Links & Contents I Liked 451

Hi all,

After a little summer flu health break last week, Aidnography is almost back to the usual routines just as the new semester is about to start next week.
From plastic waste in Ghana to urbanization in Nigeria, a lot of well-known #globaldev challenges (re)emerge this week, including adoptions from the periphery to the center, UN whistleblowing, exploitations of Jamaican migrant workers in Canada, or the persistence of the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh...and I won't become a fan of Effective Altruism and Longtermism; plus, 5 years ago Madonna helped Malawi...

My quotes of the week
For Biritwum, littering was a result of poverty and lack of proper housing, not slovenly behavior. Ghana was changing, he went on, because of habits imported from Europe and the United States (...). “We are becoming more throwaway, more takeaway,” he said. “We are becoming more like you.” (West Africa Is Drowning in Plastic. Who Is Responsible?)

“If my minister asks me whether it is safe to spend taxpayers’ money on the UN today, my answer is that I honestly do not know. This bears repeating, at the moment we cannot guarantee our taxpaying citizens or the world’s poor that the UN is running properly. When the investigation is complete and we can demonstrate that things are going safely for taxpayers and our beneficiaries, we can start paying out money again.” (UN whistleblowing scandal: Finland first country to act against UN corruption risks – freezes all funding pending investigation into whistleblower protection)


Development news
Rohingya refugee crisis: 5 years later, life for those who fled "genocide" in Myanmar is "worse, not better."
About half of the Rohingya refugees at Cox's Bazar are children. Bangladesh's government has not allowed them access to any formal education. It also hasn't given the adult refugees any employment rights, leaving the entire population of the camp reliant entirely on humanitarian aid, and that has decreased over the years.
"Five years on, the situation in the camps, in fact, is worse, because the funding has dried up as the focus has shifted to the crisis in Ukraine," Fiona McLysaght, Bangladesh country director for the international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide, told CBS News. "It's still an emergency situation, where we are trying to meet their basic needs."
Arshad R. Zargar for CBS News on the fifth anniversary of the Rohingya refugee crisis.

West Africa Is Drowning in Plastic. Who Is Responsible?
For Biritwum, littering was a result of poverty and lack of proper housing, not slovenly behavior. Ghana was changing, he went on, because of habits imported from Europe and the United States, where GRIPE’s members grew into multinational corporations able to spread the gospel of consumer culture around the world. “We are becoming more throwaway, more takeaway,” he said. “We are becoming more like you.”
Kit Chellel & Ekow Dontoh for Bloomberg with an important investigation into a well-known problem: You can't trust corporations with anything they say regarding 'sustainability' or wanting to transform anything to something greener, better, less exploitative & capitalistic...

UN whistleblowing scandal: Finland first country to act against UN corruption risks – freezes all funding pending investigation into whistleblower protection
Finland has reportedly taken the extraordinary step to freeze all funding to the United Nations (UN) following corruption scandals at the international organisation, specifically highlighting the need for a review of whistleblowing mechanisms to ensure effective protection of those speaking up about misconduct.
(...)
Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Titta Maja, said:
“Everyone needs answers; we must ensure that a security system is in place. If my minister asks me whether it is safe to spend taxpayers’ money on the UN today, my answer is that I honestly do not know. This bears repeating, at the moment we cannot guarantee our taxpaying citizens or the world’s poor that the UN is running properly. When the investigation is complete and we can demonstrate that things are going safely for taxpayers and our beneficiaries, we can start paying out money again.”
The Whistleblowing International Network on the emerging case of Finland being unhappy with the UN...

Jamaican farmworkers decry ‘seismic-level exploitation’ in Canada
“We work for eight months on minimum wage and can’t survive for the four months back home. The SAWP is exploitation at a seismic level. Employers treat us like we don’t have any feelings, like we’re not human beings. We are robots to them. They don’t care about us.”
(...)
In their letter, the farmworkers had called on Samuda, Jamaica’s labour minister, to push Canada to implement national housing standards, create an anonymous system to report abuse without the threat of retribution, make it easier to change employers, and allow the workers to represent themselves in contract negotiations, among other measures. They also demanded the Canadian government grant them permanent residency upon arrival in the country.
Jillian Kestler-D'Amours for AlJazeera on the latest frontline of migration, exploitation and manual labor.

Europe put tax havens in the Caribbean – and now punishes them for it
All countries on the European blacklists are small and relatively underdeveloped; most are territories or ex-European colonies with small GDPs.
The amount of money laundered through these countries is tiny in comparison to that of the money laundering cities of Europe. For example, blacklisted Trinidad and Tobago has protracted and rigorous procedures just to open a bank account. Even buying a sim card needs photo identification and proof of address. So the ease with which money can be integrated into these countries’ and moved across financial institutions is far less than in Europe’s financial centres such as London. But it is easier to penalise these small developing states as they are economically weak, with no material impact on Europe.
Kenneth Mohammed for the Guardian on an interesting aspect of global financial flows, tax havens & old/new centre-periphery relations.

Danish adoptees call for S. Korea to probe adoption issues
Dozens of South Koreans adopted by Danish parents decades ago have formally demanded the South Korean government investigate their adoptions, which they say were marred by widespread practices that falsified or obscured children’s origins.
Kim Tong-Hyung for AP on a very different historical #globaldev issue and another case study that international adoptions are very often not a good idea/transparent process.

The sweltering traffic congestion on the roads of Lagos in Nigeria
Sadly, like Mama Bomboy, many other commuters have to deal with the effects of the sweltering traffic jams on the roads of Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital. The situation not only affects the total wellbeing, and mental and physical health of most Lagosians, but also their ability to be productive in their personal and work life.
Adaobi Egbunike for Global Voices on one of THE mega issues for the future: How to create liveable cities in a world of rapidly growing urbanization?

Why humanitarians should stop hiding behind impartiality
By making sure that aid is attuned to local political and conflict dynamics – decentralised and not dictated by political elites, for example – marginalised communities will be more likely to access relief. In an environment where assistance is perceived to benefit one group over another, trying to achieve equality in the distribution of aid can ensure that humanitarianism is not feeding into conflict.
(...)
Impartiality was intended to remove politics from humanitarianism, but this has proved impossible in South Sudan. By acknowledging political realities instead of ignoring them, and by addressing structural inequalities, the humanitarian community can counter attempts to manipulate assistance – and better reach the communities that are sidelined when aid is instrumentalised.
Joshua Craze for the New Humanitarian with an important op-ed around updating humanitarian understandings of 'impartiality'.

Connection unstable: Kashmir’s influencers seek internet fame but can’t get online
After struggling for five months to find an internet connection, he heard that a nearby hospital in Srinagar’s Dalgate area had internet: broadband internet connectivity was restored at 80 government hospitals in Kashmir in January 2020. He made his way there to use the Wi-Fi. “I connected with the hospital’s internet and checked my social media after many months,” he said. But there was zero engagement: his followers were still offline.
Gafira Qadir for Rest of World on Internet shutdowns, a creative creator community & living under occupation in Kashmir.

Zambia’s copper mines hard-baked racism into the workplace by labelling whites ‘expats’

In the Copperbelt’s case, the category of expatriate recreated a dual wage structure, and one that persists. Expatriates received wages and benefits that no African employee could receive regardless of skill or experience. The companies hoped this would get around “aspirations” among African mineworkers for higher wages.
Even the term “expatriate” was chosen to emphasise that wages received by white workers were unattainable for African workers.
Duncan Money for the Conversation on the racial/racist origins of 'expats' in the Zambian mining industries.
Ten efforts to decolonise aid
While ideological differences in the debate remain entrenched, many initiatives are underway to further the decolonisation agenda in practical ways.
Here are 10 of them.
(...)
While some of these efforts have been underway for years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have both created opportunities for acceleration. COVID was arguably not as transformative as expected, but the humanitarian response in Ukraine has shown some signs of a more “decolonised” approach. (...).
We’ll be watching to see if these new ways of working last beyond this particular crisis.
Heba Aly for the New Humanitarian with a great overview over what 'decolonizing #globaldev/humanitarianism' can mean in reality.

Explore Disability Around The World
An engaging and specialist guide to disability in a changing world.
Peter Torres Fremlin with a great new website/repository on all things disability & #globaldev!

Yagazie Emezi is at the vanguard of visual storytelling on the African continent
When I ask Emezi about what it takes to build this level of intimacy and trust with subjects she tells me that one thing that is absolutely necessary is a “fixer,” a community member or reliable organization that the people she is working with know and trust. For her, the days of risky street photography are over. “I cannot approach people, it’s too much stress. If it’s not your space, you do not have the authority to just take people’s photos… You never go into a space by yourself,” she says. Emezi uses a straightforward analogy to explain her approach: if someone walked into your garden and started taking photographs of you, you’d be suspicious. But if they walked into your garden with one of your good friends, or someone known in the local neighborhood, you’d be slightly less alarmed.
Vanessa Peterson speaks to Lagos-based photojournalist Yagazie Emezi for Colors*Studios.


3 other news

Understanding "longtermism": Why this suddenly influential philosophy is so toxic
By understanding the social milieu in which longtermism has developed over the past two decades, one can begin to see how longtermists have ended up with the bizarre, fanatical worldview they are now evangelizing to the world. One can begin to see why Elon Musk is a fan of longtermism, or why leading "new atheist" Sam Harris contributed an enthusiastic blurb for MacAskill's book. As noted elsewhere, Harris is a staunch defender of "Western civilization," believes that "We are at war with Islam," has promoted the race science of Charles Murray — including the argument that Black people are less intelligent than white people because of genetic evolution — and has buddied up with far-right figures like Douglas Murray, whose books include "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
It makes sense that such individuals would buy-into the quasi-religious worldview of longtermism, according to which the West is the pinnacle of human development, the only solution to our problems is more technology and morality is reduced to a computational exercise ("Shut-up and multiply"!). One must wonder, when MacAskill implicitly asks "What do we owe the future?" whose future he's talking about. The future of indigenous peoples? The future of the world's nearly 2 billion Muslims? The future of the Global South? The future of the environment, ecosystems and our fellow living creatures here on Earth? I don't think I need to answer those questions for you.
Émile P. Torres for Salon with an important counter-narrative to MacAskill's current media/book tour; I understand why some organizations in #globaldev are fans of EA & longtermism-it involves a lot of money & the social prestige of Oxford and the likes. But social change doesn't start in an office at Oxford University and is not led by white Northern men-almost exclusively the group behind the theory & funding of the movement.

If The “Only Moral CEO” Is an Abusive Narcissist, What Does That Say About Capitalism?
The idea of capitalism with a heart is indeed a fairy tale. It won’t happen, because capitalism is predicated on a division between a class of owners and a class of workers, and the difference in power allows abuse to flourish. We do not need generous and caring rich people who maintain their decision-making power. We need to redistribute that decision-making power. The Dan Price story provided the illusion that all we need are better bosses. While it is true, and important, to note that the rich could redistribute their wealth if they chose, and their high status is a choice rather than a product of the laws of economics, it is also the case that “more Dan Prices” will not make the world better. As we have seen, such people are often simply self-aggrandizing and even abusive in private. The only solution is to expropriate them.
Nathan J. Robinson for Current Affairs; like many I 'know' Dan Price from Twitter and this essay is a powerful reminder to not only mistrust corporations, but CEOs as well...
New universities in Nigeria? Absolutely not
It is irrational for the government to claim it doesn’t have money to efficiently run the existing universities, while at the same time establishing new ones. It is nauseating.
University lecturing is one of the most competitive and prestigious professions in any country in the world, except in Nigeria, where the government has consistently treated university lecturers with disdain.
The welfare package is one of the poorest in Africa, not to talk of other developed societies. When a public university professor earns less than US$1,000 (approximately N421,580) a month, it does not speak well of the country’s priorities.
Eragbai Jerome Isuku for the Conversation on some of the protracted issues with #highered in many countries in the Global South-and yes, 'more universities' will not provide the quality fix that is necessary in many systems.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 241, 14 July 2017)

Can we transform the repetition of virtual development debates into something bigger? And do we have to?

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to rant per se and I do appreciate that a lot of people and organizations have many of these discussions with the honest aim to improve how they think, plan and work -but what happens when the short-lived digital attention span moves on until people donate SWEDOW during the next emergency and discover that the impact of a small participatory project is complicated to assess?
Me, ranting-but-not-really ranting about the state of digital #globaldev discourses.

Madonna in Malawi to open children's hospital ward
Madonna has officially opened a new children's ward at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Malawi's largest city, Blantyre.
She said that the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care would provide "a superior learning environment for training Malawi's next generation of doctors so that the country can be self-sufficient in that field."
During the ceremony, which was broadcast on national radio, Malawi's President Peter Mutharika praised the singer, describing her as a "loving mother."
Sometimes you need to dig out an old Deutsche Welle article to be reminded of some of the issues within the celebrity-humanitarian-complex that have come and gone throughout the years...

Millions Of Policy Proposals Spill Into Sea As Brookings Institution Think Tanker Runs Aground Off Crimea Coast
“We’re doing our very best to limit the exposure of marine habitats to the analyses of sub-Saharan energy infrastructure, universal basic income, and automation in the labor market, but it could be months before we know the full extent of the damage.”
The Onion...great then, still great today ;)

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