A Special Note Regarding ‘Top of the Morning’: DAWNS Grant Winners Announced

The posts you see in this section every day are drawn from the Top Stories section of DAWNS Digest, which is a separate project from UN Dispatch. DAWNS Digest is an email based humanitarian news clipping service–we don’t publish it online, but I thought Dispatch readers would appreciate seeing the top stories from DAWNS Digest. So, ‘Top of the Morning’ was born last fall.

The blogger Tom Murphy and I are the co-founders of DAWNS Digest.  We offer two daily editions of the digest: a GMT edition (which arrives in boxes by 5 am GMT) and an EST edition (which arrives by 9 am EST). After a free month trial of the service, we ask our subscribers to sign up for $2.99/month or $29.99/year.  Here’s the kicker: we use our revenue to fund a micro grant program to support humanitarian storytelling.

In January we began soliciting applications for two $500 storytelling grants. The response was amazing. We received about 300 applications, which we whittled down to 9 amazing finalists. We then asked our community of subscribers vote on their favorite applications–after all we are only able to issue these grants because of these subscribers.

Yesterday we were very proud to announce the two winners of our pilot grants: Kafa Al-Hashily and Alanah Torralba.

Kafa is a Yemeni journalist (where, she noted, there are not too many female reporters). Her proposal is for a reporting project about people displaced by conflict in southern Yemen. The $500 grant will help cover some of the expenses of this project, including transportation, lodging and, out of neccesity, hiring a male fixer.  Alanah is a photographer who is documenting breast cancer survivors in the Philippines. She will use the $500 toward the purchase of a new camera lens, specifically a Canon EF 35mm f/2.

Click on the links to read more about their projects. I am very excited for them.

We are able to issue these two grants because enough people had signed up to receive our news clippings service.  I copied the full version of today’s EST edition. If you think this is something you might be interested in landing in your inbox everyday and/or if you think our project is worthy of support, peruse the DAWNS Digest website and sign up! We want to issue more grants for more money more often, but we need to first boost our subscriber rolls to afford it.


Top Stories

Adios, Robert Zoellick

The head of the World Bank is stepping down this spring. The race to succeed him begins and the rumor mill spins the names of Hillary Clinton or Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers. “Recently, countries like Brazil, India and China — with their rapid economic growth and growing political clout on the global stage — have pushed for a more open, transparent and inclusive selection process. Aid and international development organizations have also railed against the old guard’s outsize influence. ‘Whoever becomes the president needs to be seen as legitimate around the world,’ said Nancy Birdsall, the president of the Center for Global Development in Washington. ‘The emerging markets — we need to bring them into the multilateral fold, to have them engaged not as victims or recipients or problems, but as real actors whose decisions matter.’ The World Bank’s leadership has committed to opening up the presidential selection process, and the Group of 20 countries has stated its commitment to ‘support new open, transparent and merit-based selection processes for the heads and senior leadership’ of the funds and banks that support financial stability and development in recent communiqués. But in practice, that has not yet resulted in a big change at the top.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/zeU7Ng)

“Humanitarian Corridor” Proposal for Syria Gains Some Momentum

France and Turkey have proffered the idea of establishing a “humanitarian corridor” to bring aid and assistance to suffering civilians in Syria. The idea sounds like it would be a non-starter, considering that it may involve foreign troops on Syrian soil–something that the Russians are very keen to avoid. But then we read something like this: “The United Nations can play a role in bringing the Syrian conflict to a halt as long as outside intervention isn’t imposed and opposition fighters also agree to a cease-fire, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.Russia is willing to talk about establishing a so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’ in Syria when foreign ministers meet in Vienna tomorrow, Lavrov told reporters in the Austrian capital. A corridor for aid to be delivered to embattled cities has been proposed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Milliyet newspaper reported yesterday. ‘Intervention from the outside won’t solve this problem,’ Lavrov said today. His comments, made in Russian, were translated into German. ‘Only intensive dialogue within Syria will bring about a solution.’” (Bloomberg http://buswk.co/zD6ziZ)

More on the Syria Crisis

CNN’s Arwa Damon is one of the few foreign journalists in Homs right now (as the Siege enters its 13th day. She is doing a masterful job reporing from the Siege of Homs it is worth readering her reports, and if you are on Twitter, follow @ArwaCNN (CNN http://bit.ly/yqUEcE)

The UN General Assembly will take up a resolution condemning the human rights crackdown in Syria. Watch out for a lopsided vote. (Bloomberg http://bloom.bg/wgyhLs)

Horn of Africa

Ethnic clashes in Isiolo, Kenya have displaced hundreds of people in the past few days. (IRIN http://bit.ly/xVZfRJ)


At least 16 people have died as the result of the category 4 Cyclone Giovanna that has struck Madagascar. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/w3i6jt)

Teargas was fired at protesters in Dakar, Senegal who made it within blocks of the presidential palace. (AP http://yhoo.it/ykMrhe)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is requesting $7.9 billion from parliament to fund an oil pipeline. (WaPo http://wapo.st/w9bn7j)

South Sudanese who were fired from working in the Sudanese government blocked a major road in the capital city of Khartoum. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/yAYcay)

As aid begins to arrive to support people in Mali, aid agencies must also navigate the conflict between the Tuaregs and the Malian army. (IRIN http://bit.ly/yuJq2X)

The government of Zimbabwe suspended 29 aid groups in Masvingo province just ahead of local elections. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/AjI3mo)

Global Witness warns that the diamond trade could fuel violence in Zimbabwe’s future elections. (VOA http://bit.ly/z9MGu9)

A new study from the World Bank says that early education for children in Mozambique had a strong positive affect on the children and their families. (Global Post http://bit.ly/AEeana)

IFRC warns of cholera following in the wake of recent flooding in Mozambique. (IFRC http://bit.ly/yD3q4Z)

Middle East and North Africa

Europe was making moves to boycott Iranian oil. But guess what? Iran looks like it may presumptively embargo itself by cutting oil supplies to 6 European countries. (NYT http://nyti.ms/xeC35p)

120 protesters have been injured during clashes with the government in Bahrain this week. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/yIaKxL)

Libya: Amnesty International is accusing Libyan militias of torturing detainees deemed to support the Gaddhafi regime. (ABC http://abcn.ws/xVyVLa)

A school bus collided with a truck north of Jerusalem on Thursday, killing at least eight Palestinian children. More than 30 other people were reported injured. (Global Post http://bit.ly/yg16OU)

Yemen: With a renewal of clashes between the two sides, the peace agreement signed one week ago between the Houthis and the Islah Party has failed. (Yemen Times http://bit.ly/whEg8I)


The bombs found in Thailand are similar to the one that was used in the attack on the Israeli ambassador in India. (AP http://yhoo.it/wi75Am)

The prime minister of India told the state-run coal mining giant that it will guarantee 20 years of supplies to private power producers to help alleviate chronic energy shortages. (AFP http://yhoo.it/y3hwVM)

Political unrest in Maldives has a price tag: $100 million is expected to be lost in tourism cancellations and changed plans. (AFP http://yhoo.it/zup6Fp)

A fake news report placing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin under arrest has become an online hit, getting nearly 3 million views in just three days. (AP http://bit.ly/wr7mUt)

The Americas

The death toll has soared to over 350 in a prison fire in Honduras. (Reuters http://reut.rs/ArNZr9)

A collision between a passenger train and a maintenance engine in São Paulo, Brazil left 38 people injured and two in critical condition. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/z9BXO4)

Aid agencies are advocating for the US government to change the way that it sources its food aid. (AlertNet http://bit.ly/xfn6Qq)

Why Sean Penn cares about The Falklands. (LAT http://lat.ms/ySMu9k)


Assumpta Ndumi of Save the Children explains the burden that childhood malnutrition is placing on millions of lives and countries. (Al Jazeera http://aje.me/w74Y94)

A shot of an energy dink = one meal for a hungry child? Chris Blattman is miffed at the rapper 50 Cent’s promotion. ( Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/zK0wob)

A critique of Oxfam’s newly released plan that uses a donut as a part of the metaphor for the plan. Eduardo Gudynas argues that the idea may be derived from a ‘Western’ idea of development. “The social and environmental crisis is so serious that it is now time to put aside minor adjustments and reforms, and instead address the root causes of resistance to the idea of development. We must adopt an approach whereby the term ‘sustainable development’ no longer requires the suffix ‘development’. The civil society programme in Rio+20 should not focus simply on fixing the superficial problems of development: it is necessary to look for alternatives to the entire body of ideas about development. In this effort, the ethical dimension is key, and this point appears in the references to the norms of the doughnut. But here also it is necessary to delve a little further into the ingredients of this recipe.” (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/wEZf0A)

On the lighter side: A chart of the world’s languages thanks to the Economist: http://econ.st/zmzSwU