Links & Contents I Liked 460

Hi all,

Yesterday and today about 50 of our students in 11 groups presented the results of their 8 week-long #globaldev blogging projects so I'm still a bit dizzy from all the great content that they shared and we discussed.

I still managed to compile my own weekly post, and even though I usually avoid content with explicit trigger warnings, the story about child marriage from Afghanistan is an incredibly difficult, heart-breaking read.
Stories from Nigeria, Ireland, Egypt & Syria are also not very encouraging about the state of the world; MSF Sweden steps up with an interesting story of how they communicate looming famines & both Human Rights Watch & Nature tackle the issue of racism.

I'm not losing hope, seeing how passionately students communicate #globaldev issues & thinking about the prospects of how this will influence their work, actions & dedication to a better future.
I will be in Berlin next week for board meetings with great organizations so the blog takes a short rest while in-person meetings, networking, sharing & listening take a front seat.


My quotes of the week
But while local partners from the Global South were brought in at various stages to comment on drafts of the pledge, Ali resisted bringing in more at the outset, not wanting to waste people’s time and risk continuing what she sees as extraction. “We have been telling you what to do for 10 years,” she said. “People are exhausted and tired; you [international NGOs] know the right thing to do, you need to act on it.”
(Five international NGOs launch fresh bid to tackle power imbalances in aid)

None of the daughters of the four fathers interviewed had been ‘listened to’ when it came to their marriages. Girls who are engaged at this young age are never listened to. If they were, it is likely they would just cry.
Even so, of the eleven fathers contacted, most expressed shame about what they had done. They did not consider that marrying off their young daughters had been normal or good, but said that that in a situation when they were struggling to provide even food, they had been obliged to sacrifice one of their children to save the others.
The tragedy, of course, is that for most families the short-term injection of cash the marriage provided, while briefly solving the pressure and shame of owing large sums of money, did not solve the underlying problem. Most of these families were left still with no steady means of income and will be incurring more debt again soon.

(Living in a Collapsed Economy (4): The desperation and guilt of giving a young daughter in marriage)

Development news
Displaced by devastating floods, Nigerians are forced to use floodwater despite cholera risk
Desperate to survive, many locals fleeing raging floods which have wrecked their homes and livelihoods are also forced to depend on floodwater for sustenance.
For displaced inhabitants of northern Bayelsa's Odi town, who have found new homes in roadside shacks and tent shelters with no access to running water, stagnant floodwaters are the only available alternatives for drinking, cooking and bathing.
Nimi Princewill & Larry Madowo for CNN with a powerful report & photo essay from Nigeria.
Nigerian flood victims decry government’s response to disaster
Many survivors are living in terrible conditions in camps with almost no governmental assistance, according to victims and experts interviewed by Al Jazeera.
“Disaster management in Nigeria is synonymous to clapping with one hand; it is not possible to clap with one hand, but that is the situation of things in Nigeria,”
Ope Adetayo for Aljazeera with another update on the slow disaster response in Nigeria.

Thousands have withdrawn pledges of rooms for Ukraine refugees or are uncontactable
A spokesperson for Louth County Council said a “considerable” number of pledges relating to rooms or shared accommodation were withdrawn or uncontactable.
(...)
The spokesperson said: “There is a high number of pledges withdrawn in many counties, and this appears to be a reoccurring trend. This is due to many factors such as pledges being offered for a maximum of three months or pledgers no longer interested in pledging their property.”
“There is also a large number of pledges that are uncontactable despite numerous attempts being made.
Jack White for the Irish Examiner; this seems like 'just' a local story but I wonder whether there is a bigger issue involved from 'compassion fatigue' to 'psychic numbing' (see In other news section)?

Living in a Collapsed Economy (4): The desperation and guilt of giving a young daughter in marriage
I used to have a job in the government where I received 13,000 afghanis as my monthly salary (nowadays worth around 150 USD). I was able to feed my family on this. When the government collapsed, I lost my job. I didn’t have any alternative, except to marry my daughter to someone. I married her to a 20-year-old man. He is the son of one of our villagers, but we’re not relatives. In our family it isn’t a custom to marry small girls, we always waited until puberty. I’m the only one within my family who’s marrying a daughter who’s still a child.
I did this, even though her mother didn’t agree. But my other wife, who’s the girl’s step-mother, helped me make the mother of the girl agree. Finally, after about a month, she consented. We didn’t tell our daughter at first that we were getting her married. When she found out about it, she cried a lot.
We had a small celebration, in which the father-in-law of my daughter gave me 30,000 afghanis (around USD 350). At the engagement party, we repeated our agreement that my daughter wouldn’t be married until she reached puberty. We’d also decided that the father-in-law of my daughter would pay me the rest of the bride price within six months. The full bride price was 250,000 afghanis (around USD 3000).
But more than six months have passed and he hasn’t given me the remaining money yet.
(...)
None of the daughters of the four fathers interviewed had been ‘listened to’ when it came to their marriages. Girls who are engaged at this young age are never listened to. If they were, it is likely they would just cry.
Even so, of the eleven fathers contacted, most expressed shame about what they had done. They did not consider that marrying off their young daughters had been normal or good, but said that that in a situation when they were struggling to provide even food, they had been obliged to sacrifice one of their children to save the others.
The tragedy, of course, is that for most families the short-term injection of cash the marriage provided, while briefly solving the pressure and shame of owing large sums of money, did not solve the underlying problem. Most of these families were left still with no steady means of income and will be incurring more debt again soon.
Ali Mohammad Sabawoon for Afghanistan Analysts Network with a harrowing article about the realities in Afghanistan.
Inga bilder på svältande barn den här gången (No pictures of starving children this time)
The picture is one of our most important tools to bear witness to what we see and get more people to act. And the images that are currently pouring in from my colleagues at the clinics for acutely malnourished children in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Chad and South Sudan are undeniably strong. Therefore, they are also difficult, not at all obvious to show - even if the family has given their consent to us taking a picture of their child fighting for life, saying that we can show it to tell you and others about what is happening . We want to arouse commitment, but also avoid reinforcing the vulnerability the patients find themselves in, or pandering to stereotypes. Especially with children, ethics can be a difficult balancing act.
(...)
Instead of showing photos this time, I'd like to ask you to simply let the tip of your index finger meet your thumb, forming a ring. Approximately that far is around the arm of the children we are treating in the tens of thousands right now. Around the upper arm, that is. That means it's in a hurry.
MSF Sweden sent out an interesting newsletter this week (auto-translated from Swedish) that raises important questions about communicating humanitarian crises without the proverbial starving child.

EU funding for the Egyptian Coast Guard (Strengthening a Partnership That Violates Human Rights)
Ambiguous and worrying funds
EU cooperates with authoritarian regimes to suppress migration movements
Egypt’s successive failures in search and rescue operations and in providing the necessary protection to migrants and refugees, both at the borders and within the country
More funds without transparency, independent monitoring mechanisms, or prior assessments of their impact on migrants’ rights
The Refugees Platform in Egypt with a new paper that points to another worrying partnership between EU & an autocratic regime after the one with Libya has been such a great 'success'...

UN Procurement Contracts in Syria, A ‘’few’’ Bad Apples?
The report highlights seven issues with existing procurement processes:
(1) human rights abusers taking advantage of the system;
(2) contracting sanctioned individuals and entities;
(3) failing to identify fronts and intermediaries;
(4) reliance on large contracts;
(5) lack of transparency;
(6) accommodating corruption; and
(7) the failure to protect staff.
The Syrian Legal Development Programme with a brief report on the challenges of the UN doing business in Syria.

Sending Back the Gumbo
As I left the talk on “The Future of the United Nations,” given at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel by United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, I found myself disoriented, slipping into a Hitchcockian vertigo triggered by witnessing opportunities missed and bold goals unarticulated. Add to that a strange poignancy due to the location of the talk, the city where the UN was born.
Dan Becker for PassBlue with some interesting reflections on the state of the UN in the US, the role of UN associations & value of local campaigners.

Five international NGOs launch fresh bid to tackle power imbalances in aid
But while local partners from the Global South were brought in at various stages to comment on drafts of the pledge, Ali resisted bringing in more at the outset, not wanting to waste people’s time and risk continuing what she sees as extraction. “We have been telling you what to do for 10 years,” she said. “People are exhausted and tired; you [international NGOs] know the right thing to do, you need to act on it.”
Jessica Alexander for the New Humanitarian; everybody likes a good pledge-so let's see what will happen with this one...

Human Rights Watch’s First Dedicated Researcher on Racism in Europe
In Germany, racism is a taboo topic. If you say racism exists in general, people will agree. But if you say there is structural racism in Germany, in institutions, then people shift their opinion, saying no that’s not true. It is as if you’re calling their society or their identity racist, and people get quickly offended.
But it’s difficult to expect change to happen when you can’t even talk about a thing or say that it exists, or if the focus is only private acts of prejudice or hate rather than the structural problems that prevent people from minoritized communities from enjoying their rights.
Almaz Teffera talks to Amy Braunschweiger about her new role at Human Rights Watch-and like Germany, Sweden is another European country where structural racism does not exist according to the Nordic self-image...

Megalopolis: how coastal west Africa will shape the coming century
This kind of pessimism, built upon a scornful assessment of governance at the national level in west Africa, is widespread. “We are going to need to have a functioning Ghanaian state, functioning states in Benin and Togo, and at least a minimally functional Nigerian government all at the same time in order to make this hugely urbanised future livable,” said E Gyimah-Boadi, the 70-year-old co-founder and former CEO of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, a thinktank.
“Part of me wants to believe that the youth of west Africa can be their own saviours, and that it is not because of the failures of my generation that they are necessarily doomed. The nation state has been a huge curse. It worked very well for some of us, but we have left very little behind for the young. Basically, we have cheated them.”
Howard French with a fantastic long-read for the Guardian.

The profound link between the climate crisis and the ocean – in pictures
Ahead of Cop27 as part of a drive to increase the diversity of imagery showing the impact of climate on marine environments, Climate Visuals has released a new collection of evidence-based images.
The Guardian with a great photo essay (even though I'm not entirely sure what 'evidence-based images' are...).
Thematic Focus: Gender Issues
Forced Migration Current Awareness with another great collection of open access resource!

Racism-Overcoming science’s toxic legacy
But efforts to decolonize science and scientific spaces are as much about ensuring an accurate scientific record as righting historical wrongs. Whether it is trying to counter extremists co-opting genetics research or taking concrete steps to counter technology’s discriminatory biases, tackling the reality of racism today is essential in building a more inclusive future for science and the society it serves.
Nature with a new special issue.

In other news
Why are we indifferent to the suffering of millions? There's a term for that
"I think those kinds of kinship-related responses probably go some way to accounting for why we might have more difficulty responding to news of thousands of people, including hundreds of young children, who drowned in the floods in Pakistan than we do the 31 people who were killed by Hurricane Fiona."
Another psychological aspect Ellard notes is something called "psychic numbing," where people tend to be indifferent to the suffering of a great number of people.
Nicole Mortillaro for CBC News; I think this post is a bit too ambitious & tries to bring in too many things, but nonetheless a good overview with food for discussion on how we can continue to communicate disasters in a meaningful way.

May God Save Us From Economists
Over the last half-century, economics has infiltrated parts of the federal government where it has no business intruding. It can be a useful tool for policymaking, but it’s become the only tool. It’s time for economics to back the hell off.
Timothy Noah for the New Republic with a long-read on one of our favorite professions...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 250, 15 September 2016)

What I learned from curating thousands of #globaldev articles
As I went through most of my previous link reviews I reflected on some of the key features that emerged from the diversity of material I have come across in an ever-changing digital publishing environment.
In commemoration of link review no.250 from the archive some reflections on curating #globaldev content for a while...

How to tell the stories of those worst affected by a disaster like Hurricane Irma
How can we tell their stories, and ensure their voices and experiences are not ignored? Here are four things the media could focus on:
Remember that locals get it worst
Disasters are not “natural”
Local civil society helps out
Media needs to have more sticking power
Gemma Sou for the Conversation with a post that is still as timely as it was 5 years ago!

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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa