Ethical Storytelling, 'Do-gooders and Do-besters', aid workers fatalities in Syria, and more

Posted on 25 February 2020

+ Coronavirus update and 'fake news'

'Facebook is removing bogus information about coronavirus cures and prevention methods. Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook's head of health, explains how the company is working with the World Health Organization and what else needs to be done, writes Michael Igoe at Devex.

'Following the emergence of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and the proliferation of bad information about it, the social media giant has already begun removing bogus information about cures and prevention methods.'

Facebook will then direct people to credible advice and information.

As international relief and aid organisations are developing responses to the threat of novel coronavirus in Africa. But only a few international NGOs are directly engaging in the epicentre of the public health crisis in Wuhan, China.

The Chinese government has eased visa restrictions on aid organisations since the outbreak of the virus at the end of December, but it remains complicated for new groups to join prevention and treatment efforts.

Meanwhile, medical journal The Lancet has released a study ranking the vulnerability of African countries to the highly contagious respiratory disease. The New Humanitarian unpacks the findings here.
Additional countries are taking measures to halt the spread of Coronavirus, as the World Health Organisation suggests the spread of the disease is at a global tipping point.

Turkey, Armenia and Pakistan have closed their borders with Iran as the latter reported more coronavirus infections and deaths, prompting neighbouring Afghanistan to also introduce travel restrictions. The measures introduced on Sunday came amid mounting  concern over the rise of cases outside of China, particularly in Italy and South Korea.

+ South Sudan - a New Agreement

Former South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar is now vice-president, a move that hopes to bring peace in a country facing massive food insecurity, reports Devex.

'In the past, other peace deals have not gone so well: "What you're facing now is trying to create a peaceful, stable country, while at the same time creating governance within. That's a momentous task," says Sophie Stecher, former senior analyst, U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

+ How to shift towards ethical storytelling

NGOs rely on the images and stories of the people they work with to communicate the impact of their work. These contributors generously share their images, experiences and perspectives to make our communications, fundraising and advocacy more powerful.

But many of the stories NGOs share perpetuate stereotypes about the developing world and portray these people as disempowered.

This episode of the Bondcast interrogates how NGOs can gather and deliver content more respectfully and ethically. 

Watch this 'classic', Chimamanda Adichie's first TED Talk on The Danger of A Single Story. 

Power decides what stories are told, when they are told, who tells them and this can perpetuate a 'single' flat version of the people described.

People then start to believe those single stories of poverty, for example, and this creates incomplete 'stories'. 'If they are very poor, they are very poor' and need to be rescued.

Read  and his blog

"Humanitarian photography really is a hybrid where we want to capture people in a way that is true to who they are, but we also want to help them transcend their circumstances and be seen as equal and valuable with the rest of the world."

Ethical representation is "where the goal is to help the world see the person we are photographing as someone who is worthy of respect and admiration despite their circumstances. Ethical representation is beyond obtaining consent to take the photo, and beyond making sure the subject understands how the photo will be used."

Also, have a look at Sisonke Msimang  - a global expert on effective storytelling - who also co-runs the Centre for Stories.  CID is hoping to bring Sisonke to New Zealand for the 2020 CID Annual Conference. 

Watch this space!

+ CID/MFAT Lunchtime Forum with Mark Lowcock - tomorrow

MFAT and CID are hosting a lunchtime seminar with Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

In the two years since he was appointed Head of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), he has successfully implemented widespread reforms designed to make OCHA more accountable, agile, effective and transparent. 

Date: Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Venue: MFAT (195 Lambton Quay, Wellington)

Please, RSVP here, and make sure to be on time. Places are limited.

+ To end poverty - 'focus on rural areas'

A greater proportion of the human population is wealthier today than at any other moment in history.

But some 600 million people still live in extreme poverty, a number greater than the entire population of the European Union, writes Homi Kharas and the Brookings Institute team.

"In several countries, poverty is actually increasing, not decreasing, while in others, poverty levels are falling but not nearly fast enough to reach SDG1 by 2030."

Eliminating extreme poverty is possible - that is, bringing it down to below 3 percent of the population in each country.

Key to being successful is understanding where the poorest live. Most of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. 

"Roughly two out of three people living in extreme poverty live in rural settings." 

+ 'Do-gooders and Do-besters'

How do you know you're not wasting money of feel good projects?

Doing cost/benefit analysis for where best to spend aid dollars can be controversial, but without it, you can't know if you're having the biggest impact possible.

More importantly, how do developing countries know your support is making  a difference?

Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus Centre (CCC) has done prioritisation projects for the African Union, India, Ghana, Bangladesh and Haiti.

Each project is led by local governments and/or organisations (like the African Union) and community groups. The idea is to give developing countries control over the problem definition, and the list of possible 'solutions', and reverse the trend of donors setting the agenda (according to what ever is the fashion of the day).

CCC collects lists of policies from government, community and business - then crunches the data with Nobel prize-winning economists and local experts, and comes up with a cost/benefit analysis (of economic, social and environmental costs and benefits).

In Africa for example, CCC found that extending a pan-African fast train across the continent would only return 3 cents of development impact for each dollar spent, wrote the Economist. 

Far more effective in the short term was vaccinations against Rotavirus - returning a whopping $126 dollars of impact for every dollar spent.

The most effective development intervention by far?

Family planning.

+ * Don't forget  - The Localisation Survey *

The new year starts with a call to combine our passion for global development with a solid evidence-based approach and an open attitude to learn from each other and from our own mistakes.

Assessing the current status of NZ INGOs' understanding of localisation is crucial to identify the obstacles, what good practice looks like, and what could be the catalysts for change.

The survey link was sent to all CID members' CEOs. Please, complete the survey by Friday 28th February 2020.

+ UN investigators now based in NZ

Sean and Jaydene Buckley, both former UN investigators, are now based in Blenheim where they run their global organisation - Osaco Group.

Osaco is one of the newest members of CID, and one of the only businesses in the world that specialises in independent investigation into corruption, fraud and sexual assault within the humanitarian sector. 

Stuff profiled the company here.

With 20 consultants around the world, OSACO investigates and makes findings based on the data they collect. 

Sean took up his first role with the UN in 2005, dealing mostly with cases of child exploitation and sexual assault committed by UN peacekeepers, in places such as Liberia and Somalia, writes Sophie Trigger.

The methodology for investigations, whether it be political assassinations in Lebanon, or a missing $50 from the finance officer's top drawer, remains the same.​ 

In December 2017, the OSACO Group investigated allegations of sexual assault committed by Mick Lorenzten from the UN's World Food Programme, who was then removed. 

They have also worked in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Pakistan, East Africa, the Congo - as well as the USA and Europe.

+ United Nations Association NZ - Public Speaking Award

The United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) has launched the 2020 Public Speaking Award for secondary school students. UNA NZ has held regional secondary school speech awards for over 30 years. 

Regional events will be held in late March/April and branch winners will be funded to attend the National Conference on 8th May 2020 in Wellington to compete on a national level.

The 2020 competition topic is “Are the reasons for establishing the United Nations in 1945 still relevant today?”, and speeches are to be 6 to 8 minutes. Students must make a particular reference to the aims, work and aspirations of the United Nations.

Register directly at  

For more information contact

+ The CID Weekly is Proudly Sponsored By
Direct Impact Group supports organisations to maximise their social impact, because changing the world isn't easy, and in dynamic times this work is more important than ever.

+ Aid workers fatalities in Syria

Three Syrian aid workers have been killed in recent days – one in northwestern Idlib province, and two in the southwestern Dera’a area. Last week, the UK wing of NGO Oxfam condemned the 19th February in Dera’a, saying that an unidentified armed group had killed two Oxfam staff in a vehicle travelling between the towns of Nama and al-Yadudah.

The aid worker deaths are the first in Syria in 2020, according to the Aid Worker Security Database

Since the Syrian civil war began, 238 aid workers have been killed in the country. Syria accounted for a third of 379 deaths over the 2017-2019 period. 

Reports show how locally-engaged humanitarian staff are increasingly bearing the brunt of the vast majority of security incidents and fatalities. 
Oxfam UK has condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms. “It is essential that aid workers are able to get lifesaving assistance to civilians without being attacked themselves.”

+ CID Events

+ Other Events Coming Up
+ CID Activities
  • Scoping CID Talks events
  • Preparations for CID Humanitarian Network meeting (27th February)
  • Preparation for CID board meeting
  • Advocacy research started
  • CID Safeguarding Tool concept note drafted
  • CID Strategy and Constitutional Review process started
  • Storytelling workshop design started


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