Links & Contents I Liked 205

Hi all,

Lots of things going on: There will be a monthly newsletter-probably ready from December onwards!
But there is also plenty of development and digital culture content this week as you would expect:

An angry UN USG on our neglect to protect; we need British aid; an overview over #WonderWomenGate; impact evaluations are still the talk in town; evaluating a health care project in India; From real-time data to real-time programming; privatizing education in Africa with help of philanthrocapitalists; what next for the ICC? Your regular #allmalepanel fix & Romeo Dallaire's new memoir.

'Cars entering and Leaving Mosul' is my reading recommendation for this week! And finally: Data responsibility as the new CSR & how not to take ownership of other people’s stories.

Enjoy!


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Aid Worker Voices (book review)

In many ways, Aid Worker Voices is a hybrid: It is a work-in-progress report, a data handbook and an example of reflective writing at the intersection of academia and the aid industry.
It is also an invitation to listen to an incredible variety of aid workers and their voices expressed through a unique, comprehensive, long-term survey project.
(...)
These quotes document the purpose of the project really well: To provide a space for articulating our humanity in a context of sometimes dehumanizing circumstances-both from within the sector, but also from powerful actors outside the industry who create humanitarian ‘theaters’ in the first place and then complain about the failings of those who step in to help.
Development news
UN chief calls security council's failure on Aleppo 'our generation's shame'

“These are people just like you and me – not sitting around a table in New York but forced into desperate, pitiless suffering, their future wiped out,” O’Brien said, describing himself as “incandescent with rage” over the security council’s passivity, said. “Peoples’ lives [have been] destroyed and Syria itself destroyed. And it is under our collective watch. And it need not be like this – this is not inevitable; it is not an accident … Never has the phrase by poet Robert Burns, of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ been as apt. It can be stopped but you the security council have to choose to make it stop.”
O’Brien added: “This council has been charged with the responsibility for ending this horror. The buck stops with you.”
Julian Borger documents UN USG O'Brien's outburst at the UN for The Guardian. It is not just an appeal to those inflicting misery on Syria and its people, but also that the UN is only as strong, powerful and decisive as the outdated security council wants it to be.

The Guardian view on development aid: do it better, but do it

Theresa May is committed to maintain aid spending; Ms Patel is, at the moment, prevented by law from doing trade-for-aid deals. But the positive case for aid is not being made. Unmentioned go the obligations that Britain has to poorer countries, because of the damage it has caused through empire, climate change and pernicious supply chains. Perhaps hamstrung by the lobbying laws or the need to secure their own DfID funding, Oxfam, ActionAid and the like are mutely allowing the new minister and her supporters to trash the case for aid. How best to do development aid is always open to evaluation. That it needs doing should not be. The NGOs must get their act together, fast.
The Guardian with a reminder why we need (UK) development aid...

Is Wonder Woman qualified to be a UN ambassador?

Outrage reverberated across social media, with women's rights advocates pointing to real-life women who fit the bill over Wonder Woman.
France's highest-ranking female Cabinet minister, Segolene Royal, told CBS "Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai would have been a good choice".
Anne Marie Goetz, a New York University professor of global affairs and former adviser on peace and security issues for UN Women, called the decision "disgusting".
BBC News with a good overview of the 'Wonder Woman' debate.

What did I learn about the demand for impact evaluations at the What Works Global Summit?

Several discussions pointed to the trade-off between funds for studies versus those for actual programme implementation. It is true that most of the impact evaluations in developing countries, especially those in the poorest ones, are funded by donors. But we are still left with a larger ethical question. Can we really afford to spend millions of dollars on programmes that don’t work?
(...)
But the issue with such funding is that donors then require impact evaluations to be carried out as much for accountability as for learning. Taxpayers in donor countries are increasingly asking: what’s in it for us? A rigorous impact evaluation is an imperfect instrument for accountability given its cost and timeline. But they do offer valuable lessons on what works and what doesn’t, which in the end can save taxpayers’ money.
Emmanuel Jimenez shares reflections from the What Works Global Summit on the state of the art around impact evaluations. I wonder when the first donors will get tired of them and repoliticize the debate with a call for fewer and cheaper evaluations to save 'taxpayer money'...

A New Health Care Project Won Awards. But Did It Really Work?

Shukla says WHP-Sky was always supposed to be something of an experiment.
"This is a learning project, and it was test [of] what hasn't ever been tested before," she says. "Whether the project has failed or made a good impact, the lessons we've learned from the project are very crucial."
For one, Shukla says that people are pretty content with what they get from their informal health care providers, so future projects should enable providers to offer treatments and services that currently aren't available, like prenatal care.
Angus Chen for NPR's Goats and Soda. As interesting as the summary of the evaluation is, is the response from the funders (Gates foundation) how this is a 'learning project' and that things are complicated...

#LongReads: Moving from Real-Time Data to Real-Time Programs

So when we get excited about new technology and new data, we also have to get excited about the processes, the time, and the conversations we’re going to put into extracting value from the data. We need to remember to do user research to identify pain-points and institutional ethnographies to identify decision-points. And we need to figure out what is important in the data, and then integrate it into our decisionmaking.
Because if we don’t start making these changes soon, we won’t just be awash with data. We’ll drown in it.
ReBoot's Panthea Lee with an interesting essay based on a recent keynote she delivered that provides ample food for thought to discuss development in our digital age.

Education in Africa profits billionaire bleeding hearts

Gates and Zuckerberg are major investors in Bridge International Academies, an American education corporation, which targets the world’s “700 million families who live on less than $2 USD per day” with, what they call the “highest-quality education products.”
(...)
But Riep isn’t the only one to challenge Bridge’s “win-win” narrative. He’s part of a growing coalition of human rights professionals, who seek to halt the transnational corporate education reform movement. Education International (EI), the world’s largest federation of teachers unions, and ActionAid International, an international development organization with its secretariat based in Johannesburg, South Africa are at the forefront of this push back.
Maria Hengeveld for Africa Is A Country. Really interesting on many levels: First, how countries in Africa are - once again - replicating mistakes made in the global North, i.e. the privatization of education. Second, how this time in history it's philanthrocapitalism behind the drive, getting its foot into the education and knowledge industry. Third, an interesting project for AA to step in as part of an answer to the recently asked questions about 'the future of INGOs'!

Is this the end of the International Criminal Court?

These developments underscore the challenge for the international community of preventing atrocity crimes, even when the warning signs are unmistakable and an international criminal court is investigating. But the Burundis of the world were always going to be hard cases for the ICC. The incentives to commit atrocities are powerful, and we expect poorer cooperation with international institutions when it violates states’ clear interests. South Africa’s departure is far more troubling. It should be an easy case for ICC cooperation — a country that feels little threat of being investigated by the court and has a tradition of strong engagement with the international community and leadership on peace and justice issues. Its decision to withdraw sets a far more palatable precedent for other ICC skeptics to follow and makes a mass exodus much more likely.
Kate Cronin-Furman and Stephanie Schwartz comment on the current state and future of the ICC for the Washington Post. As always: International criminal justice is complicated...

No women on panel considering gender pay gap

The only problem? The committee didn't have any female members present.
Jenny Wright, executive director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council, posted a tweet Tuesday highlighting the irony of the fact that she was about to speak in front of an all-male government panel about income inequality for women.
Terri Coles on Yahoo! News on the realities of governing 'because it's 2015' Canada...

Inside Roméo Dallaire’s brutally revealing new memoir

There was no relief at all to be found in writing about such memories. “Nothing,” Dallaire says. “It’s not been cathartic, more like digging up evil again and trying to put it into words.” But he had a powerful motive to start digging. Service and duty matter more than anything else to Dallaire, and he could see how a description of his post-Africa life—the story of the other hell—could help fellow sufferers, “because there’s an ugly side to this injury, not just a bad, stupid side, which is about the impacts it has on you. The ugly side is what the darkness does to the inner person and its significant impact on others. Nobody has written really on that because it’s not very nice, and so I thought I’d do that.”
Brian Bethune reviews Dallaire's new memoir for Maclean's.

Our digital lives
Cars Entering and Leaving Mosul

Now, however, something has changed. The battle for Mosul is not a media event, because nothing like mediation is taking place; there’s no need to control the narrative, because there is no narrative to control. It’s fundamentally stupid, a-signifying, trajectory without meaning, utterly fictive but without any need for artifice. You understand nothing from watching the live stream; unless you’re one of the obsessive types who gets private pleasure from listing and cataloguing different kinds of military vehicles, there’s nothing to be understood. Only the mute relay of meaningless events: the dead times. You see soldiers shuffling from one foot to the other, static shots of pylons and water towers rearing up in the mist, tanks grunting squat between low bombed-out brick buildings. It is what it is.
(...)
There will be no moment of victory, even after Mosul is bombed into rubble: the eternal war is already victorious everywhere, its victory is the same thing as its omnipresence. There are no losses or setbacks, only a brief stuttering pause as it buffers, only a spinning circle while the combat gears up from blobby 240p to beautiful high definition. This is what you’ve been drafted into. And as always, don’t forget to like, share, and comment.
Sam Kriss for The Baffler on live-streaming war, digital culture and everything else...

Data responsibility: a new social good for the information age

What is less discussed, however, is that most data remains locked up and proprietary, the private property of companies, governments and other organisations. This limits its public benefits.
Data responsibility can help organisations break down these private barriers and share their proprietary data for the public good. In the case of the private sector, in particular, it represents a type of corporate social responsibility for the 21st century.
Today, data responsibility remains relatively uncommon. Ncell, in Nepal, is one of relatively few corporations that have opened up their vast troves of data.
Stefaan Verhulst for The Conversation on how 'corporate responsibility' should also include 'data responsibility' in the digital age-given how companies are struggling to touch their value chains for the 'greater good' I have doubts that they will easily turn over the latest valuable commodity that is (big) data...

Protesting HBO’s Mogadishu, Minnesota and Why Filmmakers Must Not Take Ownership of Others’ Stories

So when TV shows or movies come into the neighborhood, offering roles for gangsters, pirates and would-be terrorists, being humanized is not enough. Fadumo knew that “humanization,” in seeking the exception, forgets the rule, forgets the actual community, and takes the story out of their hands.
All my films have been community-based and in production involved some navigation of the question “Who owns the story?”
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Filmmakers need voices like theirs, voices that do not ask to be given their humanity, but demand that we all bear witness to it.
Musa Syeed for The Talk House with discussion that also lies of the hard of development communication: Who owns the story? And what are the limits of outsider engagement-regardless of how well-intended it is?

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