Links & Contents I Liked 495

Hi all,

This week's #globaldev review ends on a paper from 2018 that introduces the concept of 'oxygen of amplification' which seems particularly relevant in the last few days.
The focus this week is on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya & Dominica, but also on harmful loan scams, child protection & voluntourism, loss + damage, a LiveAid musical, Lumumba's legacy & much more!
And for the first time in many, many years I joined a new social platform...Bluesky it is for the moment.

My quotes of the week
As Kimathi sees it, the multinational tech firms and their outsourcing partners made one big, potentially fatal miscalculation when they set up shop in Kenya: They didn’t anticipate a workers’ revolt. If they had considered the country’s history, perhaps they would have seen the writing of the African Content Moderator’s Union on the wall.
(Silicon Savanna: The workers taking on Africa's digital sweatshops)

Golden passports play a central role in Dominica’s economy. The country’s leaders say the money is needed to replace its once dominant banana exports, damaged by changes in trade rules.
Revenues – estimated at more than $1bn since 2009 – have become the main source of income for the Dominican government, helping to fund schools, healthcare and other public services.

(Revealed: thousands who bought ‘golden passports’ through Dominica’s $1bn scheme)

Ultimately, though conceptually problematic, riddled with practical problems, and for all the perverse incentives it may generate, the development and measurement of a global poverty line has changed, and largely for the better, the business of fighting poverty. It has narrowed — substantially — the conception of what poverty is, and with that narrowing has come real-life consequences. It has made poverty an empirically tractable concept, and a rhetorically powerful device for inspiring and organizing action.
(Between the Lines: A History of the Most Important Concept in Global Poverty)

Development news

More than 90% of people killed by western Afghanistan quake were women and children, UN says
“At that time of the day, men were out in the field,” Nadal told The Associated Press. “Many men migrate to Iran for work. The women were at home doing the chores and looking after the children. They found themselves trapped under the rubble. There was clearly a gender dimension.”
The initial quake, numerous aftershocks and a second 6.3-magnitude quake on Wednesday flattened entire villages, destroying hundreds of mud-brick homes that could not withstand such force. Schools, health clinics and other village facilities also collapsed.
Riazat Butt for AP News.

The silent decay of international aid to Rohingya refugees
The Ukraine example should not be taken as a criticism of humanitarian support for Ukrainians, but as a template for response to all humanitarian crises globally. When regional powers like Australia refocus humanitarian assistance away from protracted global south crises, others in the international community are empowered to do the same.
The international community cannot forget about the Rohingya crisis. It must allocate funds for the provision of essential humanitarian services, while also increasing efforts to provide a safe pathway for the resettlement of more Rohingya refugees and prioritise long-term solutions to reduce suffering.
Jake Porter for DevPolicy Blog with a reminder about another underfunded humanitarian crisis.

Inside the deadly instant loan app scam that blackmails with nudes
A blackmail scam is using instant loan apps to entrap and humiliate people across India and other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. At least 60 Indians have killed themselves after being abused and threatened. A​ BBC undercover investigation has exposed those profiting from this deadly scam in India and China.
Poonam Agarwal, Nupur Sonar & Stephanie Hegarty for BBC World Service with an investigation into a particularly abusive FinTech scam targeting women primarily in the Global South.

UN expert calls for robust child protection structures to stem unregulated and unskilled voluntourism
“The growth in technological advancements and in travel and new forms of tourism and travel products such as voluntourism put children at risk of exploitation especially in places where legal protection is weak and child protection systems are inadequate,” Singhateh said.
The report highlights good practices and makes recommendations for the formulation, strengthening and implementation of child safeguarding standards that tackle and respond to this problem. It urges Governments to put in place measures that prohibit the use of unskilled and untrained volunteers in childcare institutions and facilities; regulate the private sector within the travel and tourism industry to ensure compliance with business and child rights obligations and implement the “do no harm” principle in all policy making and actions.
The UN Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children with an important new report.
Revealed: thousands who bought ‘golden passports’ through Dominica’s $1bn scheme
Golden passports play a central role in Dominica’s economy. The country’s leaders say the money is needed to replace its once dominant banana exports, damaged by changes in trade rules.
Revenues – estimated at more than $1bn since 2009 – have become the main source of income for the Dominican government, helping to fund schools, healthcare and other public services.
Jasper Jolly's investigation for the Guardian includes interesting #globaldev aspects of 'golden passport' schemes.

The Current Crop of Women Leaders Shows Political Shifts to the Right
Among the countries represented by a woman this year but not last year, there were more right-leaning states than left-leaning, reflecting the authoritarian turn of politics globally, especially in Europe. Among the countries who were represented by women this year, Italy, Jamaica and Peru, which now lean right, outnumbered the only new left-leaning country, Slovenia. Three centrist countries, Norway, Mexico and France, were also represented by women in 2023 but not in 2022.
Laura E. Kirkpatrick for PassBlue looks at the complex politics behind simple endorsements of female leaders at UNGA.

Silicon Savanna: The workers taking on Africa's digital sweatshops
Kimathi continued: “For us, sitting in the Global South, but also in Africa, we’re looking at this from a historical perspective. Energetic young Africans are being targeted for content moderation and they come out of it maimed for life. This is reminiscent of slavery. It’s just now we’ve moved from the farms to offices.”
As Kimathi sees it, the multinational tech firms and their outsourcing partners made one big, potentially fatal miscalculation when they set up shop in Kenya: They didn’t anticipate a workers’ revolt. If they had considered the country’s history, perhaps they would have seen the writing of the African Content Moderator’s Union on the wall.
Kenya has a rich history of worker organizing in resistance to the colonial state. The labor movement was “a critical pillar of the anti-colonial struggle,” Kimathi explained to me. She and other critics of Big Tech’s operations in Kenya see a line that leads from colonial-era labor exploitation and worker organizing to the present day. A workers’ backlash was a critical part of that resistance — and one the Big Tech platforms and their outsourcers may have overlooked when they decided to do business in the country.
“They thought that they would come in and establish this very exploitative industry and Kenyans wouldn’t push back,” she said. Instead, they sued.
Erica Hellerstein, Natalia Jidovanu & Ann Kieran for coda with a powerful & visually stunning investigation into exploitative content moderation practices & resistance in Kenya.

Loss and damage – a humanitarian kairos moment
This is not a humanitarian ‘either-or’ situation, it is an ‘and’ situation. It is not a choice between either justice or disaster relief. Powerful emitter states are trying to divert demands for justice and compensation by ‘humanitarianising’ loss and damage. Humanitarians can actively object to that in word and deed and still provide urgently needed relief – by capitalising on the justice-based narratives of the loss and damage debate and by advocating for additional and obligatory funding for humanitarian disaster relief inste
The challenges deriving from the tension between the two perspectives of aid and activism are not necessarily a bad thing, as Söderberg and Knox Clarke stated elsewhere. This productive dissonance can urge humanitarians to leave their comfort zone, and that’s when real change happens.
Andrea Steinke & Sonja Hövelmann for the Humanitarian Practice Network about the opportunities (& challenges) that come with the emerging 'loss & damage' debate.

The Live Aid musical will continue a legacy of white saviorism
It’s recently been reported that the 1985 series of Live Aid concerts is going to serve as the basis for a new stage show in London.
(...)
I hope that the kids visiting this show are better able to understand the negative impact of this way of thinking, and that their takeaway will be to recognize that this isn’t how to show unity, that self-aggrandizing performative solidarity should stay back in 1985, and that the people telling this story should be those with lived experience of that famine, not pop stars creating commercial enterprise out of suffering.
Jess Crombie for DevEx; I think this piece is not just about a potential Live Aid musical, but also about the author's own professional reflections on white saviorism in her work at Save The Children & the broader #globaldev sector.

How to realise a bold new future for international cooperation
When we talk about a critical principle like Leave No One Behind, we don’t just want it to be words on a page, we want real change in focus and behaviour – what is that, what can I do tomorrow, and what do I need to be building towards? I have often been in meetings where we make statements of principle but do not provide others with the agency to do something with it – we get further by bringing both together.
Secondly, look for the links between the big ambition and the immediate next steps. For example, decolonising the sector requires massive political shifts including reparations. That is the big ambition, though it will take time and the right political opportunity.
In the meantime, make practical progress towards locally led development and anti-racist and equitable practice in your organisations a priority
Stephanie Draper for Bond reflects on her tenure as CEO of the organization.

Between the Lines: A History of the Most Important Concept in Global Poverty
Ultimately, though conceptually problematic, riddled with practical problems, and for all the perverse incentives it may generate, the development and measurement of a global poverty line has changed, and largely for the better, the business of fighting poverty. It has narrowed — substantially — the conception of what poverty is, and with that narrowing has come real-life consequences. It has made poverty an empirically tractable concept, and a rhetorically powerful device for inspiring and organizing action. And with its measurement has come a change in how we support the poor, for both good and ill.
Ranil Dissanayake for Asterisk Magazine with a very thorough review of how we have measured & engaged with measuring global poverty.
The legend of Patrice Lumumba, the CIA, and the Congo
The private racism of U.S. officials really stood out. At one White House meeting about Congo, a top official told President Dwight Eisenhower that “many Africans still belonged in the trees,” to which Ike responded in apparent agreement. Clare Timberlake, the U.S. ambassador to Congo, joked in one letter that Lumumba was a cannibal. In another document he declared that the Congolese were not “a civilized people,” and in yet another called them “children.”
Yinka Adegoke talks to Stuart A. Reid about his new book for semafor.

UN Peacekeeping at 75: Achievements, Challenges, and Prospects
Through a dialogue among peacekeeping scholars and practitioners, we hope to identify current trends and developments in UN peacekeeping, as well as explore priorities for the future to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations in terms of achieving their mandate objectives, such as maintaining peace, protecting civilians, promoting human rights, and facilitating reconciliation. This forum article is structured into six thematic sections, each shedding light on various aspects of UN peacekeeping: (1) foundational principles of UN peacekeeping - namely, consent, impartiality, and the (non-)use of force; (2) protection of civilians; (3) the primacy of politics; (4) early warning; (5) cooperation with regional organizations; and (6) the changing geopolitical landscape in which UN peacekeeping operates.
Allard Duursma & many contributors with a special open access article in the latest issue of International Peacekeeping.

Two podcast & a short video recommendation:
How profit is preventing peace in Yemen
Years of war have sparked a humanitarian crisis in Yemen. But the conflict has also created a new group of warlord multi-millionaires.
Aid worker trauma is preventable
‘The primary stressor for most aid workers is not what they witnessed and experienced. It's the way that organisations are run and managed.’
Two great episodes of the new What's Unsaid podcast hosted by the New Humanitarian.
Canada’s nurse recruitment leaves Ghana short-staffed
Canada has been looking outside its borders to fill a critical nurse shortage, but recruitment efforts are leaving Ghana’s hospitals short-staffed. Now Ghana’s nurse association says Canada should foot the bill for their training.
A short explainer from CBC Canada.

In other news
How AI reduces the world to stereotypes
Other country searches also skewed to people wearing traditional or stereotypical dress: 99 out of the 100 images for “a Mexican person,” for instance, featured a sombrero or similar hat.
Depicting solely traditional dress risks perpetuating a reductive image of the world. “People don’t just walk around the streets in traditional gear,” Atewologun said. “People wear T-shirts and jeans and dresses.”
Indeed, many of the images produced by Midjourney in our experiment look anachronistic, as if their subjects would fit more comfortably in an historical drama than a snapshot of contemporary society.
“It’s kind of making your whole culture like just a cartoon,” Claudia Del Pozo, a consultant at Mexico-based think tank C Minds, and founder and director of the Eon Institute, told Rest of World.
Victoria Turk for Rest of World on how Midjourney AI prompts often lead to stereotypical (re)presentations of peoples & places.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 283, 25 May 2018)

There Are Better Ways To Fight Poverty Than Giving Money To Corporations
Red Nose Day is typical of “brand aid” initiatives that engage consumers in low-cost heroism as a way to channel good intentions into politically unquestioning and commercially lucrative options. Red Nose Day’s branding is about making companies look good while also encouraging consumers to spend. Only 50¢ of that $1 Red Nose purchase goes toward the Red Nose Day Fund. The remainder goes to the manufacturer.
Several studies show this kind of charity branding works, for companies. Consumers prefer companies that support charitable causes, so corporations get involved to improve brand awareness and sales. One study demonstrated that tying branding to a cause increased profits and “increased sales for the entire line of products connected to the brand.”
Noelle Sullivan & Lisa Ann Richey for Huffington Post with a critical assessment of the American Red Nose Day; I don't think fundraising has changed fundamentally since then...

The hazards of international NGOs going local
First and foremost, Northern internationalization must address local human rights priorities, not Northern priorities for the South. All human rights are equal, but they are not equally resonant or strategic in every context. Thus, when selecting issues to tackle, Northern groups must take the lead from the South. The costs of getting it wrong are greatest there and Southern advocates are more likely to look well beyond narrow, issue-specific and short-term successes to the larger and longer-term political, economic and social transformations. Southern rights advocates’ earlier attention to economic and social rights and strategic alliances with domestic social change movements—of the poor, landless, indigenous peoples, labor, environmental activists, to name a few—are evidence of this.
Mona Younis for Open Global Rights on how 'localization' is often easier said than done; perhaps some positive developments in this area, but at the core challenges still remain five years later.

The Oxygen of Amplification
Offering extremely candid comments from mainstream journalists, the report provides a snapshot of an industry caught between the pressure to deliver page views, the impulse to cover manipulators and “trolls,” and the disgust (expressed in interviewees’ own words) of accidentally propagating extremist ideology.
(...)
As social and digital media are leveraged to reconfigure the information landscape, Phillips argues that this new domain requires journalists to take what they know about abuses of power and media manipulation in traditional information ecosystems; and apply and adapt that knowledge to networked actors, such as white nationalist networks online.
Whitney Phillips for Data & Society with a new report on how (not) to report and engage with groups that could do with far less digital oxygen; perhaps now more than ever this concept is worth reflecting on-I still use the term often, because it captures such a powerful aspect of how we communicate problematic topics.

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