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How a ‘public authority’ lens can help us understand NGOs and INGOs – From Poverty to Power

This article was originally published on the Africa at LSE blog as part of a series exploring ‘public authority’ based on research at LSE’s Centre for Public Authority and International Development at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa.

“A ‘public authorities’ lens is useful for understanding how governance works in conflict-affected places. But how can this lens inform the way we think about the NGOs and INGOs that operate in them? Tom Kirk explains why the question is crucial to exploring the kinds of development these organisations are promoting.”

“A ‘public authorities’ lens seeks to understand the full range of actors claiming power and governing people in the world’s most conflict-affected places (CAPs). It does this by exploring these actors’ appeals to popular social norms, the provision of public goods and, sometimes, acts of coercion and violence. It includes actors considered part of the state and those seemingly far removed from or even standing in opposition to it, such as street level bureaucrats, customary leaders, civil society organisations, religious leaders, business associations and armed groups.”

Applying this lens can also be useful to those researching INGOs and NGOs. These aid and development actors regularly claim to be working on ‘governance’, ‘good governance’ or the ‘governance of’ some population, public good or area of social life.

“Furthermore, a wealth of literature – sometimes termed aidnography – has shown how even the most quotidian of programmes justify their actions through appeals to popular or technocratic notions of progress or development. For these reasons, INGOs and NGOs often work through and themselves constitute forms of public authority.”

“Viewing INGOs and NGOs through a public authority lens is not really about assessing or evaluating their performance. Rather, it provides researchers with questions that explore how the kinds of development they are promoting in CAPs accord with their practices, how they are being received on the ground and how they may be affecting local power and politics.”

Based on forthcoming empirical research – Tom Kirk explains some of the questions a researcher using a public authorities lens may ask of these INGOs and NGOs, including service provision, social norms as well as organisational boundaries. Read more about them in the full story linked below.

This article was originally published by Tom Kirk on the Africa at LSE blog.

Fight against tuberculosis set back 12 years by Covid pandemic, report finds

This article was originally published on Global Development, The Guardian

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in nearly a 25% decrease in diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis around the world, according to research published in March 2021 by a coalition working to end TB.

Twelve months of Covid-19 has reversed 12 years of global progress against tuberculosis, worse than previously estimated.

“Due to the impact of the Covid pandemic on services, the number of people diagnosed and treated for TB in the worst-affected countries has dropped back to 2008 levels, said Stop TB Partnership’s executive director, Lucica Ditiu. A modelling study published last year estimated a setback of five to eight years.”

“The effect on countries has depended on their existing disease burden. Data from India and South Africa showed people infected with both TB and Covid-19 are three times more likely to die than those infected with TB alone, meaning preventive steps such as contact tracing and testing are essential in keeping rates low.”

Every year TB infects 10 million people and kills 1.5 million, more than any other infectious disease. Although Covid-19 overtook TB in 2020 as the most common cause of death from an infectious disease, TB still kills more people than Covid in low- and middle-income countries.

“Some countries have fought hard to reverse the setbacks. India’s health ministry, after seeing a 70% drop in TB notifications in the first four months of 2020, integrated TB outreach into Covid-19 programming.”

TB did not disappear when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Instead, people got distracted, health workers were redirected and health systems became overwhelmed, said India’s minister of health, Harsh Vardhan.

This article was originally published by Kate Hodal on Global Development, The Guardian.

The exclusion of women in Myanmar politics helped fuel the military coup

This article was originally published by The Conversation

Gabrielle Bardall Research Fellow, Centre for International Policy Studies, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa and Elin Bjarnegård, Associate Professor in Political Science, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study comment on the ongoing coup taking place in Myanmar.

“Myanmar’s decade-long period of political transition, peace-building and democratic elections fell short of freeing the country from military control. Despite its female leader, the exclusion of women throughout the failed transition to democracy is partly why Myanmar was unable to create deep institutional change.”

Originally published on The Conversation, Bjarnegård and Bardall review the transition of power in Myanmar, since Suu Kyi’s emergence to the present day coup, and reflect on the connections of women’s inclusion and sustainable peace.

“Gender can still help us understand politics in Myanmar, however — just not along these lines. Instead, a different story emerges by looking at the exclusion of women in key stages of the transition process. It is a tale of the persistence of patriarchal power throughout the decade of democratization.

Source: The Conversation