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Hi all,

AI & ChatGPT, fast fashion, weaponization of social media, refugee protection & many challenges for humanitarian aid in Ethiopia, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh & Myanmar are so of this week's stories-plus a little Gates foundation skepticism & a leading humanitarian scholar who joins Extinction Rebellion in her home country!

My quotes of the week
“Fraud is not restricted to aid, and it’s not restricted to cash. The question for me is how, then, agencies deal with it after they uncover it.” (GiveDirectly loses $900,000 in DRC mobile cash fraud)

“The world has failed to support the most vulnerable, but this can be reversed. The lives of millions of people suffering in silence can improve, if funding and resources are allocated based on need, not geopolitical interest, and media headlines of the day.” (Burkina Faso is the world’s ‘most neglected crisis’ as focus remains on Ukraine)

When he first started working at the market 24 years ago, he remembers being able to sell all the clothing that came in a bale. Now, when he opens one, there are about 70 items he can’t use, he says. “The problem of waste is getting worse. For 12 years, the goods coming here have not been good, we can’t benefit from them. It’s my impression that countries abroad think Africa is very poor so they give us low-quality goods and their waste.” (‘It’s like a death pit’: how Ghana became fast fashion’s dumping ground)

New on Aidnography
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & ChatGPT in development and humanitarian work-a curated collection
As AI, ChatGPT & broader discussions on the tools & technology behind it enter the digital #globaldev discussion sphere, I started a curated collection of articles & podcasts that have caught my attention so far.
Development news
WFP leadership in Ethiopia resigns amid aid diversion probe
The senior leadership of the World Food Programme in Ethiopia has resigned, shortly before the findings of a probe into the misappropriation of food aid in the country are due to be made public, according to several sources who witnessed the resignations.
USAID suspends all food aid to Ethiopia over massive diversion scheme: reports
As part of the diversion, flour made from donated wheat meant for the hungry in Ethiopia was being exported to Kenya and Somalia, a diplomat with knowledge of USAID’s investigation was quoted as saying by the Washington Post, adding that WFP was either “negligent or complicit”.
Amid lingering questions over when USAID and WFP discovered the diversion and why better measures weren’t put in place to monitor distributions, the Addis Standard reported that one of the “demands by the USAID” is to see a “complete change in leadership at the WFP Ethiopia”, according to an unnamed source. Before USAID’s food delivery freeze is lifted, “the country’s humanitarian architecture must undergo significant and immediate reforms”, the HDRG memo said.
Obi Anyadike for the New Humanitarian with excellent reporting on the food aid diversion scandal in Ethiopia.

GiveDirectly loses $900,000 in DRC mobile cash fraud
Cash assistance offers recipients more flexibility than other types of aid, and experts say it isn’t uniquely vulnerable to fraud.
“I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that cash assistance schemes are at a higher risk of fraud than any other form of assistance,” Oliver May, former head of counter-fraud for Oxfam and current leader of Deloitte Australia’s international development practice, told The New Humanitarian.
Huston said GiveDirectly has informed its institutional donors of the fraud and intends to resume cash transfers in DRC after an internal investigation is complete.
(...)
“[Fraud] is not restricted to aid, and it’s not restricted to cash,” said Karen Peachey, director of the CALP Network. “The question for me is how, then, agencies deal with it [after they uncover it].”
Jacob Goldberg with more important exclusive reporting for the New Humanitarian.

Climate change and conflict are wreaking havoc in Somalia
All of these overlapping crises have left Somalia in a desperate situation. In 2011, four million Somalis were in need of food; by last year, that number had risen to 6.7 million, more than one-third of its total population of 18 million. This year, roughly the same number are facing acute food insecurity, while about 6.4 million are unable to access sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Some 5.1 million children require humanitarian assistance, out of 8.3 million Somalis in need. Last year, drought killed about 43,000 people in Somalia. United Nations and Somali government projections place the potential death toll between January and June of this year at 135 people per day.
Nick Turse for the Intercept with a harrowing overview over the crisis in Somalia.

Burkina Faso is the world’s ‘most neglected crisis’ as focus remains on Ukraine
The displacement of 2 million people in Burkina Faso has been named the world’s most neglected crisis, while the world’s attention and aid has been focused on Ukraine, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
(...)
“The world has failed to support the most vulnerable, but this can be reversed. The lives of millions of people suffering in silence can improve, if funding and resources are allocated based on need, not geopolitical interest, and media headlines of the day.”
Kaamil Ahmed for the Guardian with an overview over a recent NRC report.

The silent decay of international aid to Rohingya refugees
The crisis in Bangladesh’s refugee settlements is compounded by restrictions on the Rohingya’s ability to build self-reliance capacity. Effectively made stateless by the Myanmar authorities, and with no legal rights to work in Bangladesh, the Rohingya are physically constrained to the boundaries of the camps and are entirely reliant on foreign aid for survival. Restrictions imposed by the Bangladeshi authorities constrain their ability to build self-reliant communities, limiting their movement, access to health care and education and their ability to work and produce food for themselves.
International support is largely focused on providing immediate relief and does not address long-term development needs. As a key responder on the ground, Médecins Sans Frontières has found that the international communities’ policy of containment perpetuates existing issues and is highly detrimental to the Rohingya’s sense of hope for the future. UNHCR has called for more durable solutions from the international community which include increasing the resettlement of Rohingya refugees in third countries. As a key regional power, Australia has contributed to this containment policy despite calls from Bangladeshi authorities and international advocacy groups to increase their resettlement of refugees and to increase support for resettlement in other countries. As a measure of comparison, Australia has granted 470 humanitarian visas to Rohingya refugees since 2008 whereas, 10,000 humanitarian visas have been granted to Ukrainian nationals since February 2022.
Jake Porter for the Humanitarian Advisory Group with an overview from Bangladesh.

The UN support for the military’s weaponization of aid
This is the reason why U.N. agencies and international NGOs are failing the people of Myanmar. They all calculate that the military will prevail. They do not want to be kicked out of the country, wanting to keep its presence “on the ground.” They want to be well placed and competitive for future post-conflict development, peace, reconciliation and civil society empowerment programs. The underlying motive for appeasing the military is for: “protecting the current and future market.” True “neutrality” and “humanitarian imperative” would dictate the opposite of what’s being done now, allowing the military’s weaponization of aid.
Igor Blazevic for the Democratic Voice of Burma.

Cameroon: The keyboard warlords of the breakaway republic
Fimba is smart, but un-careful, with the taunts and threats of a playground bully – and the lethal power to follow through. Balancing a precarious anonymity, a tragic past, and a warped notion of vigilante justice, Fimba is living evidence of how social media democratises vengeance along with everything else.
The individual narratives of Bareta and Fimba dovetail into a broader, equally-overlooked story, one about a modern tool – social media – and war-stricken communities grappling with the new players and possibilities it has created. As the Anglophone crisis burns into its seventh year, these web-based combatants are still shaping narratives and pulling triggers from worlds away, with next to no accountability.
Zane Irwin for African Arguments with a scary story of how social media shape contemporary conflicts, e.g. in Cameroon.

‘It’s like a death pit’: how Ghana became fast fashion’s dumping ground
When he first started working at the market 24 years ago, he remembers being able to sell all the clothing that came in a bale. Now, when he opens one, there are about 70 items he can’t use, he says. “The problem of waste is getting worse. For 12 years, the goods coming here have not been good, we can’t benefit from them. It’s my impression that countries abroad think Africa is very poor so they give us low-quality goods and their waste.”
According to the Or Foundation, about 40% of the clothing in Kantamanto leaves as waste. Some of it is collected by waste management services, some is burned at the edges of the market, while the rest is dumped in informal landfills.
Sarah Johnson for the Guardian on another globalized dumping ground.

Some refugee girls are forced into early marriage for safety – here’s why
One problem we have, however, is that most of the research done to understand child marriage and identify ways to prevent it, has not been done with crisis-affected communities. We still do not know whether these actions work effectively for girls affected by crises.
Recent research on preventing violence against refugee adolescent girls argues that our responses to child marriage need to be better adapted for humanitarian situations. Keeping girls in schools during a humanitarian crisis is harder, for example, as is building relationships with community leaders in fast-changing community contexts.
Parents are also more reluctant to let their daughters access any training or events away from the family space because of worries about their security in dangerous and uncertain environments.
Aisha Hutchinson for the Conversation on child marriages and refugee camps.

Communicating in a New Media Landscape: 5 Ways to Help Journalists Help Us
These trends of disengagement, fragmentation and polarisation raise serious questions among development communicators about how to engage with the media.
(...)
But while social channels are key to our work as development communicators, should we cut journalists out of the equation? Not so fast. Journalists can be our best messengers and amplifiers, and one quick hit on our social channels today can come at the cost of more impactful stories tomorrow.
OECD's DevCom team with an interesting starter-kit on how #globaldev communicators can engage with/the journalists.

Ama Ata Aidoo: the pioneering writer from Ghana left behind a string of feminist classics
Aidoo’s legacy may be seen in the outpouring of African literature in the 21st century by women authors who now dominate the field. A new generation of leading women writers from Africa owe their inspiration to Ama Ata Aidoo and other pioneers like Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta from Nigeria and Senegal’s Mariama Ba. They all broke barriers for women as literary godmothers of feminist expression and through innovative ways of telling the African story.
Ghana and the world may have lost a commanding presence on the literary stage but her works will remain as cherished classics in African and world literature.
Rose A. Sackeyfio for the Conversation with an interesting obituary that includes many great books from Ghana to explore.

The elephant in the room: addressing sexual exploitation and abuse at international NGOs
The central argument of this paper is that INGOs that focus on cultural transformation are more effective in their attempts to address violation than those organizations that adopt a centralized approach wherein attempts to secure power and control emerge as the prevailing drivers. It is incumbent upon INGOs to engage in open discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of their existing approaches to search for innovative solutions and facilitate bold actions designed to enhance their effectiveness on PSEA
Dipankar Datta with an open access article for Humanities and Social Sciences Communications; he wrote Recruitment pitfalls in humanitarian aid organizations-An insider’s view as a guest post for Aidnography earlier this year.

In other news
Have the Gates Foundation and Its Allies Purchased US Education Journalism?
Just within the past twenty years, Gates+ money has incubated several new education-only media outlets, such as Chalkbeat, EdReports, EdSurge, Education Next, Ed Post, FutureEd, and The 74. Gates+ money has also substantially boosted the efforts of preexisting education-only media organizations, such as EdSource, Education Week, the Education Writers Association, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Hechinger Report. All told, this accounts for almost all large-audience, US, K–12-education-only print media outlets, other than those tied to the traditional public education establishment.
Richard P. Phelps for Minding the Campus with an interesting look at US education journalism & the role of the Gates Foundation; the decline of traditional journalism funding, the rise of Gates & new forms of digital publishing all seem to play a part in this puzzle.

Why are we blocking a highway as scientists? It is a justified response to the violence of climate change
How can scientists help engender societal change, and when is it effective to take the road of activism? This question has become increasingly relevant in the face of the urgent need to address the implications of climate change. In this blog (...), Professors Thea Hilhorst and Klaas Landsman – both recipients of the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands in 2022 – gave a speech during the occupation of the A12 by Extinction Rebellion. Why did they choose to participate in this action as scientists?
Thea Hilhorst & Klaas Landsmann for blISS on how why the renowned humanitarian studies scholar joined an Extinction Rebellion protest on a Dutch motorway.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 275, 23 March 2018)

What I learned from curating thousands of #globaldev articles
As I went through most of my previous link reviews I reflected on some of the key features that emerged from the diversity of material I have come across in an ever-changing digital publishing environment.
For the small anniversary of link review no.275 I re-shared some reflections I shared in connection with the 200th review in 2016.

Comic Relief to ditch white saviour stereotype appeals
“The portrayal of Africa is not solely in the hands of Comic Relief. We are here to tell the story of poverty wherever it lies.
“There’s been incredible progression in places like Niger and Kenya. Just like we don’t go and film Canary Wharf to show images of poverty in the UK or the stucco houses of Notting Hill to show what happened at Grenfell, likewise we don’t film the rising hotel blocks of Kampala.
“It’s very difficult to tackle it in a three-minute film without being too simplistic.
Karen McVeigh for the Guardian; I wonder really what has happened in those five years with Comic Relief?

The DDD agenda: questions from a development practitioner from the South
Situating it within dominant streams of thought in Africa, apart from the liberal tradition that would see the DDD agenda as a nuanced advancement of its long-standing modernisation paradigm, it would most certainly face hostility from the other intellectual traditions – the essentialist, Afro-Marxist and postcolonial traditions.
(...)
There is little explicit hint in the DDD agenda that these questions are receiving encouraging attention. Instead, one fears that there may emerge a bias towards state capability as the focus of DDD, rather than the capability of society to shape the state towards progressive behaviour. A focus on state capability is likely to lead to more problematic relations of power from which the state’s (often) negative domination of society will be perpetuated rather than reduced.
Gilbert Muyumbu for Care Insights on the Doing Development Differently approach; I wonder what has become of DDD in those last five years?

I Am The Nameless African From Your Last Instagram Post
Why ask me questions anyway, when that article you read on the plane already told you everything you need to know about my community? You know what our houses look like, what our primitive diets consist of, our literacy rates, our recent troubles, our surprising resilience. I could see in your eyes that you didn’t know what to do with your immense guilt upon meeting me. You’re dreaming about “becoming successful, having a big family in a big house in a beautiful country,” while I’m rotting away “alone with my child in my small house made of mud and trees.” I re-lived the guilt you felt (we Africans are deeply compassionate) when I read your Instagram post. You’re right, we are poor but happy.
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda and Sarika Bansal for Bright Magazine with a serious and satirical take respectively that were triggered partly by a young woman's Instagram posting about her trip to Kibera

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