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#16 Links Expat Aid Workers Like

July 9, 2012

We’re posting LEAWL on a Monday this week to switch it up a little….

*A new website about “Africa” called The African Test encourages you to embrace Africa — and even to “speak African”. (Nevermind that the site seems to confuse “Ghana” and “Africa”). Ye shall be tested on your African Lifestyle embracing skills and capacities based on the following:

  • Eat African: Food is consumed with hands. Also some types of food like fufu need to be swallowed and not chewed!!
  • Dress African: On some occasions, participants will be wearing traditional dresses. Do you have the technique to drape your own long and flowing boubou over your shoulders? It can be complex, especially for men
  • Speak African: By the end of our stay, you will have learnt a small amount of the local African language to communicate with passer byes and ask directions.
  • Dance African: Each area hasits own respective local dances. How many can you perform? If it is too difficult, shall you stick toAzonto?
  • Act African: Do you know how to haggle? Do you know how to beg maliciously? Do you know how to express yourself with the right gestures?
  • Cook African: The right technique is required to cook certain foods It is definitely not a walk in a park to pound fufu, stir banku,etc..

Other aspects of The Lifestyle may including washing clothes by hand, fetch water from wells to take showers. Right at the end of the stay, you will be given a checklist to make sure that you are totally africanised. Whilst you are testing your fit to the African living standards, you will also have the opportunity to take part in African activities.

In case knowing how to “beg maliciously” isn’t enough, other “African Activities” in which you’ll be encouraged to participate include games like Treasure Hunting (finding a cane in a village), testing your Haggling Acumen (selling sandals in the market) and Crazy Taxi.

Crazy Taxi will test you African driving skills. No straight roads, all strewn with potholes and stripped of traffic lights. How will you fare?

*Something else we’ve been alerted to is The Dictator’s Handbook….

  • Ever notice that the autocrats of the world are dangerously predictable?
  • Ever wonder if the world looks the way it does on purpose, because the world’s leaders have got it just the way they like it?
  • Ever wonder if dictators are all following the same playbook, a set of rules that have proved useful through history?
  • Or are you just interested in the machinery that makes a tyrant tick?

This book is your roadmap to success. From getting to power, to dividing your enemies, suppressing revolution, stealing elections, and making your fortune, this 320 page volume shows you how the pros have been doing it for centuries. Fully factual, with a complete bibliography and footnotes, the Dictator’s Handbook gives you a road map to tyranny, step by step. Deadly funny, but deadly serious, with 14 gorgeous illustrations, this is truly a practical manual for the aspiring tyrant.

For any actual Dictators reading LEAWL: this FP post tells you how to Get off the Sh*t List by getting on the BandaWagon.

*Aid Bloggers lamenting their frustrating inability to reach the average Jo(e), take note that if you plug away long enough, eventually MSM (main stream media) will pick up your ideas and run with them, reaching swaths of audience that you never had (nor ever will have ) access to. In February 2012 we had Matador Network’s 7 Worst International Aid Ideas which ‘borrowed heavily’ from some of the better known aid bloggers. Now we have 5 Popular Forms of Charity that Aren’t Helping making a splash on Cracked. Finally, a few articles that you can post on FB or forward to your clueless do-gooder friends without sounding all negative and preachy. Maybe now people will believe you when you say sending SWEDOW to Haiti is not actually a good idea.

*What is a group of interns called, asks @laurenist?

Other answers include: an ineptitude, a trap, an unemployment, an ambush, a gaggle, a mangle, a troop, a swarm, a murder, an effort, a village, a clue, and “Starbucks.” A quick google search turns up the “Stuff Interns Like” website (of course!) with posts about going to church, eating salad, friendly policemen and killing bugs — surely representative of all interns.

*ALNAP releases the State of the Humanitarian System

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and J. starts a discussion on it.

The State of the Humanitarian System is probably the most comprehensive and rigorous attempts to understand what’s going on – good and bad – with the humanitarian industry. Many people, AidSource founders sometimes included, love to go on about how the aid system is broken, dysfunctional, or whatever. But the State of the Humanitarian System actually studies it.

Whether you’re a battle-scarred practitioner, a total newbie, an amateur who’s convinced that you have the answers everyone else has missed, an academic or journalist covering aid, the State of the Humanitarian System is a must-read.

*The Guardian wants to know: Is it Time for A Humanitarian Ombudsman?

[A] reason for inertia is the amount of buckpassing and lack of accountability in the international humanitarian system, as pointed out recently by Rob Bailey, senior research fellow at Chatham House, the international affairs thinktank in London.

So what might shake things up? One possibility is to appoint a humanitarian ombudsman who would “name and shame” individuals and organisations as a way of jolting often labyrinthine bureaucratic systems within which it is hard to pinpoint ultimate responsibility.

(SEAWL would like to be considered for the Vice President of Naming and Shaming position, reporting to the Ombudsman. Our first line of action would be to encourage the set up of a Working Group or BULSHIT Task Force to get things moving.)

*The dangers of being too nice become apparent in this post summarizing a talk by Michael Clemens on the Millennium Village Project’s lack of impact. Post author Magnus Taylor concludes:

Clemens’ criticisms of impact evaluation and the MV projects have seemingly created some tension and bad-feeling between a number of economists with a stake in either camp. As was evident at the RAS/ODI meeting, much of this comes down to whose figures you find most credible, which for the non-specialist, can become somewhat bewildering.

To which Clemens responds:

There is no doubt or controversy about “whose figures are more credible”. The Millennium Villages Project has been forced to admit, by our work, that its figures were false. The editors of the journal determined this, and they eventually admitted it themselves.

The principal result of their flagship research product on child mortality (the central outcome in their own evaluation protocol) was discovered by myself and Gabriel Demombynes to be false. Upon learning of this, the world’s leading medical journal, The Lancet, forced the project to retract this finding. While they had been announcing that child mortality fell much more rapidly at the project sites than nationwide, it was revealed—only through our efforts—that the fall in child mortality at these sites simply matched the overall nationwide fall occurring at the same time. Since then, Jeffrey Sachs admitted that we were correct and that the numbers published by the project had been wrong. The project’s head of monitoring and evaluation lost his job over this incident.

In the presentation I was trying to be diplomatic and kind, so I did not place too much emphasis on these facts, which have irreparably damaged the credibility of this project. But apparently I was so diplomatic that the truth was not clearly presented. So here I am spelling it out in starker terms, for clarity.

Although we know there can only ever be 2 sides to any argument, it may be time to get all innovative and complex and update the Sachs – Easterly Debate Flow Chart to include Clemens in the mix, or perhaps just replace Papa Bill.

*****

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