24 May 2012

This and That: Writing in Other Places, Lancet Editor Solves WHO, Let's Hang Out in DC and more

Al Jazeera is doing further reporting on the voluntourism industry in Cambodia. The angle is towards the special attention towards orphans. "Having volunteered in Cambodia for the past three years, Australian Demi Giakoumis was surprised to learn how little of the up to $3,000 paid by volunteers actually goes to the orphanages. When volunteering through one of the world's leading commercial volunteering company, Projects Abroad, she says she was told by the director of the orphanage she was placed at, that it only received $9 per volunteer per week." Watch the report:

The Afrolens blog has a new podcast that shows plenty of promise. Fatuma Abdulahi and Idilay Bilan do tend to ramble a bit in the first edition by touching on varied topics in a quick manner. However, the honest conversation about culture, gender, and privilege are all important in the context of aid and development. The first episode is worth a listen, but definitely keep an eye out for what is to come.

Richard Horton is not one to hold back what he is thinking. His latest burst of thought directed at a major global health multilateral hits squarely on the WHO (HT Amanda Makulec). I can't say I get the structure and why Africa is one of the pillars but countries with major health needs and large populations such as China and India are not. Nevertheless, here you have it:

Tate Watkins reports from Haiti on the second hand clothing market. He shows how people make a living by selling the clothes and the low prices make it easier for Haitians to buy clothing. "Haiti's pepe trade is decidedly a business—not a charity. In fact, it starts with Haitian Americans buying goods at U.S. thrift stores and shipping products to Port-au-Prince and other ports. Pepe may include hand-me-downs, but the clothing is high-quality, stylish, and cheap. More important, average Haitians prefer the choice of wearing such apparel—and brands like Polo, Lacoste, and Converse—to not having access to such products at all." The important distinction here is that donated clothes are creating a market. There are problems with the fact that they undercut local textiles, but the trade does serve the purpose of spurring on local economies. It should in no way be confused with giving away clothing for free. (Tate is also keeping track of links and info about Haiti. If you are interested in the latest goings on, check out his blog.)

As things get worse in the Sahel in terms of politics, stability and food security there is no better resource than the Sahel blog written by PhD candidate Alex Thurston. He provides news and analysis that makes keeping track of the region much easier.

A few posts I had waiting to go up all managed to be published yesterday morning. In the ONE blog I list five aid videos meant for people who are rather new to the subject. Readers of this blog will likely have seen all of them already, but I hoped to provide a way to challenge people's held ideas about aid through a simple post. I also modified and updated my post about the MVP-Lancet study kerfuffle in the Christian Science Monitor. Finally, I shared the latest results from the KFF study on US attitudes concerning foreign aid and global health in the Huffington Post.

Also, I am going to be in DC June 4-6, but might now extend a few more days. I love using my time in new cities to meet up with people. Feel free to reach out if you are around that week. Don't worry if it doesn't work out. I'll be back down at the end of July for the International AIDS Conference.

Finally, we are in the midst of developing a mobile app for DAWNS. Our hope is that it will provide you with the latest humanitarian, aid and development news right at your fingertips. We will offer a freemium version where you can use a limited form of the app for free. Those who sign up or already are signed up for the digest will get a version that allows for topic searches, short story updates, links to original sources, and a feed of additional news that does not make it into the digest each day. All in all, you will have more information that is handpicked and even easier to access.