Links & Contents I Liked 462

Hi all,

I'll be quick as it's getting a bit late in Sweden on this dark & cold Friday afternoon...this week we start with the meltdown of FTX, SBF & EA & move into Nepal, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Europe, Pakistan, China & explore many other places!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
But this cash infusion only reached a minority of those affected and was a one-off payment. Sustained relief and recovery aid is needed for basic income support for people who have lost livelihoods, to prevent secondary impacts of the disaster such as waterborne illness and outbreaks partly caused by the disruption of vaccination programmes, to enable continued safe return for displaced people, and to avert a significant upsurge in poverty. (Floods in Pakistan: Rethinking the humanitarian role)

As with the cooptation of any subculture, it can no longer be called a protest against the “system” if it is the system. There’s nothing inherent in the technology that makes it resistant to being assimilated by the ruling financial order. There’s also nothing inherent in the technology that guarantees that the multimillionaires and billionaires minted by crypto will be more benevolent elites than the ones we have now. (Walk Away Like a Boss)

To date, few nonprofit leaders have encountered organizational challenges or faced disruptions, such as declines in other funding as a result of these grants. Instead, leaders were able to address long-standing needs and reported increased confidence and credibility for their organizations. (Giving Big-The Impact of Large, Unrestricted Gifts on Nonprofits)
Development news
How Sam Bankman-Fried’s ‘Effective’ Altruism Blew Up FTX
"To the extent that the leadership of FTX may have engaged in deception or dishonesty, we condemn that behavior in the strongest possible terms. We believe that being a good actor in the world means striving to act with honesty and integrity.That’s a bleak thing for a philanthropy to have to write about its founder. But the problem for effective altruists is not just that one of their own behaved unethically. There is reason to believe that the ethos of effective altruism (sometimes shortened to “EA”) enabled and even encouraged the disaster at every step along the way."
David Z. Morris for CoinDesk.
Sam Bankman-Fried tries to explain himself
Looming over our whole conversation was the fact that people who trusted him have lost their savings, and that he’s done incalculable damage to everything he proclaimed only a few weeks ago to care about. The grief and pain he has caused is immense, and I came away from our conversation appalled by much of what he said. But if these mistakes haunted him, he largely didn’t show it.
Kelsey Piper for Vox.

Walk Away Like a Boss
The same institutions, the same wealthy elite, the same nefarious forces that early cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum were supposedly protesting, could now subsume their antagonists, rendering them impotent; as with the cooptation of any subculture, it can no longer be called a protest against the “system” if it is the system. There’s nothing inherent in the technology that makes it resistant to being assimilated by the ruling financial order. There’s also nothing inherent in the technology that guarantees that the multimillionaires and billionaires minted by crypto will be more benevolent elites than the ones we have now.
Sarah Resnick for n+1. These 3 articles (& the Tweets) provide a glimpse at the unfolding FTX & EA fiasco; Sarah Resnick's long-read was written well before the implosion of FTX, but I found it equally interesting to understand certain mindsets & 'discourses' behind it...much more to come on this topic...
Food insecurity is driving women in Africa into sex work, increasing HIV risk
Women and girls experiencing food insecurity were 28% more likely to engage in transactional sex, defined as sex in exchange for material goods, including food. They are also more likely to engage in high-risk or unprotected sex, sex before the age of 15, forced sex, or sex with a man who is 10 or more years older, the study found. This increases their risk of contracting HIV.
Women-headed households, particularly those with many children and other dependents, were at higher odds of experiencing food shortages. Migration, being widowed or divorced and having little or no education were also associated with severe food insecurity.
Seyma Bayram for NPR Goats & Soda with more bad news on what the current crisis means for many women and girls across Africa.

Climate-focused reform of World Bank could be done in a year, says Al Gore
Gore sees the issue as going far beyond the president. “It’s about much more than him as an individual. It’s about the World Bank as an institution and the World Bank system as a policy tool,” he said.
The bank has continued to invest in fossil fuel projects after the Paris agreement, and its financing of projects to tackle the climate crisis has been criticised as too little and poorly targeted.
Fiona Harvey & Patrick Greenfield for the Guardian; I'm not sure what the Bank's future is, but I don't really see it as a 'climate bank' of sorts...

How Nepal Grew Back Its Forests
While the growth of the forests is primarily a result of community forestry, experts say, migration and decreasing dependence on agriculture have also contributed to it.
Hundreds of thousands of Nepali youth migrate each year to other countries in Asia or to the Persian Gulf in search of stable, well-paying jobs, leaving fewer workers at home. Foreign remittances now represent almost a quarter of the country’s economic output, and brought in about $7.35 billion in 2020.
“Once you have remittance money, you don’t worry about hard agricultural labor,” said Naya Sharma Paudel, a researcher who has been studying community forestry in Nepal.
Karan Deep Singh & Bhadra Sharma for the New York Times with an interesting story from Nepal, including the benefits of labor migration on reduced environmental degradation...

Speech to the UN Security Council on Counter-terrorism in Africa
The UN and AU still have a lot of work to do to define the rules that would govern the political oversight of future UN-funded African-led peace operations, the mechanisms for assessing their operational performance and accounting procedures to oversee their finances.
(...)
Military operations against non-state groups can secure territory, protect civilians, deter further violence and create space for non-military conflict resolution.
But it’s rare – in fact, so far unheard of – that military operations alone can defeat movements that are quite deeply entrenched in parts of society, if not necessarily popular.
The question is: what can we do to complement military operations?
Comfort Ero for the Crisis Group with a great speech on the complex challenges of fighting terrorists groups across Africa.

Villagers Brace for Another Displacement. This Time, It’s for Coal.
Decades later, the trauma of that upheaval is being felt afresh as families in Muchesu, a village in the country’s west, brace for another displacement — this time, the result of a coal mining project. In 2010, Monaf Investments Private Ltd., a local firm, was granted a special permit for coal exploration in the region; this year, it is set to commence extraction. Mining accounts for 60% of Zimbabwe’s annual exports and contributes roughly 16% to the country’s gross domestic product; the government aims to build it into a $12 billion industry by 2023. Observers, however, warn that the rush to exploit the country’s mineral resources is leading to widespread upheaval. According to one 2019 report by a local watchdog, mining projects were slated to displace at least 30,000 families within five years.
Gamuchirai Masiyiwa for Global Press Journal reports from Zimbabwe.

Kenya not yet free from British hold
In what the Kenyan daily The Nation called a ‘landmark ruling’, Justice Antonina Cossy Bor of the Environmental and Land Court in Nanyuki this March opened the ‘floodgates to lawsuits against British Army’ when she ruled that Kenyan courts ‘have jurisdiction to hear and determine criminal and civil matters involving British soldiers’. This includes personnel from the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) whose manoeuvres damaged the land of a thousand small farmers from Lolldaiga.
Jean-Christophe Servant for Le Monde diplomatique on the enduring legacy of British military troops & training operations in Kenya.

Out of sight, out of mind: Europe’s increasing pushback against migrants
The bigger task is fixing a broken system that has spent millions of euros reinforcing the EU’s response to migration while paying off poorer states to manage the problem – this is especially distasteful given the small percentage of global refugees actually residing in Europe. Dignified access to safe reception, protection and asylum procedures is the minimum required under international law. Europe has demonstrated this capacity in the past; unfortunately, the political will appears to have been forgotten, or worse.
Duncan McLean for the Conversation with an important reminder that illegal pushbacks are still happening as much of Europe's attention has moved to other crises.

Asake, the breakout pop star from Nigeria who owned 2022
Asake’s free-wheeling sonic eclecticism might be the key to his meteoric success. Joyous choral singing, ebullient fuji trimmings, repurposed iconic R&B grooves, street patois, good natured urban hooliganism, immediacy and openness also need to be added into the already intriguing mix. Surely, this is all beyond ordinary amapiano. And that makes it all the more appealing.
Sanya Osha for the Conversation on Asake & global music trends originating in Nigeria & other parts of Africa.

Giving Big-The Impact of Large, Unrestricted Gifts on Nonprofits
Nonprofit leaders describe these large, unrestricted grants as transformational for their organizations and their leadership. They believe the funding is significantly strengthening their ability to achieve their organizations’ missions, which, for many, is connected to advancing equity
(...)
To date, few nonprofit leaders have encountered organizational challenges or faced disruptions, such as declines in other funding as a result of these grants. Instead, leaders were able to address long-standing needs and reported increased confidence and credibility for their organizations. The main lesson they believe this experience holds for other funders is to have more trust in nonprofits
Ellie Buteau, Phil Buchanan, Maria Lopez, Katarina Malmgren & Christina Im for the Center for Effective Philanthropy with a study looking at the impact of MacKenzie Scott's philanthropy.

Reading corner

Floods in Pakistan: Rethinking the humanitarian role
Unlike in the 2010 flood emergency, when global humanitarian aid contributions topped US$3 billion, donors have to date come through with just US$297 million in grant-based contributions for relief and early recovery activities. Instead of humanitarian aid, the global response to the current crisis, by collective decision or default, appears to be primarily through debt-based financing. The most significant support in the first few months of the crisis was a round of cash payments to vulnerable people through the country’s Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) – the social protection mechanism. Quick action by the World Bank to repurpose existing loans allowed the government to employ this well-established system, which had benefited from over 12 years of investment. But this cash infusion only reached a minority of those affected and was a one-off payment. Sustained relief and recovery aid is needed for basic income support for people who have lost livelihoods, to prevent secondary impacts of the disaster such as waterborne illness and outbreaks partly caused by the disruption of vaccination programmes, to enable continued safe return for displaced people, and to avert a significant upsurge in poverty.
Paul Harvey, Abby Stoddard, Lewis Sida, Nigel Timmins, Shafqat Munir Ahmed, Meriah-Jo Breckenridge & Shoaib Jillani for Humanitarian Outcomes with a new report.

The Gates Foundation, global health and domination: a republican critique of transnational philanthropy
Using the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its role in global health as a test case, it argues that transnational philanthropy is characterized by an asymmetric distribution of power, which is sufficient to produce dependence, and that is uncontrolled insofar as its use either rests on the will of powerful agents or on terms of social cooperation beyond contestation. This arbitrary character is particularly relevant to philanthropy because of its use of epistemic power to produce and legitimize knowledge. In short, transnational philanthropy is dominating.
Gwilym David Blunt with new open access article for International Affairs.

Silences of Bretton Woods: gender inequality, racial discrimination and environmental degradation
In the formal deliberations of the Bretton Woods conference, little was said about gender inequality, racial discrimination, or environmental degradation. At the time, however, the significance of these issues to international economic governance was prominently discussed elsewhere, including in other conferences planning the postwar international order. The fact that the Bretton Woods architects chose to ignore these issues, thus, was an anomaly that needs to be recognized as an important part of the content of the conference and its ‘embedded liberal’ normative framework.
Eric Helleiner with an open access article for the Review of International Political Economy.

In other news
Inside a boot camp for Chinese TikTok sellers bringing live e-commerce to the U.S.
As livestreaming has ballooned into a $400 billion industry in China, its success has convinced Chinese entrepreneurs — and TikTok itself — that it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world begins to shop this way. Chinese suppliers, livestreamers, and talent agents have become the earliest proponents of TikTok live shopping for Western audiences, hoping sales tactics honed on Douyin and affordable goods will help them get consumers around the world hooked on China’s favorite way to shop online.
Yvaine Ye, Viola Zhou & Meaghan Tobin for Rest of World on the next iteration of digital platform-based capitalism.

Why it’s wrong to blame online learning for causing mental health issues during COVID-19
We gathered and analyzed all the empirical literature we could find that related to mental health and online/remote learning. We discovered that the findings in this literature are mixed, and any assertions about a relationship between online learning and mental health are confounded by research quality and pandemic grief.
George Veletsianos, Michael Barbour & Stephanie Moore for the Conversation on my the relationship between mental health and online learning is complicated.

We do not yet know what the polycrisis is
We do not currently have all of the language we need to articulate this endeavour, let alone the tools to operationalise it. This shortcoming is a product of the epistemological foreclosures that prevent paradigmatic breakdown being identified until it is already too late. But new ways of understanding are emerging, as corrections to a failing paradigm. They will expand and evolve as they interact with the real world — and it is this interaction which must now be prioritised. Alas, the real world is probably going to get very, very real, for most of us, before this project is complete.
Craig Berry with a lot of food for thought...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 252, 29 September 2017)

Love, Africa (book review)
At the end of the day, Gettleman’s memoir is not an exceptional piece of writing or insight and maybe other reviewers had expected more, because he is not ‘just’ a regular humanitarian aid worker or traveling journalist. He delivers an entertaining memoir that clearly has potential for further discussions and non-expert engagement around topics of foreign correspondents and journalism from and about Africa, but ultimately falls a bit short as self-reflective, and –critical assessment of how white men, global media brands and expat bubbles create ‘our’ image of a rapidly changing continent with its 54 countries.
Me, with a book review...

'In school, but learning nothing'
"Many of these children are not hidden or isolated from their governments and communities - they are sitting in classrooms," said Silvia Montoya, director of the Unesco Institute for Statistics.
She said the report was a "wake-up call for far greater investment in the quality of education".
This problem of "schooling without learning" was also highlighted by the World Bank in a report this week.
It warned that millions of young people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving an inadequate education that would leave them trapped in low-paid and insecure jobs.
Sean Coughlan for BBC with reminder that focusing on building schools and featuring boys and girls in school uniforms in your organization's PR materials is actually not enough to prepare young people for a complex future...also a reminder that this situation has likely become worse through Covid & other crises...

Humanitarianism
Everyday humanitarian practices can now take place in many different realms: in consumption, entertainment, or across social media. These are all areas that are traditionally considered outside of the humanitarian scope, not least because of their association with market-driven and celebrity-oriented activity rather than altruism and anonymity. Such practices can change – in both conservative and critical ways – how we seek to help others, and how think of ourselves when doing so.
Lisa Richey with a great overview over contemporary approaches to humanitarianism for the International Political Economy of Everyday Life that has aged really well!

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Links & Contents I Liked 463

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Links & Contents I Liked 464

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