31 May 2013

Megyn Kelly for the Win

I can hate on Fox News with the best of 'em, but Megyn Kelly keeps showing a willingness to not deal with hack punditry. The latest example is her grilling of Lou Dobbs and Eric Erickson for their absurd ideas on gender roles in the American family following a new studying showing that the number of female breadwinners is on the rise in the US.

To get a sense of how things go, Kelly opens her segment asking Erickson, “What makes you dominant and me submissive and who died and made you scientist in chief?” It is a reminder that it is very easy to hate on hack work done by a cable news network seeking to pander to a single group and forget that there are actually people doing what some might remember as journalism.

The segment is long, but Kelly taking apart the two men and the flippant responses from both panel members while Kelly stays in control of the conversation is as good of evidence as any that she is certainly not playing a complementary role to the supposedly dominant men.

Here is the original segment from Lou Dobbs Tonight that has caused a stir:

29 May 2013

A Well Researched Book on the LRA

The Lord’s Resistance Army deserves to be read widely. It is accessible to nonspecialists, undergraduates, and policy practitioners, and it contains clear policy prescriptions on a wide variety of subjects including transitional justice, peace-building, and the rehabilitation of child soldiers. The contributors base their analyses on empirical evidence rather than the hyperbole and hysteria that have characterized so much of the LRA debate. By viewing the LRA crisis as a broad regional issue with complex political, economic, and social dimensions, this volume offers a challenging but realistic path to sustainable peace.
That is Laura Seay reviewing The Lord’s Resistance Army: Myth and Reality by Tim Allen and Koen Vlassenroot, for the African Studies Review. Seay makes the case for reading the book as a sort of antidote to the simplistic mass advocacy campaigns such as Kony 2012.

Read the review here.

24 May 2013

USAID Finally has a Water and Development Strategy

After fifty years in the game, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled its first ever water and development strategy.

Some say it’s about time.

“For many years in development work, water, sanitation and hygiene have been a bit forgotten,” said Alanna Imbach, media officer with WaterAid America, to the Inter Press Service. ”Instead, significant focus has been placed on education, maternal health and nutrition, overlooking the fact that water and sanitation are foundational building blocks for all of those other elements.”

Though the announcement is appreciated by other NGO leaders, like Water for People CEO Ned Breslin.

“What’s great about this strategy is that it opens up space for creative programming in water development,” said Breslin to IPS. “It’s a huge step forward.”

The five-year water and development strategy is a sign from USAID that it sees water and sanitation as cross-cutting development issues. It is estimated that more than one in ten people (780 million) lack access to safe drinking water. On top of that 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation.

“This new U.S. Water and Development Strategy will help lift poor people around the world out of conflict and poverty. It is smart, strategic and builds on our past successes using new breakthroughs in science and technology,” said Senator Dick Durbin who joined other members of congress and USAID Administrator Raj Shah for the release.

continue reading on Humanosphere...

23 May 2013

So About All Those Taxes on the Rich...

American rich don't like their taxes (honestly, who does?), but businesses are skating on by with increased profits and decreased tax-receipts. Tax havens may have something to do with it, as seen in the Apple hubbub recently. As the federal budget is discussed, maybe this graph will help things out (nah, it won't).

21 May 2013

The Kid who Went Down Fighting

"I want to be remembered as the kid who went down fighting and didn't really lose."

You may or may not have heard of Zach Sobiech. The 18 year old died from cancer yesterday and the above video is a short view into his amazing life. It seems like Zach was the very embodiment of when Dylan Thomas wrote:
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
 It's worth your 20 minutes.

US Food Aid Reform Train is Slowing Down

Food aid reforms came under the spotlight last month when the Obama Administration announced its Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

The changes are important to humanitarian response. Oxfam America estimates that reforms to food aid procurement laws could speed up crisis response by 14 weeks and reach an additional 17.1 million people. For a crisis like the 2010 drought in the Horn of Africa, that improved response time could have saved thousands of lives.

“The current approach to food aid can become, at times, an impediment to its very own mission,” said USAID Administrator Raj Shah.

Humanitarian groups were mostly supportive in response and contractors were unhappy that changes would affect their business. What looked like positive momentum for reform is starting to slow down as both houses of Congress take a look at the Farm Bill and food aid reform both in and out of the United States.

“The agriculture industry in the Midwest sees this as a threat to exports, which is ridiculous,” said former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios to Businessweek, a supporter of food aid reform during his tenure with the Bush Administration.

The red pen continues to make it through the US federal budget debate and the Farm Bill will see a few billion trimmed from its roughly $100 billion annual budget. The Republican dominated House and the Democrat led Senate do not see eye to eye on all of the cuts and changes, but they are on the same page when it comes to subsidies, says the Washington Post.
Both bills would eliminate the roughly $5 billion in annual subsidies known as “direct payments,” which automatically support certain types of farmers regardless of their crop prices or yield. The Senate version would terminate the program immediately, while the House measure would wean cotton farmers off it during the next two years. 
The two measures would also increase subsidies for federally subsidized crop insurance and create a new program to cover small losses on planted crops such as corn and soybeans.
continue reading on Humanosphere...

17 May 2013

Mitchell Argues for Patience and Cooperation with Rwanda

Former UK development chief Andrew Mitchell makes the case for providing aid to Rwanda in an interview with the Guardian. You may remember the controversy following his decision to resume aid to Rwanda just before leaving his post.
"The closeness of the relationship gives us a chance to talk about issues of concern, what really is effective on behalf of the people of Rwanda. If you look at issues of press freedom and political freedom, we are always seeking to nudge the government in the right direction. There is evidence of progress on both counts and that is in the best interest of the Rwandan people and of our relationship with them," he says.

"You have to exercise a degree of strategic patience and not expect the perfect society to be created overnight. It does take time. What's most important is the direction they're going and, with both Ethiopia and Rwanda, there are grounds for optimism."
Read the full article here, where you can also see a video interview with Mitchell.

Nick Kristof on the Slow Death of International Journalism

New York Times journalist Nick Kristof is pessimistic when it comes to the state of international reporting in the US. He told me about his concerns in an email exchange a few months back, but extends his thoughts further in the latest CGD Global Prosperity Wonkcast.
“I am deeply concerned about the collapse in coverage of global news,” Nick tells me. “It’s particularly striking in the case of television but also in newspapers and news magazines. The [New York] Times is a bit of an exception because we see ourselves as having a comparative advantage of continuing to cover the world, as other people drop that coverage.” 
“Your average news consumer is much less exposed to international stories, and those that they are exposed to are particular, segment stories: the selection of a new Pope, the crisis in the Korean peninsula. It tends not to be development stories and I think this is going to be a real blind spot in the US and also, to some degree, globally.”
Given the fact that I am making a slow move into a small segment (development) of a shrinking section (international) of a dying industry (journalism), I hope that he is wrong. Though it is hard to refute the points he makes.

Listen to the podcast here.

16 May 2013

Bugs: The Surprising Super Food

Jokes naturally followed the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s new report extolling the virtues of eating bugs.

The most popular tweet was a variant on “Let them eat cake.” Others pointed to the scene in the Disney movie the Lion King where Timon and Pumba introduce bugs to Simba. They assure Simba that bugs are “slimy, yet satisfying.”

It’s all in good fun and probably got more people to pay closer attention to an issue (hunger) in a report that would have otherwise only been discussed within development wonk circles.

Setting aside jokes and a gross-out-factor, bugs turn out to be a pretty awesome food. They pack some real protein punch and are better for the environment as compared to cows, pigs and chickens.

The Economist shows how:

“Forests contribute to the livelihoods of more than a billion people, including many of the world’s neediest. Forests provide food, fuel for cooking, fodder for animals and income to buy food,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva upon the release of the report. “Wild animals and insects are often the main protein source for people in forest areas, while leaves, seeds, mushrooms, honey and fruits provide minerals and vitamins, thus ensuring a nutritious diet.”

continue reading on Humanosphere...

Awkward Video of the Day: Tina Delivers a Goat

HT Linda

15 May 2013

Is Social Media Poverty Porn's Kryptonite?

New York City - Criticism of pornography centers on the morality of its depictions and the exploitation of people involved.

News reports and fundraising campaigns about poverty run into similar traps when stories strip people of their dignity and, in a similar sense, objectify them. Activists decry this as poverty porn.

Today, at the New York University Woolworth building, filmmakers, NGO staff, foundation representatives and UN agency workers came together to discuss the problem of poverty porn and the potential power of social media to prevent it. The discussion was conducted privately (in accord with so-called Chatham House rules) in order to protect the identity of the participants and encourage a more honest conversation.

Part of the problem here is poverty porn makes money.

Marketing and communications teams for NGOs rigorously test messages to determine the best way to raise money. It’s clear that people connect more to the story of an individual, usually a child, as opposed to a family, community or group of people. Poverty porn is borne out of a well-intended attempt to raise money for poverty alleviation programs.

Some say the ends justify the means when it comes to fundraising for programs.

“The use of poverty porn is a desperate attempt by charities to stay relevant,” said one of the participants.

continue reading on Humanosphere...

Also, see this collection of tweets from the event by Linda Raftree.

Visualizing Africa's Mineral Wealth

HT Ken Opalo - Read his analysis of the 2013 Resource Governance Index on his blog.

10 May 2013

India's Plateauing Working Age Population

One graph might show how development in India, China and SSA will look very different over the coming decades.

Is Kristof Behind Greater Attention to Women's Issues?

A profile of Nick Kristof in Syracuse University's Daily Orange covers his career as he is set to take the stage for the University's commencement. This section caught my attention:
For example, the increased recognition of the challenges faced by women in developing countries can be attributed, in part, to Kristof’s work, said Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the World Food Programme and former United Nations under-secretary-general for management. 
“I’ve seen more community reaction and support for women and girls in part because of the stories and the issues that they learned about from reading Kristof,” said Bertini, who is also a professor of practice in public administration and international affairs at SU.
There is not real use in trying to determine if it is true or not, just interesting to see it written.

IPA Makes the Case for Using RCTs

"We know we need more than good intentions. We need good evidence," says the narrator of the video explaining why evidence matters and how it is achieved with the RCT.

It's been awhile since the RCT critics had something to jab at. This may bring back the debate.

Oh, and IPA is invading NYC taxicabs with advertisements like this one:

HT +Kim Yi Dionne

An Optimistic Take on Hunger in Africa

Journalist Roger Thurow presents at the recent TEDxChange out in Seattle. He describes the moment when he realized the importance of the issue of hunger. He goes on to discuss ways that hunger is being addressed.

You can listen to Tom Paulson chat with Roger after the event here.

And here is my review of Roger's book that features families in Western Kenya participating in One Acre Fund's agriculture scheme.

09 May 2013

Development and Destruction In Two Gifs

Google published a series of time lapse photos as a part of its Google Earth Engine project. Here are two that show both positive and negative development progress. To me this shows what can be done under serious constraints (irrigation in the desert) and how abundance can be destroyed (Amazon).

I keep wanting to wade into the realm of climate change and sustainable development. Now may be a good time to start.

HT The Atlantic and Julia Berman

Turns Out Overheads Might Indicate Good Charities

Overhead has become a totem in the humanitarian world as charities and aid organizations seek to spend the most on services and the least on administrative costs.

An analysis of charities shows that overheads matter, but not in the way you might think. It turns out that more effective charities spend more on administrative costs like staff salaries, office supplies and so on.

Watchdog organizations like Charity Navigator have used overhead percentages as a part of determining whether or not a charity is good. Charities that spend less on administrative costs, get a better score from Charity Navigator. Administrative costs include staff salaries and the cost to make things run. The trend has led to some more creative accounting practices.

But some think this is misleading because they separate the costs to hide the fact that it actually costs money to do the work.

For example, charity:water says that it has no overhead costs. According to charity:water, every dollar donated or raised goes towards projects. That means there are two separate pots of funds. One goes to projects and is funded by public donations. The other is for administrative costs and comes from Angel Investors like Michael Birch who has donated $4 million to charity:water to support its administrative work.

A backlash to the overhead push says that overheads are less important than impacts. Sometimes organizations need to invest money in staff to do the job right. Opponents say that putting too much emphasis on overheads can distort the truth about a charity and mislead potential donors.

Water for People CEO Ned Breslin advocates for a greater focus on program and impacts, rather than overheads. In the Huffington Post, Breslin told the story of how boys in India were using a handpump as a wicket for their cricket match because it no longer worked. He points out that too much fanfare about the wrong things can lead to solutions that breakdown.

continue reading on Humanosphere...

The Next Big Thing in One for One: TIMS Smoothies

No question what this video is parodying.

HT Jonathan via Servants Asia

08 May 2013

Recycling Flip Flops Into Art in Kenya

Carver Jackson Mbatha, 40, poses next to a an unfinished large toy giraffe he is making from pieces of discarded flip-flops. Credit: Ben Curtis
A company in Kenya is recycling old flip flops to make pieces of art that are then sold. From the AP:
Kenya's Ocean Sole sandal recycling company is cleaning the East African country's beaches of used, washed-up flip-flops.
Workers in Nairobi make about 100 different products from the discarded flip-flops. In 2008 the company shipped an 18-foot giraffe to Rome for display during a fashion week...
Workers wash the flip-flops, many of which have been repaired several times. Artisans then glue together the various colors, carve the products, sand and rewash them.
See more pictures here.

Activism Debate Continues with de Waal's Latest Salvo

The Enough Project has been an important player in raising awareness with regards to genocide in Darfur, rape and conflict minerals in the DR Congo and the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and the LRA.

But Tufts University academic Alex de Waal is not a fan. The head of the World Peace Foundation sought to reclaim activism from the likes of the Enough Project and Invisible Children in a recent blog post.
The U.S. government didn’t need the Enough Project to know that bad things were happening in Darfur, that Joseph Kony is a villain, and that the war in eastern Congo is causing desperate suffering. But maybe it needs principled and brave people to tell it that the interventions in Somalia, Libya and Mali are deeply problematic, that its friends in power in Juba, Kampala and Kigali need to be more honest and less militaristic.
It’s no secret that de Wall and Enough Project head John Prendergast do not see eye to eye on activism. A debate between the two regarding Darfur in 2007 tipped away from substance and towards personal. Prendergast wrote:
Some of your writings (and no, I haven’t read all of them) tend to blame activists for things getting worse on the ground in Darfur, and for the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreemeent of 2006. At least that is what most activists perceive your intentions to be. And I understand that. It is hard to get published these days on Sudan, so an argument like that is very attractive to editors. The fact that it is not true is irrelevant, it appears.
The effort in Darfur caused more problems than it solved argued de Waal at the time.
Darfur is a pretty sorry mess today. No one should be patting themselves on the back for that. The Darfur Peace Agreement failed. The activist campaign hasn’t succeeded either. Did you stop any offensives in the last two years? I rather think that the SLA fighters in north Darfur did that. And be careful about proclaiming that protection is on its way.
An event a few months ago at Tufts University explored the very topic of activism. It opened with comments from de Waal who argued that current activism is problematic because it is carried out and led by people from places that are unaffected by a given problem. He pointed towards conflict minerals as an example of Western activists assigning a solution to a problem in the eastern DR Congo without Congolese serving in a leadership role.

The activism today is ‘designer activism’ meant to purely gain in popularity, said de Waal. Lawyer and blogger Amanda Taub said she agreed with the ideas set forth by de Wall when looking at Kony 2012 and the Save Darfur effort. In order to reach a large audience, campaigns must turn complex conflicts into simple stories that have small, achievable and palatable recommendations, explained Taub.

“There is a problem with always putting the US government as center of intervention,” said Taub. “We are a powerful country, but we don’t have magical powers.”

continue reading on Humanosphere...

The UK's Aid Conundrum in South Africa

The United Kingdom announced this week it is going to eliminate its aid to South Africa by 2015.

South Africa is one of the world’s ‘emerging’ — or BRICS — nations. The decision follows in the footsteps of Britain’s decision to wean India off UK aid in favor of promoting domestic development to take hold. The British government says it would rather refocus its energy toward investments in these nations.

South African officials, as well as some aid organizations, appear none too happy with this turn of events.

UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening unveiled the plan in aspeech on Tuesday.

“I have agreed with my South African counterparts that South Africa is now in a position to fund its own development. It is right that our relationship changes to one of mutual co-operation and trade, one that is focused on delivering benefits for the people of Britain and South Africa as well as for Africa as a whole,” she said.

Some people were surprised and disappointed by the move, but the real shock is that the most important partner says it did not agree. That would be South Africa. Greening’s remarks made it appear that the two countries arrived at the agreement together. A sort of mutual divorce.

It turns out that South Africa and the UK were not on the same page. South Africa’s Department for International Relations and Cooperation followed up the Greening announcement with their own statement.
The South African government has noted with regret the unilateral announcement by the government of the United Kingdom regarding the termination of the Official Development Aid to South Africa as from the year 2015. 
This is such a major decision with far reaching implications on the projects that are currently running and it is tantamount to redefining our relationship.
According to the UK, the problem is a bureaucratic one rather than a disagreement between the two countries.

continue reading at Humanosphere...

07 May 2013

Chatting Governance with Harvard's Matthew Andrews

One of the pillars of economic development is governance.

Programs like the broad-based Washington Consensus relied upon improving governments to ensure that economic reforms such as trade liberalization and privatization of public enterprises. The alphabet soup of major donors like the World Bank, USAID and DfID have a applied wide-stroke solutions to governance.

The policies that made up the Washington Consensus did not help out Latin America, says BU Associate Professor of International Relations, Kevin Gallagher in the Guardian.
The 30-year record of the Washington consensus was abysmal for Latin America, which grew less than 1% per year in per capita terms during the period, in contrast with 2.6% during the period 1960-81. East Asia, on the other hand, which is known for its state-managed globalisation (most recently epitomised by China), has grown 6.7% per annum in per capita terms since 1981, actually up from 3.5% in that same period.
As with all development challenges, the solutions are often more complicated than the proposed solutions. Governance reform is not an exception.

Harvard University researcher Matthew Andrews says that the one-size-fits all approach to governance reform is misguided.

In The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development, Andrews proposes what an approach to governance reform that he calls Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). His approach leans on a locally driven approach to reforms that involve allowing more emergent change as opposed to top-down and technocratic fixes.

Alan Hudson of the ONE Campaign shared an example of PDIA in action in his review of the book.
One example of this approach is seen in Burundi’s HIV/AIDS Control and Orphans Project. In that project there was a clear focus on the problem, but also flexibility about how best to address it. For instance, anti-retroviral treatment had not been part of the initial project plan, but when such treatment became affordable the plan was revised to take account of this change of context.
To learn more about PDIA and the challenges to governance, I posed a few questions to Andrews about the topic.

read the interview with Andrews on Humanosphere...

More Attempts to Measure Beyond GDP

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the magical term often used to described the economic growth of a country.

Governments, experts and news reports point to it as a measure of progress. In development, a field often dominated by economists, GDP is all but an obligatory part of the discussion when it comes to country level progress.

The problem is many other experts say GDP is actually not very good at measuring either progress or development.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is among the most vocal opponents of overusing GDP as a yardstick for development. He says that it does not capture equally important issues like poverty levels and inequality. The overall economies of countries can hum along for years showing solid GDP growth without meaningful change for the majority of its citizens. One need not look further than the US to see how middle class incomes have held steady over the past few decades, despite overall GDP growth and wealth accumulation at the top.

The most notable index that tries to look past GDP is the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI). Produced each year, the HDI compares countries on a series of indicators. However, when the HDI rankings are compared against GDP, it turns out that there is a very strong correlation between development and GDP, found economist Justin Wolfers (see chart below).
continue reading on Humanosphere...

03 May 2013

A Year Offline and No Grand Realizations

You probably already saw this story. Tech writer Paul Miller spent the past year off the internet. The video and this article recount Miller's experience. Hoping for tranquility and a better existence by disconnecting, it turns out that things were not really all that much better for Miller. The article is worth reading, but I actually found the short documentary (seen above) far more interesting as Miller spends more time talking about how he thought that the internet was the reason for some of his personal problems when in fact the issues ran deeper.
So much ink has been spilled deriding the false concept of a "Facebook friend," but I can tell you that a "Facebook friend" is better than nothing.

My best long-distance friend, one I'd talked to weekly on the phone for years, moved to China this year and I haven't spoken to him since. My best New York friend simply faded into his work, as I failed to keep up my end of our social plans.

I fell out of sync with the flow of life.

This March I went to, ironically, a conference in New York called "Theorizing the Web." It was full of post-grad types presenting complicated papers about the definition of reality and what feminism looks like in a post-digital age, and things like that. At first I was a little smug, because I felt like they were dealing with mere theories, theories that assumed the internet was in everything, while I myself was experiencing a life apart.

But then I spoke with Nathan Jurgenson, a ‘net theorist who helped organize the conference. He pointed out that there's a lot of "reality" in the virtual, and a lot of "virtual" in our reality. When we use a phone or a computer we're still flesh-and-blood humans, occupying time and space. When we're frolicking through a field somewhere, our gadgets stowed far away, the internet still impacts our thinking: "Will I tweet about this when I get back?"

Today's Headlines: May 3, 2013

New Data Quantifies The Deadly Toll of 2011 Somalia Famine

Unacceptable, and perfectly avoidable but donor government policies interfered with an effective response. “The 2011 famine in Somalia, which the famine early warning systems network (Fewsnet) and the food security nutrition and analysis unit (FSNAU) estimate in a report published on Thursday to have killed almost 260,000 people, was avoidable...these warnings fell on deaf ears. Donor governments failed to increase aid, and humanitarian agencies failed to increase their appeals. Only when famine was declared did the humanitarian system mobilise, by when the opportunity to avert disaster had passed.” (Guardian http://bit.ly/133nOUv)

SARS-Like Virus Claims Five More Lives in Saudi Arabia

The SARS-like ‘novel coronavirus’ is seriously alarming health officials. Saudi Arabia has been the worst affected, but infections have been confirmed elsewhere. “Sixteen people have now died from 23 cases detected in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany and Britain. Riyadh has accounted for most of the deaths, with 11 people including the five new fatalities. Coronaviruses cause most common colds and pneumonia, but are also to blame for unusual conditions such as SARS which killed more than 800 people when it swept out of China in 2003.” (Daily Star http://bit.ly/10ZxW3H)

02 May 2013

Quote of the Day: Journalists and Aid

If journalists are more worried about protecting their own reputations for having backed the wrong development project or aid worker, then we'll continue to be encouraged to fund projects, even once they've been found to be ineffective or damaging.
That is Daniela Papi in the Huffington Post talking about the problems of hero worship in the world of aid. 

Today's Headlines: May 2, 2013

Bolivia Expels USAID

Bad news for the thousands of Bolivians served by USAID’s health programs. “President Evo Morales acted on a longtime threat Wednesday and expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development for allegedly seeking to undermine Bolivia’s leftist government, and he harangued Washington’s top diplomat for calling the Western Hemisphere his country’s ‘backyard.’ Bolivia’s ABI state news agency said USAID was ‘accused of alleged political interference in peasant unions and other social organizations.’” (WaPo http://wapo.st/Yno2XU)

Brahimi to Resign as Syria Envoy

His job was always going to be impossible so long as the Security Council remained so divided. “Lakhdar Brahimi wants to resign as the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria because his efforts to find a political solution to the escalating conflict have failed, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday. Brahimi has found that speaking for two organizations with different views on Syria has made his role of trying to mediate a political transition almost impossible, two diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because their discussions with Brahimi were private.” (Miami Herald http://hrld.us/Ynom9c)

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01 May 2013

Reporting on UNICEF Sweden's Anti-Slacktivism Campaign

“Liking” a world without poverty and injustice, on Facebook, is thought to be an act of good will.

Proponents see such acts on social media as a way to build an audience, show support of a movement and reach more people through engagement. Opponents of such simple clicks of a mouse call it slacktivism – a superficial fix that makes people feel like they are doing something when in most cases it makes no difference.

So some experts decided to research social media activism and find out what people really thought. A survey conducted with YouGov, a crowd-sourced polling service, found that many people feel acting via social media is sufficient. One in five respondents said that a ‘like’ on Facebook is a good way of supporting an organization.

The survey found that one in seven people think that liking an organization on Facebook is as good as donating money.

UNICEF Sweden, for one, decided it needed to push back on this with a little humor.

“We like likes, and social media could be a good first step to get involved, but it cannot stop there,” explained UNICEF Sweden Director of Communications Petra Hallebrant. “Likes don’t save children’s lives. We need money to buy vaccines for instance.”

In response, UNICEF Sweden launched a somewhat humorous (for Scandinavians, this counts as humorous) campaign to raise money for polio vaccines. It asked people to stop liking things and instead give money. Here’s the video spot for this campaign.

continue reading on Humanosphere...

Top News: May 1, 2013

Report: Obama Preparing to Arm Syrian Rebels

Secretary of State Kerry is heading to Moscow this week to try and sell the case. This is significant news. President Obama is preparing to send lethal weaponry to the Syrian opposition and has taken steps to assert more aggressive US leadership among allies and partners seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, according to senior administration officials. The officials emphasized that political negotiation remains the preferred option. To that end, the administration has launched a new effort to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that the probable use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — and the more direct outside intervention that could provoke — should lead him to reconsider his support of Assad. (WaPo http://wapo.st/15Y0sDO)

UK to End Bilateral Development Assistance to South Africa

First, it was India. Now, it’s the country that puts the ‘S’ in BRICS. “British International Development Secretary Justine Greening said Tuesday that the U.K. is ending direct aid to South Africa, worth about $29 million per year. Greening said she had consulted with South African officials ahead of the decision and that they had agreed that ‘South Africa is now in a position to fund its own development.’ However, in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, officials said they were taken by surprise. (Voice of Americahttp://bit.ly/15Y2JyO)

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