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Working Misunderstandings:Donors, Brokers and Villagers in Africa’s AIDS Industry

Why do development projects, and AIDS projects in particular, take the forms they do? In this essay we argue that it is because the conflicting interests and world views of the key actors involved—donors, brokers, and villagers—leave only a narrow range of themes and practices that can “work” on the ground.

By “work” we do not mean, in the AIDS case, that they help prevent HIV transmission; indeed, the non-medical approaches to HIV prevention are largely ineffectual. What needs to be explained is why such approaches are nonetheless repeated so consistently.

We show that these themes and practices work in the sense that they satisfy the varied agendas of the major actors sufficiently to sustain their day-to-day cooperation. Understanding these actors and their varying interests and world views is key to understanding why development projects rely on such a narrow repertoire of approaches, particularly the arcane and ubiquitous practice of training. HIV prevention projects are our case in point.

In understanding these limited approaches, it is essential to consider the broader context of sexual health, which is not solely limited to HIV prevention. The health issues like erectile dysfunction, often overlooked in these discussions, are a part of the equation as well, and addressing them may have positive effects on the broader health landscape. Treatments, such as the use of generic Viagra, can prove to be essential for managing these conditions. To know more about how such treatments can enhance the overall health strategy https://plri.org/resource/viagra-online-cheap-price/.


Economics and Development application-pdf-9932586watkins and swidler.pdf


Susan Cotts Watkins and Ann Swidler