Links & Contents I Liked 483

Hi all,

Welcome to a this week's edition of 'around the #globaldev world in (well, not quite...) 80 links'!
#globaldev news, insights from global organizations, commentary, reports & more!

Happy critical reading!

My quotes of the week
When asked by the U.K. Parliament’s International Development Committee if the aid cuts had impacted the lack of communication and understanding officials had about the Sudan crisis before it erupted, Kholood Khair, founding director at the think tank Confluence Advisory, said the answer was a “resounding yes.” (Experts link UK aid cuts to crisis in Sudan at parliamentary hearing)

Suddenly, community members and people with lived experience of the issues discussing applications and making decisions is not seen as a risky way to make grants. Getting those you fund together and genuinely listening to them talk about the impact they are having, what is working and what is not working becomes a much more reliable way to get a ‘report’. It becomes easier for everyone to learn about the impact of unrestricted and non-project-based funding, as project-based and linear reports become redundant. Devolving money to local and national grant-makers in the South now makes perfect sense. Everything that many people argue is too ‘risky‘ has now become the perfect mitigation for everyone using ChatGPT to write applications and reports. (The machines are coming for written applications and written reports. Are we ready?)

The common denominator of these deficits is “projectitis”, an organisational style characterised by decentralised, ad-hoc responses that are insufficiently integrated with, or informed by, the policies, purposes and overarching responsibilities of the organisation.
(...)
This inconsistent quality of evaluation raises a question as to the importance given to evaluations, or effectiveness for that matter, by UN entities and member states who govern them.
 (How effective is the UN’s development support?)

Development news
‘No one saw this level of devastation coming’: climate crisis worsens in Somalia
Jamal Ali Abdi has seen flooding in Beledweyne before but never on the scale witnessed earlier this month when the Shabelle River burst its banks, causing devastation to the central Somali town and displacing almost the entire population.
As water gushed through the streets, Ali’s home was soon surrounded by murky brown flood water.
“The water was up to my neck,” said Ali, 36. “Our entire family, including my six children, sought refuge in a relative’s home after our house was immersed. I was barely able to get my children to safety and grab a couple of items as we fled.
Mohamed Gabobe for the Guardian reporting from Somalia.


WHO reinstates managers accused of mishandling DRC sex scandal
The World Health Organization has reinstated two senior managers who were accused of mishandling the biggest sexual misconduct scandal in the UN agency’s history.
(...)
The WHO said “misconduct was not established”.
(...)
Paula Donovan, head of the Code Blue campaign to end impunity for sexual offences by the UN, called the move “completely predictable”. She added: “How much more evidence do member states need before they’ll feel obliged to reform these long, costly WHO investigation procedures designed solely to create the appearance of justice and accountability?”
Donato Paolo Mancini for the Financial Times continues reporting on WHO's engagement with misconduct cases & broader questions of whether the UN system is ready & willing for accountability.

Experts link UK aid cuts to crisis in Sudan at parliamentary hearing
When asked by the U.K. Parliament’s International Development Committee if the aid cuts had impacted the lack of communication and understanding officials had about the Sudan crisis before it erupted, Kholood Khair, founding director at the think tank Confluence Advisory, said the answer was a “resounding yes.”
“If there had been greater investment in reaching those voices and making those voices heard, there would have made it to the deliberation table at least,” said Khair.
William Worley for DevEx continues his reporting on UK's diminishing capacities for #globaldev.

UN Rights Expert: $1 Billion in Arms Flowing to Myanmar Military
The U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar said Wednesday that Myanmar's military has imported at least a $1 billion worth of weapons and weapons materials since overthrowing the democratically elected government in February 2021, with Russia as the junta's top supplier.
(...)
The Myanmar military does not try to hide its purchases. More than $947 million of arms-related trade Andrews identified went directly to entities controlled by the Myanmar military. An additional $58 million was funneled through Myanmar-based military suppliers or sanctioned arms dealers.
Despite Western economic sanctions and arms embargoes, and a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling on all member states "to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar," Andrews says aircraft, weapons and other materials continue to get to the junta because of poorly coordinated international sanctions.
Margaret Besheer for Voice of America with bad news from Myanmar.

Myanmar’s Warrior Princess: Opium Queen Olive Yang
Olive Yang is legendary in Myanmar history. Now she has an actual English-language biography written about her life, and her role in the chaotic wars in the north of the country in the 1940s and after.
(...)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, strange militias pop up today just like they did in the 1950s. Groups like the Border Guard Forces, EAOs, People’s Defense Forces and others still seek sponsors able to provide the weapons and equipment needed to carry on their business, whether it be rebellion or peddling methamphetamines. If nothing else, Olive Yang pioneered a business model which continues to dominate highland Myanmar politics today.
Tony Waters for the Irrawaddy reviews a fascinating biography about a historical icon from Myanmar.
Greece Says It Doesn’t Ditch Migrants at Sea. It Was Caught in the Act.
But the video, provided by an Austrian aid worker, Fayad Mulla, who has spent much of the past two and a half years working on the island and trying to document abuses against migrants, may be the most damning evidence yet of the Greek authorities’ violation of international laws and E.U. rules governing how asylum seekers must be treated.
In addition to interviewing the asylum seekers in Turkey, The Times verified the footage by doing a frame-by-frame analysis to identify the people in the video, geolocating key events and confirming the time and day using maritime traffic data, as well an analysis of the position of the sun and visible shadows.
Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Sarah Kerr, Kassie Bracken & Nimet Kirac for the New York Times; now that Frontex is no longer making headline news, Greece steps in with illegal pushbacks...

UN labour rights watchdog facing backlash over Qatar conference nomination
The UN’s labour rights watchdog, the International Labour Organization (ILO), is facing a backlash over the nomination of Qatar to chair its flagship annual conference despite a police investigation into alleged bribery of EU lawmakers by the Gulf state.
Jennifer Rankin for the Guardian with more on Qatari event-/conference-washing, this time featuring the ILO.

The UN’s Mission in Mali Is on Tenterhooks
Indeed, a large U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, in place since the French intervention, has helped stabilize the main cities in the north and center, but its future is uncertain. MINUSMA’s contract expires June 30, and the U.N. Security Council must decide whether to renew it. Almost all Western and several African contingents have left following a dispute with Mali’s military government, which has allied itself with Russia and sought to curtail the mission.
(...)
Among the proposals for the Security Council to consider, indications are that the Malian government is content for the mission to become a “lame duck,” providing jobs and services that the state cannot.
But with no end in sight to the conflict and a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, a scaled-back mission will be unable to stem the bloodshed.
Ulf Laessing for New Lines Magazine with a concise overview over recent developments in Mali with a focus on the UN mission.

Surging gang violence across Latin America challenges aid sector to respond
According to UNHCR, by mid-2022, 42% of the world’s new asylum applications came from Latin America and the Caribbean. But a growing number of countries – including Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, and the United States – have been toughening their asylum policies, fuelling a surge in irregular migration and creating crushes at chokepoints.
“We see people who are displaced several times from one place to the other, because they are followed by criminal groups… and permanently threatened while they travel,” said Álvaro De Vicente, regional head of office at the EU’s humanitarian agency, ECHO.
For the ICRC’s Orr, other far-reaching costs often go overlooked. “There is a normalisation of this armed violence that is not healthy,” she told The New Humanitarian. “The effects on mental health of the constant fear of what might happen to you or your family are long-lasting and affect future generations.”
In the worst-hit countries like Haiti, violence is so extreme that it is driving some communities towards starvation – famine is now feared as half the population of 10 million is gripped by a hunger crisis, even as the insecurity often means aid agencies are unable to reach those in need.
Daniela Mohor for the New Humanitarian with a sobering overview over another emerging humanitarian topic that will receive more attention from TNH.

How effective is the UN’s development support?
However, the reality appears to be often far from this ideal. The most common and arguably worrisome deficit found in my analysis is that UN development work lacks an orientation towards sustainability and effects at national level – the kind of change that moves the needle on SDG progress.
(...)
The common denominator of these deficits is “projectitis”, an organisational style characterised by decentralised, ad-hoc responses that are insufficiently integrated with, or informed by, the policies, purposes and overarching responsibilities of the organisation.
It is noteworthy that these deficits were found most frequently in UNDP evaluations. However, UNDP’s evaluations also stand out for the analytical rigour and critical attitude applied. Evaluations from the other three UN entities, and in particular UNFPA, often do little more than recount activities, oblivious to questions of sustainable effect. This inconsistent quality of evaluation raises a question as to the importance given to evaluations, or effectiveness for that matter, by UN entities and member states who govern them.
Max-Otto Baumann for the DevPolicy Blog with a post that could have been written 1, 10 or perhaps even 15 or 20 years ago...

How Death Outlives War: The Reverberating Impact Of The Post-9/11 Wars On Human Health
War’s destruction of economies, public services, infrastructure, and the environment leads to deaths that occur long after bombs drop and grow in scale over time. This report reviews the latest research to examine the causal pathways that have led to an estimated 3.6-3.7 million indirect deaths in post-9/11 war zones, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. The total death toll in these war zones could be at least 4.5-4.6 million and counting, though the precise mortality figure remains unknown. Some people were killed in the fighting, but far more, especially children, have been killed by the reverberating effects of war, such as the spread of disease.
Brown University's Watson Institute with a new report from their Costs of War project.
The machines are coming for written applications and written reports. Are we ready?
To select potential grantees and to assess the impact they are having, funders visit people involved in programmes and communities they are working in. Funders develop a more relational and human way of assessing and reporting.
Suddenly, community members and people with lived experience of the issues discussing applications and making decisions is not seen as a risky way to make grants. Getting those you fund together and genuinely listening to them talk about the impact they are having, what is working and what is not working becomes a much more reliable way to get a ‘report’. It becomes easier for everyone to learn about the impact of unrestricted and non-project-based funding, as project-based and linear reports become redundant. Devolving money to local and national grant-makers in the South now makes perfect sense. Everything that many people argue is too ‘risky‘ has now become the perfect mitigation for everyone using ChatGPT to write applications and reports.
Any moral panic about AI and ChatGPT forces funders, organisations and communities to connect on a human level, and away from paper – which can only be a good thing.
Matt Jackson for BOND; I like his optimistic scenario because it forces us/#globaldev to challenge how much of the text-based 'content' that is already being produced resembles a buzzword algorithm that should be challenged not with better, but less AI...

Foreign aid has disintegrated the relationship between the state and its citizen
The inflow of aid into Africa has resulted in poor perceptions of governance among the citizenry. People residing close to aid projects rate their governments as poor managers of the economy, express lower levels of trust in the government and consequently vote against the government in elections. These citizens also perceive government officials as involved in corrupt activities, which plays into perceptions of donors using aid to advance their own interests. Since some foreign aid comes with specified conditions, recipient governments are often compelled to prioritise the conditions of the aid over national needs.
These practices help generate negative perceptions about foreign aid and governance, leading to a breakdown of the relationship between governments and their citizens. Consequently, not only is the effectiveness of foreign aid in doubt, but it may be doing more harm than good.
Philip Akrofi Atitianti & Samuel Kofi Asiamah for Africa At LSE; interesting reflections, yet I'm not fully convinced to what extent #globaldev is to blame for worsening relationships.

Offline: The case for global health
While we identify enemies among ourselves, we miss the larger story of just who our opponents really are—those trying to destroy the conditions for achieving the right to health, equity, liberty, and social justice. For the real enemies of the values we stand for do not sit within the ranks of global health. They are to be found in governments that instinctively mistrust—and who wish to undermine and defund—global organisations. They will be found among those who demonise refugees. They are the climate sceptics, anti-vaxxers, and purveyors of scientific misinformation. They are those who attack the redistribution of wealth, those who believe that war brings peace, and those who defend racism under the guise of patriotism. Global health practitioners should certainly engage in robust discussions about the meaning of their discipline. But they should be clear about who our struggle is really against. It is not global health. Instead, we must work harder together to create a new political frontier and forge a new collective against the true enemies of health.
Richard Horton for the Lancet with a passionate & powerful argument that goes beyond global health.
In other news
Neurodiversity Affirming Practice: Core Principles
I decided to put together a list of principles. I believe some of us are probably already familiar with these principles but since this is an emerging framework, I do believe it’s helpful to define Neurodiversity Affirming Practice more — to guide our own practice and to guide others in becoming neurodiversity affirming.
Sonny Jane for Lived Experience Educator; these principles are actually great food for thought to think about #globaldev as well!


The future of Angolan knowledge
The future of Angola’s universities is bleak. Indeed, there is no sign of government interest in successfully concluding the current crisis. The position of the Angolan academy is precarious, especially at public institutions of higher education. This is because together with teachers’ salaries, the possibility of carrying out research, publishing, and of internationalizing the Angolan university is worsening.
But the strike also signals some change in public consciousness and solidarity. Unlike in the past, this struggle became relatively popular by linking academics’ demands with the general context of post-election protests. The decision to suspend instruction has brought the attention of many quarters of Angolan society to a set of problems in higher education that go beyond the question of compensation. But the problems facing higher education go far beyond this. The future of the Angolan university must be framed within a more general reform of Angolan education. This includes more financial resources, fewer political constraints, and a vision of how and why education matters to the country.
Gilson Lazaro & Luca Bussotti for Africa is a Country; these challenges for #highered are not unique to Angola, of course, and raise important questions about education, research & knowledge on the margins.

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 273, 9 March 2018)

'You need to hear us': over 1,000 female aid workers urge reform in open letter
We ask for three fundamental reforms to shift the patriarchal bias in aid:
Trust women: organisations need to take action as soon as women report sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse; allegations must be treated with priority and urgency in their investigation; the subject of a complaint of this nature must be immediately suspended or removed from their position of power and reach of vulnerable women and girls.
Listen: foster a culture where whistleblowing is welcome and safe - the way to win back trust of donors, the public and the communities we work with is to be honest about abuses of power and learn from disclosures. Sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse should no longer have to be discussed in hushed tones in our offices.
Deeds not words: We need effective leadership, commitment to action and access to resources. It is not enough to develop new policies which are never implemented or funded – with the right tools we can end impunity at all levels in the sector.
Rebecca Ratcliffe for the Guardian at the hight of the #AidToo discussions.

Opinion: Why we can’t separate sexism from racism in the humanitarian and development sector
I entertained this vague notion that I would write in a way that would ever so slightly nudge the conversation from the wailing and the hand wringing that often accompanies these types of scandals. My hope was to interject my lens, which perhaps might be incongruent with our world-view of aid workers as the ultimate “do gooders.” The lens from which I observe the world around me is very specific — woman, black woman, many might say angry black woman, Caribbean born, raised in Brooklyn (not the hipster new Brooklyn, but the old one from Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”), with a profound belief that humanitarian development is in dire need of a wider lens that includes my voice and those of many other people.
Angela Bruce-Raeburn for DevEx on the intersectionality of gender, race, class & more of #AidToo.

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