News & Analysis
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Immigration: Thousands of stateless in Dominican Republic risk deportation

Original article found on: The Thomson Reuters Foundation

By: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Hundreds of Dominicans of Haitian origin protest to reclaim their right to their Dominican nationality and to denounce their situation after a 2013 verdict by the Constitutional Tribunal outside the National Congress in Santo Domingo, March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

Hundreds of Dominicans of Haitian origin protest to reclaim their right to their Dominican nationality and to denounce their situation after a 2013 verdict by the Constitutional Tribunal outside the National Congress in Santo Domingo, March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

BOGOTA, Feb 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Tens of thousands of Dominican-born people of Haitian descent are stateless and at risk of being deported if they fail to meet a Sunday deadline to register for residency in the Dominican Republic, Amnesty has warned.

For decades the Dominican Republic recognised the children of Haitian migrants born in the country as Dominican citizens irrespective of the migration status of their parents.

But a 2013 court ruling, along with previous changes to nationality laws, have denied children of Haitian migrants their birth certificates, identity documents, and stripped them of their nationality, Amnesty and the United Nations say.

This means up to 200,000 people are in legal limbo and stateless – not recognised as a citizen by any country – and denied the basic rights most people take for granted.

In recent weeks, long queues of stateless people, the vast majority of Haitian descent, have formed at immigration offices in the capital Santo Domingo waiting to apply for residency permits before the Feb. 1 deadline.

“At the stroke of midnight the hopes of tens of thousands of vulnerable people will be scuppered as this deadline expires. This could leave thousands at risk of possible expulsion from the country,” Erika Guevara, Americas director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“Even if these people are able to stay in the Dominican Republic after the deadline expires, their futures are woefully uncertain.”

The Dominican government has said changes to the nationality laws aim to tackle illegal migration from neighouring Haiti.

Since the late 1890s, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have crossed into the more prosperous Dominican Republic to escape political violence or seek a better life.

Many ended up working on low pay as sugar cane cutters, settling in impoverished, isolated communities known as bateyes.

Under pressure from the United Nations and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Dominican government introduced a further law in May 2014 to allow people born to undocumented foreign parents to apply for residence permits – a first step to citizenship.

Amnesty said interior ministry figures showed less than 5 percent of an estimated 110,000 people entitled to do so have applied for residency.

Rights groups have criticised the government over a lack of awareness raising campaigns about the new law and delays in setting up offices to process citizenship claims.

The government did not immediately respond to phone calls, but in a newspaper interview the country’s chief immigration officer Jose Ricardo Taveras defended the government’s efforts to resolve the legal limbo facing undocumented people.

The El Caribe news site quoted him as saying that more than 20 offices had been set up to deal with claims and the government had launched a big publicity drive.

Juan Alberto Antuan, a young man of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic, is among those still awaiting identity documents.

“We are extremely worried because the authorities continue to deny the existence of statelessness, but it’s our reality,” Antuan told Amnesty. “Discrimination exists in this country, I can’t work and I can’t access vital services.”

Original article found on: The Thomson Reuters Foundation

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Development: Only 40 percent of Ebola funds reached target countries

Original article found on: Thompson Reuters Foundation

By Kate Kelland

A fan holds an Equatorial Guinea flag with an anti-Ebola message written on it during the team's Group A soccer match against Burkina Faso at the African Cup of Nations in Bata January 21, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A fan holds an Equatorial Guinea flag with an anti-Ebola message written on it during the team’s Group A soccer match against Burkina Faso at the African Cup of Nations in Bata January 21, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Almost $2.9 billion was pledged by the end of 2014 in donations to fight West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, yet only around 40 percent had actually reached affected countries, researchers said on Tuesday.

A study by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that tracked international donations showed barely $1.09 billion had reached the worst affected countries by the end of last year, they said.

“These delays … may have contributed to spread of the virus and could have increased the financial needs,” said Karen Grepin, a global health policy expert at New York University who led the study and published it in the BMJ British medical journal.

The West Africa Ebola epidemic, the worst in history, has killed more than 8,800 people since it began more than a year ago, decimating already weak health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Its spread now appears to be slowing, especially in Liberia which now has just five cases.

Grepin analysed the level and speed of pledges made to fight Ebola and how they aligned with estimates of funds required to control the epidemic.

She found not only that more than half of funds pledged by international donors had not reached the target countries, but also that global agencies had failed to reliably estimate the amount of money needed.

While Guinea first informed the World Health Organization of a “rapidly evolving outbreak” of Ebola on March 23, 2014, the first major international appeal was not until August, when some $71 million was asked for.

By mid-September 2014, around six months after the epidemic started, the United Nations estimated $1 billion would be needed, only to raise that in November to an estimate of $1.5 billion.

“Clearly, international leaders have found it challenging to estimate the financial requirements to tackle this rapidly spreading outbreak,” Grepin said in a commentary about her findings. “The problem has not been the generosity of donors but that the resources have not been deployed rapidly enough.”

U.N. Ebola chief David Nabarro said last month a further $4 billion — equivalent to all aid committed so far — was needed by relief agencies and authorities in the worst affected countries to end the epidemic, with U.N. agencies alone needing $1 billion of that to fund their part in the fight. (Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Original article found on: Thompson Reuters Foundation

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Development: World has not woken up to water crisis caused by climate change – IPCC head

Original article found on: Thompson Reuters Foundation

By: Nita Bhalla, Feb 3 2015

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A farmer removes dried grass from his sugarcane field in Muzaffarnagar, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which is on the verge of drought because the monsoon rains are several weeks late. Picture July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

 

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Water scarcity could lead to conflict between communities and nations as the world is still not fully aware of the water crisis many countries face as a result of climate change, the head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists warned on Tuesday.

The latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a rise in global temperature of between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5 to 8.6 Fahrenheit) by the late 21st century.

Countries such as India are likely to be hit hard by global warming, which will bring more freak weather such as droughts that will lead to serious water shortages and affect agricultural output and food security.

“Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we are going to face in terms of the crises as far as water is concerned,” IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri told participants at a conference on water security.

“If you look at agricultural products, if you look at animal protein – the demand for which is growing – that’s highly water intensive. At the same time, on the supply side, there are going to be several constraints. Firstly because there are going to be profound changes in the water cycle due to climate change.”

Development experts around the world have become increasingly concerned about water security in recent years.

More frequent floods and droughts caused by climate change, pollution of rivers and lakes, urbanisation, over-extraction of ground water and expanding populations mean that many nations such as India face serious water shortages.

In addition, the demand for more power by countries like India to fuel their economic growth has resulted in a need to harness more water for hydropower dams and nuclear plants.

The dry months of June and July, during which there are frequent power cuts and water shortages, offer a snapshot of the pending water crisis in India.

Hospitals in New Delhi cancelled surgery at one point in 2013 because they had no water to sterilise instruments, clean operating theatres or for staff to wash their hands. Upmarket shopping malls selling luxury brands were forced to switch off air conditioners and shut toilets.

Pachauri said it was necessary to bring in technology to help harness water more efficiently, particularly in agriculture where there is a lot of wastage.

“Naturally, this (water crisis) is also going to lead to tensions – probably some conflict between riparian groups and riparian states,” he said.

India, as both an upper and lower riparian nation, finds itself at the centre of water disputes with its eastern and western downstream neighbours – Bangladesh and Pakistan – which accuse New Delhi of monopolising water flows.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Original article found on: Thompson Reuters Foundation

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On the Media: Book Review – Media and Development by Martin Scott

Martin Scott’s Media and Development, published in 2014.

Martin Scott’s Media and Development, published in 2014.

Original article found on: The Source 

By: Ann Hendrix-Jenkins on Jan 28, 2015

We work in an era when technical specialties dig ever deeper into their own rabbit holes of complexity and nuance, while simultaneously calls resound for a next generation of global health and development based on integration, “silo-busting,” and cross-cutting approaches, including capacity development.

In his book Media and Development, Martin Scott, of the University of East Anglia, confronts this dichotomy head on by sketching out three separate media related “fields,” while considering their (at times uneasy) relationships within the one world of global development.

Through delineation and comparison, he highlights their unique conceptual and practical potentials, and then considers their sometimes symbiotic, sometime divergent natures. Overarching all, Scott notes how fast-moving trends in communication technologies that are opening up new frontiers within each.

The three fields:

Communication for Development (C4D). Inclusive of approaches known as behavior change communication, social and behavior change, and entertainment-education, C4D traditionally aims to foster pre-determined awareness, attitudes, and ultimately behaviors that have proven to contribute to better health or development. Well established and relatively well funded, this field boasts the ability to make credible links between donor investments and desired health outcomes.

Media Development. By focusing on the development of a sound in-country media sector, this relatively young development approach aims to support essential foundations for democracy, good governance, human rights, healthy markets, advocacy opportunities, and more.

Media Representations of Development. Characterized by the author as the portrayal of the “global South” and development efforts to Northern audiences, these take the form of humanitarian appeals, NGO fundraising efforts, news, documentaries, films, novels, reality TV, and more. Such efforts often attempt to show both causes and solutions (usually entailing Northern intervention) to global poverty, disease, inequity and more. Among global development practitioners, this wide-ranging set of ideas and formats doesn’t get much notice, and is not often analyzed as a whole, or for its effects on the other fields.

As a premise for considering the state of—and possible futures for—global health and development, the novel juxtaposition of these three fields provides fresh food for thought, including a range of capacity development implications. Foremost, Scott clearly presents the case for recognizing these perspectives as potentially powerful, he warns that too often proponents unfairly elevate them to “magic bullet” status. With that qualification, he explores the transformative role they might play in international development—if we both reimagine them and better position them within this larger context.

Beginning with C4D (but with application to all three) Scott reminds development practitioners to put aside the false assumption that the mere dissemination of information is sufficient to create change. Another idea to jettison: development as a linear process of modernization that eclipses the “traditional.” Media and technology-based approaches are extremely susceptible to these failed premises. [Editorial note: how many photos have we seen of indigenous laughing with amazement at their digital images, presumably shared with them by a foreigner.] Both assumptions are anathemas to true capacity development based on the “agency and distinctiveness of local populations.” (p.33) Conversely, media efforts—within any of the three fields in question—carefully designed and employed to foster agency and voice have incredible potential. For example, what Scott designates as “media hybrids”—e.g. media-based advocacy for policy change or to address inequities—have successfully challenged social or legal structures in many places. Regardless of the model employed, a key role for global development practitioners that becomes apparent throughout this book is that of facilitator, rather than technical expert, technologist, or content supplier.

Scott’s exploration makes wonderfully apparent an entrenched problem of development. Within global health, for example, we are firm in our rational, scientific self-assurance gained from successes based on established biomedical facts and proven using tools like randomized control trials. Too often, we have transferred that certainty to other areas that are not based on predictable physical realities, e.g. communication, policy, advocacy, governance, democracy, and finance. Given the intangible, highly context specific and variable nature of these focus areas, we must unpack our inherent biases (basically, that we know best), change our premises, and THEN imagine development solutions. If our media efforts are based on such biases, they will simply be a new version of the same old thing.

With regard to conceptualizing media development, Scott likens it to “nailing jelly to the wall.” But one thing is clear: again, simply digitizing the old formats is not the way forward. The tenets of classic journalism and freedom of expression hold strong, but as applied with an open mind to emerging models including citizen journalism, crowd-sourced content, and a voice for civil society within or alongside elite- and government-owned and controlled media. Ultimately a strong media can play the role of watchdog, set agendas, and serve as a civic forum. An enabling environment of laws, policies and regulations must be in place to foster a diverse media landscape. All of these—and more—jelly-like  parameters call for diverse and creative approaches to fostering a thriving “media sector.”

Next, Scott breaks humanitarian communication of Northern NGOs into three categories: shock effect appeals, deliberative positivism, and post-humanitarian communication. While the first two attempt to relay the “reality” of life in the global South in order to generate engagement, the third gains attention through NGO brand appeal and new forms of engagement including “clicktivism:” online activities such as sharing on Facebook, and signing online petitions. This shifts the emotional focus to the audience’s own selves, rather than on the people of the global South. While the author doesn’t take a stand on the approaches, Scott makes the case that perhaps the most problematic aspect of this whole “field” is the lack of understanding of causal links between it and mass stereotyping, foreign aid and political decisions, news coverage, and other important implications.

It’s exciting to see this “field” get fresh and serious consideration given extraordinary influence these media approaches must have on the fundamental beliefs and ideas of millions of people in the global North. Yet, a stronger critique is surely warranted, given the appalling nature of much of the content, which is often appears designed to simply fulfill short-term fundraising efforts, rather than promote nuanced understanding.

In sum, this book provides an accessible overview for students, and a timely stock-taking for experienced professionals trying to keep up with dizzying rates of change. Thus, this book speaks to any “career at the intersection between media and development.” (p. 195)

As the fields of media, communication and technology are at times thoughtlessly conflated, yet also actually converging at points, the implications are myriad. Scott portrays media within development, media about development, media as a delivery device, and media’s role in fostering change. A widening range of actors are involved, and he notes the potential value of incorporating a political economy perspective. While he cautions against undue influence of ICT4D technologists who rely on an “innocent, techno-fascinated worldview” (p.197), he also recognizes how “new media can promote interactivity, debate, decentralized networks and greater individual autonomy.” (p. 202) Then again, media can also have the opposite effect.

More than ever, design and implementation of development efforts must take into account the larger contexts: Scott cites the need “to speak of media’s role in social change, rather than development.” (p. 199) Scott recognizing that his wide-ranging exploration might raise more questions than provide answers. Nevertheless, any shortcuts that don’t include grappling with these ideas are likely to do just that—fall short.

While Scott’s book doesn’t focus on capacity development per se—that might call for a second volume—the one-step removed nature of capacity development fundamentally lends itself to taking the long and bird’s eye views to enable us to strategically support locally-conceptualized, locally-driven and locally-implemented employment of media formats and communication content to promote equitable global health and development through social change.

This book review was written by Ann Hendrix-Jenkins for LenCD. Ann has an MA in International Development from American University and 25 years of experience in international development and global health. Ann currently works at Futures Group as a Technical Director on Capacity Building. 
Contact Ann on Twitter @AnnHJenkins or by email AHendrix-Jenkins@futuresgroup.com
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Selections from “The Fruit of Our Labor” will air on the TV show, WORLDDOCS

Selections from “The Fruit of Our Labor” will air on the TV show, WORLDDOCS, broadcast on Fairfax Public Access (cable channel 10  in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford counties and the towns of Falls Church, Leesburg, and Fredericksburg in Virginia) on Monday, Feb. 2nd at 10 AM, Thursday, Feb. 5th at 1 AM, and Sunday, Feb. 8th at 8:30 PM. Thank you for allowing us to show it.

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WORLDDOCS airs on Fairfax Public Access (cable channel 10) in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania counties in Virginia on

Mondays at 10:00 AM, Thursdays at 1:00 AM, and Sundays at 8:30 PM; on Montgomery Community Television (cable channel 19) in Montgomery and Prince

Georges counties in Maryland on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM and Thursdays at 11:00 PM (live-streamed at www.mymcmedia.org); and on DCTV (Comcast channels 95 & 96/RCN channels 10 & 11) in Washington, DC at various times (live-streamed at www.dctv.org).

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