IRIN’s Top Picks: Obsessions, omissions and repetitions

Welcome to IRIN's reading list. Every week our global network of specialist correspondents share 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:

The “Tweet. Recycle. Repeat” of technology-for-development

“Talk is cheap if we do something very different on the ground (or do nothing at all” laments not-for-profit tech guru Ken Banks. Here he calls out the development community for repeating its own good ideas – and appreciation of those ideas – without then moving forward to delivery. Some of the “revelations” that Banks says are “tweeted, recycled and repeated” include: “Too many pilots fail or fail to get to scale”; “Stop reinventing the wheel”; “Involve more local people in programme design”; “Understand and measure our impact”. It’s time to break out of the circular debates, he argues, and start driving real change, not just tweeting about it.

Has anyone here been raped by ISIS?

Human rights lawyer Sherizaan Minwalla calls into question the international media’s “obsessive focus” on the sexual violence perpetrated against Yazidi women by militants from the so-called Islamic State. Minwalla, based in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan where many Yazidi women have sought refuge, asks: “Does the public’s interest in knowing explicit details of sexual violence outweigh these victims’ urgent need for safety and privacy?” Minwalla argues that the level of detail reported by journalists has allowed many survivors to  be identified and subsequently shamed and stigmatized within their own communities.  In some cases women have even been tricked into giving interviews.  “Journalists play an important role in drawing attention to their plight, but it should not be at the expense of the safety and dignity of these victims,” she notes.

Funding for local humanitarian actors – small and poorly documented

This report provides an interesting overview of humanitarian funding for local aid organisations. It draws largely on published data from sources such as the 2014 Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Report and the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) of the UN’s aid co-ordination arm, OCHA. But it also highlights where there are major statistical gaps. For instance, it observes that the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has “no data” on how much of its annual humanitarian budget is made available for national and local NGOs, “although such data could be available after activating its new financial tracking systems later in 2015”. This lack of transparency is a cause for concern.

Aid inside Syria: A step in the right direction? 

Washington-based think-tank and advocacy group Refugees International presents a thorough overview of the challenges of local aid organisations working inside Syria. Based on field interviews conducted in March in Turkey, the authors reveal the difficulties many Syrian groups have with international donors and the hurdles they face in delivering their aid. The report contains a number of recommendations to the US government and other donors as well as UN agencies and international NGOs.

Development deferred: Eastern Sudan after the ESPA

A detailed analysis of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA), this report unpicks complex issues such as: the role played by the Government of Sudan (GoS) in implementing the agreement; the current challenges to and constraints on human security in the region; and the prospects for development for the region. An important read for anyone following or interested in knowing more about Sudan and its conflicts.

One to listen to:

Aid to Nepal: Following the money

This edition of Assignment on the BBC World Service travels to Nepal to investigate the aid flows to the earthquake survivors and the allegations that not all the money is going where it is claimed to be.

Coming up:

Global forum for improving humanitarian action

4 & 5 June, New York

Convened by ALNAP (Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance) in partnership with the US government, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, the League of Arab States and the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Secretariat, this forum is part of the consultation process ahead of the WHS next year. For those who can’t attend, there is a wealth of material available online

From IRIN:

The struggle for survival across Ukraine's frontline

Ukraine's frontline cuts across the east of the country like a jagged scar. Despite a February ceasefire, the fighting hasn't stopped. In March and April, Kristina Jovanovski had rare access to rebel-held areas to investigate the humanitarian disaster that has unfolded on Europe's doorstep. Read her exclusive report on why aid isn't getting through.

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