Politics of HIV/ AIDS and Implications for Democracy in Kenya

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Taking the responses against HIV/AIDS as a political arena for the interaction between the state and civil society in Kenya, this book explores the relationship between the resulting mobilization against HIV/AIDS and the ongoing process of democratic consolidation in Kenya. Evidence from the country’s mobilization against HIV/AIDS in the early part of the 21st century reveals an explicit positive impact on the buildup of democracy in the country. This is mainly as a result of emergent institutional mechanisms in the response against the pandemic. While HIV/AIDS has been widely portrayed as a negative force to reverse political gains made in many sub-Sahara African countries in recent years, this book concludes that mobilization against this human catastrophe is inadvertently contributing to the process of democratic consolidation in Kenya. The book advances the ‘theory of democratic enrichment’ which makes the case that mobilization against an external shock can serve as an ‘enhancement’ as opposed to an ‘interruption’ for democratic consolidation.


“On the theoretical plane, the present work contributes to our understanding of the role of external shocks in the consolidation of fragile democracies. One would not wish the ravages of AIDS on any country, but it is not uncommon for a great crisis to elicit a noble human response. If popular participation and leadership accountability are the substance of democracy, the response to AIDS while belated, has clearly made Kenya more democratic. The full fruits of the institutional processes set in motion by this response will only be apparent in the years to come.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Paul Clements, Western Michigan University

“This is an intellectually astute and accessible discussion of an issue that has eluded many scholars of Africa and the HIV/AIDS scourge on the continent. With clear examples and using Kenya as a case study, the book offers a brilliant analysis of policy formulation in developing countries that emphasizes the role of ordinary people in claiming and widening democratic spaces even amidst adversity and political intolerance ... Many disciplines interested in issues of HIV and human rights will find the book useful, but it is an essential text in Comparative Political Science, Women’s Studies, International Development Studies, African Studies, and HIV/AIDS analyses.” – Professor Evan Mwangi, Northwestern University

“ ... This book includes a thorough historical background of post-independence Kenya, a well-documented history of HIV/AIDS and anti-HIV/AIDS policies in Kenya, a detailed analysis of the relationship between civil society and the state, a nuanced understanding of the interaction between culture and institutions, and a cautiously optimistic assessment of Kenya’s political future ... Professor Wambuii’s book will serve as both a touchstone to which future research on Kenyan politics must respond, and a model to be emulated by scholars researching the relationship between democratization and HIV/AIDS in other sub-Saharan countries.” – Professor Gregory W. Streich, Central Missouri State University

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Preface by Paul Clements
I. Introduction
II. Civil Society and the Search for Democracy in Kenya
III. The Evolution of HIV / AIDS as a Political Issue
IV. Setting the Grounds for Change: How HIV / AIDS Relates to Democracy in Kenya
V. Assessing Institutional Change in Kenya: The Emergent Institutional Mechanisms for Response to HIV / AIDS
VI. The Responses to HIV / AIDS and Implications for Democracy in Kenya
VII. Conclusionary Notes

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