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Accepted Paper:

Volunteers and poor: community health workers in informal settlements in Nairobi  
Monica Bonaccorso (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Paper long abstract:

"65% of the Kenyan population lives in informal settlements, like rats, scrounging for food" The Daily Nation

This paper presents work in progress from 'With The Public in Mind', a research project funded by the Wellcome Trust (2007-2011). The paper focuses on the work of community health workers (CHWs) who are conceptualised by international governmental and non-governmental organisations as highly motivated 'volunteers'. As volunteers, they are unemployed, poor, suffer ill health and live in unsanitary conditions, yet they (knowingly and unknowingly) end up delivering major programmes on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Their work is crucial for the communities that under enormous constraints, and often fortuitous circumstances, receive some help. Their work is even more crucial for the governmental and non-governmental organisations engaging them. In order to hold on to their voluntary posts, CHWs must produce data which in turn account for the success of the programme itself. In other words CHWs play a pivotal role: they secure the well-paid jobs of those sitting in the offices by contributing to building the data that regenerates multi-million dollars grants. What is the role of public anthropology when faced with an example of rights that apply to one set of people only and exclude the other?

Panel W077
Public anthropology for a world in crisis
  Session 1