Links & Contents I Liked 490

Hi all,

Welcome to a fresh round of #globaldev readings-and an extra warm welcome to our new students who are hopefully getting inspired from these contemporary readings on a broad range of #globaldev topics-from refugees writing about their experience in Bangladesh & Kenya, to the UN's lack of peace meditation efforts, Yemen's crowd-funded humanitarianism, Ghana's rising property prices & a great call for action from Brazilian gig workers: 'Come downstairs or we’ll eat your order!'


My quotes of the week
Sure, the history of tensions between Rohingya and Rakhine communities in Myanmar is long. But, in my personal experience, there was no substantial day-to-day animosity between our peoples until smartphones, and Facebook, entered into our lives and allowed politicians, bigots and opportunists to propagate hate against my people in real time. (Facebook should pay for what it did to my people, Rohingya)

Among the recent coups in Africa, Gabon presents the best chance yet of a coup leading to the establishment of competitive electoral politics. Unlike the other affected Western African states, it is a society that is relatively educated, middle income, largely urban, and that does not face serious security threats. However, Gabon also faces challenges to a stable process of political development on account of its high levels of inequality and stunted political institutionalization. (Making sense of the coup in Gabon)

Development news
Facebook should pay for what it did to my people, Rohingya
I blame Facebook, its parent company Meta, and the man behind it all, Mark Zuckerberg, for helping create the conditions that allowed the Myanmar military to unleash hell upon us. The social media company allowed anti-Rohingya sentiments to fester on its pages. Its algorithms promoted disinformation that eventually translated into real-life violence.
Sure, the history of tensions between Rohingya and Rakhine communities in Myanmar is long. But, in my personal experience, there was no substantial day-to-day animosity between our peoples until smartphones, and Facebook, entered into our lives and allowed politicians, bigots and opportunists to propagate hate against my people in real time.
Maung Sawyeddollah for Al Jazeera with a powerful message to global social media platforms from a refugee perspective.

Why we should all be worried about the Anti-Boycott Bill
The UK government wants to stop public bodies from “pursuing their own foreign policy agenda.” In reality, the Anti-Boycott Bill will prevent local authorities, universities, and other public bodies from pursuing investment and procurement policies that align with their environmental and human rights obligations.
The Bill itself is poorly drafted, and this leaves open the possibility of unintended consequences and public bodies being unsure of their obligations. Additionally, the lack of substantial evidence linking boycott campaigns to antisemitism raises doubts about the Bill’s justification. Overall, the legislation risks stifling ethical decision-making on environment and human rights and undermines local authorities’ historical role in taking a principled stand on crucial international issues.
Billy Vaughan for BOND; I'm wondering whether what the author describes as 'poorly drafted' was done rather intentionally to leave room for broad interpretations & curtailing of CSO campaigning.

The remarkable story of how Yemen’s oil tanker disaster was averted by crowdfunding
According to Nakat, this isn’t enough. “You have the international community, UN members, and individuals from around the world coming together to contribute $121m and counting … on the other hand, you have these oil giants, who should bear the lion’s share of responsibility, neglecting their duties,” she says.
Gressly says that despite hearing from the salvage team that the vessel had at most a year before it would have crumbled into the sea, he still had to fight off scepticism to the last day that the fundraising would be “money that was well spent”.
He wonders if better mechanisms are needed to avert future disasters. “Prevention is just not a thing that we do collectively,” he says. “Fortunately, this was an exception.”
Emma Bryce for the Guardian with an excellent recap of the averted disaster off Yemen; that the UN needed to essentially launch its own 'GoFundMe' campaign for this is remarkable for many wrong reasons when oil companies refused to get involved.

Belgian development minister asks NGOs to focus on ‘forgotten crises’
In the new financial framework, which sets up the geographical focus and budgetary priorities for 2023-2024, the Sahel region, the Great Lake countries, the occupied Palestinian territories, and Yemen will be at the centre of attention. The protection of children and women will be at the heart of the programme, given that they are “extremely vulnerable in conflict and disaster situations”.
Anne-Sophie Gayet & Nina Chabot for Euractiv; at least Belgium with their small ODA budget (both in absolute terms & as part of GDP) wants to continue to take #globaldev & humanitarian topics seriously.

Gangs forcing hundreds of thousands of people into cybercrime in south-east Asia, says UN
Hundreds of thousands of people have been trafficked and forced to work for online scamming operations in south-east Asia run by criminal gangs, according to a UN report.
Billions of dollars are being generated each year by gangs who coerce victims into cybercrime, where they are subject to threats, torture and sometimes sexual violence, said the report, published by the UN human rights office on Tuesday.
The UN estimated about 120,000 victims are in Myanmar and 100,000 in Cambodia, while tens of thousands more people are being forced to work in Laos, the Philippines and Thailand.
Kaamil Ahmed for the Guardian; as it often is with numbers that the UN presents they could be estimations that certainly highlight an important new human rights issue.

What Happened to the UN’s Mediation Abilities?
The UN is no longer seen as an impartial body with a strong and respected voice globally. People living in conflict-ridden countries are increasingly viewing the UN as promoting the interests of the West and the powerful. But this wasn’t always the case. In previous decades, the UN played a major role in facilitating peace processes in many countries and regions around the world (such as Cambodia, Namibia, Central America and Timor-Leste), and numerous dedicated UN officials have paid the ultimate price and lost their lives in the pursuit of peace.
The decline of UN mediation is taking place against a backdrop of the increased polarization of global politics that can be seen in the Security Council, where Russia and China are often pitted against the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The continuing monopoly of these three countries — the US, the UK and France — over the drafting of Security Council resolutions and their undue influence in the Secretariat, where they continue to monopolize the leadership of the peace and security departments, has further eroded the UN’s credibility in mediation processes.
Jamal Benomar for PassBlue; I am not entirely convinced that things were so much better in the past other than perhaps during a small 'end of history' window in the 1990s, but the lack of UN engagement in current conflict & peace processes is still concerning.

Making sense of the coup in Gabon
Coups in relatively high-income countries (like Gabon) are more likely to lead to democratization. Among the recent coups in Africa, Gabon presents the best chance yet of a coup leading to the establishment of competitive electoral politics. Unlike the other affected Western African states, it is a society that is relatively educated, middle income, largely urban, and that does not face serious security threats. However, Gabon also faces challenges to a stable process of political development on account of its high levels of inequality and stunted political institutionalization. Another risk factor is whether interested foreign actors like France and others will intervene in Gabonese politics against the establishment of meaningful competitive electoral politics.
As always, Ken Opalo is the go-to expert for thorough analysis, context & outlooks of developments in Africa!
A tale of two cities: Diaspora influx hikes cost of living for Ghanaians
As the cost of living increases, people like Adotey are concerned that things could worsen in future.
“I won’t be surprised that a time will come when the people originally from Accra will rise up because they are losing their lands to foreigners. The government must address the situation now, else in the next five or so years, some of us might be forced to relocate to areas we can afford [outside Accra],” he said.
Kent Mensah for Al Jazeera on a new iteration of the familiar story how living in cities is becoming less & less affordable for locals.

Nollywood at the cinema
Since 2015, Nollywood has started to be able to hold its own against Marvel multi-part blockbusters and the like by taking more market share, box office data shows: ticket sales are growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 15%. That’s apart from audiences they’re likely gaining on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime.
From the always enlightening Semafor newsletter.

Why I came back to Dadaab: A different kind of refugee return story
There are two other options available to refugees: integration in Kenya, or repatriation to Somalia. I’ve tried the latter. I had fond ideas of making it in my homeland – I’m not trying it again.
The Kenyan government has passed a new enlightened refugee law that recognises the contribution we can make to the local economy by becoming self-reliant. The idea is that freedom to work and putting down proper roots will free us from the camps and aid handouts.
Kenya has been a kind host, but the government has been talking about an integration programme for the past two years. We are yet to see any progress. It’s easy to link this to the way we refugees have been associated in the minds of some politicians with al-Shabab – just because we are Somali.
I would welcome integration if it becomes a reality, but we know it’s dependent on investment by the government and by donors. And there’s no real sign of that yet.
Abdirahman Ahmed Aden for the New Humanitarian with a personal story that challenges conventional notions of being a 'refugee' & living in a 'refugee camp'.

Can NGOs in the Global North help Shift The Power with Senior Hires from the Global South?
As Jonathan Glennie points out in this video, the whole sector is based mostly in the Global North, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Degan Ali of Adeso explains that you could be living through a disaster in Nepal and the decisions affecting your survival could be made in Geneva.
Arbie Baguios asks: if we accept that most NGOs are Head Quartered in the Global North, then why don’t they just hire people from the Global South to make decisions and shape strategy?
The Aid Files with something interesting to watch...

Reflections on Development in Development Studies
This brings back the notion of solidarity: in the era of neoliberal dominance in most parts of the world a forgotten but essential ingredient to survival strategies. Empathy and solidarity, not only with other human beings but with all life, must be a guiding principle for Development and therefore also Development Studies. The slogan that “an injury to one is an injury to all” needs to be the moral and ethical compass.
Henning Melber for EADI with a good overview over some historic & contemporary conditions of doing #globaldev studies...well.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

This undated collection from Images of Empowerment is still relevant for discussions around ethical storytelling & visualizing empowerment.

Humanitarian Action in the Digital Age

The first MOOC about responsible use of technology for humanitarians. Learn about technology and identify risks and opportunities when designing digital solutions.
The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne offers a new MOOC on edX.
Reading corner
Decolonising Aid: Perspectives from Civil Society in Francophone Sub-saharan Africa
This research report aims to answer four interconnected and fundamental questions:

(1) What is the decolonisation of aid in practice?

(2) What are the experiences and perspectives of CSOs in Francophone Africa?

(3) how do these CSOs plan to contribute to a decolonisation and restructuring of the development aid system, in order to make it more just, equitable and efficient?

(4) Finally, what will be the role of donors, especially INGOs, in this process?
Ngnaoussi Elongué Cédric Christian for the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) with a very substantial paper that thoroughly reviews the decolonzing #globaldev debate from an African CSO perspective.

Experimental education research: rethinking why, how and when touse random assignment
Experimental research remains valuable in applied education research. However, it should primarily be used to test theoretical models, which can in turn inform educators’ mental models, rather than attempting to directly inform decision making.
Sam Sims, Jake Anders, Matthew Inglis, Hugues Lortie-Forgues, Ben Styles, Ben Weidmann with an interesting new Working Paper for UCL's Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities; perhaps the lack of diversity among the authors is also an indicator about power dynamics in education research-especially when it takes place in the Global South...

Degrowth and the Global South: The twin problem of global dependencies
We argue that future research might want to put more emphasis on the investigation of structural dependencies between the North and South, using a broader methodological toolkit than so far. Only then one can effectively address what we call the ‘twin problem of global dependencies’: the fact that within the current institutional framework, these dependencies are a motivation for and a potential obstacle to degrowth at the same time.
Claudius Gräbner-Radkowitsch & Birte Strunk with an interesting open access article in Ecological Economics.

In other news
Come downstairs or we’ll eat your order, delivery workers tell customers
A common worry among drivers is that their cycles, motorbikes, or bags might be stolen if left unattended. Most buildings don’t allow them to park inside, workers told Rest of World, forcing them to leave their vehicles and delivery bags on the street. The bags frequently contain two or three orders as the apps assign them multiple deliveries along the same route. To avoid having the other orders stolen, the bags must also go up with the drivers.
But drivers also want to save time, as the process of getting through Brazil’s heavily guarded buildings can be time-consuming. It often involves checking in with a concierge and handing over an ID. Sometimes, biometric photo-registration may be required.
Laís Martins for Rest of World continues their coverage of gig work(ers) & their strategies to survive around the world.

Age of Invention: Does History have a Replication Crisis?
What Jelf’s initiative reveals, I think, is a potential solution to at least some of the problems that history faces. Just as in the sciences it is considered good practice to make one’s data available, in history it should perhaps be a requirement to upload to some public repository the photographs or transcriptions of any cited archival sources that are not otherwise freely accessible online. This would not only help peer-reviewers assess a historian’s narrative — something that they frankly cannot do without going and reviewing those same sources for themselves — but would also hugely accelerate the rate at which historical work is digitised and made more available.
Anton Howes on the challenges to engage with social science in a digital, skeptical & difficult to replicate age...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 278, 20 April 2018)

Squeezing development research juice out of the Millennium Village Project evaluation
There is no doubt that the MVP debate will find its way into textbooks, course syllabi and many more academic research and writing. I am also pretty sure there will be a celebratory conference in 2025 to mark the 20th anniversary of the project.
But 13 years after the project started we need to continue those debates, even if they will remain marginalized, on how to communicate development differently, with communities and real people, on smaller scales rather than simply relying on more technology, better tools and bigger RCTs.
I fully admit that I had no idea in 2018 about the bad turn Jeffrey Sachs would take & that there probably isn't going to be much of a celebration of the MVP project in 2025...

How to be a global humanitarian

You are only one inspirational quote from GH superstardom. Use words such as ‘vision’, ‘humbled’, ‘empower’ and ‘change’. They should just trip off your tongue. Practise, practise, practise until it feels natural. Make speeches at every opportunity.
Emilie McMeekan for Tatler. I like this list because I'm not 100% sure whether the Tatler is really trying yo give serious career advice or takes a slightly ironic stab at celebrity & regular humanitarians...


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