Links & Contents I Liked 457
Hope most of you also had a normal week this week...enjoy this week's #globaldev review on COP27, the IDB, UK, Germany, Australia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Greenland & a few other spaces and non-places...
My quotes of the week
But the team lacked institutional support for the kind of monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) system this would require. Instead, the team principally drew on the individual knowledge of frontline staff and coordinators, and feedback from conflict analyses and mediation efforts. This helped ensure that local conflict dynamics did not undermine the Facility’s infrastructure projects and other investments. However, it was insufficient for learning how SFL could be used to build sustainable peace, and what additional measures might be needed. (Adapting to fragility: Lessons from practitioners)
COP27: Activists 'baffled' that Coca-Cola will be sponsor
Campaigners told the BBC the deal undermines the talks, as the majority of plastics are made from fossil fuels.Esme Stallard for the BBC; I mean seriously...if you really need sponsors for such a summit it shouldn't be a top plastic polluter...
Coca-Cola said it "shares the goal of eliminating waste and appreciates efforts to raise awareness".
This year's COP27 UN climate talks are hosted by the Egyptian government in November in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Egypt announced it had signed the sponsorship deal last week.
The Observer view on the shortsighted cuts to the BBC World Service
Yet there’s a wider issue. The fact remains that FCDO diplomacy and humanitarian operations in places such as Afghanistan and Ukraine, UK international aid and development assistance, and the BBC’s global journalism – vital soft power tools – are all struggling with financial cuts. Their budgets, never generous, are under self-damaging pressure. This harms Britain at the very moment it needs all the clout it can muster in a hostile, disordered world.The Observer with an op-ed on BBC World Service cuts, a topic that was first included in last week's round-up.
U.S will not nominate another U.S. candidate for IDB, Treasury says
The Biden administration will not nominate a candidate from the United States to head the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) after this week's ouster of Mauricio Claver-Carone after an ethics scandal, a Treasury spokesperson told Reuters.Andrea Shalal for Reuters with an update on a story first featured here two reviews ago.
Inside the prison where sunlight ceases to exist
Prison conditions in Rwanda today remain harsh and harrowing – especially for those incarcerated for daring or perceived by the authorities to challenge the government’s narrative.Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza for CNN on prisons in Rwanda & her own incarceration as a reminder of how terrible, terrible the UK's (and possibly also Denmark's) plan is to send refugees/asylum seekers there.
Today Rwanda’s prisons are overcrowded at 174% of capacity – with the second highest incarceration population rate (that is, the number of prisoners per 100,000 of the national population) outside America
Six million silenced: A two-year internet outage in Ethiopia
As fighting rages on in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray region, one of the world's longest telecommunications shutdowns is hampering aid deliveries, hurting business and keeping families apartZecharias Zelalem for Context the new Thomson Reuters Foundation News platform on Internet shutdowns in Ethiopia.
With almost half of the region's six million people in severe need of food, the shutdown as well as road blockades have hampered humanitarian aid deliveries, according to the U.N. World Food Programme.
The lack of mobile phone networks has also "crippled both the emergency and regular health monitoring systems", a WHO spokesperson said in emailed remarks.
The only way to communicate is "via paper reports that need to be delivered by hand. All meetings have to be held in person".
Sudan faces ‘generational catastrophe’ as millions of children miss school
Nearly every school-age child in Sudan is missing out on education, either completely or facing serious disruption, aid organisations have warned.Zeinab Mohammed Salih reporting from Sudan for the Guardian.
Schools in some states reopened this week after delays due to severe flooding but millions of children are still unable to go, leaving the country facing a “generational catastrophe”.
Poverty, a lack of qualified teachers and strikes by teaching staff, the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and low vaccination rates are among the many factors that have contributed to the crisis.
Inuit Greenlanders demand answers over Danish birth control scandal
Denmark and Greenland have formally agreed to launch a two-year investigation into historic birth control practices carried out for many years on Inuit Greenlanders by Danish doctors.Adrienne Murray for BBC News on colonial legacies from the country next door that usually claims that there isn't really anything to decolonize...
The Guardians of the Future
“Guna Yala is where we come from. It is not just a territory; it is more than that. It is a community — a family. ‘You are the next generation,’ my father told me. ‘And you must fight for your future.’ That gave me the drive to finish college and return to work for my community.” — Yaily Castillo, the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, Panama.
They harnessed the power of speaking as a united voice, describing promises made by governments and international bodies that have failed to materialize into action. They explained how even though money to fight climate change so often doesn’t reach them, they have managed to develop programs that are helping communities mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Imagine what could be possible with more funding and support.
Isvett Verde & Camila Falquez for the New York Times with a great photo essay on indigenous climate action.
How to reform the UN Security Council
I mean, in 2005, the African Union grouping of 55 African countries, convened in Eswatini in Swaziland to in fact craft an African consensus. And what Africa was calling for was two permanent seats on the Security Council. And the African countries themselves were determined through a process of rotation which of the two African countries would sit on those two permanent seats at the Security Council. Then at least you move away from the reality where 50 to 60% of the business of the UN Security Council relates to Africa, yet Africa has no permanent representation on the Security Council. That is clear replication of the power play [and] power division that existed during colonialism, without even a doubt.Heba Aly talks to Tim Murithi for the New Humanitarian podcast on an evergreen topic...great talk besides the fact that many readers will unlikely see a reformed UN Security Council in their lifetime...
An Opportunity to demand more effectiveness for better results.
And it's a wrap!— UN Geneva (@UNGeneva) October 5, 2022
250 terabytes of data
250,000 pieces of metadata
14,200,000 pages digitized
LONTAD, or "Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives", is coming to a close. An impressive work by @UNOGLibrary and partners! 👏🏽
➡️ https://t.co/IHbBvStz3f pic.twitter.com/R0swMIp454
In the face of a looming ten-percent reduction totaling 1.27 billion EUR, reembracing an orientation toward impact holds the key to Germany living up to its aspirations as a reliable partner and thought leader in international development cooperation. The argument invoked by many in the Bundestag that dwindling amounts send a troubling signal to other G7 members tells only part of the truth. It foregrounds international visibility: the desire to convert national public funding into global political purchase. Yet it fails to acknowledge what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) have been flagging for years: that Germany’s development system suffers from effectiveness problems.My friend Daniel Esser for IDOS and the most surprising issue about his commentary on the lack of effectiveness in German #globaldev is that actually ruffled a few feathers within the aid sector...
The urgent need for an Australian aid transparency reset
At a political level, the new government should demonstrate a commitment to aid transparency through a clear statement of what it expects from the aid program – something similar to the previous Labor government’s Aid Transparency Charter.Huiyuan Liu & Terence Wood for the DevPolicy Blog highlight issue that sound quite familiar for German, British or other #globaldev donors as well...
A transparency unit within DFAT should also be established, to monitor and promote aid transparency. Its responsibilities should include: advocating for higher transparency internally; educating staff about transparency requirements; investigating impediments to transparency in the current aid management approach; and working on transparency solutions.
In addition, the government should increase the number of staff working on aid management, to reduce time pressure and enable staff to undertake the necessary tasks that are needed to ensure transparency – including the small ones such as putting existing documents online.
Australian aid transparency is inadequate. In most areas it has been getting worse. Yet with political will, and changes to the process of managing Australian aid, it can be made much better. Now is the time to act.
Book Review: ‘New Mediums, Better Messages?’ (How Innovations in theatre, music, photography, video games, radio & journalism are Changing International Development)
‘There are ‘truths’ about development that are best conveyed in popular mediums. These include the importance of power and representation, and the unequal relationships and ‘disjunctures’ between developers and developed, rich and poor, and West and non-West….. Biting political critique, satire, and advocacy can be conveyed musically in ways that might otherwise be regarded as seditious or treasonous, even as music can be used to construct and perpetuate patronizing stereotypes.’Duncan Green for fp2p reviews an exciting new (and open access!) book.
Systematic learning was a greater challenge for SFL. Programme staff said that, in a context like Libya that is highly susceptible to local-level conflict, programme interventions must explicitly monitor, evaluate and learn about the interaction between specific projects, and the deals among elites that are required to sustain peace. But the team lacked institutional support for the kind of monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) system this would require. Instead, the team principally drew on the individual knowledge of frontline staff and coordinators, and feedback from conflict analyses and mediation efforts. This helped ensure that local conflict dynamics did not undermine the Facility’s infrastructure projects and other investments. However, it was insufficient for learning how SFL could be used to build sustainable peace, and what additional measures might be needed.Ed Laws, Samuel Sharp & Pablo Yanguas with a new paper for ODI-interesting, but also quite sobering to read findings that could have been shared 5, 10 or 18 years ago...
Background Paper Distance Education in Emergencies
This background paper highlights specific challenges, lessons learned, practices, and actions to consider when aiming to provide quality, principles-based distance education (DE) in emergencies. The paper considers inclusion and equity to be key guiding principles for education in general and calls for their application across all education modalities, especially distance education.The Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) with an interesting paper published in August.
In other news
Central America’s first metaverse is off to a bad start
Called “Platzees,” these virtual houses are the centerpiece of Platzeeland, widely believed to be Central America’s first metaverse — a vague term encompassing an immersive virtual reality where people can interact digitally. The complexity, along with a general lack of understanding and regulation, has left investors, who buy into these new digital spaces, open to high-profile scams and crashes.Carla Rosch for Rest of World report from Guatemala & the challenges of making 'Web 3.0' sustainable (if that's at all possible)
Despite OpenSea’s delisting of Platzees, neither Blanco nor his real estate investment fund, Portafolio Diversificado, have been formally or legally accused of any wrongdoing. Yet, even before its launch, Guatemala’s first metaverse has been hit with turbulence.
Decolonising report from the Faculty of Environment
Responses to our survey reflected resistance from staff which ranged from decolonisation not being applicable to the person’s field, feeling offended we were questioning scientific methods to lacking time for these initiatives. Though a majority agreed that decolonisation was relevant to their teaching, research, or job role. At a structural level, participants expressed how the burden to decolonise seems to fall on those most involved in teaching, particularly those on fixed-term contracts and lower paid staff members. Respondents also showed hesitation towards these initiatives as they thought they could be perceived as tick box and tokenistic exercises on behalf of the university. Others raised the issue of the university wanting to apply a blanket one size fits across the institution without considering multiple variables such as the nature of the discipline, module, type of research and most importantly power dynamics around gender, race, immigration status, class, type of employment, etc.Laura Loyola-Hernandez & Arjan Gosal for the University of Leeds with an interesting insight into academic realities around decolonization!
We found there is an urgent need to recognise and address the various levels of resistance to decolonising the university from staff.
What we were reading 5 years ago
A short history of longtermism, which you may have come across in the New York Times, New Yorker, BBC, Guardian, etc. It’s everywhere right now, and will only become more influential in the future. A🧵1/24— Émile P. Torres 🏳️⚧️ (@xriskology) October 4, 2022
The roots of longtermism go back more than a century, but in contemporary pic.twitter.com/JrwiMEyVyB
(Link review 247, 25 August 2017)
The worst lady: how dodgy memoirs and Insta-spats made Louise Linton an infamous political spouse
Entitled In Congo’s Shadow, this was Louise’s white-saviour memoir of her gap year in Zambia, where she graced locals like the “smiling gap-toothed child with HIV” with her healing presence. There was also a plotline where she got caught up in the Congolese civil war, and had to spend the night hiding from Hutu militia in a “dense canopy jungle” wondering what marauding rebels would do to the “skinny white muzungu with long angel hair”, while reminding herself “how I’d come to be a central character in this horror story”. I couldn’t possibly do justice to the verve of the Zambian response to this opus, but suffice to say, ran the full gamut from: “No you effing didn’t” through: “What jungle? There’s only savannah” to: “There was no Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Zambia”. After various of these “discrepancies” had been pointed out, Louise withdrew the book from saleMariana Hyde for the Guardian with a reminder of one of the most infamous #globaldev memoirs I had the duty to review for this blog...
Jeffrey Gettleman’s tired tome
But it is likely that a more self-aware, self-critical version of Gettleman would not have come to occupy such a plum position within the hallowed halls of journalism. Gettleman is a great story teller. His prose is light and engaging. Handsome and photogenic, he is able to tell seductively simple stories about a continent that seems so overwhelming to most Americans. There will always be an audience for this type of work.Keren Weitzberg for Africa is a Country review a book I also featured on the blog.
The truth about inconvenient truths: ‘big issue’ documentaries don’t always change our behaviour
Documentaries can be a useful instrument in the behaviour change toolkit. But lasting change needs more than an engaging story on its own.Kim Borg & Bradley Jorgensen for the Conversation with a reminder that social change is...complicated