of the country’s law in context, and to develop strong relationships with local actors, both of which are essential for effective capacity building.
Anna Dziedzic for DevPolicy Blog with a fascinating glimpse into her research and recently published book!

Meet Comfort Ero, the First Black Woman to Lead the International Crisis Group
I will say that I wouldn’t do what I am doing if I didn’t believe that we could effect change or that we can influence and nudge decision-makers in the right direction. I wouldn’t have spent time at the UN and other places if I didn’t fundamentally believe that we can work together, across various frontiers. . . . But in terms of how I detox, you’re useless to everybody if you don’t pull away, right? I like walking. I sing in the choir, my church. There are times when just the urgency of the situation forces you to feel the need to stay, to carry on working and working and working and working because of the gravity of the issue. Because while you’re trying to think of taking a break, there are people who are caught up in the conflict or dying. And so you feel the need on their behalf to just carry on going and going until you can make that breakthrough.
Damilola Banjo talks to Comfort Ero for PassBlue.

What does Civil Society think of Adaptive Management? Not that much, it turns out.
many of the CSOs with whom we engaged had rarely, if ever, returned to the original theory of change or underpinning logic of their respective programs to consider whether they were still on track to achieve their projected outcomes. Once the business of implementation kicks off, theories of change and earlier design documents tend to be shelved, in part as workplans and other documents take their place, and in part because CSO partners were under the impression that theories of change cannot be altered during program implementation – either due to explicit instruction from donors or simply ingrained habits of years of not changing them.
Because many local implementing partners have not really been part of the adaptive management conversation, as a body of thought it risks alienating and excluding those who are not conversant with its terms.
Nicola Nixon, Kim McQuay, Peter Yates, Sumaya Saluja & Su Lae Yi for fp2p advance eight decades of #globaldev discussion into the latest discursive twist which is fairly removed from the realities of aid...

It’s time to ditch the mantra of trust-based philanthropy
Ignoring that the role of philanthropy in countries with functioning tax and social security systems has never been to maintain basic levels of health or other social services. In these countries – such as in most European ones – it is the government that uses taxpayers’ money to maintain the ‘service public.’ Philanthropy has an additive, complementary role here, and in order to perform in this role, it needs to make strategic choices. In fact, in the dominant philosophy in Europe, philanthropy must not replace the ‘service public’, thereby allowing the government to withdraw from its key responsibilities.
As an alternative to making trust-based donations, I am arguing that we must strive for unbiased philanthropy. We need to make methods, criteria, weighting, involved experts transparent, and document our decisions. And this is exactly the opposite of what many of the new philanthropists are doing.
Simon Sommer for Alliance Magazine; interesting observations, but something in the term 'unbiased philanthropy' rubs me a bit the wrong way, even if I think I understand what Sommer means. Can the sector overcome deep-rooted inequalities just by being transparent & data-driven?

Sex, gamblers and Mafia: The untold story of Nanyuki’s Mt Kenya Safari Club
And with that, the construction of the modern day Mt Kenya Safari Club started, as the three millionaires, and their wives, supervised the renovations and extensions, pouring thousands of dollars into the project, even as the Mau Mau war continued in the vicinity. On June 21, 1959, what was billed as ‘the most prestigious tourist enterprise’ opened its doors.
“We deal with the very, very, special, we are not in the shoe business,” Ray jested to the press. But the club was only reserved for their guests. There were, however, charter members such as Sir Winston Churchill and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Others would be Lord Delamere, the Earl of Portsmouth, Duke of Manchester, first man in the moon Neil Armstrong, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Conrad Hilton, President Omar Bongo, the Saudi Arabian royal family – and any dollar millionaire they liked.
“Membership was so exclusive, it was said, that even the insects dressed for dinner,” one writer wrote.
John Kamau for Nation on the curious case of Mount Kenya Safari Club.

Spaces of Confused In-Betweenness: The Paradoxes of Life and Decoloniality
How can we boil this down to the realm of practice, I keep wondering. I only know that this “I” who writes these lines is actually “you” reading them. How long before we develop a system of knowledge that transcends beyond this “I” and “you” into something I still cannot name as the language we currently have does not name this. This space I refer is not “we” either because “we” simply dissolves the boundaries and rather extends the boundaries from “I” and “you” to “we” and “them”. No, this new space must be something beyond and inclusive of every “I”, “You”, “we”, “them”, the categories that have been used ad nauseum. Any ideas where to go from here, anyone?
Aftab Nasir for Convivial Thinking wraps up this section on a more transcendental note...
Buyer Beware: Fossil Fuels Subsidies and Carbon Capture Fairy Tales in Canada
Though there is no inventory of public funding that has been made available for carbon capture and storage projects, this report provides the first estimate of public funding for CCUS projects in Canada. From what was possible to track, since 2000, the federal government has provided $2 billion, the Government of Alberta has provided $2.6 billion and the Government of Saskatchewan has provided $1.2 billion, bringing the total amount of subsidies for CCUS to $5.8 billion, which has resulted in a yearly capture rate of less than 4 MT (representing 0.05% of Canada’s emissions), most of which is used for enhanced oil production. The CCUS handouts are poised to grow exponentially, with a new investment tax credit set to be released shortly
Julia Levin for Environmental Defence with a new report on the carbon capture fairly tales currently being written in Canada.

From a Distance: The ‘New Normal’ for Researchers and Research Assistants Engaged in Remote Fieldwork
In this article, we reflect on the experience of employing local RAs to support doctoral research involving in-depth household interviews and focus group discussions with ethnic minority people in upland Vietnam. The challenge of adapting to this ‘new normal’ provided us with an opportunity for a critical appraisal of the researcher–RA relationship. The approach to remote fieldwork we developed centres on frequent communication, feedback and building trusting team dynamics. We argue that this approach can overcome some of the power hierarchies between global north researchers and local RAs, and therefore, should not simply be seen as a temporary or inferior ‘Plan B’ for researchers, but should be embraced as a way of reimagining knowledge production. We discuss lessons learned in how to carry out remote fieldwork, present practical strategies and recommendations, and consider the strengths of this approach for knowledge production and the empowerment of researchers in the global south.
Phuong Nguyen, Regina Scheyvens, Alice Beban & Samantha Gardyn with new open access article in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Remaking and Living with Resource Frontiers in Myanmar
Our introduction to a new special section provides a historical and ethnographic account of how resource frontiers in Myanmar are remade and lived with, both spatially and in everyday life. As a historical formation, resource frontiers are intertwined with ethnicised/racialized state violence, capitalist extraction and territorialisation. As an unfolding phenomenon, it deeply affects everyday lives, leaving common people displaced, dispossessed and precarious. For critical and interdisciplinary scholars studying Myanmar and its neighbouring environs, these analytics demand careful attention to the long roots and everyday practices that shape extraction, dispossession, enrichment, and violence in the particular places where resources and territory are (re)made and lived with.
The Tea Circle with a great overview over a special journal issue of Geopolitics-I tend not to share paywalled research articles, but this sounds like a really fascinating collection & there are ways of accessing them...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 231, 5 May 2017)

The Assault on Journalism (book review)
Many topics resonate with current debates in humanitarian aid and the aid industry more broadly, for example mental health, staff safety, new forms of local-expat collaborations and the chances and limitations of digital tools. Many of the chapters also suggest to me that issues around journalism and ‘media development’ may become more closely aligned with other core areas of ‘real’ development. This is not just about ‘communicating development’, but about engaging with inequalities or injustices that often are the root causes that development tries to tackle. As a new generation of local journalists joins the industry in a digital area of more affordable reporting tools and new outlets for journalistic products, the aid industry can only benefit from closer collaborations.
Me with a book review of an interesting open access collection.

When NGOs save children who don’t want to be saved
Harkin had been horrified by images of working children in Bangladeshi factories and was disgusted that their labour propped up US retail supply chains. His intention was thus to “help”. Yet from the perspective of the kids he sought to assist, his intervention was an unmitigated disaster. Almost overnight, thousands were laid off, with many ending up in far worse conditions – on the street, in sex work, or in dangerous factories even further under the radar. Surely it would have been better for him to address the power of US corporations buying from Bangladeshi factories, demanding an extension of labour rights and good pay all the way down to the young workers in question?
Neil Howard for Al Jazeera exploring the difficult borderlines of NGO work, white saviorism, child work & exploitation.


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