Links & Contents I Liked 469

Hi all,

This week's not-so-good news from Lebanon, Ethiopia, North Korea & Syria found a positive counterpart with powerful, hopeful stories from women contributing to change-from Vanuatu, Sweden, South Sudan & India.
It's also worth scrolling down to the archive section featuring pieces on 'the hut' & early signs of UK's decline in #globaldev leadership.

My quotes of the week
We often encourage human rights defenders, activists, and independent journalists to be heroes. Yet, we just as often fail to have their backs when they are inevitably pressed against the wall by their abusers in power.
(Cameroon, Eswatini, Rwanda: Three devastating days that shook Africa)

More than 600,000 people may have been killed. Imagine if Lilongwe disappeared. Millions of people in Tigray and other regions were displaced, their lives upended forever. The destruction of infrastructure, farms, homes, and jobs undid hard-won progress that may take the better part of a decade to rebuild. Even as (hopefully) the war winds down following the signing of a peace agreement last year, survivors will live with the horrors of sexual assault as a weapon of war and all manner of brutality that characterized the conflict for the rest of their lives. (Making sense of Ethiopia's Tigray conflict)

Examining these issues will not be easy for me, because I am impacted too. When I describe the pain of camp residents in my writing, I am describing to the world my pain. But these stories are urgent, and I will do everything I can to tell them.
(How writing became my refuge as a woman escaping South Sudan’s war)

Development news
Development partners commit $30 bln to food production in Africa
The three-day summit in Senegal's capital Dakar brought together African leaders, development banks and international partners including the United States, the European Union and Britain to mobilize funding and political commitment.
This Reuters article is worth a discourse analysis of the word 'commit' in the context of #globaldev...not a single dollar has changed hands yet, because funding needs to be 'mobilized' and 'political commitment' needs to be secured...
Analysis: Lebanese elite bury blast probe, pushing fragile state closer to edge
In their move to bury an investigation into the Beirut port blast, Lebanon's ruling elite have driven another nail in the coffin of the collapsing state, stirring conflict in the judiciary as they try to avoid accountability at any cost.
Maya Gebeily, Timour Azahari & Tom Perry for Reuters; I understand that this is an 'analysis' piece, but still pretty strong language from a 'news agency'...

Food Insecurity in North Korea Is at Its Worst Since the 1990s Famine
Under such circumstances, it is understandable if countries either sought to steer aid toward more deserving recipients (e.g., the numerous countries that have more profound food emergencies) or to link the provision of humanitarian assistance with other diplomatic goals. In any event, the diplomatic leverage conferred by the granting of aid seems to be low. North Korea appears to be committed to its nuclear posture, and the lack of accountability allows the regime to prioritize its narrow militaristic goals to the detriment of its citizens’ living standards. This style of governance is in keeping with what Kim Jong Il, who presided over the country’s famine in the 1990s, once said: “One can live without candy, but one cannot live without bullets.”
Lucas Rengifo-Keller for 38 North on a 'forgotten crisis' that kind of deserves this unfortunate title...
Cameroon, Eswatini, Rwanda: Three devastating days that shook Africa
Rarely, if ever, has the fate of human rights and free speech on the continent suffered such a series of devastating setbacks in such a short period of time.
While Ntwali, Maseko and Zogo were prominent in their home countries, each one was also a beacon of hope and an example of courage that inspired human rights defenders across Africa, and in similarly authoritarian contexts worldwide. Each of them literally spoke, and wrote, truth to power: in the pages of newspapers and online outlets, on their radio broadcasts, and in the courtroom.
(...)
We often encourage human rights defenders, activists, and independent journalists to be heroes. Yet, we just as often fail to have their backs when they are inevitably pressed against the wall by their abusers in power.
Jeffrey Smith for the Africa Report on the recent killings of rights activists across Africa.

OPCW Releases Third Report by Investigation and Identification Team
The OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT)’s third report concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Air Forces were the perpetrators of the chemical weapons attack on 7 April 2018 in Douma, Syrian Arab Republic.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with a new report.

Once a volunteer, new Peace Corps chief will 'reset' atrophied agency
Peace Corps used the pandemic to “reset,” look internally and ask hard questions, including about its approach and response to sexual assault, 54-year-old Spahn said. The agency has a long history of sexual assault challenges, including accusations of a lack of support, shaming, and finger-pointing; though it has tried to make improvements in the past decade.
Management has evaluated the agency’s systems and expanded mental health support, provided more coaching services, and “tightened our programming and reporting to really look at how we’re accountable to our host communities,” Spahn told Devex after the ceremony.
Adva Saldinger for DevEx; let's see what place (if any...) there is for the Peace Corps in the 21st century...

Making sense of Ethiopia's Tigray conflict
The real victims of the war were the Ethiopian people. More than 600,000 people may have been killed. Imagine if Lilongwe disappeared. Millions of people in Tigray and other regions were displaced, their lives upended forever. The destruction of infrastructure, farms, homes, and jobs undid hard-won progress that may take the better part of a decade to rebuild. Even as (hopefully) the war winds down following the signing of a peace agreement last year, survivors will live with the horrors of sexual assault as a weapon of war and all manner of brutality that characterized the conflict for the rest of their lives. It will take time to restore trust that the Ethiopian state exists to serve all Ethiopians regardless their identity.
Ken Opalo for An Africanist Perspective is putting the Tigray conflict into perspective(s).

Thirty years of the Vanuatu Women’s Centre: her story

When asked whether she and VWC have achieved the early vision that she had, Merilyn said: “As for eliminating violence against women and children, we are still very far from that goal, but we have got somewhere.”
The stories, reflections and poems in this book hold many lessons for people wanting to build viable civil society organisations, and for those committed to eliminating violence against women and children.
Tatavola Matas, Merilyn Tahi & Juliet Hunt for DevPolicy Blog with a great book review & reminder of the power of local, bottom-up work in #globaldev.

From a Paid Internship to a Nobel Peace Prize: The Amazing Journey of Beatrice Fihn
I love this campaign. I could have easily stayed for another 10 years in this role, because I really, really enjoy it. But activism is becoming very centered around individuals, and I felt like that I’ve been in this role, being the spokesperson for Ican, won the Nobel and both Ican and myself have been very closely connected. I wanted to [move on] both for my own sake and for the campaign’s sake, separate a bit, make sure there’s this whole new, brilliant generation of people within this campaign. And we need more leaders to step up. For new leaders to step up, you have to actually move away and make space for them. So I’m not abandoning the issue, I’m going to continue to work and support it. I think it’s very healthy for an organization and for me personally.
Damilola Banjo for PassBlue with an interesting interview that also addresses many contemporary issues around (female) leadership, activism & more!

How writing became my refuge as a woman escaping South Sudan’s war
Examining these issues will not be easy for me, because I am impacted too. When I describe the pain of camp residents in my writing, I am describing to the world my pain. But these stories are urgent, and I will do everything I can to tell them.
Christine Onzia Wani for the New Humanitarian on writing & journalism from a South Sudanese perspective.

‘Who are you to stop me?’: the hip-hop group speaking up for India’s women
The eight members of the Wild Wild Women collective have had to deal with knockbacks from the men who dominate the music industry and press. They have had to cajole and fight their parents for permission to play and travel to gigs – once they’ve convinced them that hip-hop is suitable for women to perform. And they have to juggle full-time jobs with their music.
Amrit Dhillon for the Guardian wraps up this special section on powerful women making an impact in #globaldev.

The Impact of Large, Unrestricted Grants on Nonprofits: A Five-Year View
With more abundant resources, leaders adopted an abundance mindset. One leader shared how the grant “allowed me to shift the focus of my decision making. I was no longer operating in the fear zone. The investments we made in lots of small things that fall between the cracks had quite massive effects in terms of our organizational capacity and freeing my bandwidth to focus on the big things.” The leaders reported being able to shift their attention from defensive vigilance — staying constantly alert to the possibility that one bad fundraising month or one lost contract might cause a cash crunch that would require staff cuts — to readiness to consider and flexibly pursue opportunities for increasing impact. As one CEO put it, “This was the first time I felt like I was actually the CEO running my organization — able to do what I thought was crucial for building the organization and increasing impact.”
Kathleen Fleming, Anthony Michael Abril & Jeff Bradach for the Center for Effective Philanthropy with more news on MacKenzie Scott's philanthropical model.
Reading corner
‘The unofficial curriculum is where the real teaching takes place’: faculty experiences of decolonising the curriculum in Africa
This paper analyses faculty experiences tackling global knowledge asymmetries by examining the decolonisation of higher education in Africa in the aftermath of the 2015 ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ student uprising. An overview of the literature reveals a rich debate on defining ‘decolonisation’, starting from a critique of Eurocentrism to propositions of alternate epistemologies. These debates are dominated by the Global North and South Africa and their experiences of curriculum reform. Our focus is on the experiences of political scientists in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
Liisa Laakso & Kajsa Hallberg Adu with an open access article in Higher Education.

Health for all? Pasts, presents and futures of aspirations for universal healthcare
In this introduction we approach ‘health for all as a situated, multi-faceted phenomenon, that - while having a shared aspiration towards universality of access and equality of care - comes into focus in partial, diverse and contentious policies, programmes, projects and practices. Beyond homogenising narratives that frame ‘health for all’ in terms of either success or failure, the special issue highlights the diverse iterations that ‘health for all’ has taken on the ground for different subjects and groups of people, exploring exclusions and limitations as well as dreams and aspirations.
Janina Kehr, Jacinta Victoria Muinde & Ruth J.Prince with a new open access article in Social Science & Medicine.

In other news
Centering Black Lives in the Study of Human Remains
Most often, my research uncovers experiences related to incarceration, illness, and death. But every time I locate a census record, court transcript, or death certificate, I am able to reveal how for so long our society has perpetuated a cycle that normalizes premature Black death.
When that happens, I think about the benefits of slow science. According to philosopher Isabelle Stengers, slow science is about paying attention to the quality of research and its relevance for today’s issues.
If anthropologists genuinely want to decolonize the field, they must slow down and truly consider what cultural narratives their research supports or challenges. An effort must also be made to diversify the field and to engage with the contributions of people of color, whether or not they are seen to be what is traditionally considered “scholarly.”
Aja Lans for Sapiens with great reflections on some of the challenges that anthropology needs to address to remain/become global/glocal, relevant & diverse.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 259, 17 November 2017)

Blogging and curating content as strategies to decolonize development studies
My years of maintaining Aidnography have always been a reminder not to become too complacent with my knowledge and practices of communicating development. Even small steps in breaking out of the ‘ivory tower’, engaging with different audiences and different digital products, are important in ‘decolonizing’ development studies. In this day and age there is no excuse for sticking to old discourses and practices of who gets heard or read in the classroom or how we communicate international development topics globally.
Me, with some reflections on how my blog has been my avenue to pursue 'decolonizing #globaldev'.

Is It Insulting To Call This A 'Hut'?
But this was a story in which the family's poverty was the central focus — one in which I was featuring their own detailed account of the deprivations they had suffered and the steps they had taken to surmount those circumstances. So to describe their dwelling with a word that purposefully obscured the reality of their poverty would have seemed far more disrespectful — as if their straitened circumstances were somehow shameful, something to be hidden, rather than a simple, and frankly unjust fact of their life.
Nurith Aizenman for NPR Goats & Soda deconstructing 'the hut'.

The war on aid: the hidden battle inside Priti Patel’s own department
Through Dfid, Britain has run the world's most ambitious aid policy for 20 years. Now, the right has it in its sights. Can it be saved—and should it be?
If nothing else, Steve Bloomfield's article for Prospect Magazine serves as a reminder that it has now been more than five years that UK's #globaldev standing has been in steep decline...

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