Links & Contents I Liked 448
I addition to #globaldev news from Ukraine, Oxfam, Japan & Colombia there are a few really great new papers on 'digital famine', the future of development studies & labor organisation in South Africa that are worth bookmarking for your summer reading list!
My quote of the week
Despite raising significant sums of money in the first days and weeks of the crisis, international organisations could not provide rapid infusions of resources to strengthen and expand the existing local response efforts while they ramped up their own programming. Instead, three months later, most of the money was still unused, sitting with international organisations that are constrained from funding by compliance requirements that are too heavy and time-consuming for small volunteer groups to meet. (Enabling the local response: Emerging humanitarian priorities in Ukraine March–May 2022)
Enabling the local response: Emerging humanitarian priorities in Ukraine March–May 2022
Despite raising significant sums of money in the first days and weeks of the crisis, international organisations could not provide rapid infusions of resources to strengthen and expand the existing local response efforts while they ramped up their own programming. Instead, three months later, most of the money was still unused, sitting with international organisations that are constrained from funding by compliance requirements that are too heavy and time-consuming for small volunteer groups to meet. Even aspirational objectives and benchmarks for ‘localisation’ have been absent from international response plans, as have the previously agreed-upon basic tools for national organisations, such as single unified forms to enable simpler funding applications and reporting across multiple international partnersThis new paper by Abby Stoddard, Paul Harvey, Nigel Timmins, Varvara Pakhomenko, Meriah-Jo Breckenridge & Monica Czwarno for Humanitarian Outcomes has been circulating quite a lot this week for all the right/wrong reasons...
Inside the OSCE’s botched withdrawal from Ukraine
But a POLITICO examination of the OSCE’s activities in the days and weeks leading up to the invasion and immediately afterward found that local staffers never did get answers, or at least the ones they needed.Christopher Miller & Stephanie Liechtenstein for Politico; on the one hand, I didn't find the article as damning as I would have expected for a large bureaucratic organization where both Russia and Ukraine are members; on the other hand, this is another example of who little is done for local staff in immediate crisis/war situations like Afghanistan and now Ukraine...
Instead, there was internal resistance to prior evacuation planning, a lack of an up-to-date plan at the time of the attack, breakdowns in communication, and rules that limit which staff members could be evacuated that put 478 Ukrainian staffers and their families in vulnerable and dangerous situations.
From Kigoma to Kyiv, refugees everywhere deserve quality health care
While we celebrate the world's generous outpourings of support for these Ukrainians, this moment highlights the dramatic health care inequities faced by the roughly 26 million refugees across the world. That's why we are calling on the global community to better allocate resources to some of the poorest and most disenfranchised people living in refugee camps.Alexander Blum & Zachary Enumah for NPR Goats & Soda with one of the many reminders from refugee situations around the world that receive less attention, resources & support than others...
Nyarugusu, which was founded in 1996 to shelter Congolese refugees fleeing civil war and is now home to about 130,000 people, has a busy clinical setting. Clinicians at the camp may see over 20,000 outpatients and perform close to 100 caesarean sections every month at the main hospital and eight health clinics.
This is important and meaningful care, but it is hamstrung in critical ways.
Oxfam serves up a lot of dodgy statistics
Perhaps the people who work at Oxfam think it’s fine to do this, because we all know that global inequality and global poverty are large, so exaggerating these ills in order to spur greater action is no great crime. Maybe they’re erring on the side of big numbers for dramatic effect. But if anyone is thinking this way, I strongly disagree. Global poverty and inequality are so big that the true numbers should suffice perfectly well for motivating people to action. The only thing that will come from willfully (or carelessly) putting out unreliable statistics will be to make observers eventually discount you as a credible source.Noah Smith with a detailed critique of Oxfam's take on global inequality data; debating inequality has almost become a discipline itself, but I also noticed a lack of referencing in some major INGO reports and that should be easy to address to avoid unnecessary critique.
Aid’s quiet achiever? An update on Japan’s development assistance
I genuinely appreciate @MSF_Finland comment, “We recognize that we have failed to respect people's dignity” but unfortunately while these images remain live, it is not okay for them to add “in the past”.— Amy Neilson (@amyaneilson) June 17, 2022
It is in the present.
We are actively, presently failing.@DecoloniseMsf https://t.co/LJkqYmgGSt
Compared to its peers, Japan spends a very large share of its aid (46% in 2020) on economic infrastructure (transport, communications, energy). This is much higher than other OECD donors (17% average; 10% for Australia), and contrasts with most Western bilateral donors for whom social infrastructure (health, education, water and sanitation), governance and humanitarian assistance are a bigger focus.Cameron Hill for the DevPolicy Blog with shares some interesting insights into Japan's #globaldev framework.
Climate change is also increasingly important, with Japan committing an additional USD10 billion in climate finance over five years at the 2021 Glasgow climate summit. This is on top of the annual USD11.8 billion in public and private climate finance that Tokyo has pledged to maintain until 2025.
Companies are fibbing about their charitable giving, study finds
Many companies claiming to donate a portion of their revenue to causes such as global HIV/AIDS programs are being vague or even dishonest about just how much of this money is donated, according to a recent study from a team of marketing and financial experts. The authors said companies should be required to be more transparent about how they are using proceeds intended for charitable purposes.Stephanie Beasley for DevEx with new research that confirms that most companies in most cases do not take CSR seriously & do some charitable stuff on the side to look good...
The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN
For reference, the total FY2022 budget for the State Department and USAID combined is ~$53 billion— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) June 16, 2022
So this final bump in defense spending *alone* is close to State and USAID's entire annual budget: https://t.co/n0Zk7FILh6
For more than 70 years, the UN has been at the forefront of work to uphold human rights and promote global peace. But what happens when the fixer of the world’s problems is itself faced with allegations of wrongdoing and corruption? What happens when UN staff try to call out their own managers and colleagues?This will air next week, but should be on BBC Iplayer near you soon...
A group of one’s own: Working with young people beyond the constraints of the project imaginary
As the project concluded, as all projects must, we explored the Hologram with the young people involved in Left on Read but it became clear quickly that we faced significant challenges in relation to much of what is accepted in ways of working in the co-produced research project imaginary. Concerns around risk management raised questions as to how we would ensure appropriate safeguarding and pastoral care of the young people involved. There is a growing movement for paying young people that participate in co-production projects (Co-production Collective, 2022). How would payment, training and other forms of support, reward and recognition work within the specific relationality of the Hologram? How would the emergent, implicit and decentralised approach to knowledge relate to the co-produced research project imaginary of communicating knowledge through publication? Unfortunately, we did get to answer these questions as the project concluded and we returned to the world that was much changed with an idea that was half-formed and ill-suited to the youth work and research contexts characterised by project imaginaries. My attention was drawn to completing other research duties, applying for funding for new projects, writing articles and reports and so on as windows of new projects opened.James Duggan for Youth & Policy with some powerful reflections on one of the favourite modalities in #globaldev & #highered: the 'project'...
Our digital lives
This secretive digital weapon propelled an outsider candidate to Colombia’s presidential runoff
The 38-year-old Cabrera witnessed this firsthand. He grew his own network to more than 22,000 users by using Wappid, which he said helped automate and scale the digital leafleting he’d been doing manually before. Thanks to Wappid, Cabrera became the node of a broader network of other rodolfistas (Hernández supporters) who were connected to him through WhatsApp. Through these networks created via referrals, which in turn became WhatsApp groups, they organized on-the-ground support, including motorcade rallies, known as caravans, across the country.Sophie Foggin for Rest of World on another election and another digital tool, this time in Colombia, with far-reaching implications.
Laughable borders: Making the case for the humorous in migration studies
This article suggests that such humorless representations of the migration process – and indeed of the migrant subject itself – has broader implications for the types of knowledge that we (re)produce around migrants’ experiences, subjectivities and struggles. In fact, it argues that migration studies’ failure to recognize migrants as humorous individuals risks feeding into processes of exceptionalization and de-humanization through setting “the migrant” up as an obscure figure that lacks “essentially human” qualities. In order to make the case for the humorous in migration research, the article illustrates how refugees arriving to the Greek island of Lesvos in the early summer of 2015 laughed at their own predicament as well as the technologies put in place to control their freedom of movement and how their laughter, humor and comic displays did important political work in refusing subjugation, in speaking truth to power and in capturing the absurdity of the violence that they faced.Anja K. Franck with an open access article for Migration Politics.
Digital feast and famine: Digital technologies and humanitarian law in food security, starvation and famine risk
A key risk in digitalised assistance is politically motivated exclusions or persecution based on centralised digital beneficiary identification systems. In fact, whether civilian data are a protected object under IHL is a topic debated by international legal experts. This also links to the issue of cyberattacks on the computer systems of humanitarian organisations (or of data held by private data management or technology companies), and their potential to be violations of IHL. Extensive private sector involvement also raises an issue about the impartiality, neutrality and independence of humanitarian relief (a requirement under IHL). Although not directly related to famine, private sector interests are rarely compatible with humanitarian concerns. Instead, interests are likely to be profit thus feeding into the inequalities that contributed to famine in the first place. With the current increasingly severe global food crisis, the use of digital technologies to assess, monitor and respond to the crisis will no doubt proliferate. This makes it all the more important to continue to examine their role in famine and starvation: fuelling conflict (social media disinformation), vulnerability/power (dependence on technology, risk of exclusions and increased inequality), information and access, protection (of data and people), and how international humanitarian law can be used.Susanne Jaspars, Catriona Murdoch & Nisar Majid with a new report for the World Peace Foundation.
The Logic of Protection Approaches
Based on our research, we identified four main approaches through which these protection actors influence how armed forces treat and behave toward civilians: “Naming and shaming” armed actors;Sofie Lilli Stoffel, Julia Steets & Florian Westphal for gppi with a new report.
Capacitating communities; and
Training armed actors.
For each approach, we offer abstract models that break down the underlying logic, outlining how each method intends to change armed actor behavior – and how it can fall short of its goals or even backfire.
Workers Or Partners? The political economy of UBER in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Johannesburg
The study concludes by exploring potential mechanisms to assist drivers in forming a more robust and effective way of organising against the corrosive and exploitative employment relations faced on the job. Three pathways are identified, namely the creation of worker cooperatives, worker centres and online forums.The Friedrich Ebert Foundation in South Africa with a new report as well.
What is Development Studies?
The paper presents a typology of constellations that differentiates between an ‘aid-dependence framed Development Studies’, a ‘global Development Studies’, a ‘critical Development Studies’ and a ‘classical Development Studies’. The paper discusses how approaches differ in terms of: the definition of what constitutes desirable development; whether desirable development as defined is possible or under what conditions; the scope of Development Studies and to what extent the ‘North’ is explicitly incorporated into the study of developing countries (or if the North is also the subject of study); and the scales emphasised in the analysis.Andy Sumner for EADI on what #globaldev studies are, can be and should be to remain relevant for the future.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 238, 23 June 2017)
Combat charities and the mediatization of extreme humanitarian volunteering
No matter how many times they try or who bankrolls their efforts, an American guy shooting at people in a far-away land will not be the solution to end war and conflict…Me on 'combat charities'...haven't really encountered them recently, not even in Ukraine which should be a fertile battleground for this kind of 'humanitarian engagement'...
Does the Daily Mail's criticism of aid matter?
The point here is not to suggest that news coverage doesn’t matter. It does. And misleading headlines should be challenged, particularly because of the potential longer-term effects they might have on public attitudes, which are much harder to capture in surveys.Martin Scott for the Guardian on one of those classic questions in #globaldev about the role of the dreaded Mail...
Rather, the key conclusion is that newspaper headlines are not an accurate reflection of what people think about aid. Nor do they appear to have an immediate, direct and mass effect on public perceptions. If government officials do interpret public attitudes towards aid through media headlines, they are wrong to do so.