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Many aid workers keep online journals called web logs, or "blogs" for short. Blogs tend to be very personal, to present unabashedly biased opinions and to be much less formal than an organization's web site. Blogs are sometimes provocative, and some may make you feel uncomfortable -- you certainly won't agree with everything you read in blogs, including those produced by aid workers.
The AWN blog portal presents a range of aid worker-produced blogs from around the world. However, AWN is not responsible for the content of any of these blogs, and inclusion here on the AWN blog portal in no way endorses their content by AWN. If you disagree with what a blog has presented, by all means, write the blog author ("blogger") directly and let him or her know what you think.
If you would like to submit a blog by an aid, relief or development worker, please complete this form.
Now, who was it that thought it would be a good idea to portray Doris Day as a steamroller operator? It says right there that the International Harvester Series 56 is the only road roller endorsed by Doris Day. Somehow I just don’t s…
Of Doris Day and road rollers… (vintage ad)
I had a break of one month at home. The whole month of January. And during that time, there was the "Geneva 2" conference on Syria. But as Geneva had many other things going on, the conference was transferred to my lovely hometown. During three days we were under high security. Of course, normal with the presence of Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations and many other high level people. After a few days, talks between the belligerents started timidly in Geneva. But there is still a long, long way to go to reach some agreement and understanding and the civil war in Syria continues. And so I am back in Jordan since two weeks.
Our activities are at a turning point. We will change from distribution of food commodities to give vouchers instead. With these, the beneficiaries can go to stores and exchange them for food. I will explain this new way of assisting people in need in another, technical, post.
We have to make a yearly work plan and to that effect we are right now having a retreat in Aqaba at the Red Sea.
A very interesting town. With Eilat, Israel, opposite. A good place for deep sea diving. And with a lot of first class hotels. We are staying
at the Moevenpick Tala Bay Resort. A nice place, a fancy place. With luxury rooms. Excellent food. Makes you feel like a king. Ideal for work and even more ideal to relax.
A question: Why are all the (lovely and kind) restaurant staff from Asia?
"Affordable housing" is a phrase which needs to go on the banned list. What does it even mean? Something to do with affordability, and something to do with social (subsidised) housing. Mira Bar-Hillel of the Evening Standard notes the wikipedia definition - affordable for someone on median income - coming to a back-of-an-envelope value of around £100,000 (assuming a mortgage of 4 times a £25,000 salary).
She then seems to go off the rails a bit discussing the application of this concept to an actual development - the new central London Mt Pleasant development."of the 700-odd flats proposed, fewer than 50 may be for social renting. It also means that, based on current prices in the area, the private flats could easily fetch a total of over £4bn. And be mainly sold to foreign investors.So based on those numbers (£4bn for 700 flats), each of these flats could sell for more than £5 million each. And the Evening Standard's Property and Planning correspondent thinks Britain should be selling off £5 million pieces of real estate for £100,000? Is it just me or does that sound totally insane to anyone else?
Meanwhile Labour councillors are angry about Royal Mail being "hell-bent on packing in as much private housing as possible" whilst there are "huge housing shortages in London." Does Labour want less homes in London or more homes?
Why does housing policy inspire such epic logic fails from otherwise seemingly intelligent people?
The Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday already seems like ancient history, even though it ended just a couple of weeks ago. But the Year of the Horse is off to a swift start, and I can see that this will be a big year for Blue Dragon.
- The exploitation of street kids in Hanoi stands out as the most pressing problem we face right now. There's a growing group of adults, both men and women, who seem to think that homeless kids are 'fair game': that they are there for exploitation and abuse without consequence. I'll be writing more about this in coming months, and I am looking forward to proving that there are indeed consequences for exploiting homeless kids. Stay tuned.
- Two trafficking cases have come to us already, and we are still in the investigation stage so I can't say too much. While it could be disheartening that trafficking is so common, there's great encouragement in the fact that both regular citizens and government agencies are so active and involved in finding, reporting, and resolving trafficking cases. During the coming year, I hope to post plenty of stories of successful rescues and the arrest of lots of traffickers.
And although these are big issues, the greatest satisfaction as always is in the stories of the kids: the individual girls and boys whose lives we touch and transform every day.
One of the Blue Dragon boys, "H," has just returned to school after 6 months. He's been living on the streets, in and out of trouble, on the run from a family that doesn't know how to care for him.
Aged 13, H simply doesn't know how to manage his own behaviour or make good decisions; he's been like an explorer without a compass, wandering alone and making his own way.
Shortly before Tet he meet the Blue Dragon Outreach Team who took him in and gave him a place to stay while he works out what he's going to do. Now that he's back at school, he has moved into our Shelter to live with other kids just like himself.
Going back to school after surviving on the streets is no easy matter. It's hard for a teenager who has had freedom to roam at will, make fast money and live for the moment to suddenly start complying with the endless rules and regulations of Vietnamese school.
When H first went to the school to ask to join a class, one of the teachers grabbed a pair of scissors and cut his fringe - right in front of a Blue Dragon Social Worker! The poor little guy was devastated to see his beloved long hair stolen away like that.
It seemed that his hair was simply too long according to school regulations. I was so excited that he was simply prepared to return to school, but the reality was that his commitment to study was not enough. He also needed short hair.
Despite that unnecessarily rocky start, H has had his first day back at school, and was still smiling at the end of it. That's a huge success.
Will he get through another day? That remains to be seen. I think it's best to accept the small victories as they come, and H's first day back at school is something I can definitely celebrate.
The Bible character with whom I most frequently and closely identify has changed over the years. In this season of kids from age 15 to 21, it is the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Bear with me on this one. In Matthew 20, she kneels before Jesus and asks for their success. "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." That sounds like my prayers rather often. This is the season of goals, applications, programs, awards, teams, cuts. Of exams, scores, reports, recommendations. Of interviews, tournaments, evaluations, speed. Of inclusion or exclusion. And I'm right there with Mrs. Zebedee, asking for my kids to not only do their best, but to be best. I hear other parents say this too, comments about just having prayed that a goal would be scored, about praying for a university spot to open.
But Jesus' reply is sobering. Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" Jesus' answer to success-seeking is that the road to glory lies through suffering. One must drink the cup, of wrath, of struggle, of grief and loss, to enjoy the rewards of the Kingdom. Of course James and John thought they could handle it. Their mom was ready to overlook the fine print about suffering to get them close to the "top." But Jesus wanted them to see that leadership in the Kingdom comes by serving, that being out in front means laying down your life.
So it is with some trepidation that I ask for prayer for my kids. On Friday, the oldest will compete in a final round of selection to potentially become the student graduation speaker for his University. It is down to the final three. This sounds like a real opportunity for him to present Kingdom values and to challenge complacency, to stand for something that is inspiring and different. It also could be a hidden call to a bitter cup.
Would you pray that God would be glorified whether the committee chooses Luke or someone else? Would you pray he would do his best with this, and biochemistry and medical school interviews and friendships and all the complexity of being a Senior? In the end, the effort is hollow if personal glory is the end. But if this speech could be part of the big picture of a redeeming God on the move, then it is worth praying for.
And the same for son two, who is recovering from knee surgery, always on the edge of survival. Should we pray that his grades are excellent and his commanders look on him with favor? Or that he hears God's clarity in his calling, and continues to serve in a hard place full of broken people?
And the younger ones, finding their way, taking SAT's, preparing for college. My heart wants them to have the superb lift of spirit that comes from a glorious game-winning shot, or getting recognized for their grades. But am I ready to see them walk the same kind of lonely and challenging paths their brothers' "success" has earned them?
I’m bringing back a feature from years ago. Every Wednesday I’ll unpack some development jargon for you.
PEPFAR – President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, an anti-AIDS program started by George W. Bush.
Key Populations (KPs) – people who are at a higher risk for getting AIDS. PEPFAR considers these populations to be people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender persons and sex workers. USAID reference on key populations | US State Department reference | e-learning courses on key populations
Most At Risk Populations (MARPs) - the UN term for key populations.
Concentrated Epidemic - UNAIDS has a very good definition of this one, “HIV prevalence is high enough in one or more sub-populations, such as men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, or sex workers and their clients to maintain the epidemic in that sub-population, but the virus is not circulating in the general population.” UNAIDS explanation of epidemic scenarios
I was a bit disappointed by Julia Unwin's new short book "Why Fight Poverty?". The subtitle on the US amazon edition is perhaps a better title: "And Why it is So Hard". The most interesting part of the book is about the emotional responses to poverty that make it it hard to get the public to care - shame, fear, disgust, difference, mistrust. She doesn't address why it is so hard to get the public to care about global poverty.
I knew the book would be about UK poverty (Julia Unwin is Chief Exec of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has been working on UK poverty since 1904), but maybe I hoped for a more substantial treatment of the difference between UK and international poverty. Actually to be honest I was probably just annoyed that she dismisses those (like me) who claim that we should think differently about rich world poverty and extreme poverty in poorer countries. This is the sum total of discussion about international poverty in the book:"[many] argue that while there is real poverty in other countries, any poverty in the UK is less severe, and describing it as such is misleading and untruthful. They are right to some extent ... [but] All poverty is relative and needs to be seen in context. Needs are relative in every society and differ depending on the price of food and other goods, and social norms ... Because UK poverty is relative, it can be easier to ignore or dismiss - but it is real and affects a sizeable portion of our population."I've written before about why I'm sceptical about the relative importance of relative poverty, but I also worry about too quickly dismissing the experiences of people living in the UK. Jack Monroe has given powerful descriptions of her own experience living with poverty and hunger in the UK."Poverty isn’t just having no heating, or not quite enough food, or unplugging your fridge and turning your hot water off ... Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one weetabix and says ‘more mummy, bread and jam please mummy’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam."And here:"sitting across the table from your young son enviously staring down his breakfast ... it’s distressing. Depressing. Destabilising. ... Imagine those 77 days of being chased for rent that you can’t pay, ignoring the phone, ignoring the door, drawing the curtains so the bailiffs can’t see that you’re home, cradling your son to your chest and sobbing that this is where it’s all ended up. It feels endless. Hopeless. Cold. Wet."You should read both in full. It breaks your heart. And yet... thanks to her blog, Oxfam invited Jack to Tanzania, to meet some of the people they work with. Jack concluded;
"Our experiences of hunger and poverty are different, but we need to see the similarities too."Well yes. But let's think about those differences and similarities, and make that comparison.
Going hungry is much more common in Tanzania than it is in the UK. Maybe that makes it relatively less bad, psychologically less painful? I imagine it might. You might be less likely to imagine hunger as a personal failure in a society where it is more common. And yet... Perhaps it's time to put some numbers on this.
Let's say that the single mother who Jack met in Tanzania - Irene - earns £200 per year. This is below the poverty line, and 15% less than the average (median) income of around £230 a year.
Let's say that someone like Jack living in poverty in the UK earns £10,000 a year. Below the poverty line, and less than half of average income of £21,000 (these numbers aren't exact, but they are realistic).
So if we agree that "poverty is relative and needs to be seen in context", that "needs are relative", well for her relative income, Jack (48% of average income) is much worse off than Irene (87% of average income). But is Jack really worse off than Irene? The same? Similar? Comparable? Remembering that in absolute terms she earns 50 times more than Irene?
What if we flipped it around. Imagine a very rich society. Perhaps it is Britain in 100 years, after 3% annual growth. Average income is now £400,000. A single mother - Abby - living in poverty, earns "just" £100,000. That is a quarter of average income. Relatively speaking, Abby is now much worse off than Jack. Do you feel sympathy for Abby, on her relative pittance of £100,000? Or does that sound silly? And yet Jack is more similar to Abby (Jack earns 10% of Abby's income) than Irene is to Jack (Irene earns just 2% of Jack's income).
Or to take another example, think about this headline from the Atlantic: "America’s 1% live in relative poverty compared to the .01%". The top 1% in America earn a measly $2 million a year, just a fraction of the $30 million that the top .01% earns. If the top 1% all decided to set up their own new country, Richland, should we suddenly start feeling sympathy for the lowly $2 million a year earners, who are on just a small fraction of the median income, and well below the relative poverty line?
The other thing to consider when what we're really interested in is some concept of wellbeing rather just cash, is what happens when we try and directly measure wellbeing? Gallup surveys have asked individuals around the world to rate their own life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. If relative poverty in the UK was comparable to poverty in developing countries in terms of their lived experience rather than in terms of their income, we might expect to see some similarity in self-reports of life satisfaction.
Well, the difference in life satisfaction is perhaps unsurprisingly much smaller than the income gap (life satisfaction is measured on a bounded 1-10 scale, but income is measured on a much wider and unbounded scale). But the surveys show that even the poorest people living in developed countries like the UK report higher levels of life satisfaction than everyone in developing countries, almost no matter what they earn. You can just about make out from the chart below; the poorest in Britain (GBR) are more satisfied with their life than the richest in Indonesia (IDN), Nigeria (NGA), India (IND), Pakistan (PAK), and South Africa (ZAF) (for more details see the Brookings briefing, based on a paper by Stevenson and Wolfers).
So. In conclusion, I suppose I remain sceptical about relative poverty.
Today is International Women's Day! The official UN theme is "Equality for women is progress for all." Follow developments via ReliefWeb's Gender topic page and UNHCR's IWD page.
An 'I Do' I Choose: How the Fight for Marriage Access Supports a Per Se Finding of Persecution for Asylum Cases Based on Forced Marriage (ExpressO, 2014) [text]
Girl, Disrupted (IDMC, March 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]
"Health Promotion and Education among Refugee Women: A Literature Review," Journal of Social Change, vol. 6, no. 1 (2014) [full-text]
Life Can Change: Securing Housing, Land and Property Rights for Displaced Women (NRC, March 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]
- See also this project's web page.
Nowhere to Go: Displaced and Returnee Women Seeking Housing, Land and Property Rights in South Sudan (NRC, March 2014?) [text]
Too Much Pain - Female Genital Mutilation & Asylum in the European Union: A Statistical Update (UNHCR, March 2014) [text]
"'You Keep Yourself Strong': A Discourse Analysis of African Women Asylum Seekers' Talk about Emotions," Journal of International Women's Studies, vol. 15, no. 1 (2014) [open access]
- Thematic Focus: Gender Issues (17 Feb. 2014)
Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities.
Digging Migration Policy out of a Crisis (Thomson Reuters, Feb. 2014) [text]
Olympic Games Turned Blame Games: Responsibility for Abuse of Migrant Workers in Sochi (MigRefLaw Blog, Feb. 2014) [text]
Overview of UNHCR's Global Programmes and Partnerships, 59th Meeting of the Standing Committee (EXCOM, Feb. 2014) [text]
Re-Thinking 'Risk' in Migration (COMPAS Blog, Feb. 2014) [text]
Report on the Implementation of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility 2012-2103 (European Commission, Feb. 2014) [text]
Research and Policy: A Troubled Relationship? (Debate Migration Blog, Jan. 2014) [text]
A Review of UNHCR Participatory Assessments in 2012 (UNHCR, Dec. 2013) [text]
- Thematic Focus: General (17 Feb. 2014)
Africa Confidential has a gated article on Liberian mercenaries who fought in Cote d’Ivoire:
Although groups of Liberian mercenaries and Ivorian militia loyal to Gbagbo remain active in the lush forests of the Great West, the area has been quiet since the last series of cross-border attacks from Liberia in March 2013. A December report by the UN Panel of Experts on Liberia concluded that the Ivorian authorities have been paying Liberian mercenaries and FLGO members to stop their attacks.
In May 2013 Liberian forces detained an Ivorian government delegation in Grand Gedeh which was carrying funds for the pay-off. The Ouattara government denounced the report as a fabrication but sources consulted by Africa Confidential confirmed that regular payments have been made.
Also, apparently some of the mercenaries are on trial in Monrovia:
They are defended by a prominent Krahn lawyer Tiawon Gongloe, who was Johnson-Sirleaf’s Solicitor General and is now a fierce critic of the President.
One of the first things we all learn as development rookies is that you cannot simply transplant institutions, systems or ideas from elsewhere. We are told that solutions have to be organic, locally-developed, country-owned and relevant to the context. But why and when is this true?
Part of the answer is suggested in the writings of Matt Andrews, Michael Woolcock, Lant Pritchett, Justin Sandefur, me, and others (see the reading list at the bottom of this blog post). For at least some problems, there is something useful about the ‘the struggle’ – that is, the need for a community to identify its challenges and grapple iteratively with the solutions. If the process of adaptation and iteration is necessary, then solutions parachuted in from outside will not succeed. Furthermore, efforts to bypass the struggle might actually be unhelpful.
Yet successful institutions in different countries often look similar to each other. For example, a good postal service looks pretty much the same everywhere. Good finance ministries resemble each other. So why should each country have to reinvent the wheel? Can they not bypass the costly and time-consuming process of struggling to create these institutions, and simply import good practice from beacons of success at home, or from good examples abroad, so taking success to scale?
This issue came under the spotlight at a recent meeting at CGD’s Washington Office to discuss the planned role of Global Development Innovation Ventures (GDIV), a joint venture of USAID, DFID and Omidyar Network which aims “to spark innovation and scale successes”. Is there something inconsistent between GDIV’s mandate to help countries take proven success to scale and the need – in at least some cases – for countries to grapple with their own challenges themselves?
Perhaps if we understand why the struggle might be important, we can describe better whether and how progress can be achieved more quickly and with less pain, or at least understand which kinds of development success could plausibly be taken to scale.
With the help of big thinkers Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock the CGD meeting was able to explore this. We discussed four reasons why the struggle might be important:
These four reasons why the struggle could be important raise an obvious question about the role of development cooperation. Typically aid aims in some way to diminish the struggle, or ideally to bypass it altogether. But if the struggle is necessary, at least some of the time, then we should think twice about whether and when it makes sense to try to minimize it.
For what kinds of problem are such struggles likely to be necessary? Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock suggest a spectrum of complexity and implementation-intensiveness. Simple, purely logistical interventions might perhaps be replicable. But more complex problems, such as those which depend on the emergence of legitimate systems and institutions, or which require continuing compliance and behaviour change, probably cannot be replicated without some sort of struggle.
There might be disagreement about whether a particular intervention can be replicated without a struggle. For example, distributing bednets appears to be a logistical challenge which, though complicated, can be solved by sharing best practice and good logistical management. Does that mean a successful model in one country can be rolled out elsewhere? If so, this will at minimum require some effort to build support, finance and legitimacy for the programme in each country (this may not be strictly speaking a struggle, but it may not be straightforward). Beyond that, a bednet programme will succeed if people understand why they might want to sleep under bednets, and adapt their behaviour and habits; if the power relations are such that men allow women and children to use the nets; if systems are put in place to distribute new bednets, perhaps through some combination of state provision and private markets; and if old bednets are regularly retreated with insecticide. Now we have moved from a logistical exercise to the realm of developing legitimate and effective institutions to provide continuing services, and the need for sustained changes in behaviour, power and trust. Can these changes be brought about without some kind of struggle?
The need for a struggle, at least sometimes, may have four implications for development cooperation, including for the GDIV programme.
First, the goal of ‘taking proven interventions to scale’ or ‘replicating success’, bypassing or minimising the struggle, may be appropriate to a relatively small set of interventions.
Second, it is possible that some of what donors do to try to accelerate development may instead slow it down by crowding out the necessary struggle. For example, aid could pay for basic services in the short term, while in the long run undermining the social contract that would emerge from the struggle for control of domestic revenues. Donor financing of civil society may lead to challenge to authority in the short run, but it may also crowd out a more legitimate dialogue rooted in local concerns. Donor support for businesses – for example creating jobs by backing firms – may crowd out the innovative, hungry firms on which the long term success of the economy depends.
Third, where it is not possible to replicate success directly, it may be possible to support systems to enable them evolve more rapidly and more surely towards the desired goals. For example, providing circumstances in which people can ‘fail safe’ may encourage more innovation. Better use of data and rigorous evaluation, and greater transparency and accountability, can encourage more effective selection. Donor funding which encourages and rewards local problem-solving, without imposing solutions from outside, may accelerate the struggle and make it less painful. This is part of the rationale for CGD’s proposals for Development Impact Bonds and Cash on Delivery Aid. The Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation approach suggested by Andrews, Pritchett and Woolcock is an effort to describe how aid can support countries’ own efforts to solve problems. Can some kind of technical assistance accelerate the struggle without replacing it? (Even professional tennis players have a coach.)
Fourth, aid can help people while they are struggling. This support may not directly accelerate development – perhaps other than by giving people more space to fail safe – but it could help them live more comfortably while development is taking place. (Of course, it follows from the above that it is important to provide this help in ways that do not crowd out the struggle.)
We would welcome views and comments on this. Is there a significant set of development policies which whose demonstrated success elsewhere suggests that they could be replicated and scaled up elsewhere with little or no struggle? And for the others, where the struggle cannot be bypassed, what are the smart ways that donors can support countries to make progress without crowding out? CGD is involved with a number of suggestions along these lines, including Cash on Delivery Aid, Development Impact Bonds, and Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation: are these good answers to this problem and how else might donors go about supporting countries engaged in the struggle?
Some further reading (compiled for the meeting by Molly Kinder):
All at Sea: Australia's Asylum Policy (RI Blog, Feb. 2014) [text]
"Asylum Seekers and the Refugee Convention," Parliamentary Library Briefing Book: Key Issues for the 44th Parliament (Parliamentary Library, 2103) [text]
- Note: The 44th Parliament opened in November 2013.
"Asylum Seekers on Manus Island Should Be Made Aware of Legal Rights, Court Told," The Guardian, 30 Jan. 2014 [text]
Australia's Refugee and Humanitarian Program 2014-15: Community Views on Current Challenges and Future Directions (Refugee Council of Australia, Feb. 2014) [text]
- See also previous submissions.
Letters from Nauru (Border Criminologies, Jan. 2014) [text]
Crossborder Operational Matters [access]
- "This website focuses on five crucial aspects of the Australian Government’s policies around the border": On-Water Operations; Internment Industry Supply-Chains & Infrastructure; Precarious Lives; Global Problem, Global Links, Global Campaign; Antiracism.
What Would You Do? (Jewish Aid Australia) [access]
- Web site supporting a campaign to "inject a sense of humanity back into the Australian discourse on asylum seekers."
Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.
Contribute to Edited Collection: Working with Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Theory, Method and Practice [info]
- Abstract submission deadline is 1 March 2014.
CFP: Humanitarian Innovation Conference, Oxford, 19-20 July 2014 [info]
- Deadline has been *extended* to 2 March 2014.
Sri Lanka and Australia after the War: A Forum on Post-war Justice and the Indefinite Detention of Refugees, Sydney, 4 March 2014 [info]
- Free event, but registration required.
CFP: 17th Nordic Migration Research Conference, Copenhagen, 13-15 August 2014 [info]
- Theme is "Flows, Places and Boundaries: Migratory Challenges and New Agendas"; submit proposals by 15 March 2014.
CFP: Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration [info]
- Deadline for submissions for vol. 4, no. 1 is now 28 March 2014.
- Protection-related Events & Opportunities: March & April 2014
- Events & Opportunities: March 2014
Tagged Events & Opportunities.
The latest issue of Forced Migration Review (FMR) focuses on "crisis." Here is the blurb:
"Many people who are displaced, or become 'trapped', in the context of diverse humanitarian crises do not fit well within existing legal, policy and operational frameworks for the protection of refugees and IDPs. This raises questions about whether there needs to be – or can be – more systematic ways of dealing with assistance and protection for people affected by 'crises' such as environmental disruption, gang violence, nuclear disasters, food shortages and so on. FMR 45 contains 33 articles on crisis, migration and displacement, and eight general articles on other subjects relating to forced migration."
FMR45's theme section includes 33 articles, a number of which stem from work undertaken by the Crisis Migration Project at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM). Eight general articles are also featured.
Image credit: Ell Brown, via FlickrIf you are a researcher who does not have ready access to a library's subscription databases, getting your hands on the full-texts of academic journal articles can get expensive quickly, with the pay-per-view price for individual articles often running in the $30 range.
Last year, I listed a few suggestions in this post for how to deal with this issue, but since this is an ongoing problem for a lot of information seekers in the forced migration community, I thought I'd share some additional thoughts about other possible ways to secure free or inexpensive online access to journal articles.
When you need immediate access:
1. Always search on the title/s of the journal article/s you are interested in. As authors become more familiar with Open Access (or are being required to provide OA to their work by their funders), they are increasingly making eprints of their journal articles available either through some kind of institutional archives or subject repository (like SSRN) or through their personal home pages.
2. Go to the web site of the article you want and try out the link to the full-text. You'd be surprised, but every now and then, it will take you to the full-text without requiring you to log in/pay first! Why? Depending on the publisher, sometimes free access is provided on a temporary basis for promotional reasons, yet that free access won't necessarily be advertised or highlighted in an obvious way. So always take the time to click - you might get lucky!
3. Try DeepDyve. This is an online rental service for scholarly articles. You can sign up to preview articles for free for five minutes; if you determine you want an article, then you can "rent" it for a relatively low fee. The downside: no printing or saving is possible. For more info on this service, read PCWorld's review and this Scientific American blog post.
Planning for future access:
1. Alumni benefits: Check with the library of the educational institution you graduated from to see if alumni are granted online access to any journal databases. This will depend on each library's licensing agreements, but it's worth inquiring. (For example, I was surprised to learn that as a Georgetown University grad, I have access to a variety of information resources!)
2. Join a professional association. Membership benefits can include discounted rates for journal subscriptions or free/cheap access to the journals published by that association. See, e.g., the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM). If your association or network does not currently offer this type of benefit, consider lobbying them to negotiate with journal publishers on behalf of their membership.
3. Promote Open Access!
If you are an independent researcher, please share your strategies for accessing full-text journal articles!
Americans are weirdly private people. Nearly every other culture I’ve experienced involved sharing more personal information with strangers than your average American wants to provide. It used to feel really uncomfortable. (Okay, it stills tends to feel uncomfortable.)
But I have a technique now – I lean in. I counter intrusive-feeling personal questions with nosy questions of my own. It serves as both self-defense and a chance to learn about other cultures. I stop, obviously, if my conversational partner seems uncomfortable being questioned. Most of the time people seem thrilled to answer, though. I’ve heard an awful lot of interesting stories.
Here’s what I ask:
1) Do you have children? Why or why not? Do you wish you had more boys/girls? How old were you when your first child was born? Were your children born at home or in a health facility? Was the doctor friendly? Are your kids in school? What school?
2) Who lives in your house? Just you and your spouse and children, or other relatives? Whose house is it? Do you own the house or rent it? How long have you lived there? Who does the cooking and cleaning?
3) Are you married? (Why not?) How old were you when you got married? Who chose your spouse – you or someone else? Where was your wedding? How many people attended? Were you happy on your wedding day or just nervous? Did you have food at your wedding? What kind?
4) What is the biggest health problem in this city/village? In this country? Are doctors kind and friendly here? Where would you go in a health emergency? Is health care expensive?
5) What job do you do? Do you like it? What job would you do if you could have any job? What job did you expect to have when you were a child? What careers do you want for your children?
Bonus questions just for taxi drivers:
1) Do you rent or own this car? How does the rental arrangement work? How did you buy it – did you take a loan or save up money, or get a gift from a friend or relative? How many hours a day do you drive? How did you become a taxi driver? Is this safe work? Do you carry a weapon? Do all your friends and relatives ask you to drive them around? What is the most interesting customer you’ve ever had?
The Mirror has an exposé looking at the shocking conditions of workers on Kenyan flower farms - some earning just £30 a month.
What they fail to point out is that absolutely the best thing you can do for global welfare is to buy your flowers from Africa rather than Europe. Even if flower-pickers are on a low wage, it's a better wage than their alternative, your spending stimulates the Kenyan economy, and it is even good for the environment (flights from sunny places on the Equator pollute less than all the electric lights you need to grow flowers in cloudy Europe).
Yes be shocked at wage rates in Kenya. But then the best thing you can do to fix that is to do more business with Kenya and spend more money on Kenyan products. Happy Valentine's Day.
The Globalization of High Seas Interdiction: Sale’s Legacy and Beyond, New Haven, CT, 7-8 March 2014 [info]
- "More than twenty years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Sale v. Haitian Centers Council. In light of this milestone, this conference aims to bring together legal scholars, legal practitioners, and policymakers with both theoretical and practical insights into the extraterritorial migrant interdiction regimes that have emerged over the past several decades"; registration now open.
Course: A Comparative and International Approach to Human Rights and Refugee Law and Policy in the United States, Italy and the European Union, Rome, Wednesdays from 19 March-4 June 2014 [info] [programme]
- This course "is structured to allow participants to interactively analyze and compare the historical development of human rights and refugee law and policy in its origin, historical development and theory and its current practice in the United States, Italy and the European Union by examining leading texts, current legislation, policy and case law from each jurisdiction. The course aims to evaluate and discuss legal and social mechanisms that could improve respect for human rights and the treatment of immigrants, which can then be promulgated and implemented in practical work forums"; registration deadline is 15 March 2014.
A Sea of Troubles? Problematising Migration Law, 2014 Migration & Law Network Conference, London, 28-29 March 2014 [info]
- "The overall theme of our 2014 conference is the fluidity of migration law, in the face of its own contradictions, and multiple contextual, political and legal challenges. At the conference, we would like to give teachers, researchers and research students the opportunity to present their work, in a supportive environment, within this broad perspective"; registration now open.
CFP: Refugee Protection Outside of the International Legal Framework: Expanding Cross-national and Cross-disciplinary Collaborations, Evanston, IL, 27-28 May 2014 [info]
- "80% of the world's refugees seek asylum in non-democratic states, or states that have not signed the 1951 International Convention for the Protection of Refugees and 1967 Protocol, do not have implementing legislation or, if they do, do not grant refugees rights as defined by the Refugee Convention. The Center for Forced Migration Studies at Northwestern University invites submissions for a two-day workshop designed to promote cross-disciplinary discussion and engage researchers, practitioners and policy makers in the theoretical and practical issues, the lessons to be learned and the strategies for achieving protection in these states, about which we know far too little"; deadline for abstracts is 1 April 2014.
Towards a Common European Asylum System: The Legislative Package of Second Generation, Brussels, 8-9 April 2014 [info]
- Colloquium associated with a research project on "Recasting the Common European Asylum System: A First Appraisal." Watch for more complete information to be posted.
See also previous posts on "courses" and "summer schools."
Tagged Events & Opportunities.
The last in a series of posts highlighting recent ETDs!
The Securitization of Humanitarian Aid: A Case Study of the Dadaab Refugee Camp, Thesis (Dalhousie University, Aug. 2013) [text]
Seeking Harmonization: Measuring the Effectiveness of the Common European Asylum System, Thesis (University of North Carolina, 2013) [text]
Social Capital in Post-displacement Reconstruction in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Dissertation (American University, Aug. 2013) [info]
- Note: Access to the full-text is embargoed until 28 Feb. 2014.
"Starting from below zero": Iraqi Refugee Resettlement and Integration in the United States and Austin, Texas, Dissertation (University of Texas, Dec. 2013) [text]
Strategies Utilized by African Refugee and Immigrant Students in order to Persist in Post-secondary Career and Technical Education Programs, Dissertation (University of Minnesota, May 2013) [text]
Strengths and Coping of Iraqi Kurdish Women in Pirkanmaa, Finland, Thesis (Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Spring 2013) [text]
Note: To locate other ETDs referenced on this blog, browse the subject label "theses."
(Re-)integrating Refugees: A Dutch Street-level Study on the Labour Market (Re-)integration of Refugees, Thesis (Universiteit Utrecht, Oct. 2013) [text]
The Relation between Perceived Parental Refugee Experience and Psychological Distress and Adjustment of U.S.-raised Vietnamese Americans, Dissertation (University of Michigan, 2013) [text]
Resettlement and Irrigation Schemes as Keys to Development? The Case of New Halfa Agricultural Scheme, Sudan, Thesis (University of Helsinki, Dec. 2013) [text]
Risk and Resilience in Narratives of Newcomer Youth Affected by Forced Migration and Interrupted Education: A Canadian Educational Setting, Dissertation (University of Saskatchewan, Sept. 2013) [text]
The Role of Information and Communication Technology in the Acculturation of Vietnamese Refugees, Thesis (University of San Francisco, Dec. 2013) [text]
Note: To locate other ETDs referenced on this blog, browse the subject label "theses."