Links & Contents I Liked 459
My quotes of the week
Many leaders in our sector have responded to the challenge by calling for trust-based philanthropy. And that sounds great. But trust-based philanthropy is only as good as your network. For trust-based philanthropy to work, you must purposefully expand your network to include those proximate to the challenge at hand. (Shifting Sands: Shifting Power)
The problem is not that people don’t know what they are buying. The problem is that they don’t care. A few years ago, fast fashion was under fire from documentaries much like this one; accusations were made about ethics and sustainability that several big brands felt forced to take on board. Then Shein arrived, pricing its garments even more aggressively, making them even more disposable, gambling that not many people are willing or able to pay £65 for the good stuff when they can get a quick hit for £4. Shein was right. (Untold: Inside the Shein Machine review – the brand that knows what you’re going to buy before you do)
Swedish government scraps country’s pioneering ‘feminist foreign policy’
Sweden’s new rightwing government has announced it is ditching the country’s pioneering “feminist foreign policy”, launched by the leftwing administration in 2014, saying the label could be counter-productive.The Guardian on more bad news from Sweden's new government-after announcing cuts in #globaldev (see last week's newsletter) & the end of a separate environment ministry. If you are interested in reading more about Sweden, Tobias Hübinette's essay on Race & Sweden's Fascist Turn makes depressing reading...
Fears abound that UK aid budget could be slashed to 0.3 percent
The hearing also revealed management problems facing the aid budget, with FCDO officials unable to answer how much money had been saved by the freeze on “nonessential” aid spending — now extended until Oct. 31, when the government will set budgets. They also couldn’t answer how much the department has continued to spend and exactly on what, and how much it will have to spend in the future.Will Worley for DevEx with more bad #globaldev news-this time from the UK.
Whatever aid is currently being spent is not guided by strategy but by a weekly review process, said the civil servants. Barton also admitted the FCDO is no longer seen as a reliable partner by some contractors.
WHO Syria boss accused of corruption, fraud, abuse, AP finds
Staffers at the World Health Organization’s Syrian office have alleged that their boss mismanaged millions of dollars, plied government officials with gifts -- including computers, gold coins and cars -- and acted frivolously as COVID-19 swept the country.Maria Cheng for AP News on the high price of doing UN business in unaccountable environments such as Syria...
More than 100 confidential documents, messages and other materials obtained by The Associated Press show WHO officials told investigators that the agency’s Syria representative, Dr. Akjemal Magtymova, engaged in abusive behavior, pressured WHO staff to sign contracts with high-ranking Syrian government politicians and consistently misspent WHO and donor funds.
Nigeria Floods Kill Hundreds and Displace Over a Million
At least 603 people have died, more than 2,400 other people injured and over 1.4 million displaced. For some states, more than a month of floods is likely still to come.Ruth Maclean for the New York Times; I'm usually not a big fan of calling something an 'underreported crisis', but this catastrophe seems to have not reached a broader global audience...imagine 1 in 10 Swedes would be affected by flooding...
Residents of affected states carry their belongings up to the tops of their houses and get around by canoe on roads now deluged with water. Trucks full of food and fuel become stuck for days. In some areas, water levels are almost up to the eaves of the West African country’s distinctive pitched, painted metal roofs, making them appear to float. In other places, the tops of cars are just visible but the water around them ripples with raindrops, closing in fast.
The rain is not the only factor.
Puerto Rico struggles to recover after hurricane razed crops
Silva and others like him also had been preparing land to plant more crops, but now are unable to do so given the severe financial losses, which is of great concern to many farmers.Danicia Coto for AP News on the agricultural aftermath of Fiona (imagine how bad the situation in Pakistan is/will be...).
“How are we going to lift up the agriculture sector if there are no seeds?” Vivoni said, adding that officials should launch a seed inventory in Puerto Rico.
Similar damage was reported in the neighboring southern coastal town of Maunabo, home to some 120 small farmers who grow crops including plantains, bananas, melons and sweet peppers.
Luis Monte Benjamín was growing bountiful crops on five acres of land before Fiona hit.
“Do you know what it’s like to see it on the floor after you’ve spent a year cultivating it?” he said. “The melons are what I mourn the most. What melons!”
Sub-Saharan Africa could be unsustainable by 2050 - Report
Projections to 2050 show that much of sub-Saharan Africa will be unsustainable. The main factors accounting for this unsustainability are: high levels of air pollution, poor sanitation, high homicide rates and substantial ecological threats combined with high population growth.Lauriane Noelle Vofo Kana for Africa News with a new report that perhaps seems to downplay the risk of climate change & overstates the importance of something like homicides?
Why Sri Lanka has a tyrant as president — yet again
Yesterday, I attended a conference at which an influential financier shared this unpublished map. Look at it. The estimated death toll is 2-3 *billion*; the timeframe is 20-30 years (previously: 50). Segments of the elite have simply 'written off' large parts of the Global South. pic.twitter.com/P7JTfepn9k— Benjamin Ramm (@BenjaminRamm) October 16, 2022
Still, the frightening farce under way in Sri Lanka is not just about Wickremesinghe. It is also about the country’s decrepit political order which so easily enables government repression. At the heart of this is the 1978 Constitution, and in particular, the office of the executive presidency which has long served as a tool to enforce both Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and neoliberalism in the country.Pasan Jayasinghe for Aljazeera with an interesting analysis of the current political crises in Sri Lanka.
Wickremesinghe’s presidency is a more concentrated version of this political order firmly rooted in chronic tyranny.
Labour mobility in the Pacific: transformational and/or negligible?
The impacts of the schemes are gender-specific, but the temporary schemes have been extremely impactful in the male labour markets in the three Pacific countries of Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu, and much less so elsewhere.Stephen Howes, Richard Curtain & Evie Sharman for the DevPolicy Blog with interesting numbers on the diverse impact Pacific labor mobility to Australia.
Both findings are striking: the extent of the impact in the ‘big three’ sending countries, and the lack of impact in the others
As Oxfam turns 80, here are three big ideas that I think will shape its future…
All three of these challenges come against a global context that our founders might well recognise: one of squeezed space for progressive action, of war in Europe, of the rise of nationalism, of people deprived of lifesaving medical care, and an accumulation of wealth by elites even as much of the globe languishes in poverty. As well as the new challenges therefore, we also have an old one that links Oxfam’s present to its 80-year past: to remind richer nations of their obligations to the whole of humanity; to, in short, play our part to keep the flame of internationalism alive.Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah for From Poverty to Power; I quite like the idea that criticizing (I)NGOs is not enough & that we need to be much harsher with the global elite(s) (institutions) that prevent positive change...
Malloch-Brown calls on rich world to boost aid or lose ‘legitimacy’
Mark Malloch-Brown railed against the world’s highest-income nations on Thursday, urging them to step up support for lower-income counterparts or lose all “political legitimacy” as their “double standards” are revealed during a time of historic upheaval.Shabtai Gold for DevEx on a wide ranging interview with Malloch-Brown.
“Developing countries, they are so burned, so often on promises not delivered, particularly in the climate finance space. Now, those donors are on the hook to deliver,”
Floods in Pakistan: Where is the ‘International Community’ for the imperialized zones of the world-system?
Indeed, most contemporary politics resembles a grotesque race to the bottom, with political contenders and ideological state apparatuses attempting to outdo one another in propagating hate against the proverbial ‘other’ whilst completely obfuscating the systemic and systematic dispossession of large segments of humanity alongside despoliation of nature.Aasim Sajjad Akhtar for Developing Economics on Pakistan, his new book & much more!
It is worth being reminded that floods in Pakistan were preceded by an excruciating heatwave across much of the western subcontinent which began as early as late March. Both during the record-breaking high temperatures and during the first few weeks of the monsoon, Pakistan’s political mainstream – including big parties, the omnipotent military establishment and the corporate media – were the least bit concerned, palace intrigues instead hogging the spotlight.
Indeed, if the ‘international community’ has demonstrated far more bark than bite despite the passionate pleas of individuals like Antonio Gutierrez, larger-than-life political figures like Imran Khan as well as the army’s top brass spend their time, energy and resources on securing their parochial interests rather than offering serious and clear messaging around climate change and meaningful medium and long term strategies to redress it.
Shifting Sands: Shifting Power
Many leaders in our sector have responded to the challenge by calling for trust-based philanthropy. And that sounds great. But trust-based philanthropy is only as good as your network. For trust-based philanthropy to work, you must purposefully expand your network to include those proximate to the challenge at hand.The Chandler Foundation with a great portrait of Degan Ali.
“If you are uncomfortable in the room then you are in the right place” – Reflections on anti-racism and decolonizing global health from the International AIDS Conference in Montreal
From the very early days there were barely veiled racist attacks on the Director General of the WHO, from global leaders, from presidents and the way that dynamic impacted the global views of what people thought or not of this microbe called SARS- COVID 2. People underestimated the gravity of the moment because the man at the head of the WHO was a Black man from Northern Ethiopia named Tedros. But we wonder what would have happened if he was a white man from Calgary, Alberta, called Theodore. Perhaps the world would have taken it more seriously and we would not be where we are today. Perhaps the WHO would not have had their funding cut in a pandemic. From North America to the UK to Africa communities of color have fared the worst through this pandemic. And institutional racism is defining history and the way we respond to crises, be they man-made conflict or naturally occurring viruses. It’s time that our leadership says “we are not having the AIDS conference for in Canada; we’ll have these conferences in the Global South so that we can make decisions together.Ayoade Alakija, Winnie Byanyima, Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, Madhukar Pai; Christine Stegling, Steve Letsike, Lazenya Weekes-Richemond, Lola Abayomi, Leigh-Anne-Agnew, Divya Bajpai, Kreena Govender, Yumnah Hattas, Mumtaz Mia, Tabita Ntuli & Orosmani Gonzales-Romero for PLOS Global Public Health with a broad range of great reflections on the state of global health and HIV/AIDS.
Launching the British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) Legacy Collection
As in these examples, historical sources help us reflect on how patterns and moments of disjuncture in the history of development and global health inform the challenges of the present, and might rework, or offer alternatives to contemporary narratives of progress. At a time of current global crisis, generating calls to recast development and global health, such critical reflection and debate is needed more than ever.Melissa Leach, Hayley MacGregor, Erica Nelson, Jeremy Allouche, Danny Millum &
With this launch, an important milestone has been reached but there is a way to go. In the coming months and years we want to engage in further outreach and networking, fostering a wider community of researchers, students and practitioners across the world using and sharing what the BLDS Legacy Collection has to offer.
Caroline Marchant-Wallis for IDS; during my PhD I was a proud 'Library Evening Supervisor' & never got tired of walking through the stacks in the basement pulling out random documents & reports from the past...
Reflections on a United Nations’ Career
Yet if we read Howie’s account as a window into the real world of international relations, perhaps there are a few paragraphs that show that the term ‘UN page-turner’ is not an oxymoron. Students of IR will find much to prepare them for the competitiveness of UN recruitment. It will show them the highs and lows of UN service, and the reality that serendipity and good luck, and (still better) friends in the right places, often determine our career trajectory.Martin Duffy for E-International Relations with a UN memoir that is probably only of interests for nerds like me (I have a copy in my growing aid memoir library...)
In other news
Untold: Inside the Shein Machine review – the brand that knows what you’re going to buy before you do
The problem is not that people don’t know what they are buying. The problem is that they don’t care. A few years ago, fast fashion was under fire from documentaries much like this one; accusations were made about ethics and sustainability that several big brands felt forced to take on board. Then Shein arrived, pricing its garments even more aggressively, making them even more disposable, gambling that not many people are willing or able to pay £65 for the good stuff when they can get a quick hit for £4. Shein was right.Jack Seale reviews a new Channel 4 documentary for the Guardian.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 249, 8 September 2017)
We don’t need white tech saviours in Africa – we need a level playing field
Would I prefer Rwandese mothers, for instance, to die in childbirth because the drone delivering blood and plasma is designed by a foreigner? Certainly not. But to pretend the world is a level playing field and there isn’t institutional inequality or institutional privilege would be to do nothing to change the system, and heaven knows that what Africa needs isn’t benevolent white people, but a global system that allows it to thrive on its own terms.Eliza Anyangwe for the Guardian with interesting reflections that are still very much accurate 5 years later (and those delivery drones haven't materialized either yet...).