Links & Contents I Liked 498
A truly global set of readings from Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Tuvalu, Myanmar, India, Kenya, on topics such as influencer well-building to long term effects of baby formula, youth job search & much more!
Enjoy your weekend!
My quotes of the week
By October, Ms. Stafford and a friend with whom she had dodged dogs and brothels took charge of more than a dozen toddlers. She expects to earn 500 rand, or $26, a month — below minimum wage, but coupled with the welfare she receives for her son, it will nearly double her income.Ms. Stafford is already planning to open her own child care center. It isn’t what she dreamed of or trained for, but it’s her first reliable paycheck since graduating from high school nearly two years ago. As she cleaned up the bowls of watery sorghum porridge she had fed the toddlers, she was feeling overwhelmed but, after long last, hopeful. (One Year in the Infuriating and Humiliating Search for a Job in South Africa)
Currently, Canada’s foreign aid commitment, at least in dollar terms, is just fine. Handwringing over increasing aid budgets that can appear to have no clear direction runs against what aid claims it is meant to do: foster an equitable, capable and self-sufficient world. (Stop thinking of foreign aid as a tool for global influence)
MrBeast builds 100 wells in Africa, attracting praise – and some criticism
American YouTuber MrBeast’s latest video, in which he says he built 100 wells across Africa, has drawn a complex response online since it was published on Saturday.Issy Ronald & Stephanie Busari for CNN. This opening paragraph is like 15 years of Internet celebrity #globaldev engagement in a nutshell & I'm just to tired right now to write a proper reply... influencers love bringing water to poor people as I experienced in my review of Thirst. A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission toBring Clean Water to the World.
Some Kenyan activists and journalists said he has spotlighted the failures of the Kenyan government, while MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, anticipates that he will be “canceled” following the reaction.
The new wells will provide clean drinking water for up to 500,000 people in Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe, Donaldson said, while an accompanying fundraiser to support local water aid organizations had raised more than $300,000 by Monday morning.
Kenya demands $237m from UN for Haiti mission
Senegal, Mongolia, Spain and Bahamas are among those who had expressed readiness. The US government had announced a funding pledge of $200 million while Canada had also pledged technical support.Samwel Owino for the East African on the long road to get a UN police mission up & running in Haiti.
Prof Kindiki said Kenya could spend from its coffers and be refunded by the United Nations Security Council.
Kenya’s acceptance to lead the mission had raised controversy in Kenya and Haiti. In Nairobi, a local lawyer sued the government seeking to halt it and the Courts froze any deployments until the case is heard.
Top consultancy undermining climate change fight: whistleblowers
Behind closed doors, the US-based firm has proposed future energy scenarios to the agenda setters of the summit that are at odds with the climate goals it publicly espouses, an AFP investigation has found.Marlowe Hood for AFP on the COP-industrial-complex aided & abetted by global consultancy firms.
An "energy transition narrative" drafted by the firm and obtained by AFP only reduces oil use by 50 percent by 2050, and allows for trillions of dollars of continued investments in "high-emissions assets" per year up to mid-century.
McKinsey -- whose big oil clients range from America's ExxonMobil to Saudi Arabia's state-run Aramco -- is one of several consultancies giving free advice to the United Arab Emirates as it hosts the critical negotiations, which start on November 30.
One Year in the Infuriating and Humiliating Search for a Job in South Africa
Lynsey Chutel for the New York Times with an exceptional piece of writing on one of the most pressing issues for South Africa and many, many more countries: How do you find meaningful, decent employment for a growing number of relatively skilled young people?
Back home, Ms. Stafford carefully placed her new certificate in the cupboard, on top of the same certificate that her still-unemployed sister had received a few years before.
The computer course yielded no job for Ms. Stafford, either, but it created an opportunity.
A family friend tipped her off that the same nonprofit agency was training young women to run a day care program in the building. “Connections,” she said, laughing sheepishly.
By October, Ms. Stafford and a friend with whom she had dodged dogs and brothels took charge of more than a dozen toddlers. She expects to earn 500 rand, or $26, a month — below minimum wage, but coupled with the welfare she receives for her son, it will nearly double her income.
Across the globe, compassion for migrants has given way to cruel, performative politics
When it comes to Pakistan (or India or South Africa), many people can see through politicians manipulating fears about external threats to swerve blame for domestic failures. In Europe and America, though, claims about the immigration crisis are too often taken at face value, and policies such as the Rwanda deportation scheme or the Italy-Albania deal viewed as serious attempts to address a problem. They are not. They constitute performative policymaking in which cruelty to migrants and asylum seekers becomes the means to obscure social problems at home. It’s time we called them out.Kenan Malik for the Guardian on Hein De Haas' new book on migration.
The Australia-Tuvalu Falepili Union: Tuvaluan values or Australian interests?
How can health researchers make the most of social media?— Dante Licona (@Dante_Licona) November 15, 2023
Here are five tips I shared with @WHO colleagues today:
1. Share your expertise in an understandable way.
2. Know the business models of your social platforms of choice. They want our attention. Create content to keep… pic.twitter.com/EvtzQWA4H6
Although the security aspects of the Union raise serious concerns about problematic neocolonialism and increased Western influence in the Pacific region, Tuvalu’s ongoing work to elicit concessions from its diplomatic partners, especially regarding its continued sovereignty and access to maritime resources, should not be overlooked.Jess Marinaccio for DevPolicyBlog continues insights into the interesting relationship between Tuvalu & Australia that gained global prominence recently when Australia promised to take on citizens from Tuvalu as climate refugees.
A song for freedom
For the development or humanitarian sector. I'm still singing those songs, as much as I can. I share my experience, how disability issues should be addressed from right based approach.Peter Torres Fremlin talks to an anonymous disability activist from Myanmar for his Disability Debrief newsletter.
But for political sector, I cannot. I really want to sing a song. But it is risky and dangerous now. I have to be safe first, then I have to compose the song. This makes me uncomfortable every day. I'm feeling that I am not dutiful, I'm not a good citizen yet, I’m not able to contribute for political transformation.
If I'm a person without disability, I already would have become part of the defense force. But my disability doesn't allow me. I have to consider intellectually, in some ways and how I can contribute to the people’s movement.
I can sing a song now, but I'm not dutiful yet.
To Increase Security in West Africa, Invest in the Agricultural Sector
The first axis seeks to revamp the West African agricultural sector through a stabilised land policy (land certification and regulation), upstream investment in agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilisers, mechanisation and drones, experimentation lands, etc.) and investments in specific tools (local food transformation, cooperatives, free-trade zones, international cooperation). The share of spending by sub-Saharan African countries on agricultural research and development is close to zero (around 0.5% of global spending). The same gap in productivity exists on every levelJonathan Guiffard for Megatrends Afrika summarizes an interesting report that links investments in agriculture to a more secure future in West Africa.
The gram panchayat’s role in sustainable rural development
In remote rural parts of the country, local governments have a significant role in helping achieve water security and managing natural resources effectively and equitably. GPs should organise gram sabhas (village assemblies) to involve citizens in regular needs assessment and planning processes, and be able to aggregate these plans and submit them to the respective agencies upstream. This will require coordination and technical inputs from ground-level officials of line departments. They should be able to then map out and utilise available government programmes, such as the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), or other projects on irrigation or watershed development effectively to design and implement land and water management activities at scale. GPs should support the emergence of local user groups and resource management committees. They should also coordinate with one another to access funds for agricultural support and market-linkage interventions. In this way, they will be playing a central role in the lives of communities in their jurisdiction. However, the weaknesses that I describe above—the lack of skilled resources, being underfunded and undermined by higher levels of government, etc.—take away from the GPs’ ability to play their role.Suvojit Chattopadhyay for India Development Review with some interesting reflections on the role of local governance in #globaldev work.
The deadly toll of marketing infant formula in low- and middle-income countries
Together these results paint a picture of strikingly large increases in infant mortality caused by the introduction of formula into markets where access to clean water is not universal. We estimate that Nestlé’s entry into LMIC formula markets caused about 212,000 infant deaths per year among mothers without clean water access at the peak of the Nestlé controversy in 1981, and has led to approximately 10.9 million excess infant deaths between 1960 and 2015.Jesse Anttila-Hughes, Lia Fernald, Paul Gertler, Patrick Krause, Eleanor Tsai & Bruce Wydick for VoxDev with new research on an old #globaldev topic.
One message that emerges from our analysis is the critical importance of making sure that parents who use formula, use it safely. Clear instructions comprehensible to mothers of all education levels need to be included in marketing and packaging materials. In regions where many households do not have access to clean water, infant formula companies may consider pre-mixing formula with clean water, or perhaps including chlorine tablets with formula packaging.
At the same time, formula firms themselves clearly must be held responsible for their marketing decisions.
Stop thinking of foreign aid as a tool for global influence
Currently, Canada’s foreign aid commitment, at least in dollar terms, is just fine. Handwringing over increasing aid budgets that can appear to have no clear direction runs against what aid claims it is meant to do: foster an equitable, capable and self-sufficient world.Themrise Khan for Policy Options with some hard-hitting truth about #globaldev that are to some extent also applicable to our Nordic discussions...
It also means Canada is ignoring one of the most important principles of aid: being effective in achieving its stated outcomes. This points to not the amount being invested in aid, but the importance of its approach, design and utility. Less aid can also do wonders if it is done effectively.
When economists shut off your water
As for the economists and others running RCTs in Kenya, the existing system of ethical safeguards clearly failed the people of Kayole-Soweto. We will set aside the argument that experiments conducted by global North researchers on poor people in the global South should not happen at all. The fallout from this experiment has led to suggestions for reforms to the research approval, funding, and publication processes, in order to ensure that ethical principles are actually followed. Echoing these suggestions, we would encourage actors in this research space to introduce mechanisms to ensure that safeguards are not optional but rather mandatory. And we believe that there should be an ethical mandate of genuine “equipoise” in development RCTs: researchers should be genuinely uncertain whether the “treatment” or the “control” is better for the research subjects. (In the experiment in Kayole-Soweto, that was obviously not the case.)Adrian Wilson, Faith Kasina, Irene Nduta & Jethron Ayumbah Akallah for Africa is a Country revisit the people & places of a controversial RCT intervention.
Fishing communities in Brazil overcame middlemen to break a poverty trap
Remote fishing communities in Brazil received low prices for their fish, were unable to afford productive investments, and therefore remained in poverty. By collectively purchasing boats they overcame the market power of intermediaries and broke the cycle of poverty.Viva Bartkus, Wyatt Brooks, Joseph Kaboski & Carolyn Pelnik for VoxDev; interesting new research, but also a very dominant North American economist discourse underlying research that seems to 'discover' power dynamics that sound all too familiar to the #globaldev community.
The Junction: Awaiting the Reunion
"Projects developed in partnership with policymakers are 17-20% points more likely to result in policy change ... partnerships most often occur earlier in the term when political conditions are conducive to experimentation & reform"— Lee Crawfurd (@leecrawfurd) November 16, 2023
-- Cool paper by Alix Bonargent pic.twitter.com/oPm74YXikj
In the heart of Nairobi’s bustle, Sudanese journalist “A.B.” finds echoes of Omdurman, as the diaspora’s collective yearning for reunion grows amidst the scattered lives wrought by war. His daily odyssey through memories and newsfeeds is a stark reminder of the resilience required when home is a feeling, not just a place.Omar Al-Farouk for Al Adwaa with a nice short personal reflection from a Sudanese journalist in transit.
In other news
Review – The Big Con
This book is a trenchant critique of the impact of the major consulting firms on the conduct of contemporary government. Rather than ‘steering more and rowing less’, governments’ capacity to steer and row has been substantially diminished. The authors present their case eloquently, but as a deliberately polemical piece, and the evidence has been selected to drive the argument, rather than present a comprehensive picture. It may be that there are instances where consulting firms have worked — or been obliged to work — in a net beneficial way, providing advice and support that generates more effective public service delivery and enhances governments’ capabilities.Timothy Morris reviews Maria Mazzucato & Rosie Collington book for E-International Relations.
What we were reading 5 years ago
“You’re a slut and a whore for the algorithm. I couldn’t do it anymore. You can never feed it enough. You start out making art, and hoping that the door will open. You’re looking for that viral moment so it opens up the door and you can do the thing full time. But you start to… pic.twitter.com/OGMBcYO8n3— Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) November 15, 2023
(Link review 286, 15 June 2018)
Perhaps this is an indication of the state of 'the Internet' that this pretty informative link review produced a disproportionate amount (5-6) of dead links :(. But do have a look at the excerpted quotes & check out the authors for their other writings on the interwebs.
Does Malcolm Gladwell want rural Indian women to buy Chevys? A few reflections on DevEx World
As much as moving away from the ‘beneficiary’ logic is a timely debate, relying uncritically on data-driven public private partnerships to fix deep-rooted inequalities, political decisions to ignore evidence and to create a new class of empowered consumers will more likely create the next facebook-like scandal with sensitive health data rather than a transformation into a participatory, fair and sustainable future.I never really liked Gladwell...
Clare Short is wrong. No wonder sexual abuse is rife in the aid sector
But what makes the aid sector unique are the opportunities it presents for people who have had their agency removed – vulnerable women, refugees, displaced people and others – to be exploited and abused. These women are overwhelmingly women of colour.Shaista Aziz for the Guardian responds to Claire Short's commentary featured in last week's digest.