Links & Contents I Liked 489

Hi all,

Our summer break is definitely ending when more than 100 students will commence their studies in our program next week; in the meantime we are looking at humanitarian situations in India, Saudi-Arabia, Myanmar, Hawai'i as well as period poverty across Africa, aid logos & plenty of academic readings on #globaldev's past, present & future!


My quotes of the week
But let's do that more with telling stories, and give them the voice to tell what happened and have perhaps [donor] visits and so on. The visitor doesn't need to see logos plastered all over. There are other ways of telling donors and volunteers that it is a worthwhile investment. (Why it’s time to stop the aid logo ‘arms race’)

Sadly, Sergio’s trust in humanity was to be his tragic undoing in Baghdad. But, as a consequence, have the UN and international humanitarian agencies learnt the wrong lessons? The reality today is that the modern humanitarian enterprise has become more distant from its clients and the structures and systems of formal humanitarianism appear more heartless. That is understandable because we have transformed the previous spontaneous expression of kindness into an organised and fast-growing business. (My boss died in a Baghdad bombing that changed humanitarian work forever)

Development news
What’s behind the violence that has displaced 60,000 in India’s Manipur?
A months-long conflict between two ethnic groups has roiled the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, leading to one of the most serious humanitarian crises the country has witnessed in recent decades.
Both the Kuki and Meitei communities have been sharing similar stories of pain and loss, but the violence has deepened their historical divisions. The trust needed for reconciliation – both in each other and the state – looks a long way from being restored.
Divya Chirayath for the New Humanitarian; while parts of India are "over the moon", it's worth not overlooking some of the severe conflicts in the country.

Shot at while they drowned. Executed in the desert. Those who collected the bodies recount ‘one of the worst days’ in Darfur’s genocide-scarred history
CNN analyzed videos, photographs and satellite imagery, and gathered 11 testimonies from eyewitnesses and survivors of the violence in El Geneina, including aid workers who collected the dead and a surgeon who treated the wounded in Chad, to piece together the horrors of June 15. As the killing continues unabated in Sudan, with reports that the violence is accelerating, CNN’s investigation into atrocities carried out over that single day offers a window into the scale of abuses, largely hidden from view.
Tamara Qiblawi, Allegra Goodwin, Nima Elbagir & Celine Alkhaldi for CNN.

Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: Deaths from starvation after aid halted - official
The BBC has seen food with emblems of aid agencies such as the WFP and USAid on packaging at markets in cities and towns in Tigray, including the capital, Mekelle.
However, it is unclear whether the food aid was corruptly "diverted" or whether it had been sold to market owners by aid recipients who were in desperate need of cash.
The WFP spokesperson said the agency was speeding up efforts to resume food aid. It had, in fact, started distributing a limited amount of food in some areas to test stringent new measures being put in place to "make sure food will not fall into the wrong hands again".
Girmay Gebru & Mercy Juma for BBC News on the complexities of front line food aid.

Saudi Arabia: Mass Killings of Migrants at Yemen Border
The 73-page report, “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” found that Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons to kill many migrants and shot other migrants at close range, including many women and children, in a widespread and systematic pattern of attacks. In some instances, Saudi border guards asked migrants what limb to shoot, and then shot them at close range. Saudi border guards also fired explosive weapons at migrants who were attempting to flee back to Yemen.
“Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world,” said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Spending billions buying up professional golf, football clubs, and major entertainment events to improve the Saudi image should not deflect attention from these horrendous crimes.”
Human Rights Watch on another horrible border situation that involves some of the most vulnerable people; while Europe let's many drown at sea, I doubt that there will be much more than tokenistic criticism of Saudi-Arabia while the latest football transfer is announced...

H&M’s Forced Exit Leaves 42,000 Myanmar Workers Asking How They Will Eat
A director of a labor rights organization based in Hlaing Thar Yar Township told The Irrawaddy that they are now very concerned about the likelihood of workers finding jobs. The exit of global brands—whose profitability is based on their brand image—will leave workers dependent on buyers who care less about how women in developing countries are treated.
Bowman agreed, saying: “If they leave, either the jobs disappear entirely, or factories scrabble to receive orders from footloose buying agents who care only about cheap labor and do not worry about factory conditions.”
“The factory owners [are] mostly the Chinese [and they] tend to bear a grudge against workers if they have encountered losses … As a result, workers will soon face more pressure, discrimination, and other hardships,” the director of the rights organization said.
Hein Htoo Zan for the Irrawaddy on the complexities of the global fast fashion industry & that the right CSR thing to do may not result in better outcomes for workers on the ground.

My boss died in a Baghdad bombing that changed humanitarian work forever
Sadly, Sergio’s trust in humanity was to be his tragic undoing in Baghdad. But, as a consequence, have the UN and international humanitarian agencies learnt the wrong lessons?
The reality today is that the modern humanitarian enterprise has become more distant from its clients and the structures and systems of formal humanitarianism appear more heartless. That is understandable because we have transformed the previous spontaneous expression of kindness into an organised and fast-growing business.
What would Sergio advise now? He would, as always, lead from his heart. Our saving grace is that Sergio’s heart still beats strong in the chests of countless instinctive humanitarians around all the world’s cultures.
Mukesh Kapila remembers Sergio Viera de Mello & the attack on the UN in Baghdad 20 years ago for the National News.

Why was there no water to fight the fire in Maui?
Disaster capitalism – the well-worn tactic of exploiting moments of extreme collective trauma to rapidly push through unpopular laws that benefit a small elite – relies on this cruel dynamic. As Lee Cataluna, an Indigenous Maui-born journalist, observed recently, the people on the frontlines of disaster are necessarily focused on “survival stuff. Announcements. Services. Instructions. Help. Go here to get gas. Look at this list to see if your husband’s name is there” – not on coercive real estate deals or backroom policy moves. Which is exactly why the tactic too often succeeds.
This is a classic case of the most craven disaster capitalism: a small elite group using a profound human tragedy as their window to roll back a hard-won grassroots victory for water rights, while removing civil servants who pose a political inconvenience to the administration’s pro-developer agenda.
Naomi Klein & Kapuaʻala Sproat for the Guardian look the 'disaster capitalism' unfolding before, during & after the the fire in Lahaina.

Period poverty: African women priced out of buying sanitary pads
Joyce, a 22-year-old Ghanaian, cannot afford to buy what she needs when she's on her period.
"The only person available to help wants sex before he gives me the money. I have to do it because I need pads for the month," she tells the BBC.
In six of the countries studied by the BBC, women on the minimum wage have to spend between 3-13% of their salary to buy two packets of sanitary towels containing eight pads - what many women will need each month.
As an assistant in a grocery store, Joyce lives with a family friend and survives on tips. Previously, she could afford to meet the cost of sanitary pads when it cost 4.88 Ghanaian cedis (45 US cents; 35 UK pence) per pack.
However, after the government increased taxes on sanitary products, a packet of pads now costs 20 cedis, pushing them out of her reach.
Esther Ogola, Gem O'Reilly & Favour Nunoo for BBC News reporting across Africa on increased prices & gendered impacts of sanitary products.

UK aid: Exploring the positives amidst cuts and challenges
The FCDO’s annual report does not signal a full return to leadership in global development. FCDO’s ODA budget will remain subdued in 2023, primarily because in-donor refugee costs will remain elevated. A return to 0.7% still looks far away, and on issues beyond aid such as recycling Special Drawing Rights or multilateral reform, the UK still lags behind most of its peers.
Nevertheless, after three years which have been nearly completely bereft of good news on UK aid, it is worth highlighting some of the positives when they come.
Euan Ritchie for Bond continues the discussion around UK #globaldev cuts.

Why it’s time to stop the aid logo ‘arms race’
I've seen organisation names on the smallest toilet, you know, with the organisation and the donor. Let them go to the toilet in peace, really, I would say. And then let's have a real offer to donors that we can help them give feedback to taxpayers. Because I do see that one: I was the deputy foreign minister in Norway for a long time. [There is] this sense that countries were sinking money – billions – into these places, year on and year off, and it doesn't help and it doesn't lead to anything, and so on. There is a real need to explain to donor countries, individual donors, members, volunteers, that we're making progress, we're helping, we're saving lives, we are providing durable solutions, we're giving people dignity, and we're giving people work, and we're giving people a way out.
But let's do that more with telling stories, and give them the voice to tell what happened and have perhaps [donor] visits and so on. The visitor doesn't need to see logos plastered all over. There are other ways of telling donors and volunteers that it is a worthwhile investment.
Irwin Loy talks to NRC's Jan Egeland for the New Humanitarian about one of those #globaldev communication pet peeves: Logos.

Reversing Domestic Workers’ Rights: Stories of Backlash and Resilience in Delhi
‘Reversing Domestic Workers’ Rights: Stories of backlash and Resilience in Delhi’ is a timely and important new storybook produced by Gender at Work Consulting – India. It shares 12 stories from domestic workers living in Delhi NCR, and the often-tragic tales of their lives. Most often, the terrible way domestic workers are treated by their employers and society is shaped around gendered backlash, and the blocking or dismantling any social and/or legal gains they may have. This is particularly pronounced for domestic workers who are Muslim, who, on top of the existing discrimination, face intense Islamophobia.
Gender at Work Consulting India with a great new resource on domestic workers in Delhi & grassroots civil society support with them.

North-west Syria: Voices of Humanitarians
This document presents a glimpse of the humanitarian community serving north-west Syria including those based in Türkiye supporting the cross-border response. In the face of these hardships, their commitment to serve stands solid - no matter who, no matter where, no matter what.
UN OCHA published this for World Humanitarian Day; I appreciate the effort, but I don't find the product totally convincing from a #globaldev communication looks a bit as if someone tried to squeeze a frontline storytelling approach into a UN publications pdf format...

Learning Links | academic resources and teaching tools for humanitarian courses and programmes
ALNAP wants to provide future generations of humanitarians with unfettered access to our very best resources: 25 years worth of high quality research, learning and guidance on countless issues related to humanitarian performance. So, we have put together our first ever resource pack for academics, educators, trainers and students - as well as educational institutes - within the humanitarian sector.
Introducing ALNAP Learning Links - the gateway to more than 800 ALNAP-authored reports, analyses, blogs and multimedia assets, organised into subject areas aligned to academic courses and programmes with a humanitarian focus.
ALNAP just released an amazing resource for humanitarian & #globaldev studies!

Reading corner
The Interpersonal and the International: Development, Volunteering and Grassroots Diplomacy in the 1960s
This article examines the vexed nature of grassroots diplomacy by tracing the experiences and management of volunteers working in Asia and Africa with Britain’s Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the United States Peace Corps during the 1960s.
This article argues that the quotidian behaviour of Western volunteers provided a site of rupture through which alternative discourses and political positions could be advanced, especially by activists in Africa and Asia without access to conventional diplomatic channels. Although grassroots diplomacy was a celebrated ideal in the context of the Cold War and decolonisation, in practice non-elite agency in international relations came to be increasingly regulated by states and non-governmental organisations concerned with defending their nation’s reputation.
Agnieszka Sobocinska with a new open access article for the International History Review.

Learning to work in certain ways: bureaucratic literacies and community-based volunteering in the Philippines
This paper explores the role of literacy and learning practices in the bureaucratization of community development drawing from an ethnography of local volunteering in the Philippines. Through literacy practices such as preparing community health classes, making budget plans, and writing to government institutions, volunteers were inducted into ‘bureaucratic’ ways of working that, at times, clashed with their expectations and practices of volunteering that were founded on community building, solidarity, and agency.
Chris Millora with a new open access article for the Community Development Journal.

Uncomfortable truths in international development: approaches to the decolonization of knowledge from development practice, policy and research
These contributions do not shy away from addressing internal challenges within organizations either. They spotlight instances where institutions bravely confront their own biases, fostering a transparent dialogue and sparking internal transformation. By embracing the diverse perspectives presented in these papers, the path forward becomes clear: collaborative action, diverse partnerships, ongoing monitoring, contextualized evaluations and grappling with biase sare critical in forging a new development discourse.
Sarah Cummings, Bruce Boyces, Jorge Chavez-Tafur, Peterson Dewah, Charles Dhewa, Srividya Harish, Ann Hendrix-Jenkins, Gladys Kemboi, David Ludwig, Rocio Sanz, Thomas Senaji, Denise Senmartin & Stacey Young introduce an new open access issue of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal.

Are we training our students to be white saviours in global health?
Those who work in global health in HICs benefit from an imbalance of power that maintains the white supremacist status quo, and consequently an entrenched divide in global health. As global health educators we are then compelled to ask: are we training students to be “white saviours”, irrespective of their ethnicity or country of origin, and how can global health education be reconfigured?
Ananya Tina Banerjee, Shashika Bandara, Joyeuse Senga, Nadia González-Domínguez & Madhukar Pai for the Lancet with a core question everybody faces in #globaldev education.

Beyond western Afro-pessimism: The African narrative in African and non-western countries
Although some studies have previously indicated that the stereotypical western mainstream media narratives about Africa may be shifting, this Special Issue highlights the stickiness of the stereotypes, and some of the platforms on which they continue to be repeated. Some of these studies further show how African media are also responsible for ongoing circulation of the stereotypes. While the data are discouraging, there are pockets of hope on digital media (including social media), where women and youth are taking back the proverbial pen using storytelling and humour to show that Africa is neither monolithic, nor all doom and gloom.
Rebecca Pointer with her introduction to an open access special issue of the Journal of African Media Studies.

In other news
Thousands of scientists are cutting back on Twitter, seeding angst and uncertainty
Whether X will manage to regain its attractiveness to scientists, or whether some other social-media platform will grow into its space, is unclear. Mewburn doesn’t see the loss of Twitter as a fatal blow to the scientific enterprise. “I don’t think science has become overly dependent on social media,” she says. Scientists might find it more difficult to network and build their careers, especially if they don’t have the money to go to conferences, but she expects that people will come up with creative new ideas.
Mark Carrigan, a digital sociologist at the Manchester Institute for Education, UK, argues that the idea that Twitter helped democratize academia “was a bit simplistic” because social media created a space where academic celebrities thrived. Even when it helped to diversify science, he says, it did so through the reinforcement of the same kinds of hierarchy.
Myriam Vidal Valero for Nature on how academics are struggling with & without Twitter in their research communication (I'm actually still quite happy with X despite its many shortcomings due to the new ownership).

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 277, 13 April 2018)

Opinion: But wait until they see your black face
While aid organizations are finally coming to terms with the lack of women in leadership positions and seeking to remedy the situation, this will not translate automatically into more black women in leadership. Black women generally have no internal champions to shepherd them through the politics of getting to the executive suite, nor are they groomed through the organizational pipeline for leadership roles. In a recently released impact study on gender and racial diversity in the aid sector, Quantum Impact reported that of the 162 organizations analyzed, four out of five organizations (80 percent) had leadership teams that did not have a representative number of people of color. Half of all organizations (51 percent) had no leaders of color.
Angela Bruce-Raeburn for DevEx on the challenges of POC women in the development industry-and as often with these stories from the archive I wonder what has & has not changed in the last 5 years...

Grant reports are broken. Is it worth trying to fix them?
I guess that brings us back to the subject of final reports. I reluctantly conclude that bureaucracies will always require them, and that we should not be naive about abolishing them altogether. But they will likely never be efficient vessels for conveying information or learning. For those, I wish we could find a way to increase by half the amount of time that program officers and grantees spend together hashing out how things are going, what they are learning (together), and ideas for iterating. I think program officers would find this more rewarding than the constant staff retreats, strategy refreshes, and internal reporting they are caught up in. If we could find a way to do that with an attitude of genuine inquiry (as opposed to evaluation), that would go a long way toward accelerating learning and building the relationships and trust need to enhance the odds our programs will succeed in improving the world.
David Sasaki continues the debate on how the Hewlett foundation wants to challenge traditional grant reporting (has this happened since 2018?).


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