Nudging government along, complementing and sometimes substituting for official programmes, have been efforts by mission hospitals, churches, NGOs, community-based organisations and concerned individuals. This response has reflected a genuine outpouring of compassion and concern for fellow human beings as well as an attempt to channel anxiety in productive ways and gain some control over an unwelcome and frightening threat to well-being. The dynamics of these non-official or non-governmental responses bear some resemblance to those which occurred in North America and Europe during this same period.
In the African context, however, community action was not so much a consequence of the vacuum left by governments, initially unwilling to acknowledge the threat of the crisis and to come to the aid of a section of the population already stigmatised by what some regarded as aberrant sexuality. There was considerable denial among the ranks of government officers in African countries, as elsewhere, followed by scapegoating and finger pointing. However, the fundamental problem was less unwillingness to act than lack of resources, exacerbated even further by the effects of structural adjustment directives.
Collective action at community level has been encouraged in Tanzania and Zambia, as across much of the continent, precisely because of the limited capacity of governments to meet the needs engendered by the emergency. However, those at the ‘grassroots’ are also hampered by limited resources. ...Show more