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September 2012

Migration, Sir Duncan, Instant Spouses and Inflight Barry Manilow: Final Impressions of the Philippines

Duncan Green's picture

As always after an intense ‘immersion’ in our programme work, I left the Philippines with my head buzzing. Here are some impressions, memories and ideas that don’t fit into a more structured blogpost:

Migration: One in 9 Filipinos are outside the country, constituting a major export sector (the government deliberately trains more nurses than the country needs, to encourage outmigration). On the way in from Qatar, I sat next to a Filipino gold miner, working for an Australian/Filipino company in Tanzania, 2 months on, 1 month off. OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers – this country loves acronyms) even have their own immigration channels at the airport (see pic).

The Story of Resilience

Maya Brahmam's picture

In less than 3 weeks, TEDxSendai will bring together an interesting group of thinkers and doers to focus on the theme of natural disasters.

Moderated by Toshi Nakamura, Co-founder and CEO of Kopernik, a technology marketplace for the developing world, TEDxSendai will explore this theme from the lens of a survivor, a historian and gender specialist, a CEO with a supply chain, an innovator of  new technologies, a doctor working on emergency evacuation, a classical pianist who plays on a piano that survived the tsunami, a global expert in sustainable development, a specialist in reconstruction, and an inventor of engineering prototypes.

Two sessions -- Cherry Blossom Indomitable in the Aftermath and The Bouncing Ball: Building Resilience – will pull the varied strands of these different perspectives together and share ideas about disasters –recovery, resilience and hope.

Meetings with Remarkable Women: Lan Mercado’s Journey from Megaphone to Microphone

Duncan Green's picture

Lan, the megaphone years, circa 1985A while back, I wrote about some amazing Oxfam women I met in East Africa. Here’s another, this time from the Philippines.

Lan (real name Lilian, but Filipinos never use real names) is one of those quiet but effective (and very determined, and maybe not so quiet….) women that abound in development work. She was formerly our country director in the Philippines, but has now moved to head up a project on ASEAN (more on that below). She is also yet another Oxfam woman with a remarkable story. In 1988, as a 28 year old Communist Party activist in the Philippines civil war, her own Party denounced and arrested her on trumped-up charges of being involved in an intra-Party assassination. They held her for 6 months in the mountains, blindfolded and handcuffed in a cage. She and the other prisoners were tortured physically, mentally and emotionally. At least she avoided the fate of prisoners in other camps, who were forced to play ‘eeny meeny miny mo’, with the loser taken out, killed, and their blood smeared over the remaining prisoners.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

IFEX
As online repression grows, activists fight back

“Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House. Despite these threats,Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.

"The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier - but no less dangerous - methods for controlling online conversations," said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.”  READ MORE

Development Theory v Practice: Visiting Oxfam’s Work in Mindanao

Duncan Green's picture

For me, one of the most fruitful aspects of ‘field trips’ such as last week’s visit to see Oxfam’s work in the Philippines is the exchange it sets up in my head between the academic literature and debates I’ve been ploughing through in the UK, and the reality of our work on the ground. A good trip confirms, improves or adds to your thinking, and occasionally shows you that you have got it all wrong. This was particularly true on this occasion as our staff and partners in the Philippines are both real thinkers (one guy passed a long car ride by listening to a lecture on Hegel on his laptop ‘for fun’) and activists (more on that tomorrow). The quality of discussions in a Manila seminar on active citizenship and food justice was truly impressive – nuanced and open minded, with no sign of the dogmatic, fissiparous Left I saw on my last visit in 1998 (when I had to give the same lecture twice because different fractions refused to sit in the same room). First some (relatively minor) new insights from all these interactions:

In the Philippines: Does Oxfam’s Livelihoods Work Go Beyond Traditional Income Generation?

Duncan Green's picture

Last week I visited Oxfam’s Philippines programme. Such trips follow a pretty standard format - our national staff and relevant partners with the moringa farmers whisk me through a series of site visits and conversations with farmers, civil society organizations, local government officials and anyone else who’ll talk to you. For a few days, I’m engrossed, wrestling on multiple levels, first to understand the intricacies of the projects, and then to try and get at the meta-questions: what are the strengths and weaknesses in our work? What could we be doing better? Is there a clear power analysis and theory of change? Discussions continue in vehicles to and from the visits, over dinner and (sometimes) in the bar, as everyone grapples with the incredibly difficult business of ‘doing development’. It’s intense and definitely the best bit of the job.

I went to Mindanao, one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden islands in the Philippines archipelago, and home to 23m of its 94m population. The focus was our livelihoods work (I hate the term, but can’t think of anything better to describe the complex ways poor people find to put food on the family table). Such work forms the backbone of many of Oxfam’s programmes. In Mindanao, we’re working with women farmers to introduce new crops or upgrade existing ones:

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

CNN
How 'Afropreneurs' will shape Africa's future

“His full name is Idris Ayodeji Bello, but you might just call him "Afropreneur."

That's the buzzword adopted by the young Nigerian to describe the bright, independent and tech savvy entrepreneurs using creative thinking and the power of innovation to take over Africa's economic destiny.


"Over time Africa has relied on government and big multinationals for solutions -- but they're not coming," explains Bello.”  READ MORE

The Stunning Ease of The Politics of Outrage

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The world has been witnessing a scary new political communication/mobilization phenomenon: the routine deployment of the politics of outrage by tiny groups of individuals...but  with epic consequences. And what is amazing is how stunningly easy it is to get this going. Consider, if you will, the emerging structure of the phenomenon:

  1. Somebody living in one of the liberal democracies of the West decides to test the limits of free speech by deliberating insulting the Holy Prophet in some way. They don't need to write an entire novel or make a full length movie.  A cartoon is enough or the trailer of a movie.
  2. These days, the Internet does the rest: the provocation acquires the capacity to go  global.
  3. Within the great Islamic community of the faithful are those just watching out for these provocations, rubbing their hands, and saying with Clint Eastwood: 'Make my day!' They take the largely obscure provocation and bring it to the attention of the entire community of the faithful.

Media (R)evolutions: African Facebook Users by Gender

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.


 

The Possibilities! A Network of Globally Minded Youth

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

A few months ago, there was an interesting news story on National Public Radio (NPR) about the experience of “first globals,” a generation of 20 to 30 year old public service oriented Americans that are increasingly living, studying, and working abroad.  John Zogby, an American political pollster, was credited in this news piece as having chronicled this trend in his book, The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream. In Zogby’s description of first globals, a term he coined, he described this generation on NPR by stating:"Two out of three of them have passports. They are well-traveled; technologically they have networks that include people all over the world. They have a desire to be nimble, to go anywhere and to be anywhere. They also have a desire to change their world and feel like they're in a position to do that."

This phenomenon has a lot of promise in the area of development, where the combination of shared experience, youth networks, and strategic engagement has the potential to address some of the most complex global challenges.

Media and Information Literacy as a Composite Concept

Johanna Martinsson's picture

A reader's response to the blog post 12 Recommendations for Building Media and Information Literate Knowledge Societies. 

"I read your post with much interest. UNESCO promotes Media and Information Literacy(MIL) as a composite concept, a combined set of interrelated competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) necessary for the media and 
technology mediated world of today.

I encourage you and other readers to visit this link to see UNESCO's official description of MIL, 
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/media-development/media-literacy/

MIL empowers citizens with competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) related to media, information, ICT and other aspects of literacy which are needed for 21st century. These competencies include the ability to: find, evaluate, use the information they need in ethical and effective ways,  understand the role and functions of media and other information providers such as libraries, Internet, museums and archives, in democratic societies; understand the conditions under which media and information providers can  fulfil their functions; critically evaluate information and media content; engage with media and information providers for self-expression, life-long learning, and democratic participation; and updated skills (including ICTs skills)needed to produce content, including user-generated.

Quote of the Week: Michael Ignatieff

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“So we come out of the Rushdie affair with one thing in common: democratic life together is a hard bargain. Each of us, Muslim believer and secular liberal, wishes the other were different. But we are not, and living together requires us to accept what we cannot change.”

--Michael Ignatieff, Financial Times, September 14, 2012. The lessons from Rushdie’s fatwa years.

12 Recommendations for Building Media and Information Literate Knowledge Societies

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Last week, the international literacy day was celebrated around the world.  The theme this year, Literacy and Peace, was based on the premise that “literacy contributes to peace as it brings people closer to attaining individual freedoms and better understanding the world, as well as preventing or resolving conflict.”  Today, basic reading and writing skills are not sufficient to effectively succeed in a knowledge-based society. The fast speed and wide spread of information have generated an array of new literacies. The following literacies are referred to as crucial to surviving in the 21st century: basic literacy skills, computer literacy, media literacy, distance education and e-learning, cultural literacy, and information literacy.

Paralegals and Social Accountability: Who knew?

Shamiela Mir's picture

Social Accountability is getting more and more innovative these days. A recent event organized by Justice for the Poor (J4P) showcased a pilot program in Sierra Leone where a group of development practitioners are exploring new ideas on social accountability and how legal empowerment tools, such as community paralegals can play a complementary role by helping communities navigate the murky waters of administrative accountability and hold the government and the healthcare service providers accountable.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Stories
Interactive: Mapping the World's Friendships

“Technology bridges distance and borders. Individuals today can keep in touch with their friends and family in completely new ways — regardless of where they live. We explored these international connections through Facebook and found some trends — some predictable, some wholly unexpected, and some still inexplicable.

Who can explain the strong link between the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest countries in the heart of Africa, and Ecuador? The reason the Central African Republic might be good friends with Kazakhstan is likewise mysterious to us.”  READ MORE

I Only Hear What I Want to Hear – And So Do You

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Do you know these people who always only hear what they want to hear? Who interpret everything in a way that fits their own views? Yes? Deal with them every day? Well, chances are, you’re one of them. Biased information processing is a common phenomenon. It happens when the information we receive is out of sync with what we believe to be true, or want to be true, or when the information is inconvenient for us. This obviously has huge implications for communication campaigns in development.

Robert Chambers - Why Don't All Development Organizations Do Immersions?

Duncan Green's picture

Following on my review of Robert Chambers’ new(ish) book, ‘Provocations for Development’, I’m posting a couple of edited-down excerpts that caught my eye. Today, immersions –  written in 2007 and a nice illustration of how Robert combines both the politics and practicalities of aid work.

Immersions can take many forms, but an almost universal feature is staying in a poor community, as a person, living with a host family, helping with tasks and sharing in their life. The overnight stay is vital for relationships, experience, and relaxed conversations after dark and talking into the night. There may be activities like working with and helping the family, listening and dialogue, learning a life history, keeping a reflective diary or trying to explain your work and its relevance, but the essence is to be open much of the time to the unplanned and unexpected, to live and be and relate as a person. The unplanned incident is so often the most striking, moving and significant. Much is experienced and learnt, but what that will be is hard to predict.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Wired
Africa? There's an app for that

“In June this year Apple CEO Tim Cook shared with the waiting crowd at its Worldwide Development Conference that Apple would be giving access to the App Store to 32 new countries, bringing the total to 152. Tim Cook also shared some impressive statistics: the App Store now has 400 million accounts; there are 650,000 apps available for download; there have been 30 billion app downloads and more than $5 billion (£3.2 billion) has been paid to developers.

Of those 32 new countries there are a number in Africa, ranging from countries like Chad with millions of potential app users to remote São Tomé and Príncipe, with just thousands.”  READ MORE

Media Coverage and Funding for Disasters

Maya Brahmam's picture

During the latest round of the global Development Data Challenge held in London at the end of August, various members of the open data community got together at the Guardian to explore the limits of recently released aid and government spending data. One of the challenges proposed was to explore whether media coverage influenced funding for disasters.

This is interesting, not only because a fair amount of research has been done on the topic, but also because popular wisdom supports the idea that media coverage spurs disaster funding – the so-called "CNN effect."

O Feitiço do Rio

John Garrison's picture

Diferentemente do filme Feitiço do Rio (1984), que atribuiu o romance vulgar entre um homem de meia-idade (vivido por Michael Caine) e uma adolescente às vibrações sensuais da Cidade Maravilhosa, a recente conferência Rio+20 serviu para mostrar outra cara do Rio de Janeiro: a de líder global ambiental. A cidade não só mantém as duas maiores florestas urbanas do mundo, a da Pedra Branca e a da Tijuca (na foto), mas também concluiu um moderno centro de tratamento de resíduos, que permitirá uma redução de 8% nas emissões de gases causadores de efeito estufa, e está construindo 300km de ciclovias. Para o Banco Mundial, a cidade tem sido o cenário para uma improvável melhoria nas relações entre o próprio Banco e organizações ambientais não-governamentais (ONGs) nos últimos 20 anos.

Provocations for Development: Superb New Collection of Robert Chambers’ Greatest Hits

Duncan Green's picture

This is not an impartial review – Robert Chambers is a hero of  mine, part development guru, part therapist to the aid community. His ideas and phrases litter the intellectual landscape. Or ought to: if you don’t recognize some of his major contributions to the development lexicon – ‘hand over the stick’, ‘uppers and lowers’, ‘whose reality counts?’, participatory research methods or seasonality, (there are dozens of others) you have seriously missed out, and Provocations for Development, a greatest hits collection of his speeches, writings, reflections and one pagers should definitely be on the top of your reading pile.

Chambers is also playful. ‘Fun is a human right’ he announces in the foreword, and the book duly starts with a beginner’s guide to bullshit bingo, that essential way to survive particularly mind-numbing meetings. He even provides handy photocopiable bingo tables for you.

The Made-in-China Version of Media Development in Africa

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) has taken on an exceedingly important task. It has launched a ‘China in Africa’ research project. The project ‘investigates the emerging relationship between Africa and China’ and ‘seeks to develop an understanding of the motives, rationale and institutional structures guiding China’s Africa policy, and to study China’s growing power and influence so that they will help rather than hinder development in Africa’. (p.2). The important research paper that prompted this blog post– ‘The Rise of China’s State-Led Media Dynasty in Africa’– was published in June this year by SAIIA as part of the ‘China in Africa’ research project. The author, Yu–Shan Wu, is a researcher on the team.

The report shows that China is moving into the African media landscape with a striking comprehensiveness and intensity. Wu’s report is frank and detailed.  China’s efforts are designed to attain two objectives: