Links & Contents I Liked 481

Hi all,

This is a quite a bleak newsletter this week, unfortunately. In Sudan, Somalia & Afghanistan crises continue; even Mayotte, a tiny French outpost between Madagascar & Mozambique, is part of European migration enforcement; another week, another #AidToo moment & the likely end of VICE News may have repercussions about how people stay informed about crises, wars & developments at the margins. It's not easy & don't have an uplifting quote handy for the weekend...

My quotes of the week
Some mothers are deliberately making their children sick so they can take them to government-run health centres in the city where there is a chance of obtaining free therapeutic food.
Typically, they force-feed their children water mixed with detergent or salt.
“I have six children, and this is the only way I can get food,” explained one mother,‘I poison my children in order to survive’
(The terrible toll of Somalia’s drought)

For a few short years, Vice News looked like it had found the secret to making news pay by showing viewers the world as it really is, far from Western capitals, rubbing viewers’ noses in the darkness of reality. But news is expensive and talk is cheap: we have reverted to an era of talking heads and studio debates, where perhaps only state broadcasters have the funding and desire to present their chosen images of reality to the outside world, with all that implies. Bored young men who want to see brutal images of combat can now get their kicks watching Ukraine snuff clips on Twitter. For good or ill — I still can’t decide — working for Vice News over seven years forcefully reshaped my worldview, by confronting my original impeccably liberal assumptions about how the world worked with constant immersion in the hard reality of tribal, religious and ethnic conflict. Young and idealistic, I thought I could change the world: instead the world changed me. (My part in Vice’s downfall)

Development news
WHO dismisses lead COVID origins investigator for sexual misconduct
"Peter Ben Embarek was dismissed last year following findings of sexual misconduct against him that were substantiated by investigations, and corresponding disciplinary process," said WHO spokesperson Marcia Poole.
Poole said the cases that led to the dismissal occurred in 2015 and 2017. The agency was first made aware of them in 2018. The WHO did not provide further details of the misconduct allegations.
Emma Farge for Reuters on another WHO misconduct sacking.

Photo ID requirement poses barrier to some voters in local elections
Some hopeful voters were turned away from polling stations on Thursday because they did not have valid photographic ID, the Electoral Commission said after polls closed in England's local elections.
The agency said its "initial assessment is that overall, the elections were well run” however “some people were regrettably unable to vote” because of the new photo ID requirement.
Earlier, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran tweeted her concern about "significant numbers" being rejected after learning about people without ID being unable to vote in her Oxford West and Abingdon constituency.
I 'smuggled in' this ITV report on elections in the UK & how some of the concerns about voter ID & turning people away from polling stations mirror those 'we' often have when elections take place in the Global South/elsewhere...
French Police Forcibly Oust Undocumented Migrants from Mayotte
This week, some 1,800 French police and gendarmes began a massive police operation in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Mayotte, a French department, to demolish informal settlements and expel large numbers of undocumented migrants.
Destruction of slums and summary expulsions of undocumented migrants by French authorities in Mayotte are not new. But the magnitude of the police operation, long-planned but only officially acknowledged last week, is unprecedented.
Michael Garcia Bochenek for Human Rights Watch on French migration policy enforcement on the 'other side of the world'...

UN staff letter blasts ‘incoherent’ approach to Taliban ban on women, pushes for unified response
Aid workers say it’s impossible to fully reach Afghan women in need without female aid staff.
“Through its incoherent approach, the United Nations is sending the message to all its staff that female staff do not matter,” the letter warns. “It is sending a message to the world that gender apartheid is merely an inconvenient operational environment or a simple cultural difference.”
Irwin Loy for the New Humanitarian on the messy humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“We are not alone”: Disabled people in Sudan's conflict
Everyone is thinking about mobility, whether it's people stuck in their homes, those trying to reach trapped disabled family, or those making the arduous journeys out. The journey out of Khartoum is characterized by chaos, uncertainty, extortionate prices, lack of provisions and roadblocks from both sides in the conflict.
Anna needs the help of at least two men to lift her into a car. The neighbours are ready, and have cars to help, but gas is not available and it's not clear how they would go from there. They can go to their hometown of Port Sudan, but not only are they hesitant about the safety of roads on the way to the station, the bus ride would have serious access complications for Anna.
Peter Torres Fremlin for Disability Debrief with another powerful newsletter on the situation in Sudan.

‘I poison my children in order to survive’: The terrible toll of Somalia’s drought
Some mothers are deliberately making their children sick so they can take them to government-run health centres in the city where there is a chance of obtaining free therapeutic food.
Typically, they force-feed their children water mixed with detergent or salt.
“I have six children, and this is the only way I can get food,” explained one mother, Maceey Shute. “It makes them weak and gives them watery diarrhoea.”
She takes the sick children to Banadir hospital, hoping she will get nutrition-fortified biscuits and porridge, some of which she then sells while keeping the rest to feed her family.
“I poison my children in order to survive,” she told The New Humanitarian.
Fathi Mohamed Ahmed for the New Humanitarian reporting from Somalia.

The Pandemic Fund’s Results Framework: Early Reflections and Recommendations
While the Pandemic Fund should be lauded for its relatively quick launch and willingness to course-correct in its inaugural year, the Results Framework—and in particular its indicators—have room for improvement in future funding rounds. In this blog, we argue that the Result Framework’s use of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) is not fit for purpose, due to the JEE’s use as a diagnostic tool rather than a performance framework.
Victoria Fan & Eleni Smitham for the Center for Global Development; I'm not even sure why this piece caught my attention-perhaps because so much of #globaldev looks and reads like this nowadays? Something about imperfect indicators that don't address systemic long-term issues?
‘ICT4D’ or ‘Digital Programming’: the state and evolution of technology in nonprofit programs
ICT4D is at a bit of a cross-roads. Organizations are reflecting on whether the term “ICT4D” remains relevant and appropriate and are coming up with alternative names for the practice. The practice itself is also expanding in scope to cover broader issues such as digital transformation and digital rights.
There is a large variance in how ICT4D is resourced across organizations. Many organizations do not have a specific ICT4D team or unit, and when they do many of these units are very small. By comparison, some organizations have large ICT4D teams with relatively significant budgets. However, without further data on how the ICT4D team size and budget compares to individual organizations’ overall size it is not possible draw conclusions as to the adequacy of investment into ICT4D.
By Nora Lindström, Maria Berenguer & Elizabeth Njoroge for NetHope’s ICT4D Working Group with some interesting findings on how organizations engage with ICT4D these days.


Helping out: How American volunteerism is changing — and why
This much seems clear: When it comes to volunteering, organizations simply can’t ignore the generational shifts taking place in a 21st-century world where many institutions have been upended.
Top-down management strategies, for example. Those aren’t received well by younger volunteers, according to Sustainable Ocean Alliance, which employs a different philosophy.
(...)
Those ideas increasingly cross generations and geographic boundaries, says Fernandez, who is unsurprised that volunteerism growth is happening around the world.
“We are definitely moving from a U.S.-centered approach,” she says. “We are starting to shift the narrative that we have to wait for politicians to make the right decision.
Glenn Gamboa for AP with some interesting insights into the changing US volunteering sector.

Migrant worker returns to create work at home
I have come a long way from the first time I entered the UAE in 2010 as a victim of fraud. Today, I am in a much better position, with knowledge and finances that are serving me well in Nepal.
Reflecting on my journey makes me emotional. The friends that I am in touch with from the crammed building in the UAE are also doing well for themselves. One is in the UAE working in the kitchen of a Sheikh’s family. Another works in a hotel in the Maldives. And the third who worked in the laundry department runs a tailoring store back in Nepal. I have not forgotten them, and our deeply disappointing start 13 years ago as migrant workers hoping to get into Afghanistan.
Sunil Bhujel for Nepali Times; their Diaspora Diaries series offers fascinating, nuanced, complicated insights into Nepali migration & the return to Nepal beyond the usual stereotypes.

My part in Vice’s downfall
For a few short years, Vice News looked like it had found the secret to making news pay by showing viewers the world as it really is, far from Western capitals, rubbing viewers’ noses in the darkness of reality. But news is expensive and talk is cheap: we have reverted to an era of talking heads and studio debates, where perhaps only state broadcasters have the funding and desire to present their chosen images of reality to the outside world, with all that implies. Bored young men who want to see brutal images of combat can now get their kicks watching Ukraine snuff clips on Twitter. For good or ill — I still can’t decide — working for Vice News over seven years forcefully reshaped my worldview, by confronting my original impeccably liberal assumptions about how the world worked with constant immersion in the hard reality of tribal, religious and ethnic conflict. Young and idealistic, I thought I could change the world: instead the world changed me.
Aris Roussinos for UnHerd; as VICE News is likely filing for bankruptcy one of their early foreign correspondents reflects on his work-not dissimilar from reflections on humanitarian or #globaldev work...

Reading corner
Making Sense of a Senseless War: Readings on Sudan
Sudan’s civil war is senseless but was forseeable. The prospect of street fighting in the national capital, comparable to Mogadishu in 1991 or Tripoli in 2012, was too awful to contemplate, especially given the reputation of the metropolitan Sudanese for restraint within their heartland. But any frank analysis of the logic of Sudanese politics pointed to a confrontation such as this.
This blog post summarizes various writings by me and colleagues over recent years.
Alex De Waal for the World Peace Foundation with an excellent curated collection on readings on Sudan.

Flagship 50th anniversary issue
We mark this milestone – 50 years of JPS and 30 years of LVC – with this special collection of papers. The loosely-connected compilation consists of regular research articles, including a sign-off piece by outgoing Editor-in-Chief Saturnino M. Borras, Jr; our editors’ articulation of the need for continuity in the journal as well as agile responsiveness to converging and compounding crises across rural worlds; and Tania Murray Li’s critique of the persistent and problematic dualism drawn between peasant farmers and corporation, in a paper which, as she observes, illustrates the ‘iterative back and forth’ between theory and empirical investigation which is a hallmark of JPS.
The substantial Grassroots Voices section in this issue is dedicated to reflections on lessons from 30 years of LVC, with scholar-activists and activist-scholars from within and outside the movement in conversation with one another, in the form of joint reflections and interviews.
The Journal of Peasant Studies celebrates 50 years of #globaldev publications!
Women in online marketplaces: new research
This blog provides an overview of seven papers in an exciting new special issue of Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies examining the issue of women in online marketplaces from seven Asian countries, stretching from Indonesia to Kazakhstan.
And finally Ryan Edwards & Daniel Suryadarma for DevPolicy Blog with an overview over the open access special issue of Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies.

In other news
When it comes to research culture, why do folktales carry more weight than evidence?
And when shown evidence of how we, as scholars attuned to a particular vocational view of the world, co-produce the effects of the research evaluations, I encountered incredulity. In one memorable occasion, upon presenting the book to an audience, I was asked why I blamed academics and not managers for our woes? We are, too, responsible for giving power to the numbers through which we are managed, I responded, only to be met with a grumble of disapproval. Shortly after, the next speaker was introduced, along with the list of notoriously well-cited journals where they had published. The numbers, given life, by the scholars in the room.
Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra for LSE Impact of Social Sciences on the quantified scholar in today's #highered industry.

Research re-imagined
More academics are recognizing the power of the graphic novel medium to communicate their findings to a broader audience and to engage with readers much differently than they would through peer-reviewed articles and academic books. Some are publishing their PhD dissertations as graphic novels, even using them to replace a traditional thesis, while others are developing fictional stories based on their research, or integrating comics as tools in their research process.
Cailynn Klingbeil for University Affairs; I understand the appeal of graphic novels & communicating your research differently, but wonder in similar ways to traditional scholarly outputs whether the market is just too saturated to reach a meaningful audience after all this hard work to communicate differently...

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 271, 23 February 2018)

After #oxfamscandal: Tough trade-offs ahead for the aid industry
But the aid industry is operating in the same mediatized and socio-political environment where other #MeToo moments and movements have been happening. This environment demands quick, visible and clear-cut changes-and anything that has to do with development usually works at a different speed. For substantial and longer-term changes building up structures will require generous and patient donors, a nuanced media coverage and a general public willing to engage with complicated processes of social change. That’s a lot to ask for. Paying for experts, paying for capacity development, paying for time to get things right and paying for scaling up organizational structures is not what donors are keen to fund and Silicone Valley-type disruptors keep promising.
The risk is that for large organizations (e.g. UN organizations and large INGOs) it may become part of ‘bureaucratic capture’, of box-ticking and dodging hard decisions. For small organizations it could be expensive and time-consuming, possibly paralyzing their work.
But for each and every organization is will require more communication with the outside world and finding that perfect balance of ‘doing good’ with good people and empowering structural frameworks.
Me, on Oxfam & #aidtoo again.

High heels, skis, woollen blankets: what not to send to a tropical island when disaster strikes
A warehouse in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, holds 10 huge shipping containers filled to the brim with discarded goods and rotting food. This is what’s left of the massive piles of donations sent to the South Pacific nation in the aftermath of the most powerful storm to strike the remote island group, nearly three years ago.
Irwin Loy for the New Humanitarian; there is never a bad time to remind readers to send money, not STUFF in humanitarian situations...

Former Save the Children staffers speak out on abusive culture under Justin Forsyth
Speaking on Wednesday from northern Canada, O’Keefe, who no longer works in the international development sector, said her time at Save the Children was a “formative career experience,” which contributed to driving her out of the international sector. She and other women in her department were “groomed” by their manager to accept inappropriate workplace liaisons as normal she said.
Inappropriate but consensual relations between Cox and female staff in the department he headed were an “open secret,” O’Keefe said. Although behaviour at the office was generally professional, O’Keefe said she had witnessed “inappropriate behaviour” by Cox at after-hours gatherings, office parties and events.
Junior staff risked being sidelined and excluded from the more prestigious and important projects if they questioned Cox’s behavior, O’Keefe said. “I myself feel complicit,” she said, adding that she now regrets not speaking up. “We were afraid to speak to Justin… I was often afraid.”
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian with insights from Save The Children under the leadership of Justin Forsyth-a particularly timely reminder as Brendan Cox has been re-entering the UK charity stage just in time for the coronation...

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