Links & Contents I Liked 463
There seems to be some kind of sporting event going on in Qatar this week & a settler colonial holiday is celebrated in the US-enjoy if you celebrate ;).
Despite all its problems I had a really good discussion on Twitter this week around 'the most effective' #globaldev intervention & the opportunities + risks that come with such a label. A bad week for Caritas Internationalis, UNOPS & UK aid. A hopeful story from India, sceptical ones from Pakistan & El Salvador + bad news from Somalia (still...). And buzzwords from 'localization' to 'longtermism'. And more :)
My quotes of the week
Loss and damage funding – if indeed the money is forthcoming – is all well and good, but it can only go so far. Unless the government grabs hold of its responsibility to improve baseline development, flood response, and emergency aid, the inevitable disasters of the future will continue to see needless pain and loss of life. (The limits of loss and damage: A cautionary tale from Pakistan)
It is hard to describe the stress of our daily lives. We work long hours, setting aside the needs of our families. When grant budgets fall short, we spend our personal money to fill the gaps. We work under so much pressure that we inadvertently hurt one another. (“It’s your fault the project is running late!”) All of this takes a toll on our mental and physical health, but without ICR, we are chronically—often extremely—understaffed and overworked. (The high price of lowballing local organisations)
News in photos: November 25, 2022
The playground of Dhaka University’s Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall is full to the brim in the wee hours of Friday, Nov 25, 2022 as fans gather to watch Brazil begin their campaign for a record-extending sixth FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Photo: Safat Rahman
bdnews24.com with an interesting reminder that there is more than view on the current football World Cup and its global reach outside the discussions around rainbow flags and workers' rights. I have watched very little football so far, but this is a powerful reminder of joyful, but also apolitical & uncritical engagement with the product that FIFA is more than happy to sell to consumers. A bit similar to support for Russia in parts of Africa. "Our" Western/Northern narrative is not the only one & certainly not the dominant one...it seems particularly ironic to see fans cheering in Bangladesh some of which may have lost relatives in the construction of the infrastructure for the World Cup.
Pope sacks leadership of worldwide Catholic charity, names commissioner
Pope Francis on Tuesday fired the entire leadership of the Roman Catholic Church's worldwide charity arm following accusations of bullying and humiliation of employees, and appointed a commissioner to run it.Philip Pullella for Reuters with a story that received surprisingly little attention in my #globaldev networks this week...
A separate statement from the Vatican's development department, which oversees CI, said a review of the workplace environment this year by external management and psychological experts found malaise and bad management practices at its headquarters.
DevEx Newswire 25 November
KPMG’s Finland office paints a “damning portrait of managerial dysfunction by top managers” at UNOPS as it expanded its role into the “high-stakes, and lucrative, world of impact investing,” writes Colum, after he and Shabtai waded through multiple draft reports. “A culture of fear created an environment that allowed for management override of controls,” according to one of the two KPMG reports. “The way of working by top management further indicates an abuse of power.”Colum Lynch & Shabtai Gold for DevEx with another organization that seems to be in a bit of managerial trouble...since the full article is behind their paywall the link is tom their daily newsletter instead.
UK aid faces third major cut in 3 years, with £1.7B to be cut
The United Kingdom’s aid budget is set to be slashed for the third time in three years, with development organizations bracing for a £1.7 billion — $2.05 billion — cut to be made in less than six months, and bigger cuts expected next year.William Worley for DevEx with more bad #globaldev news from the UK.
Trapped Between Extremists and Extreme Weather, Somalis Brace for Famine
Five seasons of failed rains, linked to climate change, have hit 7.8 million Somalis, 300,000 of whom are experiencing severe starvation.Declan Walsh for the New York Times reports from Somalia.
But weather alone doesn’t create famine, experts say — it takes people, too. The biggest obstacle to a massive relief effort is the presence of Al Shabab, the extremists who dispatch suicide bombers and forcibly recruit children, tax farmers and prevent aid groups from reaching the worst-hit areas.
Somalis are waiting to see if aid experts will formally declare a famine in the coming weeks. Many already fear that history is repeating: Somalia’s last two great famines, in 1992 and 2011, which killed half a million people between them, were also the product of drought supercharged by war.
El Salvador takes risks for Chinese investments
Even though an eventual alliance with China could serve as a "lifeline" for the Salvadoran economy, experts agree that such an agreement could also carry multiple risks. "Nothing is free," Reder said.Nicolas Guzman for Deutsche Welle on El Salvador's post-bitcoin-hype economy.
"El Salvador could see some benefits to its infrastructure, something we are already observing, but China will want something in return. This could be exclusive rights to commercial profits, or it could demand certain projects in areas that might be protected or that could affect some communities," she added.
Indian tycoon Adani's mega port hangs in the balance as a fishing community protests
The simple 1,200 square-feet structure with a corrugated-iron roof has since August stood in the way of ambitions for the country's first container transhipment port - a $900 million project that seeks to plug into the lucrative shipping trade flowing between juggernaut manufacturers in the East and wealthy consumer markets in the West.Munsif Vengatill, Arpan Chaturvedi & Aditya Kalra for Reuters with a great story of civil resistance in India.
Decorated with banners proclaiming "indefinite day and night protest", the shelter provides cover for roughly 100 plastic chairs, although the number of protesters taking part in the sit-ins on any one day is usually much lower.
The limits of loss and damage: A cautionary tale from Pakistan
It quickly became evident to me that the government fails to provide basic services within the shelters. NGOs say that government employees want a share of any food or aid provided to IDPs, with the justification that the floods spared no one.Menaal Munshey for the New Humanitarian with an important reminder that 'loss & damage' needs to reach those who experienced loss & damage...
But it’s the military, which has by far the largest resources in the country, that’s running the flood relief operation. Without basic training or understanding of how to provide aid to communities and engage in humanitarian interventions, many of their efforts appeared to be inefficient or wasted.
And where the establishment does intervene, it’s often counter-productive. Many of the international NGOs that had provided key services during the 2010 floods have since had to close their offices in Pakistan.
Loss and damage funding – if indeed the money is forthcoming – is all well and good, but it can only go so far. Unless the government grabs hold of its responsibility to improve baseline development, flood response, and emergency aid, the inevitable disasters of the future will continue to see needless pain and loss of life.
The high price of lowballing local organisations
It is hard to describe the stress of our daily lives. We work long hours, setting aside the needs of our families. When grant budgets fall short, we spend our personal money to fill the gaps. We work under so much pressure that we inadvertently hurt one another. (“It’s your fault the project is running late!”) All of this takes a toll on our mental and physical health, but without ICR, we are chronically—often extremely—understaffed and overworked.Hero Anwar for bond on indirect cost recovery (ICR) and what localization really should & needs to mean to make it meaningful.
Localization? I hate the word. Decolonization? I hate that even more
But despite the new language, the implication remained that these countries are second-class in some way.David Ainsworth & Amruta Byatal for DevEx on plastic words & jargon...
“There's a hierarchical structure and mindset,” she said. “Nobody is really challenging it. Decolonizing is still putting us at a lowest level. Localization is also putting us at a lower level. So when do we become equals? When will that mindset shift?”
Catalyst 2030, she said, has taken a conscious choice to use different words.
“We really are trying to take that jargon, tear it apart and try to relook at it. So we are using a very simple term — proximate leaders. We refuse to use the word localization; we call it ecosystem development. Because I cannot bring about any change on my own. You can't; none of us can.”
Our 2022 charity recommendation
I remember the late Barbara Ehrenreich & can't help to think about a global wellbeing-therapy-happiness-industrial complex that gets rolled out in the "Global South", does little to tackle structural problems, yet channels time, energy & resources into a "most good" arms race. https://t.co/l91H8jN7Im— Tobias Denskus (@aidnography) November 24, 2022
Our charity recommendation for 2022 is StrongMinds, a non-profit that provides group psychotherapy for women in Uganda and Zambia who are struggling with depression.The Happier Lives Institute with more details on the Twitter discussion above.
We compared StrongMinds to three interventions that have been recommended by GiveWell as being amongst the most cost-effective in the world: cash transfers, deworming pills, and anti-malarial bednets. We find that StrongMinds is more cost-effective (in almost all cases).
Passing The Buck: The Economics Of Localizing International Assistance
The analysis estimates that local intermediaries could deliver programming that is 32% more cost efficient than international intermediaries, by stripping out inflated international overhead and salary costs. Applied to the ODA funding flows allocated to UN/INGOs in 2018 ($54bn), this would equate to US$4.3bn annually.
Courtenay Cabot Venton for Share Trust & the Warande Advisory Centre with a new report; more readings as always in my Tuesday newsletter.
In other news
Decolonial Thought & Praxis
In this newsletter, I will thus share how decolonial thought and praxis from Latin America and the Caribbean (Abya Yala), as well as from other regions, are geopolitically articulated from below. Terms such as the geopolitics of knowledge and coloniality will be used to reveal their analytical power to interrogate the modern/colonial world. Seriously thinking about the entangled relations of power across geographies will also form part of this newsletter. Since curriculum and pedagogy are of great interest to me and many others, the aim is to create an alternative educational space in which we can collectively learn from decolonial thought and praxis from the Souths of the Global SouthJairo I. Fúnez-Flores has a new Substack you want to subscribe to!
What “longtermism” gets wrong about climate change
It is troubling that MacAskill did not ask all of his climate consultants to vet his bold claims about the survivability of extreme warming and the importance of increasing the human population. Longtermism has become immensely influential over the past five years—although this may change following the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX, which was run by an ardent longtermist, Sam Bankman-Fried, who may have committed fraud—and could affect the policies of national and international governing bodies. Yet some longtermist claims about climate change lacks scientific rigor.Émile P. Torres for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists with more critical engagement with 'longtermism'.
Humanity faces unprecedented challenges this century. To navigate these, we will need guiding worldviews that are built on robust philosophical foundations and solid scientific conclusions. Longtermism, as defended by MacAskill in his book, lacks both. We desperately need more long-term thinking, but we can—and must—do better than longtermism.
What we were reading 5 years ago
In case Twitter folds sometime soon, wanted to let you know the book is very close to publication.— SC Procedure (@SCProcedure) November 18, 2022
Should be available on US Amazon, & then Amazons worldwide, toward month's end! pic.twitter.com/JtRSJn9IFS
(Link review 253, 5 October 2017)
Reading #Maria through a #globaldev lens
This time another American territory is affected among other islands many of which still have links to European countries through various statuses as overseas territories. So new questions are emerging in the aftermath of a natural disaster of how 'them' and 'us' are linked, how humanitarian challenges are not just an issue of the 'North' helping the 'South' and how questions of development thinking and research are becoming even more important as climate change creates a truly global community of suffering, resilience and connected support.Me, with a curated reading list.
Burnout & Organizational Mindfulness
I no longer believe that meditation and self-care are enough. It can certainly be a starting point. It was for me. But we can’t stop there. Otherwise it just becomes narcissist self-care. I always say that I can meditate until I’m blue in the face, but if my manager or the organizational culture is toxic, my mindfulness will help me cope for a while or help me make the decision to leave, but it is not going to transform the organization. Things have changed quite a bit since I started writing my blog back in 2010. Mindfulness is everywhere now. It has become a commodity. There are so many consultants out there giving trainings on stress management, burnout, and resilience. But I think some are missing the point. A workshop can be a helpful catalyst, but in itself it won’t necessarily change an organization’s culture and way of working. It seems to me that organizations run the risk of wasting their money on once-off trainings. Fostering a learning and caring work environment is the most effective approach to burnout prevention. The most successful organisations are the ones who try and practice within the values they hold dear vis-a-vis the community they work with.A reminder of Alessandra Pigni's brilliant & important writing & work...she is dearly missed.