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: Continue reading
- This Pulitzer Prize winning photo by Kevin Carter during the ’94 Somalia famine is poverty porn, say some critics.
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. Continue reading
- Dhaka Savar Building
The death toll from the garment factory collapse in Dhaka has now surpassed 1,100 people and the rescue effort has ended.
In the two weeks since the tragic incident, which brought world attention to the abuses of the garment industry, laborers in Bangladesh appear to be making small gains. Major retailers are signing on to pacts aimed at improving worker safety. The Bangladesh government says it is prepared to increase the minimum wage and allow workers to form trade unions without factory owner permission.
Worker and community protests this weekend in Ashulia, a manufacturing hub located outside of Dhaka, caused about 30 factories to suspend work and closed down the city’s main highway. Cries for the death penalty for the owner of the Rana Plaza complex, Sohel Rana, were a focus of the protest.
Bangladesh garment factory workers have long had reasons for protest. But now, the world is paying attention.
Neither the garment industry or government has done much to improve worker safety and wages as this country over the past decade has become the second largest player, behind China, in the international system of clothing manufacturing. Continue reading
It is estimated that one billion people living in rural parts of the world do not have rights to their own land.
That means they have no way of either proving that they own the property on which their homes rest or purchasing a deed to the land. Without land rights, it becomes much easier for governments to forcibly evict residents or large companies to buy a family’s property from right under their feet.
There is a direct link between land rights and land grabs, says the IMF. Countries with better governance and land rights laws are less likely to agree to large-scale land purchases by foreign investors.
That makes sense, but the additional claim that smallholder land ownership directly increases family farm productivity and income is now coming under question. Continue reading
There is a (relatively) new kid in town to the international reporting scene.
VICE, the magazine founded in Canada and moved to the US hipster capital of Brooklyn, is bringing its reporter-drive and raw style of reporting around the world. You may remember that former NBA star Dennis Rodman went to North Korea a few months back. He joined the Harlem Globetrotters and VICE tagged along to document the story.
The style of reporting is winning fans and critics alike. People stick of stodgy reporting from the standard bearers like the New York Times and the Guardian are drawn to the personal nature of VICE’s reports. Others find the magazine’s approach too negative, lacking in context and self-absorbed. Continue reading
The birth of a child is usually met with celebrations and joy. But for more than one million mothers around the world every year, it is a day of mourning.
Save the Children estimates that more than one million children die each year on the day of birth. Another two million children do not survive their first month of life, says the 14th State of the World’s Mothers report.
Released around Mother’s Day every year, the report from Save the Children scores countries on the health and safety of mothers. This year, the index calls attention to child survival in addition to maternal health.
Nearly two-thirds of global newborn deaths occur in ten countries. They include larger nations like Nigeria, India, China and Indonesia as well as nations with high infant mortality rates such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Tanzania.
“Saving newborn lives will prevent incalculable suffering. It is also a vital piece of the global development agenda,” says Melinda Gates in the report introduction. “Children surviving and staying healthy means more children in school and able to learn, which in turn means productive adults who can drive sustained economic growth.”
- Flickr, epSos.de
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. Continue reading
- de Waal and Prendergast
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. Continue reading