Links & Contents I Liked 476

Hi all,

Back from short trips to Austria & Germany-as a proud co-supervisor of a freshly minted doctor & inspired board member of an alumni association of the German Academic Exchange Service.

In some ways, this week's review contains all the elements that make curating the blog so rewarding: Great investigative journalism, critical #globaldev commentary, important new research + the gems, critical insights from unusual places & positions.


My quotes of the week
Two Harvard Grads Saw Big Profits in African Education. Children Paid the Price.
(A Is For Abuse)

As a blind person, I knew that running or getting away to safety would be difficult. But I have found other ways to protest, through my social media: spreading information, talking with my friends and recording videos on Tiktok demanding that human rights be respected.
To think that the protest only occurs in the streets is ableist. There are those of us who will not be able to be present for our safety. We can resist in all the spaces where we engage.
(Disabled People in Peru's Political Protests)

Too often, even Western officials who recognise previous mistakes – the Iraq war, for instance – brush off injustice today. Non-Western capitals notice when top U.S. officials, even as they loudly condemn Russia (...), work behind the scenes to obstruct a vote in the UN Security Council condemning illegal Israeli settlements. No Western politician should be under any illusion about what such double standards mean for their claim to be defending a rules-based international order. (Global Politics in the Shadow of Ukraine)

Development news
A Is For Abuse
Two Harvard Grads Saw Big Profits in African Education. Children Paid the Price.
Over the next decade, Bridge grew into a chain of schools providing a homogeneous curriculum developed by researchers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to hundreds of thousands of students in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and India. Today, it is the largest for-profit primary education chain in the world.
in a letter from Bridge’s attorneys, the company added the threat of a lawsuit against The Intercept, citing the “potential for legal action” if the story was published. “The rare and isolated misconduct of a few bad apples should not tarnish the incredible work that these educators are doing in their communities every day,” read a letter from Andrew Philips, an attorney with Clare Locke LLP, positing that the problem was simply endemic in Kenya. It was, he wrote, “important to acknowledge the sad reality that sexual abuse of students by teachers has historically been a serious problem in Kenyan schools.”
Neha Wadekar & Ryan Grim for the Intercept with a thorough investigation into Bridge Academies-a post-story of how the Silicon Valley-Investment-Disruption-Ivy League-industrial complex engages with education & #globaldev.

ICRC funding woes fuel internal debate, fears of operational cuts ahead
The International Committee of the Red Cross is debating cuts that could amount to 15% of its budget in frontline emergencies this year, citing extensive funding shortages, according to an internal message that has triggered a staff backlash and warnings of direct impacts to people in crises.
Irwin Loy for the New Humanitarian on the trouble that is brewing inside ICRC.

Africa's deepening unemployment crisis
Uganda is another example of the large gap between job supply and job demand. Some 400,000 young Ugandans enter the labor market each year competing for only about 52,000 available formal jobs, according to one study.
The study said high employment growth will be needed to address rising social challenges.
More than 1.2 million young graduates are currently without jobs in Uganda. Maureen Babidiye used to be one of them. She trained in travel management at an aviation school and has now been unemployed for two years.
Martina Schwikowski for DW reporting from Uganda.

Oxfam’s job is to end poverty – we refuse to be distracted by the toxic culture wars
Our guide tries to encourage a considered and nuanced approach to how we refer to people, yet it sparked a reductive, divisive response. Clearly, there is still much to be done to win hearts and minds, to allay fears and to show the centrality of our work with women and girls around the world.
I was perhaps most surprised by the strand of criticism that suggested pronouns don’t matter in the global south and that this obsession is a western creation. There are so many communities around the world in which notions of gender are more nuanced than simple binaries. There are also many societies in which sexual minorities are among the most persecuted, and therefore the most poor and vulnerable. Understanding the intersectional nature of the factors that shape poverty, and changing our approach accordingly, has to be an important part of how we operate as an international organisation.
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah for the Guardian with a nuanced response to the Daily Mail et al.'s attacks of Oxfam 'going woke' with their inclusive language guidance.
In World Cup Run-Up, Qatar Pressed U.N. Agency Not to Investigate Abuses
What’s more, the committee chairwoman had also received undisclosed trips to Qatar. She has since resigned her committee seat but denied wrongdoing.
“The whole thing felt off,” said Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch, who kicked off the hearing by describing wage abuses, illegal recruitment fees and deaths that had not been investigated.
Then the tone shifted. One left-wing lawmaker, Miguel Urb├ín Crespo of Spain, described it as bizarrely optimistic. In retrospect, he chalked that up to Qatar’s “caviar diplomacy.”
“It’s not moral,” he said. “It’s structural damage for all United Nations organizations.”
Shortly before the World Cup kickoff, as part of a regular meeting with the I.L.O., the Qatari government had a request, one that one labor official described as casual, almost off-handed: Could the agency let Qatar have its soccer spotlight without any distracting commentary?
The agency says it did not soften its message at the government’s request. But with the eyes of the world on Qatar, the agency’s public statements during the World Cup made no mention of persistent labor abuses, opting instead to applaud its cooperation with the government.
Rebecca R. Ruiz & Sarah Hurtes for the New York Times on the relationship between ILO & the Qatari government-as often, UN agencies working with governments that invited them to do work creates complicated relationships...

‘If we leave, Nepal will suffer’: embattled hospitals fear impact of UK job offers
The scheme has been welcomed by Nepali nurses, who are excited by the opportunity to earn much higher salaries in the NHS, but experts warn that it could exacerbate the dire staffing problems facing the health system in Nepal. The shortage is particularly acute in government-run hospitals and in rural areas, in part due to the failure of successive governments to appoint doctors and nurses to fill vacant posts.
“Government nurses will definitely apply to go to the UK because the salary and benefits are much better. We cannot stop them, but if all the talented nurses leave, how will the healthcare system improve?”
Pete Pattinson & Pramod Acharya for the Guardian on the latest iteration of the 'brain drain' debate.

Nepal’s Transitional Justice and the West’s recalibration
In the past, American and other Western assistance provided to Nepal was relatively benign, much of it supporting Nepal’s entry into the world sphere after the Rana era, to build physical infrastructure, fund education and public health, support social justice and inclusion. Some of that orientation still remains, but most of it has evaporated in the last few years. And, while fully open to Chinese overtures, Dahal and cohort are open to exploit American apprehensions.
Meanwhile, West-based human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that were such enthusiastic TJ supporters are today more pro forma than proactive. And what of the UN Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, for whom Nepal’s transitional justice process does not seem to exist, forgetting that just because Nepal does not make ‘the news’ does not mean that issues of conflict have ended and the victims of extreme abuse are mollified.
Kanak Mani Dixit for the Nepali Times on how the 'West' is losing interest in transitional justice & critical post-war political engagement in Nepal.
Global Politics in the Shadow of Ukraine
I’m acutely aware that, to put it bluntly, the emphasis, especially in Western capitals, on Ukraine leaves a sour taste in much of the rest of the world. Few non-Western leaders sympathise with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and most recognise the peril his violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty poses. But few buy the narrative prevalent in Western capitals that the war is an existential global threat – at least not more so than challenges closer to home, like climate change, food scarcity, debt or indeed other wars. Many question how Western capitals can find so much money for Ukraine but so little for climate change adaptation, why Europe welcomes Ukrainian refugees while Afghans, Africans and Arabs die in the Mediterranean, or what Europe’s absorption with Ukraine means for its bandwidth for crises elsewhere. Many chafe at the costs their populations bear, particularly higher food and fuel prices, for a war they see as European.
Too often, even Western officials who recognise previous mistakes – the Iraq war, for instance – brush off injustice today. Non-Western capitals notice when top U.S. officials, even as they loudly condemn Russia at the Munich Security Conference, work behind the scenes to obstruct a vote in the UN Security Council condemning illegal Israeli settlements. No Western politician should be under any illusion about what such double standards mean for their claim to be defending a rules-based international order.
Comfort Ero for the International Crisis Group with a powerful commentary on double standards & old governance routines in the 'shadow' of the Russian invasion.

Somalis are dying because of a climate crisis they didn’t cause. More aid isn’t the answer
We are forced to deal with the vagaries of the weather every year. Climate-vulnerable countries like ours need justice in the form of financing to enable a green transition that allows our communities to adapt to this climate reality.
That way, our elderly won’t be displaced amid the scorching heat, and our children would go to school instead of being in camps, reliant on humanitarian response packages of high-calorie foods.
I urge international donors to respond to the calls for $2.6bn in humanitarian aid, but also ask for a proper plan from the implementing agencies. If we had planned better with the $8bn spent since the famine of 2011, we could have averted many other emergencies since. Accountability is as necessary as the urgency to respond to this crisis.
Abdirahman Abdishakur for the Guardian with an indirect criticism of any future 'climate funds' that won't 'solve' pressing issues of the immediate climate disaster future.
Disabled People in Peru's Political Protests
In the general imagination, people with disabilities are seen as receiving help, not as subjects that demand rights.
I also want to take a position myself: to say in a loud voice that it is outrageous that a population is assaulted for exercising their right to protest. But I was afraid to face the lack of accessibility in a context of extremely violent protests.
As a blind person, I knew that running or getting away to safety would be difficult. But I have found other ways to protest, through my social media: spreading information, talking with my friends and recording videos on Tiktok demanding that human rights be respected.
To think that the protest only occurs in the streets is ableist. There are those of us who will not be able to be present for our safety. We can resist in all the spaces where we engage.
Andrea Burga for Disability Debrief with an update on the protest in Peru.

Nine considerations for designing safe digital solutions for sensitive services
Digital apps for sensitive services (such as mental health, reproductive health, shelter and support for gender-based violence, and safe spaces for LGBTQI+ communities) can expose people to harm at the family, peer, and wider societal level if not designed carefully. This harm can be severe – for example, detention or death. Though people who habitually face risk have their own coping mechanisms, those designing digital apps and services also have a responsibility to mitigate harm.
Linda Raftree continues her excellent work on rights, responsibilities & safety for digital #globaldev!

How Christian Missionaries Destroyed African Diversity
The modern missionary movement began in the late 18th Century in a very different world from ours. It was a time when colored people were considered “heathens” and racially and culturally inferior to whites. It was also a time when black slavery was a huge money making business. For many missionaries converting the heathen was about bringing them a white savior (ironically, the non-white Jesus) and white man’s culture.
Presumably, the missionaries who came to Africa did not understand the implications of what they were doing. They believed they were doing a good work and, to be fair, the Christian message of love and radical acceptance is universal and deserves to be heard and shared. However, those who brought Christianity to Africa also brought with them their own biases and cultural norms.
They did not benefit the Africans.
What a tragic irony that a radical movement started by the preeminent teacher of love, grace, and compassion — the same movement that spread throughout the world on the backs and by the blood of religious refugees fleeing persecution — has now created sexual refugees who are running from Christians — the very people who are supposed to help them.
The oppressed have become the oppressors.
Jesus must weep.
Dan Foster on recent developments in Uganda & Kenya-really interesting perspective from a Christian faith/spirituality writer.

In TN: the struggles behind the scent of jasmine
The day we meet her, she is weeding the jasmine fields. It is punishing work – with her back bent the whole time, taking small, mincing steps, labouring under a harsh sun. But right now, she’s only concerned about us, her guests. “Please eat something,” she says. Ganapathy fetches us fleshy, fragrant guavas and tender coconut water. And while we snack and sip, he explains that the educated and the young have moved from the village to the city. Land here sells for not less than Rs. 10 lakh an acre. If it is close enough to the main road, it sells at four times that rate. “It is then sold as ‘plots’ for houses.”
Jasmine farming is still harder, he points out. Plus, you have to plan your life around the plants. “You can’t go anywhere; your mornings are pledged to plucking and taking the flowers to the market. Besides, today you might get one kilo. Next week, that could be 50. You have to be ready for anything!”
Aparna Karthikeyan for People's Archive of Rural India with tender, respectful & insightful reporting from rural Madurai in India.

Confessions of an adviser
I have said that this book is downbeat, but I would also say that it is honest. In this regard, the author has done us all a great favour. I am not against the use of technical assistance in aid, but the question does need to be asked whether the environment in which the advisers would be or are working is conducive to that work making a difference. In many contexts, including in Bougainville, it clearly is not.
Stephen Howes for Devpolicy Blog on Gordon Peake's new book.

What is a justice-oriented approach to global health?
when we examine the different future pandemics initiatives underway (eg, the pandemic fund, the draft pandemic treaty, 100 days Mission and others), they seem to espouse narrow, patchwork solutions rather than address the endemic and acute injustices which the pandemic exposed. This raises questions about what lessons have actually been learnt over the last few years, and how much of these future pandemics efforts actually reflect a justice-oriented approach. To be fair, at least in some of the documents there are references to ethical principles such as equity, human rights and inclusiveness. Yet, these and the larger issues of ‘fairness and justice arrangements’ are dealt tokenistically at best. That is, justice and equity language is being used as political rhetoric rather than substantive framing ideas.
Rajat Khosla & Sridhar Venkatapuram with an open access article in BMJ Global Health.

How transparent are aid agencies to their citizens? Introducing the Citizen Aid Transparency Dataset
In this article, we present the Citizen Aid Transparency Dataset (CATD). Using factor and correlation analysis, we show that the CATD captures a different dimension of transparency than existing transparency measures. We also show that aid agency transparency varies both within and between donor countries and that there are important quality differences between agencies in the timeliness, breadth, depth and accessibility of the data provided.
Bernhard Reinsberg & Haley Swedlund with a new open access article in the Journal of International Development.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 266, 19 January 2018)

Blaming the victim(s)? Is it the aid industry’s fault when places are labeled ‘holes’?
As imperfect as the offerings of the aid industry are, blaming them for a changing political climate where ‘holes’ become a topic for discussion seems unfair. Public and political perceptions are often rooted in long-term myths and short-term political discussion around ‘fixing’ a problem, a country or a complex issue like migration. At the same time the aid industry has become more self-reflective and self-critical and nuanced campaigns and advocacy by far outnumber alarmist stories or the denigration of people and places as a fundraising strategy.
Me, on 'sh€thole' countries.

Hypocrisy and Accountability in the Aid Sector
Not only this; experience has shown me, and I’m sure many others, that no matter how much we feel we are being mistreated in the sector, employers will carry on as they have done for years. We can feel like we are easily dispensable; we have to put up with what we are subjected to in the knowledge that someone would happily fill our role anyway, such is the attraction of working in a sector where people are viewed so heroically in the public eye. This allows organisations to get away with treating their staff in a way that is completely at odds with the ethics and ethos they loudly proclaim in their marketing material. The attitude is – if you don’t like it, get out and we’ll find another willing foot soldier.
Gemma Houldey reflects on the issue of abuse and exploitation in the aid industry.

In an era of climate change, our ethics code is clear: We need to end the AAA annual meeting
We as anthropologists – we as the AAA – have the opportunity to lead on this front, just as we led on anti-racism and anti-colonialism in the past. We can set an example that other disciplines and professional associations will follow. Climate scientists are already taking this step. We should be right behind them.
The ethical imperative is clear: it’s time to end the annual meetings in their present form and come up with a safe, just, and sustainable alternative. Paperless programs simply aren’t going to cut it – not in the face of climate emergency. I have no doubt that this shift would attract landslide support among anthropologists eager to help usher in a better world.
Jason Hickel for Anthrodendum revisits the debate about the value of global annual disciplinary conferences. This is an important reminder from pre-pandemic times as many conferences are 'back yo normal' this year, including limited or no virtual options for participation, an issue I wrote about many years ago: If you want more diverse conferences & panels, make technology part of your diversity strategy.


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