Links & Contents I Liked 467

Hi all,

Welcome to the first link review of 2023!

Unfortunately, we start where we left off: The climate crisis, Afghan refugees, toxic UN work cultures & challenges around localization; Bangladesh, Kenya & Uganda make news, but there is also a section on African fiction, science fiction & alternative #globaldev storytelling-and last, but not least, a proper, slightly rant-y blog post on a social entrepreneur & how not to communicate your #globaldev failings...

My quotes of the week
From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren. (In Kenya, an Epidemic of Children Hospitalized for Starvation)

Climate change shobche darun masala [climate change is the most amazing spice], add climate change, poverty alleviation and gender and you will have a recipe for success for your development project [funding application]. But will this 'recipe' help save the river? (Misreading Climate Change in Bangladesh)

New on Aidnography
The guy who turned his failure of electrifying Chad into a social entrepreneurship "success story"
Please don’t promise the people of any country clean water or electricity when this is difficult to set up and maintain.
Talk to recognized #globaldev experts in and outside the country-and don’t turn the failure of your project into some kind of social entrepreneurship hero story where grit and persistence will ultimately lead to success.
Development news
UN trade center workers decry 'toxic work culture'
The online survey — which revealed responses from 196 current and past employees and contractors to questions about whether they had witnessed inappropriate conduct — paints a damning portrait of morale at a little-known U.N. agency that provides trade advice to low- and middle-income countries.
Together, the comments paint of picture of a deep cultural divide between the center’s rank and file and senior and middle managers, who are accused of hiring and promoting friends or favorites, and fomenting a “mass exodus” of staff in the human resources department, and a large number of staff on sick leave.
Colum Lynch for DevEx; what's stopping the UN from closing down the ITC as a sign of taking reforms seriously?!?

UAE names oil boss to lead climate summit, worrying activists
The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday that the head of state oil giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company would lead this year's COP28 climate summit, fuelling activists' worries that big industry is hijacking the global response to environmental crisis.
Maha El Dahan & Gloria Dickie for Reuters with a reminder that the COP conference-industrial complex has lost any meaning...

UK government resettled no Afghan refugees under scheme, one year after launch
Since then, the government has insisted that it has granted indefinite leave to remain to 6,300 people, yet those are individuals under the category of the first pathway who had already been settled in the UK.
Under the second pathway, according to Home Office figures from four months ago, only four individuals in total have been settled in the country. As for pathway three, no one at all has been resettled in the UK.
Middle East Monitor on how the UK (among many other countries) has not fulfilled its promise to provide safe havens for those in danger after the Taleban take-over

Conservative group targets migrant cell phone data at NGOs, raising privacy concerns
The Heritage Foundation locked on to the locations of at least 30,000 cell phones at non-government (NGO) migrant aid shelters and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. The Washington D.C.-based conservative think-tank then continued tracking the movement of the devices across the country over the course of at least a month in January 2022.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and the Del Rio and Val Verde CBP processing stations in Texas were among the more than 30 migrant facilities that were “geofenced” for data tracking in a report released in December by Heritage.
In the report, Heritage says that the cell phone location data was used to “test the anecdotal reporting that the movement of illegal aliens through the United States is being facilitated not just by the federal government under President Joe Biden and (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but also by NGOs.”
Pablo De La Rosa for Texas Public Radio with a reminder why the EU GDPR perhaps wasn't such a bad idea...but all snark aside: This is a terrible story on so many levels.
In Kenya, an Epidemic of Children Hospitalized for Starvation
From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.
Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.
Georgina Gustin for Undark with a powerful long-read from Kenya from one of the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Claims about USAID's localization agend
Beyond possible policy capture by powerful implementation firms, arguments in favor of this clearly suboptimal state of affairs (more on this below) are legion, including the alleged lack of local capacity in local organizations, inability to comply with onerous US reporting regulations, specific US laws mandating tied aid, fear of corruption, likely program delays, etc.
Like with all initiatives, the real test of USAID’s localization initiative will be in implementation. Smart minds have already pointed out a number of challenges, including the standard arbitrary limitations on overheads for local organizations (no more than 10%, US organizations can get up to 40% or more) and the presumption that local organizations should always be cheaper.
Ken Opalo's new blog/Substack is the real #globaldev deal ;)!
Misreading Climate Change in Bangladesh
While simplified narratives may help make development interventions seem related to climate change adaptation or resilience in order to attract aid funding, does it accurately capture the causality of floods in complex coastal landscapes? Might it even risk exacerbating environmental degradation and increasing coastal vulnerability to climatic change?
It was a 'development' meeting conducted entirely in Bangla with no presence of English-speaking 'international experts' or donors – making it fundamentally different from the air-conditioned, mosquito-proofed bubble of Dhaka's development industry. The meeting was fully autonomous from development-project related funding as GEMOB does not depend on, nor seeks to attract, donor funding. Thus, rather than an official performance of narratives emphasising how project activities are needed and successful so as to legitimise them to donors and relevant stakeholders, the GEMOB participants each voiced their personal views on pressing environmental problems in the coastal region – and how the developing industry is in many ways exacerbating the problems of siltation, choking the waterbodies of the delta.
One of the participants, Mr Shahid, stated the following:
Climate change shobche darun masala [climate change is the most amazing spice], add climate change, poverty alleviation and gender and you will have a recipe for success for your development project [funding application]. But will this 'recipe' help save the river?
Camelia Dewan for the Daily Star with a great article based on her field research and excellent book!

I have seen how top-down solutions condemn the world’s poorest to eternal poverty
For those of us here, if you contact someone in the global north and ask for a tweet about your cause, they will cringe and decline – often without even taking time to learn about what you’re doing. They have been conditioned to think you are a conman.
This is mostly down to the international media, and the global development sector itself – the same people who are supposed to be the allies of the poor.
To those conditioned to be wary of the world’s poor, I ask: please change your minds. By clinging to this worldview, you are helping to condemn people to eternal poverty.
There is no such thing as humans who are more legitimate than others. We are all the same. The only thing that makes us different is opportunity, or the lack of it.
Even those labelled “fraudsters” or “Nigerian prince” scam artists are only where they are because of economic inequality.
The top-down approach has had more than a good run: it just hasn’t worked. The only thing it has accomplished is to keep those in poverty on the sidelines.
Anthony Kalulu for the Guardian shares his perspective as a farmer in rural Uganda.

Doing surveys ethically: Practical tips
Despite increased discourse around ethical guidelines, like this discussion on Twitter, there is scope for more transparency and clarity in establishing ethical standards for data collection. One such area is the proposal by Asiedu to implement what they call a “structured ethics appendix” approach in primary data collection. This involves a set of questions that provide more holistic information to readers and include issues that do not fall within the purview of IRBs, but are important, nonetheless.
Another area to explore further is compensation and its effects. For instance, what are the tradeoffs for participants? To what extent do the socioeconomic conditions of participants affect their response to compensation? Are people willing to participate at all in studies involving topics that they find objectionable?
Maria Jones, Roshni Khincha & Avnish Dayal Singh for the World Bank think about some tricky issues around survey & data.

What science fiction teaches us about imagining a better world
In this first episode of the New Year, host Heba Aly looks to the future to explore how science fiction can bring about paradigmatic change by helping us believe a better world is possible.
She is joined by sci-fi authors whose work speaks directly to the future of global governance and how to better address crises. Kim Stanley Robinson is the acclaimed science fiction writer behind the Mars trilogy, and, more recently, The Ministry for the Future. Malka Older is the author of Infomocracy and The New Humanitarian short story Earthquake Relief. Mexico City. 2051.
The New Humanitarian kicks off 2023 with a great new podcast!

9 Major Trends in African Literature in 2022
Not all the trends are positive. For example, the bulk of African literature making their rounds globally are still those published by presses in the west. Their writers are also more likely to win awards and snap up translation rights and film options. This means that the bulk of the money generated around African books is locked in western publishing markets. That needs to change.
Ainehi Edoro for Brittle Paper with some interesting food for thought on the glocalization of African literature.

Is Development an Art or a Science?
Reflecting on nearly twenty years of transdisciplinary practice and research and the recent publication of their new book, New Mediums, Better Messages? How Innovations in Translation, Engagement, and Advocacy are Changing International Development, David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers and Michael Woolcock consider how the role of popular and vernacular knowledge is essential to international development.
David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers & Michael Woolcock for LSE Impact of Social Science present their recently published open access book. I also included quite a selection of new open access books in my latest newsletter this week.

Activismo digital de lenguas mayenses
La Cumbre de Activismo Digital de Lenguas Mayenses se llevará a cabo el 11-15 de enero de 2023 en Mérida, Yucatán, México y tiene como propósito facilitar espacios de aprendizaje e intercambio entre activistas digitales y sus comunidades que trabajan para promover, preservar y revitalizar las lenguas mayenses de México y más allá de sus fronteras. Celebremos los esfuerzos de las comunidades y los activistas de todas las edades que trabajan para promover su lengua y su cultura en todos los ámbitos, especialmente en los espacios digitales.
The beautiful visualizations immediately caught my attention for this virtual conference that Global Voices are holding.

In other news

New year, new feed: Tech media must-follows for 2023
Rest of World with some recommendation to refresh your social feeds.

Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections
For decades, some members of the fossil fuel industry tried to convince the public that a causative link between fossil fuel use and climate warming could not be made because the models used to project warming were too uncertain. Supran et al. show that one of those fossil fuel companies, ExxonMobil, had their own internal models that projected warming trajectories consistent with those forecast by the independent academic and government models. What they understood about climate models thus contradicted what they led the public to believe.
Geoffrey Supran, Stefan Rahmstorf & Neil Oreskes with an open access article for Science.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 257, 3 November 2017)

The ‘Africa rising story’ was based on faulty logic – here’s how to fix it
A new economy founded on networks of small businesses, a post-industrial form of artisanship and integrated smallholder farming is the best chance for Africa to develop sustainably as well as to generate the decent and fulfilling jobs that millions of Africans rightfully aspire to.
Lorenzo Floramonti for the Conversation; more than five years later where is the debate heading, 'post'-Covid & in the middle of the Anthropocene?


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