Links & Contents I Liked 492

Hi all,

Migration, conflict, drugs, greenwashing, the political economy of humanitarianism, transitional justice, NGOs vs civil society, reparations & a thirst for numbers - big issues featured in news articles, opinion pieces, reports & research articles - as you expect it from one of your favourite weekly #globaldev digest!

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
The Colombians transporting migrants through the jungle say they are providing a humanitarian service. The migrants will try to get to the United States regardless, they say, driven by violence, poverty and political upheaval at home.
So, by professionalizing the migration business, Colombian leaders say they can prevent their impoverished towns from being overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of needy people, help the migrants traverse the treacherous jungle more safely — and feed their own economies in the process.

(‘A Ticket to Disney’? Politicians Charge Millions to Send Migrants to U.S.)

Members of the Network agree that the imperial project is not only historical but the lived present, where NGOs function as service providers to marginalized and oppressed communities – existing, bound and limited by data collection necessary for donor funding impact reports – diagnosing and addressing non-political issues, rather than the ideology and political arrangement upholding the grand totality of the violence experienced under global capitalism. (Breaking the silence on NGOs in Africa – a review)

Development news
‘A Ticket to Disney’? Politicians Charge Millions to Send Migrants to U.S.
Today, the business is run by elected community board members like Mr. García, through a registered nonprofit started by the board’s president and his family. It’s called the New Light Darién Foundation, and it manages the entire route from Acandí to the border with Panama — setting prices for the journey, collecting fees and running sprawling campsites in the middle of the jungle.
The foundation has hired more than 2,000 local guides and backpack carriers, organized in teams with numbered T-shirts of varying colors — lime green, butter yellow, sky blue — like members of an amateur soccer league.
Migrants pay for tiers of what the foundation calls “services,” including the basic $170 guide and security package to the border. Then a migration “adviser” wraps two bracelets around their wrists as proof of payment.
“Like a ticket to Disney,” said Renny Montilla, 25, a construction worker from Venezuela.
(...)
The Colombians transporting migrants through the jungle say they are providing a humanitarian service. The migrants will try to get to the United States regardless, they say, driven by violence, poverty and political upheaval at home.
So, by professionalizing the migration business, Colombian leaders say they can prevent their impoverished towns from being overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of needy people, help the migrants traverse the treacherous jungle more safely — and feed their own economies in the process.
Julie Turkewitz & Federico Rios for the New York Times with a fascinating, scary & visually powerful story about new frontlines in migration.

UN envoy for Sudan resigns and warns that the conflict could be turning into full-scale civil war
Volker Perthes, who had continued to work outside Sudan, said the fighting shows no sign of abating, with neither side appearing close to “a decisive military victory.” He also said the violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region “has worsened dramatically,” with civilians being targeted based on their ethnicity.
Edith M. Lederer for AP News with more bas news from Sudan.

Sudan’s Crisis: Can Cash Transfers Prevent Starvation and State Collapse?
If lives are at risk, the humanitarian imperative is to respond. Our roundtable participants felt a combination of cash responses should be part of the response. For example: banks partnering with fin-tech companies, credit vouchers through telecoms companies, and support for traditional Hawala. A range of channels is recommended because contexts within Sudan vary and to minimise the risk of exploitation of any one channel. All of this will be dependent on some functioning of markets, financial institutions, and telecoms. Ideally, an independent civilian-run central bank will be created but this will not be easy to implement given the current military regime.
Susanne Jaspars & Tamer Abd Elkreem for African Arguments summarising a round-table discussion that took place more than two weeks ago.

The UN Is Still Waiting to Be Invited by Morocco to Help With Its Post-Quake Disaster
“The authorities do not want to accept help from Algeria and France, but because it does not want to be explicit in excluding them, the authority is making it a general policy,” Abdelmoumni told PassBlue. “Also, the marketers of the king’s image are worried about having people coming here and going back with the official image of how much people were suffering in very hard conditions before the earthquake and how these areas were totally abandoned, how the government is weak, corrupt and inefficient.”
(...)
Moroccan authorities continue to rebuff criticism that it is playing geopolitics with the desperate needs of its own citizens. Abdelmalek Alaoui, president of the Moroccan Institute of Strategic Intelligence, told Al Jazeera that the government wanted to manage how aid is delivered so as not to create further problems.
“Morocco did not refuse international aid, it is trying to channel it in the best way in order to serve the best interests of the population,” he said.
Damilola Banjo for PassBlue looks into the story of how Morocco is engaging with international offers of aid after the earthquake.

Afghanistan is the fastest-growing maker of methamphetamine, UN drug agency says
The United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crimes, which published the report, said meth in Afghanistan is mostly made from legally available substances or extracted from the ephedra plant, which grows in the wild.
The report called Afghanistan’s meth manufacturing a growing threat to national and regional health and security because it could disrupt the synthetic drug market and fuel addiction. It said seizures of meth suspected to have come from Afghanistan have been reported from the European Union and east Africa.
Riazat Butt for AP News on developments in Afghanistan that mirror those in other weak/failed states such as Syria or Mexico which are turning into a new generation of narco states...

Aid workers ‘demand sex for food’ in Mozambique’s refugee camps
openDemocracy travelled to Cabo Delgado to speak to several women who, like Macia, allege that the local relief workers responsible for distributing food have been demanding sex and money in return.
The relief workers are supposed to be hired by Mozambique’s government to distribute the aid provided by the WFP and others, but loopholes mean they are often appointed by community leaders. openDemocracy reached out to government officials but did not receive a response.
Colleta Dewa for openDemocracy reports on an all-too-common problem in many camp situations & a powerful reminder that 'safeguarding' procedures need to include the complete aid chain of local & community leaders as well.

Is the UN really climate neutral? No.
More than 2.7 million UN carbon credits – 40% of those reporters were able to analyse – were issued by hydropower and wind projects, which climate experts say shouldn’t be used to offset emissions as the schemes often don’t need income from credits to be viable.
In addition, at least 13 carbon offsetting projects that received UN funds have been linked to reports of environmental damage, displacement, or health problems – all issues the UN routinely works to prevent or mitigate.
Jacob Goldberg, Léopold Salzenstein, Sarah Brown & Shaz Syed for the New Humanitarian; as much as I appreciate the investigation I almost feel a bit sorry for 'the UN': The UN system with its dispersed offices, often in outdated buildings, its huge amount of (air) travel for conferences + meetings & actual project work that require WFP diesel trucks and UNHAS flights will most likely not be 'climate neutral' in the near future; so they do a little greenwashing, public-private-partnership Titanic deckchair moving & CSR window-dressing...and you know what? I don't really blame 'the UN'! Fund them properly, make sure they have access to great architecture, cutting-edge technology & time + staff power to invest in good projects which will probably have a bigger impact on their overall footprint that pushing them to be 'climate neutral' for the sake of it!

Is BRICS+ an Anti-Colonial Formation Worth Cheering From the Left? Far From It.
This, however, does not mean the charge of authoritarianism against BRICS+ members ought to be rejected. It should be of serious concern to the left and to all human rights activists that the world’s most tyrannical and repressive regimes are seeking to collaborate and to bolster their power. Scenes of police brutality on the streets of Ferguson or the borders of Europe have their mirrors on the streets of Delhi as bulldozers crush Muslim homes; in Tehran, as authorities fire on women protesters; in the horrors that Vladimir Putin has unleashed in Ukraine; or in the so-called Uyghur re-education camps in Xinjiang province. The U.S. allies in BRICS+ — Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia — are similarly no slackers when it comes to repression of their own citizens and deplorable treatment of incomers.
Tithi Bhattacharya & Gareth Dale for Truthout on the decolonial complexities around BRICS & friends.

17 Years After Nepal’s Civil War: Where Is Truth, Justice?
The more time passes, the harder it will be to find evidence and witnesses, says Nirajan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International in Nepal, a human rights organization.
“Until now, the political parties precisely wanted to ‘delay, dilute and deny’ the justice process,” says Thapaliya.
Advocates like Thapaliya say that the bill does not adhere to international human rights laws and in its current form provides amnesty for grave human rights violations.
The current bill provides amnesties for murder and sexual violence (except rape), beating and mutilation, abduction, arson, forced displacement and illegal detention, Thapaliya says. International human rights laws dictate which crimes can be amnestied and which cannot. It does not permit amnesty for grave human rights violations, including arbitrary killing, torture, enforced disappearance or sexual violence, he says.
“The parties and leaders are making the transitional justice bill as a bargaining chip for their power deals,” Thapaliya says. 
Shilu Manandhar for Global Press Journal on the long road for 'transitional' justice in Nepal almost 20 years after the end of the civil war.

Persuading voters in India to punish vote-buying candidates

Overall, radio campaigns can be a cost-effective alternative to more expensive on-the-ground efforts. Each dollar spent persuaded 130 voters to change their vote, affecting 3 million votes in total, and decreasing the vote share of precisely those parties identified in journalist interviews as engaging in the most vote buying. This study represents the first systematic attempt to evaluate the effects of a large-scale mass media voter education campaign against vote buying.
A pertinent question for the future is whether and how parties respond to media campaigns or to other sources of information. Given the timing of our radio campaign, parties had little time to react. With more time, these campaigns might lead parties to nominate different candidates, make changes to their policy platform, or increase voter monitoring and intimidation.
Laura Schechter & Srinivasan Vasudevan for VoxDev presenting their latest research that underscore the power of radio among many other interesting aspects!

Beyond charity: How funders can seed the next generation of development
The new business models we are working on support local partners and communities to be the architects of their own solutions. They must take the lead in designing projects and participate in contributing to this development for it to work long-term. At Ripple Effect, alternative financing will allow us to start from the farm and invest accordingly through technology, inputs, knowledge, and skills to realise transformative impacts.
Paul Stuart for BOND on social enterprise work in Kenya.

Breaking the silence on NGOs in Africa – a review
Informed by their reflections on Shivji’s text, members of the Network agree that the imperial project is not only historical but the lived present, where NGOs function as service providers to marginalized and oppressed communities – existing, bound and limited by data collection necessary for donor funding impact reports – diagnosing and addressing non-political issues, rather than the ideology and political arrangement upholding the grand totality of the violence experienced under global capitalism.
Zachary J. Patterson for the Review of African Political Economy with a great book review essay.

Is it Right to Count Humanitarian Aid as Loss and Damage?
So, what does it mean to address something? Addressing must mean giving a problem its rightful name and acting seriously to solve it.
To avert or minimise a loss is to postpone it or avoid its worst effect, but it does not address the source, impact and unfairness of that loss. Humanitarian work cannot truly recover or make good the loss and damage experienced by people and nature. Any attempt by states to pretend it can, and to re-badge humanitarian aid as addressing climate change losses, would be morally wrong. It would cover up claims to wider climate justice by wrapping them in a humanitarian blanket.
Disaster justice is part of climate justice, but not the whole of it. Addressing losses is in a different league of justice to averting and minimising risk. Humanitarians should say this at COP28 and make clear that climate justice starts where disaster justice stops.
Hugo Slim for the Centre for Humanitarian Action on the complex relationships between humanitarianism & the climate crisis agenda.

Reading corner
The fastest-growing library of disability resources
Between us we cover a fair bit of available disability news and we've picked out the very best items for you.
Alongside tweaks to the website, and a new logo for the Debrief, we're proud to share with you:A library with disability news and resources from 145+ countries and regions
A hub on climate and disability with a resource guide and Áine's reporting.
Now partly I'm calling this the fastest-growing library of disability resources to get your attention. I share below others that you'll want to look at if you need even more disability news in your life.
But the other reason that I call it that is there's nothing else like it. It's a catalogue of almost 3,200 links hand-picked since the start of 2022, covering the majority of the world's countries and an extensive range of tech, social and economic issues.
Peter Torres Fremlin for Disability Debrief presents his impressively curated library on disability resources!

Ten Things We Know about Humanitarian Numbers
Nine years after the ‘data revolution’ (UN, 2014), the data frenzy in humanitarian aid has not abated. The number of numbers is on the rise. Data on war casualties, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), malnutrition, shelter, education – all domains have increased their quantitative capacity. This has fed into a growth in ratings, indicators and tables: there have been over 160 global performance indicators, with more than eight new ratings added on average per year since 1999 (...) It seems that the one thing that connects different crises is the need for more data about them. This is reflected throughout the pieces in this special section.
This special issue looks to question this call for more numbers. There is a push to produce more numbers, to go more digital and more transparent, as if such a call was self-explanatory and politically neutral. We interrogate this data frenzy in this introduction and throughout the four pieces that follow.
Joël Glasman & Brendan Lawson introduce an open access special issue of the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs.

Understanding Inequalities in Volunteering Research and Evidence
The report addressing these objectives through two research questions –
Why is there inequality in volunteering research?
How does inequality in volunteering research manifest?
Based on the findings from these questions, it goes on to ask what concrete proposals can be made in which a range of actors in the volunteering research space can address inequality in volunteering research.
In the report, the research findings are presented in three sections:
(1) Why is there inequality in volunteering research and how does it manifest?
(2) Implications of the imbalances; and
(3) How do we change inequalities in volunteering research?
Helene Perold for the International Forum for Volunteering in Development with a new report.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 280, 4 May 2018)

#MeToo sex scandals spur interest in standards for the aid sector
Standards in general are not a barrier to new or small NGOs and newcomers to the sector, Knudsen insisted. In fact, she added, they provide a framework for good practice and comparability.
Knudsen pointed out that standards and certifications only demonstrate whether an organisation has the structure to do quality work. They are “an enabler, rather than a predictor” of quality, she said.
Hauselmann of HQAI said that previous attempts at third-party audits and independent assessments had suffered because of a perception that they are “a tool to sanction”. Instead, he stressed, they should be seen as one of the “most important drivers for improvement”.
However, Nicholas Stockton, former head of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership and a veteran of earlier initiatives to improve standards, doesn’t believe NGOs can achieve effective collective self-regulation.
After revelations of sex-for-aid abuses in West Africa in 2002, there was a “moral panic”, and new initiatives were established, he wrote in an online comment on IRIN. Gradually, however, “business as usual resumed and a growing sense of impunity and hubris grew, and with it the ever-increasing danger of unmanaged moral hazard that has now been blown open.”
Ben Parker for IRIN/the New Humanitarian with an update on the long road that will follow after the #AidToo momentum.

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