Accepted paper:

Governmentality and practices of subjectivation in Ethiopia: public health, developmental state and community participation


Alessia Villanucci (Comitato Collaborazione Medica)
Emanuele Fantini (IHE Delft Institute for Water Education)

Paper short abstract:

The paper reflects on the relationship between health policies and processes of subjectivation in Ethiopia. The analysis of the “Women Development Army”, a participatory strategy recently introduced in rural areas, will enlighten the overlapping roles between state, NGOs and local communities.

Paper long abstract:

In the development strategies undertaken by the Ethiopian federal government, the practices inspired by the Marxist-Leninist doctrine and developed in Tigray during the armed struggle merge with neoliberal discourses proper of the good governance agenda and with the centralized tradition of the Ethiopian imperial state, enacting the creative production of governmental techniques. In the rural areas, the health system decentralization is directed towards the extensive diffusion of the Primary Health Care and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on maternal and child health. Government policies, implemented either with foreign donors direct support to local budgets (PBS) or with funds specifically allocated to the health sector, seem to be heavily influenced by the international discourse on participatory development. The paper will reflect on EPRDF's (the power coalition) governance strategies, through the analysis of the "Women Development Army". The WDA is a health and development strategy recently introduced, which combines top-down and bottom-up approaches and is officially addressed to the empowerment and (self-) organization of women in order to implement the central government's programs in the rural districts. The preliminary results of a comparative research conducted in two Ethiopian Regions - Tigray and Oromia - will be presented with the aim to reflect on the ways in which the EPRDF's developmental-state policy intervenes in the production of processes of subjectivation. The exploration of the power relations shaping the "health arena" will show the indistinctness of the boundaries and the overlapping roles between state, NGOs and local communities.

panel P129
Health and governance in sub-Saharan Africa