The ambiguities of the ‘partnership’ between civil society and the state in Uganda’s AIDS response during the 1990s and 2000s as demonstrated in the development of TASO
This article critically investigates state-civil society relations in the Ugandan AIDS response by tracing the history of Uganda’s ‘multisectoral’ and ‘partnership’ approaches, particularly as it pertains to The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO).
It finds that the Ugandan government’s reputation for good leadership on AIDS is more ambiguous than commonly supposed and that the much-vaunted ‘partnership’ approach has not enabled strong critical civil society voices to emerge or prevented the harmful impact of a socially conservative agenda. By the 1990s, TASO had become the most important provider of medical and psychosocial support services to HIV/AIDS patients but was less effective in influencing policy or holding the state accountable (because the political context prevented a more activist stance). The effectiveness of civil society has been constrained by an authoritarian political culture and institutions that discourage vocal criticism. Despite these limitations, however, state-civil society partnership did contribute to the emergence of a relatively effective coalition for action against HIV/AIDS. Donors were essential in encouraging the emergence of this coalition.View full text
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