Tag Archives: Aid

This Year Today: What Kim & Kanye will mean for development in 2015

Welcome to the United Nations International Year of Soils and of Light. No, the UN hasn’t opened an Astrology department or adopted the Chinese zodiac calendar. (Next year is the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep.) The Year of Soils is, according to Dr. Richard Doyle of the University of Tasmania, about getting youth excited about soils. “Get them off their iPads, out of playing video game Mine Craft, which are about imaginary mining and imaginary soils. Actually get them out there feeling soils, feeling the texture, smelling the soils.” So, get off your phone, turn off your lights, and go get some soils.

This year at WhyDev

It is an exciting year ahead for WhyDev. We’re entering our 5th year of operations, and will soon hit 500 blog posts. Our original mission has not changed all that much – to foster and provide an online community for those committed to getting development right. This year, we’re hitting our stride, and building this community through AidSource, partnerships and service delivery. Not only are we aiming to foster a collaborative and critical community, but also a healthy and supportive one.

This year on the team

To achieve this, we are very happy to have three more committed peers join our gang. And, they couldn’t be more over-qualified and amazing. Alysia Antonucci will be managing AidSource, Jessica Meckler will be leading our partnerships, and Nicole Tooby will be helping us engage youth.

This year in globaldev

In the tradition of New Year posts, it’s customary to predict trends for the coming year. Is Baghdadi 2015 the next Kony 2012? What is Bono planning for Africa? When will Kanye and Kim take a step towards philanthropy and world-saving? I wish I had the answers. In the meantime, a few items to keep track of, which we will evaluate in at the end of this program cycle:

1. Post-2015: The difference between ‘promote’ and ‘ensure’.

As we move closer to the end of the Millennium Developments Goals (and head towards the Quantum Development Goals? The Millennium Falcon Development Goals?), what our focus needs to be on are these two verbs: promote and ensure. Whether nations agree at the UN Summit in September to promote certain goals or to ensure them is too important to overstate, and it’s a political rodeo that will be largely closed off to the 99%.

2. Too many do-gooders, not enough jobs.

Exit your degree like I exit the turn-pike / Dicing development like dyn-o-mite. If you are not a Fugees fan, then I apologise for the lost reference of the preceding sentences. If you are a Fugees fan, then I apologise for the hatchet job of Pras’ lyrics. We’re entering an unprecedented era in do-gooding aspirations, with more Development Studies degrees than the Bible has Psalms. Although we don’t have any data, the number of under- and post-graduate degrees in Development Studies is growing, but the sector they wish to enter is perhaps shrinking.

3. Social enterprise is the new MONGO.

#2 then leads to #3, in which we will see a shift away from My Own NGO towards My Own Social Enterprise. MOSE. This phenomenon has already been documented in Bloomberg, and I believe it will only continue to grow. Conversely, and despite the pushback from WhyDev and others, we will see a growth in voluntourism, with more and more travel companies putting poverty on the list of attractions and itineraries. You can just imagine Contiki offering an all-inclusive Africa Slum + Party Package for 14 days, in which the young traveller gets down and dirty in the slums and clubs of Nairobi.

4. Beyond aid: Remittences, private sector and impact investment.

This is a trend we trot out at the beginning of every year, but this time it is different. Since its inception, foreign aid, as in Official Development Assistance (ODA), has been relatively flat in terms of growth. It has also always been subject to donor’s national interests. So, I don’t believe we will ever see substantial increases across the OECD family that are sustained and committed. Yet, development doesn’t begin and end with ODA. Remittences, private sector, concessional loans, foreign direct investment and impact investing are more significant in terms of volume and poverty alleviation than ODA. We need a wholesale re-imagining of what ODA can achieve, and how it can achieve its purported aims.

5. “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man / So let me handle my business, damn.” – Jay Z

NGOs and international development agencies are increasingly adopting the nomenclature and discourse of business and the private sector. And, it doesn’t look to be slowing down. Whether this means the actual practice of development will be done differently is an entirely other matter. Beneficiaries may become customers, but if they’re treated like Comcast customers, then god help us all.

 6. Last but not least, Kanye and Kim will become the Bill and Melinda Gates of hip-hop and Hollywood.

Yo Geldolf, I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish. But, Bill and Melinda had one of the best campaigns of all time.

Kim and Kanye are yet to fully submerge themselves in global development, advocacy and celebrity intervention, but I have a good feeling that this is their year to shine and commit themselves to eradicating something somewhere in Africa.

Love reading Last Week Today? To keep getting the best global development news and insights each week, just subscribe to our mailing list. We won’t be posting the newsletter to the blog anymore. Why? Because we’ll be sharing content throughout the year especially for our loyal supporters. You! So, sign up to get Last Week Today sent staight to your inbox every Friday. It’s that simple.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons.

Last Week Today: What’s wrong with cheap clothes?

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Career advice from WhyDev

There’s new research out on how to network over e-mail! Begin with a disingenuous question about the other person’s personal life. Then, seal the deal by ending with a vague reference to one of their hobbies.

So, three steps to e-networking in development: “How’s your infidelity? I’m looking for a job and hope you’ll hire me. Enjoy the next Hash!” UNDP, here we come.

The week in news

After a mob attacked a Nairobi woman for dressing “inappropriately,” over 200 people marched in protest. #MyDressMyChoice

A new documentary has shed light on Firestone’s relationship with Charles Taylor and the company’s role in the Liberian civil war.

A new ISIS video depicts a mass beheading of Syrian hostages and the alleged beheading of a third Western aid worker, Peter Kassig.

The week on the blog

The reality (and absurdity) of the aid sector

The aid industry can be ridiculous, and Michael Keller knows it all too well. But one new company is trying to help NGOs function a little better.

Jaden and Willow Smith’s guide to global development

Bono and Clooney have been the go-to celebrity humanitarians for ages. But, Brendan Rigby realised a famous brother-sister pair actually has a pretty solid development strategy.

The week in globaldev

Ebola? There’s an app for that.

The myth of cheap clothes

Refugees, IDPs and the trouble with labels

Saying “no” to Bob Geldof

Who’s donating to the Ebola response, really?

Audio Mark Goldberg talks about human rights abuses in Myanmar and the plight of the Rohingya minority.

Upcoming events

The Institute for Human Security and Social Change: Two seminars with Duncan Green | Melbourne, 24 November

Want to get involved? Apply to be our Community Manager, or the Fundraising Director for our friends at OIC: The Cambodia Project. And don’t forget to join AidSource – one member who signs up in the next week will receive a WhyDev postcard!

You can also check out our other events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Featured image from CareerStair.

Last Week Today: WhatsApp vs. humanitarian aid

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

What do NGOs have in common with this woman?

The obsession with the perfectly composed selfie.

This week, celebs are taking selfies for UNICEF’s #WakeUpCall campaign. But are NGOs trying too hard to create the next viral campaign?

The week in news

Protests in Hong Kong are raging on, intensified by police beating of activists. ISIS is nearing a strategic town in Iraq’s Anbar Province. And fighting has erupted over the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Kim Jong Un has evidently reappeared. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of rumours – but now, most of them are about his new cane.

And in this week’s edition of “naked photo scandals,” 100,000 SnapChat pictures have been hacked, including nude pics of teenagers.

The week on the blog

Cognitive dissonance in aid: A job like any other

In our final post on cognitive dissonance, J. reminds us that aid is like any other industry – imperfect.

Why I’m anti anti-poverty

It’s Anti-Poverty Week in Australia, but WhyDev Director Brendan Rigby asks what it actually means to be “anti-poverty” – and whether it’s useful.

Inequality and the struggle for land rights

For Blog Action Day, Alison Rabe reports on one Cambodian community’s struggle with a common problem: protecting local land from multi-national corporations.

The week in globaldev

The feminists you’re really looking for

When Africa is on TV, people go to the bathroom.

You don’t join ISIS to feed your family.

Australia at the top

Ebola: So African, so dark, so black

Why do we even know Malala’s name?

WhatsApp vs. humanitarian aid

Audio In the latest episode of EMERGENCY AIDio, Nuran Higgens talks to Andy Puddicombe about using meditation for a healthy mind and better life. (1:11:19)

Upcoming events

OIC: The Cambodia Project: Launch extravaganza | Melbourne, 12 November

You can also check out our other events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Featured image is Naomi Campbell’s selfie for the #WakeUpCall campaign. Photo from Instagram.

Cognitive dissonance in aid: A job like any other

This is the final post in a series of responses to Jonathan Favini’s piece on cognitive dissonance in the aid industry. Check out the other responses here and here, and share your own in the comments.

A few bullet-points, first, then narrative.

  • The opening scene of the barbershop in Jonathan’s article resonates: I had approximately the same experience in a small town in southern Michigan in about 1991.
  • Jonathan describes well the cognitive dissonance of being an aid/development worker, but struggles to convey the gaps between what we actually do, what everyone thinks we do and who we are. Hell, I struggle to convey them after more than a decade of writing specifically dedicated to that end. It’s mostly the point of my recent book, Letters Left Unsent (see especially the chapter entitled “Noble Savages”).
  • In this way, I think aid workers and the aid industry are actually analogous to porn actors and the adult film industry. Powerful, common perceptions about who we are and what we do seldom reflect reality… But since everyone thinks they know, no one bothers actually asking. Which leads to massive misperceptions by those entering or attempting to enter the sector. Which leads to people like Jonathan having cognitive dissonance straight out of the gate, before he’s got much more than entry-level experience under his belt.

How have you integrated recognition of the industry’s flaws into your professional identity?

In pretty much the same way a physician integrates recognition of the healthcare industry’s flaws. Which is to say that I acknowledge them openly, and then assertively use my own (current) influence to correct them or start to correct them where I can.

I recognize the faults and challenges, and take on as a part of my personal responsibility and ethics to do what I can to make it better. In this area, though, I don’t really see that aid and development is any different from most any other industry–the automotive industry, perhaps, or the food industry. I think there’s always a disconnect between, for lack of a better term, the business-end or “industrial” side of any industry and the thing the industry is meant to provide.

For example, the automotive industry is beset with drama and intrigue around what gets decided, how, where and by whom. Then consumers–people like you and me–certainly have opinions about what cars we like, would like to have (whether real and current or imaginary), all to come around to the realities of what we can actually afford.

And so, I suppose, in my professional life, like an engineer or a factory worker at Toyota, I have no problem acknowledging the limitations of what my chosen industry has to offer.

I may even be candid and open about my employer’s comparative and competitive advantages and disadvantages vis-a-vis other providers. I think we can safely assume that in 20 years’ time, the cars we drive will look and work and be quite different from those we have now.

And in the same way, with the aid industry, whether we’re talking about the technical specifications of the actual products we deliver or the industry’s nature and structure, the acquisitions, the shifts in power at the “top” of the industry itself (far from the factory floor, if you will), I think we can freely acknowledge flaws without ever abandoning belief in the value of the product itself or in our own individual and collective roles in making that product happen.

How have you learned to recognize development’s problems, while continuing to do work in the field or advocating for its expansion?

I think there’s a tendency to make this issue seem more black and white than it is, in fact. It’s partially to do with basic human nature–we gravitate toward explanations that feel simple. It’s partially to do, I think, with the way the discussion about aid has evolved, particularly on social media, in the past few years. And I think it also has to do with the fact that the major (which is to say, widely-read) critiques almost all come from industry outsiders who have a vested interest in articulating extreme critique. And here I’m talking specifically about William Easterly, Dambisa Moyo and Linda Polman (among others). “Dead aid” grabs attention, whereas “Aid with a serious, but ultimately curable illness” lacks punch.

Too much of the conversation, in my opinion, is polarized between “aid is dead,” and “OMG, we’re making poverty history!” The truth is that the vast majority is somewhere in the middle.

I think there’s perhaps a generational thing at play, too. Myself at 25, a year or two into my own aid career, I had all the answers. I could give the entire litany of everything wrong with the sector, every decision my boss and my bosses’ boss made was wrong, and so on. Now, 20+ years later, I’m not so sure.

Jonathan asks some tough questions, but lately I’m not so sure they’re the most relevant ones. The question, “Did I ‘make a lasting difference’ during my time as a PCV in Senegal?” is a very, very different question from, “Does aid work or not? And if not, how do we fix it?” And those of us who stick around come to understand that the things that make aid work or not, the problems in real need of redress, have nothing at all to do with whether the white guys and women in rural West Africa are “learning the language and finding a place in Senegalese society.” I think many of us had our equivalent of a barbershop crisis early on. Stay on for a while, though, and see how things actually work, and you begin to understand that the issues are different.

I stay on because I see the potential for good. I’ve seen the good actually happen myself. I stay on because I see the real possibility of changing the industry for the better and at the level at which it truly needs to change. I stay on because I still believe.

How do you motivate yourself on tough days when you doubt the impact of your efforts?

Let me start somewhere else, because I don’t really think this is the best question to ask here. I think it is absolutely critical to understand that this aid or development thing is a job, like any other (even if Peace Corps marketing says otherwise). Maybe you work some long hours. Maybe, in the course of this “ordinary job,” you go to some cool places and have some wild moments. But at the end of the day, it is a job. You go to work, you collect your salary or stipend, you pay your bills, and eventually you retire.

It is critical to understand that liking your job, that feeling as if what you do for work contributes to some greater good–“job satisfaction”–is a luxury and a privilege that many (perhaps most?) people simply do not have. I think too many people enter the aid sector because they anticipate a constant rush of, “I JUST SAVED A LIFE!!”

I see these people day in and day out in my real job: they’re the ones who very easily get bored or disillusioned and leave, or perhaps run off to start their own NGO, before they’ve really understood the reality. I think the sooner we understand that, like with any other job in any other industry, some days are going to be awesome and some days are going to suck, the sooner we’ll get past the stage of existential barbershop crises.

I don’t mean we should become apathetic. Rather, I mean we must understand that this job, this career, carries with it both positive and negative. And further, that just because we have a tough day at the office or in the village, doesn’t mean aid is broken.

And there, I’ve gone on preaching.

Featured image from Voice of America.

Last Week Today: 10 October 2014

Committed to giving you last week’s globaldev news today

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are expecting! And it’s pretty likely this will be the world’s most beautiful baby. You can already see predictions of what he or she will look like.

Although, here at WhyDev, we’re disappointed they haven’t adopted a Cambodian child. Blakan could give Brangelina a run for their humanitarian money.

The week in news

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has temporarily stepped down (the ICC hearing on his crimes against humanity and all).

ISIS is set to take the key town of Kobane, on the Turkish-Syrian border. Meanwhile, Turkey is garnering support for a buffer zone to protect displaced people.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems to be missing. Unsubstantiated rumours suggest he has gout, is under house arrest, fractured both ankles because of his weight or was tapped on the shoulder by Ban Ki-moon to negotiate a ceasefire between ISIS and the world.

The week on the blog

The difference one tree can make

What can be done to combat deforestation in developing countries? Kathleen Buckingham draws lessons from some major tree-planting initiatives.

What Tim Minchin can teach you about working in global development

Musician-comedian Tim Minchin doled out some unconventional but inspiring life advice in a graduation speech – and WhyDev Director Brendan Rigby turned it into lessons for aspiring aid workers.

The week in globaldev

Where my senior consultants at? Hola!

UNDP Number 1!

So much panic, so little action on Ebola

Down with all-male panels!

Generalists and specialists are so last year. This season is all about the “integrator.”

Ebola is the Jeffrey Sachs of cold sores.

A “Homeless Bill of Rights,” so people can legally sit and stand in public

No money left for food aid – USAID spent it all on shipping costs.

Comic In the real world, do we actually love the underdog?

"The Underdog Myth," a comic by Mike Dawson.
“The Underdog Myth,” a comic by Mike Dawson.

You can also check out our events and listen to the MissionCreep podcast.

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Featured image by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA.

MissionCreep #4: Arseholes, perceptions and books

Your hosts, Brendan Rigby, Carly Stephan and Weh Yeoh, are back with episode 4 of the MissionCreep podcast, bringing you fresh and frank voices in global development.

This time, Weh wants to know why there are so many egotistical arseholes working in development (it’s not law, after all!). Plus, Carly responds to a bureaucrat who doubts the effectiveness of aid, and Brendan asks about aid workers’ reading lists.

Join the conversation! Let us know how you deal with the arseholes you encounter, and send us your book recommendations. Leave a comment here or on Facebook, e-mail us at info[AT]whydev.org, and use the hashtag #MissionCreepDev on Twitter. We’ll respond online or on the next episode of the podcast.

Runs 37:39.

You can also listen to the podcast here or download it on iTunes.

Brendan Rigby
Brendan Rigby
Carly Stephan
Carly Stephan
Weh Yeoh
Weh Yeoh

 

 

 

 

Articles referenced throughout the podcast:

Why competing over funding is killing development (and how we might improve)

The troll slayer: A Cambridge classicist takes on her sexist detractors

This is the No. 1 thing that holds most people back from success.

Essential reading on foreign aid

How humanitarian aid weakened post-earthquake Haiti

Putting our money where our mouths are? Donations to NGOs and support for ODA in Australia

Jihadists buy Islam for Dummies on Amazon

Book recommendations from the podcast: Thinking Fast and Slow, Made to Stick, Rohinton Mistry, The Power of Now, A New Earth, Daring Greatly, The Big Leap, Emergency Sex, Zen under Fire, You Are Not So Smart, Development as Freedom, The Bottom Billion and War, Guns & Votes.

On cognitive dissonance: Local ownership & constant learning

Jonathan Favini’s recent WhyDev post on cognitive dissonance in development raised issues that are near and dear to many in the sector, from recognising aid failures to working in a flawed industry to receiving praise from outsiders. A recent college grad, Jonathan ended his piece with some thoughtful questions to more experienced aid workers.

How have you integrated recognition of the industry’s flaws into your professional identity? How have you learned to recognize development’s problems, while continuing to work in the field or advocating for its expansion? How do you motivate yourselves on tough days when you doubt the impact of your efforts?

We’ve compiled several interesting and insightful responses from people with varied experience in development (and blogging!). This post is the first in a short series of reflections on these topics.

Chris Planicka – Program Associate, EcoAgriculture Partners & Aid Blogger

“These types of doubts and questions help me to remain humble in my work. I try to present myself as a facilitator or enabler, one who helps people to achieve their own goals but whose own role is minimal. Most people I work with, especially at local levels in developing countries, appreciate this stance, as they can see the problems in development work all too clearly.

Indeed, I am quite aware of the many problems in this industry, and sometimes the doubts Jonathan described, and other challenges, can be overwhelming. To motivate myself in this work, I try to do the following: learn from mistakes and errors (both mine and others’) to avoid repeating them and to improve other work; make special note of success stories when I do find them and remember them for future reference; and never take myself too seriously, especially in interactions with people offering praise for ‘doing good work’ or ‘helping people.’ They may mean well, but they do not fully understand the work I do (and that’s not really their fault, either).”

Chad Bissonnette – Co-founder & Executive Director, Roots of Development

“I couldn’t incorporate the industry’s flaws into my identity, so I decided to start my own organisation. That way, I decided I could work within the field, but as ‘outside the industry’ as possible.

Like most in the field, I am constantly observing and analysing the flaws of the industry, and using my conclusions about them to form the approach we use at Roots of Development. Since most of our budget comes from individual donors, we have even greater flexibility to do it differently. Most individual donors trust us enough and believe in our approach enough to allow us to do it the way we feel we need to do it. They let us mold, form and change our programming based on the direction of the communities with whom we work and the lessons we learn from working with them.

I think the days you find yourself doubting the impact of your efforts are very important. I have learned to take those days and use them to analyse two things: 1) Look at the effort to try and see where we may have gone astray or strayed from our core principles. 2) Make sure I am not solely evaluating the impact through my culturally-biased understanding of it and of standards of success.

I believe that when you doubt the impact of your effort, it’s either because the effort is actually flawed or because you’re judging it from your cultural context. In the first case, it’s important to identify where you went astray and get back on track. In the second, it’s likely you need to remind yourself whom the effort is actually for, and find out how they are feeling about the impact.

It is once again a reminder to me of how important local ownership is in every aspect of international development and how important it is for me (us) to remain in a supportive role instead of a managerial one.”

Check back next week for thoughts from more of your favourite aid workers and bloggers – and share your own responses in the comments.

Last Week Today: 22 August 2014

Would you pick up a hitchhiking robot?

HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot
HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot

If you thought you saw a robot on the side of the highway during your last road trip, you might not be crazy. HitchBOT, a child-sized solar-powered robot built by Canadian researchers, just hitchhiked 6,000 kilometres, to explore the relationship between people and technology. Past research has examined whether humans can trust robots, but HitchBOT was created to address the question, “Can robots trust humans?” (Apparently the answer is yes: the robot made it all the way across Canada by getting free rides, and arrived unharmed in British Columbia this week.) Not strange enough? HitchBOT also uses social media.

What’s next, robot aid workers? Well, hey, we’re supposed to be working ourselves out of a job, right?

The week in news

Perhaps the most alarming story this week is the ISIS beheading of American journalist James Foley, which the group recorded and posted on YouTube. News outlets have come under fire for publishing pictures taken immediately before the execution, with critics saying the dissemination of the photos only exploits his death. Read Foley’s obituary and some highlights from his career instead.

Meanwhile, Romeo Dallaire argues Iraq is experiencing the same warning sounds of genocide that he witnessed in Rwanda in the early 1990s. Thailand’s junta leader was just appointed the country’s Prime Minister, and Liberian police fired live rounds and tear gas into crowds of protestors trying to break an ebola quarantine.

In other important world news, North Korean officials called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “a wolf with a hideous lantern jaw.” Diplomacy at its finest.

The week on the blog

Dear Supporter: We’re sorry, the project you supported failed…

NGOs make mistakes. Aid projects fail. Money gets wasted. Not surprisingly, most organisations don’t want to talk about it, but Ravinder Casley Gera has an example for how they can communicate failed projects without looking bad.

Mission Creep #2: SWEDOW, being smart and sexual healing

We’re back with the second episode of the WhyDev podcast, Mission Creep – bringing you fresh and frank voices in global development. This week, Brendan Rigby, Weh Yeoh and Carly Stephan are talking SWEDOW, looking smart and sex as a coping strategy. Give it a listen, and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MissionCreepDev.

The week in globaldev

Where are the examples of “good donorship?” | From Poverty to Power

Self-reflection, volunteering and the development entertainment industrial complex | Aidnography

Debating hashtags and slacktivism | Wait… What?

The launch of EMERGENCY AIDio, the new online radio program for aid workers | The Healthy Nomad

UN internships for Canadians no longer unpaid – now they cost $2,500! | Humanosphere

Are humanitarians heroes or sidekicks? | AidSpeak

Why ebola is killing more women than men | BuzzFeed

Is Australia’s scholarship program an effective aid strategy? (also, Parts One & Two) | DevPolicy

What can we learn from the history of foreign aid? | Politics of Poverty

Upcoming Events

Expanse: The one-day conference to empower young humanitarians | Melbourne, 30 August Register with the promotion code: WD896 for a $5 discount!

Always on the go? Have a version sent to your inbox every Friday. Just sign up to the Last Week Today newsletter.

Dear Supporter: We’re sorry, the project you supported failed…

In honour of World Humanitarian Day, the WhyDev team wants to recognize an unfortunate truth: humanitarian projects often fail. We believe NGOs need to confront their mistakes, talk about them and learn from them – it’s the only way aid will get better.
Continue reading Dear Supporter: We’re sorry, the project you supported failed…

Last Week Today: 8 August 2014

Don’t have time to scan the web for global news? Want to know about development events and jobs? Sick of having a million emails in your inbox?

Want to know about development events and jobs? Sick of having a million emails in your inbox? – See more at: http://www.whydev.org/8-august-2014-the-week-in-links/#sthash.xI7M0fJI.dpuf
Don’t have time to scan the web for global news?
Don’t have time to scan the web for global news?Want to know about development events and jobs? Sick of having a million emails in your inbox?

We’re here to help.

Today we’re launching Last Week Today – a weekly post that has the best stories, news, events and jobs in global development.

Now you can breathe a sigh of relief. Last Week Today is all you need.

So grab a coffee, sit back, and enjoy the week’s best in global development.

The week in news

Niger is the French word for Nigeria, right?

CNN

CNN’s on-air mistake has reignited discussions about ignorance of developing countries, and brought attention to the network’s past misplacing of Ukraine, and Hong Kong, and London, and…

Washington, D.C., was abuzz this week with President Obama’s parade of autocrats (aka, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit) which brought over 40 heads of state to the White House.

In the rest of the world: this was a tragic week in parts of China and Nepal, and Afghanistan’s election crisis is worsening. South Sudan is facing a triple threat of violence, famine, and cholera. The ebola outbreak is reportedly spreading, though not as fast as our fears of it.

It’s not making global headlines, but our love affair with coffee may have some seriously damaging environmental consequences.

And in this week’s edition of is-this-for-real, USAID has evidently been sending young Latin Americans to incite rebellion in Cuba, using the cover of HIV-prevention workshops.

The week from the blog

NGOs can learn from YouTube celebrities

Most NGOs these days blog, tweet, use Facebook – but not many of them use video effectively. Our Communications Director Rachel Kurzyp explains how organisations could pick up some tips from (who else?) the celebrities of YouTube.

Starving for awareness

The UN is feeding refugees a starvation diet: 850 calories a day. When Francisco Toro found out about it, he didn’t “like” a post or order a bracelet. Instead, he ate a tiny bowl of sorghum and lentils – and nothing else.

The gendered lens is always a good bet for looking smart to your development friends. Cartoon by Kirsty Newman.
The gendered lens is always a good bet for looking smart to your development friends. Cartoon by Kirsty Newman.

The week in links

Tips for looking smart to development geeks | Kirsty Evidence

New research suggests there are three types of female aid workers. | Women in Aid

Africa’s rising, Africa’s falling…but it’s mostly rising. | The Washington Post

Two theories on why we’re so obsessed with giving away our old stuff | Blood and Milk

Beggars can’t be choosers, but are they really beggars…? | Good Intentions (courtesy of USAID’s Center for International Disaster Information)

Can volunteers really cause harm? | AidSpeak

No doubt about it, 850-calorie-a-day food rations aren’t enough to survive. | 850 Calories

Is Bitcoin the next big thing in financial inclusion? | Development Channel

Are health gains in developing countries really helping the poor? | Brett Keller

New evidence for the impact of education on women’s health | Humanosphere

The week in events

Complex? Nah just a Tuesday | Melbourne

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