Links & Contents I Liked 496

Hi all,

Migration, carbon offsetting, politics around UN jobs, deforestation, urbanization & impact of thinks tanks + World Bank reports are only some of the topics this week; and does it pay off to do a PhD...well, that depends...

P.S.: This is the time of the semester again where things get a bit busy-so next week I will be examining student blog projects with my colleague among many other things and then I'm off to Germany for a week for family time & a conference-so the links will be back in November :) !

My quotes of the week
Yes, the Pakistani government is wrong for making this rash announcement, which won’t begin to address the security issues plaguing its citizens. But it also offers a reminder that those claims of empathy from supposed rights champions in Western capitals now ring more hollow than ever. (Deporting a million Afghans won’t solve Pakistan’s problems)

Our findings show that aid can cause a short-lived reduction in migration aspirations, except in fragile Sub-Saharan African contexts where aid appears largely ineffective. In contrast, foreign aid enhances individual capabilities over the longer term, contributing to greater regular migration, consistent with the 'mobility transition' theory
(The Effect of Foreign Aid on Migration: Global Micro-Evidence from World Bank Projects)

The data demonstrates that PhD holders, on average, earn more than their counterparts with Master’s degrees. However, the pivotal factor contributing to this pay advantage lies in PhDs ability to secure managerial positions. Without assuming leadership roles, the PhD pay advantage is negligible. However, for the average PhD holder it takes over a decade to recover the direct and indirect costs related to the pursuit of their doctorate. This delay prompts contemplation on the broader socio-economic implications, including for milestones such as home ownership and family planning. (What counts for more in the UK job market – a PhD or a Master’s?)

Development news
Bangladesh PM's daughter denies nepotism driving run for WHO post
While the campaign would normally draw little attention outside medical circles, Wazed's candidacy has raised eyebrows because her mother happens to be Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
This has injected an additional political and diplomatic drama into the contest -- Bangladesh and Nepal border India and will be expecting New Delhi's support -- while forcing Wazed to defend herself against accusations of nepotism.
Kiran Sharma for Nikkei on yet another contested race for an IO leadership post.

Ghana floods: ‘My entire farm is under the water and so is my house’
Ghana has been experiencing unpredictable rainfall patterns for months now, which many scientists say is the result of climate change.
Heavy rains have significantly increased the volume of water in the two dams, and officials of the Volta River Authority, the electricity company that manages the dams, started the "controlled spillage" of the facilities a month ago.
(...)
Local resident Brian Foekpa is still reeling from the disaster. He says the flooding happened so quickly he could not take any of his belongings and could only save his family.
"The bike I use for my okada [motorcycle taxi] business is in the room that collapsed, so it has affected me. No food to eat. My farm has been washed away by the floods. As I'm talking to you, these clothes I have on me now are the only ones I have."
Thomas Naadi for BBC News on dams, rains, climate change & the impact on people's lives in Ghana.

Deporting a million Afghans won’t solve Pakistan’s problems
It needs to be asked why the governments of Afghanistan’s neighbours should bear the sole responsibility for supporting Afghan refugees? Is geographic proximity the only determinant on who is responsible for supporting vulnerable groups, especially as the current crisis in Afghanistan was caused by others?
(...)
Yes, the Pakistani government is wrong for making this rash announcement, which won’t begin to address the security issues plaguing its citizens. But it also offers a reminder that those claims of empathy from supposed rights champions in Western capitals now ring more hollow than ever.
Muhammad Hamid Zaman for the New Humanitarian on the plight of Afghan refugees & the lack of strategies to create those meaningful & beneficial paths of migration that international organizations are so keen to talk about...

Deforestation in Bolivia has jumped by 32% in a year. What is going on?
Santa Cruz is also home to the Chiquitanía, a dry forest ecosystem that is part of the Amazon watershed. Almost a quarter of it has been deforested since 1985.
“Santa Cruz has a vision of development that is very marked by intensive agriculture,” says Alcides Vadillo, director of Fundación Tierra, an NGO. “We are seeing how capital and machinery can change forest into productive lands.”
Thomas Graham for the Guardian reports from Bolivia & the expansion of the agricultural-industrial complex.

In Brazil, Agribusiness Lobby and Far-Right Politicians Sow Climate Disinformation
Rural associations, media outlets, and digital channels provide a platform for scientists who espouse climate misinformation.
Giovana Girardi, Cristina Amorim, Álvaro Justen & Rafael Oliveira for Agência Pública look into the another aspect of the agribusiness lobby & its influence on disinformation & climate denialism in Brazil.

Evolving crisis fuels anxiety among Venezuelans who want a better economy but see worsening woes
The political, social and economic crisis that has come to define their South American homeland has evolved since it began a decade ago as a result of a global drop in the price of oil, Venezuela’s most valuable resource, mismanagement by the self-proclaimed socialist administration and government repression of its opponents.
The latest phase has been particularly challenging after the economic stability that many experienced for several months overlapping 2021 and 2022 vanished. They again are grappling with constant food-price hikes, business closures and painful thoughts of migrating.
Regina Garcia Cano for AP reports from Venezuela & a looming/continuing crisis with implications for (more) migration.

Martti Ahtisaari: the Finnish peacemaker who played midwife to Namibian independence
Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president, died on 16 October at the age of 86.
(...)
Martti Ahtisaari played a crucial role in the United Nations supervised transition to independence, as documented in his biography, aptly titled The Mediator.
(...)
As special representative for Namibia more than a decade before the implementation of Resolution 435, he had gained the trust of a variety of stakeholders. This gave him personal leverage, which he was able to apply in critical situations.
Under Untag supervision, a constituent assembly was elected in Namibia in November 1989, chaired by Geingob. In early 1990 its members adopted the country’s constitution as the normative framework. Independence was declared on 21 March 1990.
Henning Melber for the Conversation remember Martti Ahtisaari & a a time when global diplomacy often worked in different ways compared to the current state of the world...

A UN-backed carbon offsetting project is poisoning my neighbourhood
A project that releases toxic fumes into a densely populated area should not be able to earn revenue from the sale of carbon credits. UNFCCC needs to respond to the numerous petitions signed by hundreds of Sukhdev Vihar residents and investigate the Okhla plant and its health impacts.
For those concerned about climate change, the big question is: What role should waste-to-energy plants play?
Ranjit Devraj for the New Humanitarian continues the saga of offsetting projects turned sour...

Germany's rise as a humanitarian donor: the interplay of narratives, new foreign policy ambition and domestic interests
Media coverage of humanitarian assistance in Germany is largely benign and uninterested in specialised humanitarian policy debates and features minimal negative scrutiny. Narratives regarding the moral imperative of aid, humanity and solidarity were largely unchallenged, creating an enabling environment for the expansion of the German humanitarian assistance budget.
Corinna Kreidler, Sonja Hövelmann & Alexandra Spencer for ODI look at Germany's humanitarian spending.

Whose Bright Idea Was That? How Think Tanks Measure Their Effectiveness and Impact
think tanks and their funders also need to be realistic regarding both the added value that an extensive measurement approach can offer and the extent to which think tanks can feasibly implement an ​“ideal” measurement system in light of internal or external constraints and other challenges. While well-designed and tailored monitoring systems and indicators can have a number of benefits, attempts to qualify or quantify all or even only certain aspects of a think tank’s work are no substitute for the real success factors in achieving impact, such as:
Producing high-quality outputs;
Attracting and developing talented staff;
Building a credible and sustainable organization; and again
Fostering an organizational culture that encourages reflection and learning.
Sarah Bressan & Wade Hoxtell for gppi with a new study.

The city of the evicted: lives under pressure in the margins of an urban fantasy in Benin
In short, not only have evicted households seen their land rights ignored, their homes destroyed and their local community dismembered, with all the health outcomes of such experience of structural state violence. Pressurized by a brutal urban policy, they have experienced a reduction of their economic prospects and of their life chances that equates to a longer-term social demotion. Unfortunately, their case is far from exceptional, as massive evictions have swept the continent in the last decade. A few dozen kilometres east of Cotonou, similar analysis of how neoliberal urbanism aiming at reinforcing the international attractivity of the city actually weakens the right to the city and the social conditions of the urban poor has recently been made about the neighbouring megacity of Lagos.
Joël Noret & Narcisse M. Yedji for Developing Economics on urban 'development' in Cotonou.

Death of a Hero
Shirley was one of the people who never gave up in the struggle for East Timor. When many forgot about East Timor as the years passed after the invasion, Shirley was a go-to person for journalists like me, needing a quote to make a short story on Timor come alive to be accepted by the editor.
Always available to journalists, she studied events in Timor, talked to everyone with some knowledge of what was happening inside, and urged leaders and the public to not forget. One of an infinitely small group of external activists, aid workers, religious figures, and others, at that time, Shirley was perhaps the bravest.
Peter Cronau for Declassified Australia remembers Shirley Shackleton and her activism for East Timor.

Global health – battling FOMO with transparency
I guess what I’m trying to say is to those of you who wish you’d see the inside action: it’s worth it to see it. I feel immensely privileged to have negotiated G7 and G20 meetings live and to have sat behind Ministers, seeing them in real action. I have learned a lot about power in closed-door and governance meetings, especially when funders are in a room. I’ve seen how the UN and its various institutions work from the inside – or how they don’t. My career has definitely been more successful because I have been in the room, sat at the table, networked at those dinners, and had access to people with power.
But what I’m also saying is that take everything you see with a (huge) pinch of salt. It’s easy to take photos that conceal that everyone felt like hours or days were wasted, they hated their lives, or it was simply that – a photo op or something to use as PR to (try to) signal power. Sometimes, they really did just speak about the weather.
Katri Bertram reflects on invited spaces, behind-the-scenes & the mundaness of VIP talks.

WDR 2018: What has the World Bank’s flagship report on learning achieved?
Here are three indicators of how the WDR has shifted global conversations:Shaping Priorities: The concept of Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling (LAYS), introduced in the WDR, became a critical indicator used in the World Bank's Human Capital Index (HCI). This alignment ensured that learning outcomes were part of high-level discussions at the country level.
Influence on Partners: The WDR influenced the strategies of key partners such as the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (...) and U.S. Agency for International Development. It also played a role in shaping the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's global education program. Indeed, Bill Gates cited the WDR when he talked about the most important things he had learned in 2018.
Increased Awareness: The term "learning crisis" gained prominence following the WDR's release. We didn’t coin the term, but after the WDR, we see a notable increase in its use in the media (as you can see in the figure below), as well as in books and journal articles. (...) Using a common term may help to consolidate support for change.
Deon Filmer & Halsey Rogers from the World Bank conclude in this post for the World Bank that the World Bank flagship report from 2018 had a lasting impact...my hunch is that the importance of most/many flagship reports has declined steadily over the past decade or 15 years even though some of them still have an influence on broader #globaldev debates.

The Effect of Foreign Aid on Migration: Global Micro-Evidence from World Bank Projects
In the longer term (between three to five years after disbursement), foreign aid fosters improvements in individual welfare through poverty reduction and income increases, resulting in larger regular migration to high-income countries. Our findings show that aid can cause a short-lived reduction in migration aspirations, except in fragile Sub-Saharan African contexts where aid appears largely ineffective. In contrast, foreign aid enhances individual capabilities over the longer term, contributing to greater regular migration, consistent with the 'mobility transition' theory.
Andreas Fuchs, Andre Groeger, Tobias Heidl & Lukas Wellner with a new paper for the Kiel Institute for the World Economy

School Days: 14 Photos of Student Life Around the Globe

.
A day of learning, from getting dressed to doing homework.

In other news
What counts for more in the UK job market – a PhD or a Master’s?
While the intellectual challenge and intrinsic pleasure of scientific exploration are compelling factors, our findings underscore that the economic implications of a PhD extend beyond personal satisfaction. Our study reveals that, economically speaking, pursuing a PhD can be a prudent choice. The data demonstrates that PhD holders, on average, earn more than their counterparts with Master’s degrees. However, the pivotal factor contributing to this pay advantage lies in PhDs ability to secure managerial positions. Without assuming leadership roles, the PhD pay advantage is negligible. However, for the average PhD holder it takes over a decade to recover the direct and indirect costs related to the pursuit of their doctorate. This delay prompts contemplation on the broader socio-economic implications, including for milestones such as home ownership and family planning.
Giulio Marini & Golo Henseke for LSE Impact of Social Sciences with a fascinating new paper.

Generative AI – the latest scapegoat for research assessment
“Is it right that publishing papers are used as the primary assessment tool of researchers”? The singular driver for almost all questionable research practices is the current emphasis on the published article as the only output that counts. The tail is wagging the dog.
Danny Kingsley also for LSE Impact of Social Sciences discusses Generative AI, academic journal article publishing & research assessment discourses.

Could Bluesky be the replacement for Academic Twitter?
If the academic community is looking for a replacement for Twitter then I am increasingly convinced Bluesky is what we have been waiting for. However I hope our embrace of it does not prove to a mistake in which we once more outsource the digital social infrastructure of the research community to a private firm rather than finding a way to build it within the sector. I cannot shake the feeling we might be entering into a dynamic of digital migration of academics responding to waves of what the internet scholar Cory Doctorow calls enshittification as one platform after another becomes unusable. If social platforms have become indispensable to our work as academics then perhaps it is time for the sector to have a much deeper conversation about how we make them work for us, rather than leaving it to individual academics who have too often found themselves working for the platform instead.
Mark Carrigan is optimistic about BlueSky.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 284, 1 June 2018)

Burundi 'insulted' by French gift of donkeys to village
The donkeys, bought in neighbouring Tanzania, were given to residents of a village in Gitega province as part of a project by a local NGO to help women and children transport agricultural products, water or wood.
However, a presidential adviser described the project as "an insult to the nation".
Gabby Bugaga, spokesman for the Senate president, also wrote on Twitter the French were "taking us for donkeys".
"Be honest, is the donkey a symbol of a quality or a flaw," he wrote.
Donkeys are not indigenous to Burundi.
On Sunday, Agriculture Minister Deo Guide Rurema asked a local administrator to "facilitate the immediate withdrawal of all donkeys that have been distributed ... without respecting the technical procedure of the distribution of exotic animals".
Al Jazeera with a timeless classic of good intentions are not enough-introducing the wrong 'gift' into a local culture...

At what cost? A reflection on the crisis at Save the Children UK
Growth and influence are not goals in themselves, certainly not in charities. If you have lost your moral compass, your growth and influence are built on very shaky foundations. Dominic Nutt, a former head of media, reports the bizarre objective among senior SCF-UK executives to “take down Oxfam.” What kind of human rights organisation wants to “take down” another important charity? The same one in which a senior executive asked me at a meeting with other NGOs, “It there anyone here we should poach?”
Effective international cooperation is about putting the least powerful first—about transferring power. But at SCF-UK I heard NGO partners from the Global South referred to by leaders as “crazies,” and other charities badmouthed openly as the collegial practices of the charity sector were arrogantly ignored. It is not always easy to work in coalition with people from your own country, let alone from other cultures, but respect is a sine qua non of this type of work.
Jonathan Glennie for Open Democracy reflects on his time at Save The Children UK and what he did (not) do to challenge organizational culture.

Without systemic change, safeguarding will only keep INGOs safe — not people
Safeguarding cannot exist without a concerted commitment to diversity and the systematic inclusion of local and national staff in leadership and decision-making positions.
Safeguarding cannot exist without coming to terms with how gender and race intersect in the humanitarian space.
Safeguarding cannot exist without trust and a belief that the system will provide adequate protection. Safeguarding must be independent of human resources functions.
Safeguarding requires an embedded policy of care that originates in local and national offices, supported by headquarters. Trainings and policies that are developed must come from the people most affected, with the participation of every staff member, from the country director to the chauffeurs, and every person in the organizational chain.
The aid sector must shift its thinking away from the tired and over-utilized paradigm that has always gone in one direction — from developed nations to developing nations of the global South.
Angela Bruce-Raeburn for DevEx doesn't want 'safeguarding' just to become the next buzzword and organizational box to tick...

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