IRIN’s Top Picks: Development dependency, Invisible Children and refugees

Welcome to IRIN's reading list. Every week our global network of specialist correspondents share some of their top picks of recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises. We also highlight key upcoming conferences, book releases and policy debates.

Five to read:

4 Things You Probably Know About Poverty That Bill and Melinda Gates Don’t 

In this blog post, Martin Kirk, Joe Brewer and Jason Hickel take on Bill and Melinda Gates’ recently-published manifesto to use vaccines, mobile banking and improved agriculture techniques to beat poverty. The authors question the Gateses omission of factors such as politics and the economy and argue that small technical fixes may only paper over the larger structural problems poor countries face. 

Hardship, Hope and Resettlement: Refugees from Syria tell their stories  

As the war in Syria enters its fourth year, the number of people believed to have fled their homes has topped 11 million. Amnesty International goes behind the numbers to bring you the personal stories of eight families and individuals who have fled the conflict and are now struggling to survive in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. The report marks the launch of Amnesty’s #OpenToSyria campaign, which aims to encourage wealthy countries to take in more refugees.

The Aid Debate: Views from a personal journey 

Donnas Ojok is a studying Development Management at the London School of Economics (LSE), but grew up in a deprived part of Uganda, dependent on food aid and other NGOs hand-outs. Based on his experiences as an aid recipient and development worker, this blog ask important questions about the pros and cons of aid schemes, with Ojok noting: “It is time donors woke up and tailored aid as a life-improving and poverty eradication mechanism and not a power-wielding tool.

Devil in the Detail for WHO’s Ebola Resolution

Charles Clift, a senior consulting fellow at the Centre on Global Health Security at London’s Chatham House think tank, takes a look at challenges facing reform of the World Health Organization (WHO). Following widespread criticism for its perceived inadequacies in dealing with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, WHO passed a resolution at its Special Board Meeting in January to transform how it works in health emergencies.  But a resolution is one thing, how will it be implemented? “What would be the size and composition of an ‘emergency workforce’? How would it be financed given the WHO’s straitened budgetary position?" Clift asks.

Food hijack by Islamic State fuels debate over transparency of aid 

Reuters reports that the hijacking of UN aid parcels by fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria has sparked debate in humanitarian circles. This is not a new phenomenon, as IRIN pointed out in our recent Crisis Brief Aid and the Islamic State, produced with the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute. Agencies’ reluctance to talk about their interactions with militant groups is creating an opacity around aid delivery and there are growing calls for a more open debate. 

Coming up:

Embedding with Aid Agencies: Editorial Integrity and Security Risks

Tuesday 10 February, 7 PM GMT

Join IRIN’s co-founder and CEO Ben Parker at the Frontline Club in London, as he moderates a panel of journalists and communications specialists to discuss the risks involved with reporters embedding with NGOs. News organisations’ shrinking budgets mean journalists increasingly rely on NGOs to access hard-to-reach locations, but does this affect their editorial independence? On the panel: Polly Markandya, head of communications at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Lisa Reilly, executive coordinator of the European Interagency Security Forum (EISF), Michelle Bet, a former journalist who now does media development work with aid agencies, and Siobhan Sinnerton, commissioning editor for news and current affairs at the UK’s Channel 4.

From IRIN:

The invisible lesson of Invisible Children 

The second of our guest columns from Paul Currion looks at the infamous KONY 2012 campaign from the US-based Invisible Children activist group and what it taught us about aid marketing and advocacy. Currion points out that an appeal campaign going viral may win you publicity, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll solve a crisis.

lr/ha