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IRIN’s Top Picks: Racism, corruption and oligopoly

Members of Somalia's National Intelligence Security Agency in Baidoa, Somalia Guy Oliver/IRIN
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 C Word: How should the aid business think and act about corruption?

An alarming 61 percent of the British public agree with the statement “corruption in poor country governments makes it pointless donating money to help reduce poverty”, up from just 44 percent in 2008.

As Oxfam’s Duncan Green points out in this provocative piece, the aid agency approach of treating the topic as taboo has monumentally failed. “It’s amazing how little we know about almost anything [related to corruption] in development,” he points out.

Instead, he says, the aid industry must face up to the issue and seek to readjust to find sensible ways to help reduce it. Only then will the public be convinced.

White supremacy, black liberation, and global development: The conversations we’re not having

Depressing events in the United States have pushed racism to the top of the news agenda. This timely critique by Jennifer Lentfer, director of Communications at the International Development Exchange, looks into the presence of racism in the development sector.

“It happens when two people have the same idea, but it is considered legitimate only when the white guy in the room offers it. It happens when people of color are passed over for leadership positions, jobs, promotions, or pay rises.”

She calls for those in the aid industry to do more to assume responsibility in learning about people of experiences of racism in international aid.

Small hands, heavy burden – how the Syria conflict is driving more children into the workforce 

Before the civil war, 90 percent of Syrians were literate and the country was a middle-income country. While there were relatively low levels of child labour, this UNICEF report documents how tens of thousands of children have now been forced into the labour market to keep their families afloat.

Improving International Aid to Crises

Can short-term humanitarian aid interact with longer-term development funding? Erik Solheim, Chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, certainly thinks it can. He argues that to stop the conflicts that fuel humanitarian crises, development aid can be an effective way to “support peace and political settlements.” In Somalia, he points out, a $1.5 billion development package helped prevent the country from slipping into further violence – which would certainly have created an even worse humanitarian crisis there. 

Humanitarian Scenario for the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region

An often-neglected region, this UNOCHA report documents the “step change” in the threat to the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region in the past year. Violence in Burundi and elsewhere has provoked new displacement, Somalia’s continuing crisis with Al-Shabaab is bleeding across borders and malnutrition and food insecurity trends are worrying. 

One to listen to:

The aid business 

The United Kingdom’s foreign aid budget has been protected from the country’s cuts, with $60 billion to be spent on aid in the next five years. But are large private companies which charge the Department for International Development over $1,000 a day per consultant really a good use of taxpayers’ money? The BBC investigates.

From IRIN:

Special report: The humanitarian economy

Emergency aid funding has risen tenfold in the last 14 years. A few major donors and a handful of giant aid agencies dominate this "economy" - one which outstrips any country for its inequality.

In fact if the humanitarian “community” were a country,  it would be by far the most unequal one on the planet.

In this interactive report, IRIN delves deep into humanitarian financing.

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