Links & Contents I Liked 444
It's really not easy to stay positive in the #globaldev universe, is it...'Frustrations', 'held back democracy', 'blame', 'losing faith', 'monetise data' & 'intellectual masturbation' are just some of the phrases from this week's headlines...but these phrases are also an indication of the (constructive) critique, investigative work & critical communication that is necessary to tell the Emperor that they sometimes don't wear clothes...
I will be visiting wonderful colleagues at the University of Guelph in Canada next week and will focus my attention 'on the ground'-so no link review next week!
My quotes of the week
We take back these narratives with hopeful words that bring back the courage that sometimes disappears with everything that has been happening. That we have a hopeful future, that we are succeeding every time we continue sowing, every time we continue protecting life, every time we continue organizing ourselves as peoples, and also every time we continue existing, that we are here. (‘Defending life:’ Indigenous way of life imperative to solving climate crisis)
Humanitarian innovation needs to stop operating like a bad copy of a commercial R&D function and start working as an engine to build the future of aid. (Three naked truths about humanitarian innovation)
Peacebuilding will require anticolonial ethicists as well as technocrats. Peacebuilding will need systems thinkers able to imagine and design integrated, anticolonial programmes that address multiple challenges in a way which is sensitive to psychosocial trauma, gender, climate, economic inequality, political polarisation, extremism and good governance. Peacebuilding engineers will need to design every city, housing community and computer programme with peace and social justice ethics in mind. (Decolonising peacebuilding-A way forward out of crisis)
Evacuation challenges and bad optics: Why Ukrainians are losing faith in the ICRC
For some local aid workers in Ukraine, this evidence, combined with the controversy surrounding the ICRC, has caused them to question the principle of neutrality.Lily Hyde for the New Humanitarian; as with many, many other institutions from the US Supreme Court to UN Security Council, the ICRC or UK government, simply referring to 'but 20th century' rules, processes, checks & balances is not a future-proofed strategy to ensure the public respects/understands what you are doing...
Hoyenko, who had to discuss neutrality with Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers outraged by the photos of Maurer and Lavrov, said that coming face to face with apparent war crimes in her country has strained her belief in the founding principles of the Red Cross.
“These actions are a violation of all principles of international law, and I don’t even know what the International Committee of the Red Cross can do,” she said. “We really doubt our own mission now because the principles [of International Humanitarian Law] are not being fulfilled at all, as far as we can see. We see that these principles don’t work.”
In order to explain the purpose, limits, and successes of humanitarian action, the ICRC and other aid groups need better communication strategies, according to Lequin. But she also said that it is important for countries not to use the presence of international humanitarian organisations to try to legitimise their actions in a conflict – as Ukrainians like Kuryata say the ICRC’s request to open an office in Rostov-on-Don allowed the Russian government to do.
“Humanitarian aid is there only to alleviate suffering... It’s not a political tool or diplomatic tool,” Lequin said. “Let’s not politicise human suffering.”
Frustrations grow in UK over FCDO's delayed development strategy
Frustrations are growing within the United Kingdom’s development sector over continued delays to the publication of the government’s international development strategy, amid fears it could be further pushed back if Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffles his Cabinet for the third time in less than eight months.Will Worley for DevEx on the dumpster fire that is UK #globaldev-and yet another reminder how quickly a general believe in 'well, the merger between DfID & FCO won't be that bad' turns into a policy-non-making nightmare...
Global racial justice needs to be at the heart of Australian aid
Recently, two of the UK’s most senior development technocrats have resigned from the civil service. What does this tell us about the long-term future of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)? Late last year, before the news, I gave a talk on exactly this. 🧵— Ranil Dissanayake (@scepticalranil) May 3, 2022
Our vision is for Australia to look beyond its borders as a friend of people who are fighting oppression, marginalisation and injustices wherever they may be – and our aid program should reflect thisMehreen Faruqi & Janet Rice for DevPolicy Blog; I really wish Australia had the guts to do something transformational with their #globaldev work, but I'm not too optimistic...
How Chad’s involvement in peace missions held back democracy back home
Chad’s active participation in international interventions and Déby’s willingness to assume casualties – particularly in Mali, where his troops fought alongside France – were the main factors that brought that change. The Chadian president could translate the external recognition, visible, for example, through several visits of French presidents, into a stronger domestic position that overshadowed concerns about the legitimacy of his rule.Martin Welz for the Conversation shares his latest research on the complexities of peacekeeping for keeping peace 'at home'.
Africa accounts for 70% of the world’s $1 trillion mobile money market
In the coming years, the GSMA projects growth to come from both long-established mobile money markets and markets where mobile money services are still nascent, especially in South Asia and African countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Angola.Seth Onyango for Quartz on new GSMA research that suggests a rapidly growing & changing mobile money market in the 'Global South'.
For instance, in 2021, Ethiopia saw the launch of a mobile network operator (MNO)- led mobile money service, and the Central Bank of Nigeria granted Approval in Principle to leading MNOs to run mobile money services in the country.
“In 2021, as in past years, the vast majority of new active (30-day) accounts were added in Africa and Asia, specifically sub-Saharan Africa, east Asia, and the Pacific. However, the fastest growth by far was in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region due to remarkable growth in the Middle East,” GSMA said in the report.
How companies blame you for climate change
While it might seem harmless for the public to be encouraged to reduce their emissions and recycle, Dunaway warns it could have a downside. "The disconnect between the severity of the climate crisis versus so much focus on these little actions [like recycling or picking up litter], that not only distract from corporate responsibility, but also don't seem to [make] a difference – it's trying to encourage a feeling of empowerment, but I think it sometimes can actually be disempowering."William Park for BBC with a good feature on the historical smokescreen that companies & lobbyists have maintained for decades so that they can keep polluting & blame your lack of recycling for it...
Keep America Beautiful reprised the "crying Indian" figure in later adverts that repeated similar themes about indigenous people's "reverence" for the land. While today these adverts look out of touch, they created a narrative that lasted for decades that climate change could be tackled from our own homes, concludes Dunaway.
How middlemen carbon brokers take a cut from money meant to help offset emissions
The market needs a radical overhaul if it is to have the positive impact touted by advocates such as Carney, rather than simply offering a new mechanism for savvy traders to cash in, argued Dufrasne.Luke Barratt & Joe Sandle Clarke for Greenpeace with another climate crisis mirage-'markets' will solve it...
“If the broker gets several times more money than the company that is actually delivering the climate benefits, then something is clearly very wrong,” he said.
Even in a perfect world, there are concerns that carbon trading is just another false solution that ignores the root of the climate crisis.
The ITSCI laundromat
Our podcast is out!!😱 After one year of work (wow).@BasileBoulay & I talk to critical scholars across the world about various hierarchies of development— Ingrid H. Kvangraven (@ingridharvold) May 3, 2022
This was harder than expected to organize & curate. Please listen and give (honest) feedback😊
In this report, Global Witness brings together evidence of how the most widely used of these schemes appears to facilitate the laundering of minerals originating from mines controlled by abusive militias or that use child labour. Furthermore, the scheme many international companies are relying on to source responsibly, is also used to launder huge amounts of minerals that have been smuggled and trafficked, new evidence suggests.Global Witness with more bad news on how market-based, 'public private partnership' schemes are seldom transformational or benefit those most at risk of exploitation.
‘Defending life:’ Indigenous way of life imperative to solving climate crisis
We take back these narratives with hopeful words that bring back the courage that sometimes disappears with everything that has been happening. That we have a hopeful future, that we are succeeding every time we continue sowing, every time we continue protecting life, every time we continue organizing ourselves as peoples, and also every time we continue existing, that we are here.Melissa Vida talks to Miryam Vargas for Global Voices on indigenous futures.
Three naked truths about humanitarian innovation
Similarly to how companies use innovation to build the next new thing their customers will buy, humanitarian innovation has become about finding the next big fundable project. We copy tools, approaches, and business models from the commercial world. We run hackathons. We build labs. When we compete, we are even more capitalist than capitalists, so we don’t adopt what others build, instead we build our own because it is more profitable.Paula Gil Baizan meets the humanitarian innovation Emperor.
We seem to have forgotten that we have a different imperative from companies, so the ‘why’ and ‘how’ we do innovation should be coloured by who we are. Innovation should not be the place where we frantically chase the next big thing that will increase our growth. Innovation should be the place where we construct a variety of futures where the services we provide are relevant to people and what they prefer and need. Humanitarian innovation needs to stop operating like a bad copy of a commercial R&D function and start working as an engine to build the future of aid.
I left India after a seven-month period. The closure of the workshop and the uncovering of a small network of corruption came up to be the major “achievement” of my stay. Initially, I blamed the Indian culture as the assumption that Indians were corrupt was common among volunteers. But the truth is that the corruption of the workshop was a result of the poor management of volunteers, not the locals. Later on, while working in other countries, I heard often that one cannot and should not trust the local staff, which is why you send expatriates. Over time I knew better, corruption occurred regardless of people’s colour or citizenship and it took place when organisations failed to have a proper accountability system. White people —or privileged people of colour in power— also steal, and when they do, I tell you, they don’t steal a few bracelets.The Wrong Humanitarian fills my personal blogging heart with joy :)
Decolonising peacebuilding-A way forward out of crisisLisa Schirch with a fantastic paper for Berghof Foundation!
Peacebuilding will require anticolonial ethicists as well as technocrats. Peacebuilding will need systems thinkers able to imagine and design integrated, anticolonial programmes that address multiple challenges in a way which is sensitive to psychosocial trauma, gender, climate, economic inequality, political polarisation, extremism and good governance. Peacebuilding engineers will need to design every city, housing community and computer programme with peace and social justice ethics in mind.
Humanitarians are having to make difficult choices:— Patrick Saez (@PatrickSaez2) May 4, 2022
🔀Aid or solidarity?
🔀Neutrality or political resistance?
🔀Independence or budget growth?
🔀Impartiality or coverage?
Are the SDGs being used to rank impact or monetise data?
Rankings may have started life as an information tool for the global era of higher education. But today they are principally a mechanism to collect and monetise data.Ellen Hazelkorn for University World News; the short answer to the question from the headline is 'Yes!', of course, as universities discover SDGs as a means of 'greenwashing' while fostering an environment of precarious work environments, exploitation of grad students, charging astronomical international fees and/or participating in pension funds that are everything but green...
As one ranker said to me: “Rankings themselves cannot make money; one has to find funding or make money to support ranking activities.” No wonder THE describes itself in its accompanying press releases as first and foremost a “trusted data partner to global higher education”.
Who Uses Open Access Research? Evidence from the use of US National Academies Reports
As we note in the paper, “[o]ur results establish the existence of demand for high-quality information by the public and that such knowledge is widely deployed to improve provision of services. Knowing the importance of such information, policy makers can be encouraged to protect it.” Librarians and open access advocates have long presupposed that open access to high-quality scientific knowledge could and should be viewed as a public good. Our empirical research suggests that the initial utopian aspirations regarding the public use and societal impact of OA may indeed rest on sound footing.Ameet Doshi, Diana Hicks, Matteo Zullo & Omar I. Asensio for LSE Impact of Sciences with some interesting, good news on the use of open access data.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 234, 26 April 2017)
How academia uses poverty, oppression, and pain for intellectual masturbation
Today, anything and everything is allowed if a postcolonial/decolonizing seal of approval accompanies it, even if it is devoid of any political urgency. These tendencies appear to be ornamental at best, and we must challenge the basis of those attempts. We can't keep criticizing the neoliberal system while continuing to retain superficial visions of solidarity without striving for a more in-depth understanding. These are acts for which we pat ourselves on the back, but in the end just open up space for future consumers of prestige.Clelia O. Rodriguez for Race Baitr with one of those 'what has really changed in the last 5 years?!?' reflections from the archive...
Smart slums: utopian or dystopian vision of the future?
If applied in the context of smart slums, these methods could be part of a new politics of infrastructure. As every part of traffic, water, energy and waste systems become direct generators of data they raise new questions of governance.Dan McQuillan for Goldsmiths; 'smart slums' still haven't emerged-is that a good or a bad thing ?!?
Now that we can see what’s going on and have the computational ability to influence it, who gets to decide how it’s managed? The answer doesn’t just depend on companies and government but on the potential for citizens to prototype their own solutions.