Links & Contents I Liked 493
Another busy week with stories from Sudan, Myanmar, Venezuela, Mozambique, Jamaica, India, the US & Uganda & people that deserve our attention, compassion + engagement from young mothers in Mozambique, women in Jamaica or aid workers in Myanmar, Venezuela & elsewhere!
And make sure to scroll down to the posts from the archive-including a reflexive essay on colonialism, dangerous fieldwork & white academia.
P.S.: Next Friday we are going to have a fantastic alumni day & will celebrate 20+ years of ComDev with alumni, students, colleagues & friends here in Malmö-so the link review takes a break.
My quotes of the week
“What is happening – something curious – is that unfortunately we have some schools where the girls become pregnant – because we now allow pregnant girls to study, they continue to study normally – they are studying, but the children are outside the school grounds with a minor, with a nanny, looking after the baby, seven or eight years old, and sometimes we realise that they are not studying,” acknowledged Quincardete. “So we’ve solved one problem, but now we’ve created another. (Mozambique: Over half Cabo Delgado girls aged 15-19 have been pregnant)
People in this predicament may have a gallon of water and have to prioritise drinking water and using water to cook food. Their thought process is, ‘I can’t use this one gallon of water to properly wash myself and take care of my menstrual health hygiene. That can’t be the most important thing when I have two kids to feed.’
(Water scarcity and its impact on period poverty in Jamaica)
Those whose stated ideal is the promotion of the development of Third World economies and the material betterment of their people may find even they have to choose between their stated ideals and their financial interests, which most probably coincide with those of the multinational corporations.
(The Question of Compensation: A Third World Perspective, Norman Girvan, 1972)
Events in Sudan are a scar on humanity. The UN security council must intervene
The security council should unequivocally reaffirm to Sudan’s warring parties that those responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law will be held accountable. Those who deliberately obstruct access for vital humanitarian aid or employ prohibited tactics to achieve military objectives shall be held to account either by the Sudanese people or the international community. The council should be a trusted firewall against injustice.Adama Dieng for the Guardian; as unlikely as UN intervention is, this is a powerful reminder what the UN could & should be doing.
Ukraine’s special services ‘likely’ behind strikes on Wagner-backed forces in Sudan, a Ukrainian military source says
Ukrainian special services were likely behind a series of drone strikes and a ground operation directed against a Wagner-backed militia near Sudan’s capital, a CNN investigation has found, raising the prospect that the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spread far from the frontlines.Victoria Butenko, Nima Elbagir, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Tamara Qiblawi, Allegra Goodwin, Andrew Carey, Pallabi Munsi, Mahamat Tahir Zene, Barbara Arvanitidis & Alex Platt for CNN; interesting reporting, but more external actors meddling in wars & conflicts is never really a good news story...
Speaking to CNN, a Ukrainian military source described the operation as the work of a “non-Sudanese military.” Pressed on whether Kyiv was behind the attacks, the source would only say that “Ukrainian special services were likely responsible.”
U.N. Chief’s Test: Shaming Without Naming the World’s Climate Delinquents
The contradictions show not only the constraints on Mr. Guterres, a 74-year-old politician from Portugal, but also the shortcomings of the diplomatic playbook on a problem as urgent as global warming.Somini Sengupta for the New York Times; it's UNGA week so quite a few articles popped up, but I found this one provided a great overview over UN challenges from a climate perspective & had a great description of Richard Gowan ;) !
“The rules of multilateral diplomacy and multilateral summitry are not fit for the speedy and effective response that we need,” said Richard Gowan, who decodes the rituals of the United Nations for the International Crisis Group.
Aid localisation amidst revolution in Myanmar
One of our key findings is that there is a ‘conflict paradox’ for these local organisations – where local humanitarian actors can be both disempowered and empowered through international aid partnerships in settings of conflict. In conflict situations characterised by restricted international access, local actors can have greater control over aid resources and decision-making; yet such contexts can also result in the further disempowerment of local actors, when they are reduced to subcontractors delivering aid programs that remain controlled by international agencies.Tamas Wells, Anne Décobert & Anonymous Myanmar author for DevPolicy Blog with a nuanced view on localisation.
In Venezuela, Maduro’s squeeze on NGOs threatens humanitarian aid
In times of war, neutrality is not indifference;— ICRC (@ICRC) September 20, 2023
it is a deliberate way of working to be able to help without taking sides, allowing us to reach those who need it most.
Join us and artist @Vaskange on the often misunderstood role of neutrality. pic.twitter.com/KISo8hrLEW
Last month, the Venezuelan government removed the Red Cross’s president and liquidated its board, part of what aid and rights groups see as a broader effort to limit and control their activities in a country where the UN says one in five people need humanitarian assistance.Tony Frangie Mawad & Joshua Collins for the New Humanitarian reporting from another highly politicised humanitarian situation.
Mozambique: Over half Cabo Delgado girls aged 15-19 have been pregnant
“What is happening – something curious – is that unfortunately we have some schools where the girls become pregnant – because we now allow pregnant girls to study, they continue to study normally – they are studying, but the children are outside the school grounds with a minor, with a nanny, looking after the baby, seven or eight years old, and sometimes we realise that they are not studying,” acknowledged Quincardete. “So we’ve solved one problem, but now we’ve created another.Club of Mozambique on the problems of teenage pregnancies, motherhood & schooling in Cabo Delgado.
“We also have to work to sensitise these mothers, so that in the opposite period, if she studies in the afternoon, then she leaves that girl, the nanny, to look after her daughter, to study in the morning, or vice versa,” he added.
Water scarcity and its impact on period poverty in Jamaica
If you’re already […] experiencing period poverty, you have no water, you have little to no money to buy water or readily access water, how will you be able to access wipes to use? People in this predicament may have a gallon of water and have to prioritise drinking water and using water to cook food. Their thought process is, ‘I can’t use this one gallon of water to properly wash myself and take care of my menstrual health hygiene. That can’t be the most important thing when I have two kids to feed.’Candice Stewart for Global Voices reports from Jamaica on the link between the climate crisis, water & women's health + well-being.
Chance encounter transforms girl from Mumbai slum into teenage model, internet influencer
Three years ago an inquisitive American tourist wandered into a waterfront slum in Mumbai and met a tiny, smiley girl.Hemanshi Kamani for Reuters; as it sometimes happens on the blog, I'm not entirely sure why the story captured my attention-maybe the 'rags to riches' framing did something to me?
Maleesha Kharwa is now 15, still tiny, and with the same winning smile, and her family still has hutment on a shoreline strewn with garbage, but they now also rent a one room apartment, with its own toilet and running water, just a short distance away.
In March, a luxury Indian cosmetics brand Forest Essentials chose Maleesha as the face of its Yuvati campaign celebrating young Indian women.
That’s one set of work. Some of it is about is about culture change and some of it is about education. It’s taking people who are super eager, but just not as exposed to what constitutes strong evidence and what’s weak evidence. One of the most important shifts is recognizing that when we talk about using evidence, we’re not talking about using USAID evidence. We’re talking about using the global evidentiary base.Dylan Matthews talks to Dean Karlan for Vox; this is an interesting interview, but I still wish to read a headline one day when they bring in a leading sociologist/anthropologist to 'fix' #globaldev...
There’s a kind of a cultural instinct, when you ask, “What’s the evidence we have on X,” to look inside USAID and what USAID has produced. In fact, evidence is evidence. Who cares who paid for it? The cash studies are a perfect example of this. Sure, USAID has some landmark projects, which are super exciting. But the fact is, that’s something like 5 or 10 percent of the evidentiary base of the impact of cash transfer programs. So if you want to know what to expect from giving out cash to people, you don’t just look at the things that USAID paid for.
Cash transfers reduce adult and child mortality rates in low- and middle-income countries
In an effort to alleviate poverty and combat growing inequality, policymakers and stakeholders in many settings – ranging from high-income countries to low-income countries – are now considering the merits of introducing or further expanding cash transfer programmes. Policy measures like universal basic income and guaranteed income are also being piloted in various places. The overall costs and sustainability of such programmes is often a central concern, and our research shows that an important and largely unnoticed benefit of cash transfer programmes may come in the form of lower mortality rates – not merely among beneficiaries but rather at the population level. Whilst formal cost-effectiveness analyses based on our findings remain necessary, a rough calculation using the total cost of cash transfers and the underlying mortality rates in the study countries implies a cost of $11,000 per life saved.Aaron Richterman & Harsha Thirumurthy for VoxDev with new research on how cash transfers save lives!
Investing in Black Women Leaders With the Dream Capital They Need
Dream capital brings an abundance mindset, sparking greater community-driven outcomes. For generations, Black women leaders have shared their aspirations and stressors with a supportive sisterhood that gives us the courage to tackle transformation at a systemic level that is not accessible when we’re stuck in isolation. But when Black women across sectors, generations, and seats of power come together with an abundance mindset of all that can be possible, innovation compounds. In the gatherings we host, we see what can be possible: bigger ideas, greater creativity, and more audacious ambitions. Through the years, we—along with our investors—have learned that creating this beloved, Black women-centered community requires us all to unlearn the traditional mechanisms of philanthropy, and come back home to the DNA of Black women-led philanthropy, grounded in community, collaboration, love and restoration.Gabrielle Wyatt for the Stanford Social Innovation Review with some insights that are also very much applicable to the #globaldev sector.
The New Colonialist Food Economy
Pivotal to the success of sustainable food systems under local control, say agro-ecology advocates, is winning the battle for control of seeds. “Bill Gates’s ‘magic seeds’ will accelerate the cycle of chemical destruction that has destroyed the earth’s soils in less than a century,” said Inés Cuj, the permaculture institute director in Guatemala. “The answer to climate change lies in traditional knowledge and ancestral seeds that have been around for thousands of years. We cannot allow the attack on them to succeed. It is an attack against life itself.”Alexander Zaitchik for the Nation with a detailed long-read on the agro-industrial complex.
If, like me, you have had the experience of living in the US, you too will find it hard to understand why Americans think the bananas found on their shelves are worth fighting for at all. In order to be shipped to the US, bananas are picked underripe and arrive to consumers green, tasteless, and hard. You have to let them ripen on the counter for days until you eventually forget they’re there, only to shove them into the freezer once you realize they’ve become overripe and nearly black, promising yourself that you’ll make banana bread someday that never arrives. They are the sad cousins of the small, sweet bananas I grew up eating—sometimes three or four at a time. Most Americans I know have never even tried good bananas. So, what accounts for the fact that such a mediocre fruit has become a fetish object for Western leftists?Anselm Kizza-Besigye for Africa is a Country on bananas, Uganda & socialism...
The Question of Compensation: A Third World Perspective, Norman Girvan, 1972
countries whose peoples have been the victims of centuries of decimation, plunder and exploitation are bound to approach the question of compensating foreign interests with a great deal of cynicism. That they contemplate compensation at all may be only in deference to international realpolitik.Secondly, the economic motives for expropriation imply certain specific financial and control aspects of the compensation arrangements that are consistent with such motives. These will vary from industry to industry, but as a general rule they will differ profoundly from what is considered "fair" by the multinational corporations. Thirdly, this profound difference stems from the wide divergencies in structure, perspectives, objectives and, ultimately, philosophy between the Third World countries and the multinational corporations in the developed countries. Finally, those whose stated ideal is the promotion of the development of Third World economies and the material betterment of their people may find even they have to choose between their stated ideals and their financial interests, which most probably coincide with those of the multinational corporations.The Black Agenda Report reprints a fantastic 50-year old essay!
Abolitionist Quobna Ottobah’s permanent artwork commemorating the 250th anniversary of his baptism was unveiled on Wednesday at St James’s Church in Central London.
Ottobah is remembered as one of the first Black authors of anti-slavery books published in Britain, which called for the abolition of slavery and the immediate emancipation of all enslaved people.The Semafor newsletter is just great!
(Link review 281, 11 May 2018)
Dear Colonialism - guest post by Ami V. Shah
So in the name of viewpoint diversity, Dear Colonialism, let me suggest a radical notion. It is time for anti-colonial and decolonial viewpoints to be heard and to be taken seriously. It is time to stop pushing these views to the side claiming that they are a new orthodoxy when your orthodoxy still clings tightly to each wall of our homes.New U.N. tool will stop sexual wrongdoers from finding new jobs in aid world, official says
You have never left.
Dear Colonialism, the world will never be rid of your effects, whatever your assessment of them may be. The reality of the world you created cannot be escaped. If you are so brazen, so strong, so able, so capable as to right the wrongs you see in our lands presently, then own the wrongs that are yours.
Plans for the U.N. screening tool to register workers found guilty of sexual misconduct were announced at the gathering of its agency heads in London this week.Umberto Bacchi for Thomson Reuters Foundation News on how the UN secretariat is responding to the #AidToo movement-I wonder what became of that initiave/tool?
"(It) is a screening tool so that when we have confirmed perpetrators of sexual harassment in the system, we can ensure that they are not able to move around," Beagle told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of the meeting.
Beagle said groundwork for the system, which will be managed by the secretariat, is complete and it was expected to be fully operational by the summer.
Indigenizing Canadian academia and the insidious problem of white possessiveness
What does this mean for Indigenization or Decolonization of Canadian academe? It means that the majority of the people making decisions are white. It means that arguments for changes to institutions have to be filtered through whiteness, through white bodies (both human and institutional), and that white people still, largely, operate to own, control, and command what any changes to a campus looks like. (This is what Dr. Sara Ahmed articulates when she discusses the notion of ‘white men as buildings’ in British academe (Ahmed 2014)). It means that racialized students, staff, and faculty are at an extreme disadvantage (and even at risk of serious sanction, expulsion, or firing) when they raise questions of racism and ethical violations in Canadian universities. It means that Indigenous faculty have to be the ‘good’ kind of Indigenous (inoffensive, mystical, peace-full) or else be labelled as trouble-makers or, for Indigenous women, risk being seen as the ‘angry Indigenous woman’ stereotype. It means that Indigenization is not Decolonization.Zoe Todd for speculative fish-ctions with a powerful post on whiteness, the limits of decolonization and Canadian academia.
Competitive Hardship: ethnographic guilt and early-career pressure to conduct ‘authentic’ fieldwork
Amongst my own cohort of anthropologists, I detect rather a deep-set sense of anxiety that our own research, much of which is posited in communities and topics outside the parameters of what once would have been considered legitimate ethnographic research, will pass muster. Ethnographic ‘depth’ can be easily confused with an exoticised search for authenticity, which in turn can frequently become synonymous with emotional or physical hardship. This is further exacerbated by a wall of silence surrounding the ethnographer’s own personhood and situation in the field, and the complex realities of living and working in fieldsites where total immersion and isolation, if desirable, is practicably impossible due to digital connectivity. Anthropological lines of enquiry have diversified enormously in the past decade, and notions of how to construct a fieldsite are also in flux. Hegemonic structures within the academy, including teaching curricula, funding requirements and job application processes still disproportionately represent the old school however, and until these catch up with the present diversity of research, early-career ethnographers will continue to feel insecure, anxious, and pressurised in this key rite of passage.Jennifer Cearns for the New Ethnographer with an important essay on how anthropological field work is changing radically and leaves a new generation of researchers exhausted, pressured to stretch limits of field work and still faced with traditional academic structures.