Category: Global development

What I learned at the Art and Feminism Wikipedia editathon

08 March 2015

This weekend was the Art and Feminism Wikipedia Editathon- a campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia.

I joined the Berlin group today, and I did two main things: created a page for the feminist artist Dilara Begum Jolly, whose work looks at social injustices in Bangladesh and globally, focusing on the role of women; and I improved the page of Kanak Chanpa Chakma, a Bengali artist who focuses on the lives of ethnic minorities in Bangladesh.

I found both of them via this pretty enormous page, Women Artists of Bangladesh. I wasn’t sure where to start on cleaning it up purely because it is so unwieldy - that is to say, long, without many references or structure, and with a very unusual style of writing. So, I focused on the two of them instead.

It is a lot more rewarding than I had thought to create a page and to see the improvements on Kanak Chanpa Chakma’s page, too! To my surprise, just 4 hours after creating Dilara Begum Jolly’s page, it’s now in the top 5 hits when you search for her name on Google, too.

Here are some things I learned today:

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Responsible Data in Humanitarian Response: my takeaways

06 March 2015

The Responsible Data in Humanitarian Response meeting held last week in The Hague gave me a lot of food for thought; below, I’ve tried to summarise what my main learnings from the two days were.

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Responsible Data in the IATI process

02 March 2015

Last week, I joined the Responsible Data for Humanitarian Response meeting in The Hague, where I had the pleasure of moderating a session on civic data streams, as well as talking about the International Aid Transparency Initiative process, together with Roderick Besseling of Cordaid. Roderick talked more about the specifics of using IATI within Cordaid, and it was really impressive to see how they are actually using internally the data they publish to IATI - while I talked about IATI data from a more general perspective.

I’m planning to write up the notes from the discussion very soon, but in the meantime, here are the slides I used for the discussion.

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Data in international development: a look at the (potential) dark side of ICT4D

22 February 2015

Yesterday, I gave a talk at the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung here in Berlin, about the work I’ve been doing looking into how data is being used in international development. I adapted a presentation I did together with Becky Kazansky at last year’s re:publica, which you can see online here, where we talked about the unintended consequences of increased uses of technology in development.

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Reflections from the OGP Americas Summit

16 November 2014

I’ve spent the past week at the OGP Americas summit, in San Jose, Costa Rica. A number of things struck me about the way I personally think about OGP, and about the way that OGP might evolve in the future.

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Band Aid 30- or, why "good intentions" simply don't cut it

16 November 2014

Band Aid 30. It premiered yesterday and I’m just as enraged by it as I have been by the original. I’ve read already a couple of good pieces about why Band Aid 30 is terrible; here are some more reasons I’d like to add to that mix, from the perspective of having grown up in the UK, and having heard that song every, single, Christmas time.

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Five kinds of Listening for the global development community

11 November 2014

I just came across Josh Stearn’s post, Five Kinds of Listening for Newsrooms and Communities. As I read, it struck me that a lot of what is in there could apply almost directly to the global development community, but with some little language changes. So, following Josh’s method of forking other people’s posts, here are five kinds of listening, for global development.

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Feminism in international development

22 October 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to sit down with a few fabulous ladies who work in international development, to ask them about their experiences as feminists within their sector, and also their opinions on the role of feminism within global development.

The recording of the discussion we had aired last night on Berlin Community Radio (with a short introduction from Kate and I, and some gorgeous tunes from Naomi Wachira), and you can listen to the show below. I also wanted to quickly highlight here a few key points that stood out for me throughout the discussion.

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When an aid project goes wrong, who is responsible?

24 April 2014

When we talk about “open government”, it’s common to also hear talk of transparency and accountability alongside. At its simplest, a government being transparent and open about their actions is a necessary step for citizens to know what is happening in their country, and to understand what decisions are being made on their behalf. Having access to this information is also a necessary step for citizens to be able to hold government accountable for their actions, and citizens being able to take action through legal and official means when they feel a government has taken irresponsible actions is a crucial step in this chain.

So- what about in “open aid” or “open development”? One major focus of transparency in aid has been ensuring that aid projects are carried out in the most effective and efficient way; without wasting money, either through inefficient service delivery or corruption, or other means. Here, the chain of accountability that is addressed goes directly from the donor agency (eg. the UK’s Department for International Development, DFID) to their citizens (ie. UK citizens). In the case of large multilateral donors, the accountability mechanisms are perhaps more complicated, but still present.

This move towards transparency and accountablity within international development is, of course, a great development; but what about accountability to the people who are affected by aid projects? Those whose lives are completely changed by aid projects, and those who are most at need; if their lives are negatively affected by (whether intentionally or unintentionally) aid projects, where do they turn?

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The role of mass surveillance in humanitarian crises

11 February 2014

Data collection and use in humanitarian situations is increasing. But what can we learn from the past?

It turns out that there have been multiple occasions when mass surveillance and data collection have played key roles in facilitating humanitarian crises, including genocides. In addition, as has been covered comprehensively in Privacy International’s report, “Aiding Privacy”, aid organisations are now some of the biggest data collectors among the world’s most vulnerable communities. Aid agencies are also supporting and funding data collection schemes which have in some cases been knocked back in their home countries; such as USAID funding the “My ID My Life” campaign in Kenya in 2013, which provided national ID cards for 500,000 young people.

To make really clear the link between surveillance and mass human rights’ abuses, and to highlight some of humanity’s worst examples of what can happen with mass surveillance, lack of freedom of expression, and abuse of data, here are a couple of examples.

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