Links & Contents I Liked 450

Hi all,

It's this strange time of the year when my Swedish academic holidays are coming to an end while most of global academia looks at their calendar and exclaims 'But it's August!' ;). However, it was great to have a break and I basically did not produce anything :)
Review no.450 is as eclectic as always, but this time I'm explicitly including readings that I've saved throughout the last weeks.
From Effective Altruism to the crisis in Sri Lanka, from ethics to celebrity humanitarianism and heavy metal in Africa there's lots to explore + a good range of new reports!

From this week onwards I'll also send out a notification/Email to the Mailchimp newsletter subscribers. Google Blogger discontinued its Email notification system for blog subscribers so I transferred all addresses to Mailchimp.
Enough housekeeping for the moment-time to get excited/angry/hopeful/inspired/sad about #globaldev for another 450 weekly posts ;)!

My quotes of the week
“On a day-to-day basis, ordinary [Ugandans] are saving themselves. The reason they are not supported is because they are not seen as stakeholders,” says Mwesigire. “The only way to end white saviourism is to stop centring whiteness.”
(No White Saviors: how a campaign against stereotype of helpless Africa rose – and fell)

Most often I must tell my story to people whose own life experiences are nothing like mine and who can never truly understand the feelings behind my words and often my tears. In many cases, I must relate my story at a moment’s notice when I am not emotionally prepared. At other times, I must compress that story into a tight timeframe. Imagine being rushed to explain the night someone nearly took your life — and how that night changed you forever. (Why Must I Relive My Deepest Trauma to Convince Donors to Fund My Organization?)

Development news
UK ‘James Bonds’ warned against aid cuts, says former FCDO official
“If they had explained that some developing country would be safer (and I can see our spooks could and no doubt some do great things for the safety of local populations… ) I could have been sympathetic but when the argument is reduced to national security then it cannot be aid, not even statistically so.”
Will Worley for DevEx (11 August) on the never-ending saga of UK's #globaldev decline...

Sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in DRC: fatherless children speak for first time about the pain of being abandoned
Yet only a few weeks later, Javier returned to Uruguay and was never heard from again. Unable to cover the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, Grace was deeply affected by his leaving. To provide Emma with food, clothes and shelter, she was compelled to exchange sex with peacekeepers from the nearby UN base for small amounts of money or items like bread, milk and soap. She has yet to receive any support from the father or his military, and is unable to meet her daughter’s longer-term needs including her education.
Kirstin Wagner for the Conversation (9 August) with powerful insights on short- and longer-term impacts of UN peacekeeper abandoning children they fathered.

How Sri Lanka went from topping Lonely Planet’s list to almost 30% hunger levels

“If farmers don’t receive immediate support, they will not be able to resume production at scale in time for the upcoming Maha planting season. If that happens, the food crisis will deepen,” said Sherina Tabassum, country director for the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “This is a multidimensional crisis that threatens to undo all the progress Sri Lanka has made over the past decade.”
Rebecca L. Root & Thin Lei Win for the New Humanitarian (9 August) on the impact of the current crisis on farmers & farming in Sri Lanka.

'Scream for Me, Africa!': How the continent is reinventing heavy metal music
The book examines the hard rock and metal scenes in Botswana, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Togo to understand why artists and fans flock to this extreme subculture — and how bands have turned this predominantly white, Western musical genre into something uniquely African.
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda (7 August) on a new book on heavy metal in Africa; Malaka is leaving Goats & Soda for new NPR pastures & I wish her all the very best!

Power shift? USAID and localisation
While it remains to be seen whether these and other forms of locally led assistance will become a more permanent feature of Australia’s development programs, increased ambition on localisation would help the new government live up to its rhetoric when it comes to aid, particularly aid to the Pacific – where it has talked about listening to local voices, meeting regional needs and priorities, and prioritising local content. But genuine change will require more than just rhetoric — it will require a clear plan, acceptance of the trade-offs between central control and improved effectiveness, and a sustained push from DFAT’s political masters and senior leadership.
Cameron Hill for DevPolicy Blog (4 August) with a good overview over USAID policy changes & what Australian #globaldev could learn from them.

No White Saviors: how a campaign against stereotype of helpless Africa rose – and fell
After a tumultuous year, the organisation is now restructuring into a fully black, African-led NGO that Alaso says will continue to call out white saviourism.
Even with the changes, Mwesigire is sceptical of the organisation and its work, saying that a better way to fight the white saviour complex is to support informal “non-structured” community efforts.
“On a day-to-day basis, ordinary [Ugandans] are saving themselves. The reason they are not supported is because they are not seen as stakeholders,” says Mwesigire. “The only way to end white saviourism is to stop centring whiteness.”
Caroline Kimeu for the Guardian (1 August) with an update on the digitally well-known No White Saviors organization.

International aid sector in a ‘crisis of legitimacy’, study finds
Academics talked to 50 chief executives of the world’s leading development charities and found a sector in a “crisis of legitimacy, of core identity and of relevance”.
The researchers, from the University of Oxford, found that, rather than focus on critical external challenges including how to decolonise their mainly western organisations, many confessed to being “stuck” in internal dynamics.
Critics of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), have long said their dominance is out of line with a changing humanitarian and geopolitical landscape.
Karen McVeigh for the Guardian (14 July) with a new report that caused some discussions in digital #globaldev.

Want to Do More Good? This Movement Might Have the Answer
For many years EA, which is both a research field and a real-life community, drew a small group of moral philosophers, nonprofit researchers, Bay Area rationalists, and altruistically inclined students. Now their ideas are increasingly taking off outside of those circles. More than 7,000 people have signed a pledge to give away at least 10% of their income to the kinds of high-impact charities recommended by, for example, GiveWell, which started in 2007 in New York to evaluate charities based on cost-effectiveness. There are more than 200 EA chapters around the world, from Nigeria to India to Mexico; this year, approximately 6,000 individuals will attend conferences in cities including Prague, Singapore, and San Francisco—where EA, with its data-driven approach to doing good, has found a particularly receptive audience. EAs, as members of this movement call themselves, are working in government, advising on policy, and running for office.
The return of the “worm wars”
But the reconciliation is quite simple: to do as much good as possible, sometimes you have to act on mixed and limited evidence. That can mean supporting deworming while openly saying it’s unclear how much good it does. It also might mean working on a longer-term problem like developing a malaria vaccine or discouraging nuclear proliferation or figuring out safe AI development, where it’s very hard to tell in advance if your work will make any difference at all.
This shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to just do whatever you feel like without reviewing all the evidence. (That’s a recipe for ineffective altruism.) But it will often mean that when you’ve summed up all that evidence, it won’t offer certainty, just a best guess — and you still have to move forward.
Naina Bajekal for Time (10 August) & Kelsey Piper for Vox (19 July) with two long-reads on the Effective Altruism movement; these are two interesting pieces, but the fact that basically no woman, no voice from outside the Global North & very little diversity of authors whose books the pieces mention is featured in them highlights key problems with the self-styled 'movement'; when the Time cover story mentions a crypto summit in Barbados at the beginning of the text I was tempted to give the rest of the text a miss-any tech broism, any form of current financialization will unlikely lead to a truly global & transformative 'movement'-they don't start in the office of an Oxford academic...

Do humanitarian agencies help refugees become independent? Evidence from history
In the 1920s programming focused on settling refugees on farms or placing them into formal work, such as the International Labour Organization’s employment-matching scheme. This reflected a perception of refugees as labour migrants, the availability of agricultural land in countries like Greece, and significant shortages in labour markets in countries like France. In the 1980s in Pakistan, self-reliance assistance for Afghan refugees shifted to fostering entrepreneurship, reflecting not necessarily refugees’ skill sets but their restrictions on land use by the Pakistani government.
Today, refugees are encouraged to join the informal sector, sometimes even as host states crack down on it. Fostering refugee self-reliance through digital remote work is also on the rise. These changes reflect global trends in the world of work – perhaps more than they reflect opportunities for wide-scale refugee self-reliance. Sometimes these routes to livelihoods are promoted to help agencies avoid hard conversations about refugee rights in the first place.
Evan Easton-Calabria for the Conversation (4 July) about refugee self-reliance discourses & realities then & now.

Doing No (Digital) Harm by Design in Humanitarian Technology Interventions
The reality I had witnessed is that few humanitarian organisations actively manage tech products in its entirety ‘in-house’ – from problem identification to project launch and continuous iterations. The organisations are very likely to be working with third party vendors or partners to develop technology. Thus, I will focus on few de-risking activities with the assumption that an organisation working with a third party implementation partner. As the ‘problem owner,’ who had initially identified a problem that they would like to work on and made a decision to utilise a technological intervention, make sure your institutional and contextual knowledge about your users and their digital literacy levels and access to technology are well documented and considered as part of our initial speculations of user requirements. There are even personas for security which had outlined high-risk users with international representation. You can use this personas for security to utilise product inclusion practices to inform your product safety. The personas include not only demographic information, which is common among persona, but also users technical capacity, threats, risks and strengths. You could also utilise personas for your security, data protection and privacy.
Cassie Seo for the Centre for Humanitarian Action (6 July) with a good overview over 'do no digital harm' based on her experiences with Norwegian Refugee Council.

The Proportionality of our Attention
Is institutional attention a critical resource, like healthcare, food, or cash? What does it mean when GD (General Director) after GD heads to Ukraine for a photo op and website home pages greet the visitor with the faces of Ukrainian children in March, April, May, and often still in June? Given the causal linkage of attention to the provision of assistance, asylum, refuge, and compassion, shouldn’t impartiality guide the institutional use of humanitarian media resources, such as an agency’s home pages or its Twitter feed? Perhaps this would have been the perfect time to counter the prominent bias in media attention by devoting prime website real estate to other crises, or sending GDs to other contexts, to interrupt the frozen gaze on Ukraine. To some extent this discussion is taking place. Good. But is the issue being framed as a matter of obligation and principle? Is this discussion alive in board rooms as an issue of accountability? Or are some humanitarians simply feeling uncomfortable with their in-house disproportions?
Marc Dubois (20 July) asking the tough questions...

Why Must I Relive My Deepest Trauma to Convince Donors to Fund My Organization?
Most often I must tell my story to people whose own life experiences are nothing like mine and who can never truly understand the feelings behind my words and often my tears. In many cases, I must relate my story at a moment’s notice when I am not emotionally prepared. At other times, I must compress that story into a tight timeframe. Imagine being rushed to explain the night someone nearly took your life — and how that night changed you forever.
Here’s what I relive every time a donor wants to hear my story: I am being stalked unknowingly. Suddenly I see someone shoot me at point-blank range. I hear the booming sound of a gun going off. I feel intense ringing in my ears and a sense of disorientation. I see the fright and fear in my mother’s eyes as she sees her only son seemingly dying in front of her. My sister, who is seven months pregnant, cries out, “What happened to my brother?” It feels like someone hit me in the chest with a sledgehammer. The pain from three broken ribs sears me. A punctured lung makes it difficult to breath. I feel the bullet ricocheting inside me, leaving a devastating, lingering trail of destruction, including a surgical scar under my right armpit where the largest bullet fragment was extracted — nearly 10 years after I was shot.
Damion J. Cooper for the Chronicle of Philanthropy (26 July).

Tara Todras-Whitehill: On becoming a storyteller
‘NGOs vs journalism have very different decisions about what is correct for them. I always take the journalist ethics to the organisations I’m working for, but you always have to figure out how to balance those things because they’re working in a different context.’
Great podcast from the Photography Ethics Centre (July)!

Batman, White Saviourism and International Politics: A Colloquium
The main argument is that while celebrity strategic partnerships claim to disrupt the usual politics of development and humanitarianism, they instead lay bare the practices of elite networking, visibility, and profitable helping that characterize these fields of North–South relations.
The Disorder of Things (8 August) with a great long-read summary of a recent conference panel discussion of a group of fantastic scholars & colleagues that discussed Lisa Richey's & Alexandra Budabin's recent book.

Pandemic Perspectives: Why Different Voices and Views Matter
Launched in October 2020, the Covid Collective brought together the expertise of eight initial partner organisations coordinated by the Institute of Development Studies, and it currently involves 28 partners and supports 56 projects in 34 countries. The Covid Collective seeks to inform decision-making on some of the most pressing Covid-19-related development challenges, and to address emerging social science questions and needs arising in relation to the pandemic.
This issue of the IDS Bulletin draws on experiences from the social science research projects around the world supported by the Covid Collective and provides concrete examples of how researchers have demonstrated innovation and adaptation in a range of contexts. Important lessons have been learned about research processes and evolving technical approaches and methods in the areas around access and engagement; consent, ethics, and incentives; and power and perspectives.
New IDS Bulletin (July) is open access as always!

Inclusion and exclusion in humanitarian action: findings from a three-year study
Across our research, we found that approaches towards inclusion were fragmented. Often, inclusion was reduced to a technical focus on forms of discrimination based on single individual characteristics – such as disability and age – and framed more as something to do as a targeted activity rather than a mainstream element across programmes. At worst, we saw a tendency to view inclusion as a passive process – the idea that if we do not actively discriminate, then we are being inclusive and that is good enough. Similarly, many efforts to support inclusion are quite narrow, focusing more on symptoms than on causes. For example, agencies often work to boost the numbers of women or people with disabilities in service committees, but this can be ineffective or actively harmful if it does not address the more fundamental challenges that prevent them from exercising their voices in the first place.
Oliver Lough, Veronique Barbelet & Sarah Njeri with a great new ODI/HPG report from July!

Breakthrough to Policy Use: Reinvigorating Impact Evaluation for Global Development
These dynamics provide an opportunity to take stock of impact evaluation as a policy tool in and of itself, and to examine recent evolution within the field. This is also an opportunity to renew and broaden the bases of support for the evidence agenda. Doing so allows us to address concerns and identify the remaining challenges that limit the uptake of evidence by policymakers for real-world impact. By charting a renewed agenda for more useful, responsive, and relevant impact evaluation that elevates the perspectives of government policymakers and other evidence users around the world, we can reinvigorate policy commitment to, and funding for, rigorous evaluation.
Julia Kaufman, Amanda Glassman, Ruth Levine & Janeen Madan Keller for CGD with a report from July as well.

UNDP RBAP Foresight Playbook

The UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP) continues to explore opportunities to integrate anticipatory practices, including foresight, into existing internal policies and processes. Moreover, UNDP RBAP provides extensive support to its partners to evolve broader future-fit planning, decision-making and governance efforts. Ultimately, strategic foresight is a dynamic, progressive and non-linear risk and opportunity management approach that allows UNDP RBAP to ‘hedge its bets’ on the future. Using foresight to proactively identify emerging risks and opportunities ensures that policies and programmes are resilient against shocks and adaptable to changing tides.
UNDP Asia Pacific with a new report (22 July) on the latest #globaldev buzzword 'foresight'...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 240, 7 July 2017)

Radio Okapi Kindu (book review)
Radio Okapi Kindu is definitely among my favorite aid worker memoirs now and a great addition to this emerging genre that continues to surprise me with fresh voices and approaches to communicating development in engaging and different ways!
Me with a book (review) worth revisiting!

Truly left behind…
How do we make people like Susan matter more to governments and donors? As Kenya grows, we — like many other donors — are starting to talk about transition. About how middle income countries need different things: more access to expertise and knowledge and less resources to deliver services. Is this still right when we see people like Susan living in such crushing circumstances?
These are difficult questions about the role of the state and how donors can help most effectively, with no easy answers. I am glad I spent time with Susan. It makes me even more determined to make sure we think through these kinds of issues as we design and implement the next generation of
DFID Inclusive Societies programmes.
Pete Vowles on immersions, Kenya & DfID programming.

Child exploitation fears drive push to outlaw 'orphanage tourism'
"If you want to volunteer , do it responsibly. Really think through 'do you want to support the institutionalisation of children which we know is really bad for any kids?'," she said.
"Know the impacts, understand the community, better understand what they need, and work with the community. Don't just be some white saviour plonking yourself into a community that you know nothing about thinking you are doing good but actually making things worse."
Louise Yaxley for ABC News Australia on one of the best things Australian #globaldev has done in recent years-outlawing support for orphanage tourism.


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