Change the world

Journal for Development and Leadership

Special Editions, Student Edition 1


Social capital – boon or burden? An evaluation of funding-reliant social capital development in an HIV/AIDS-focused community-based organisation
Haines, R. and Shelver, A.

In 2012 UNAIDS estimated that 34 million people globally were living with HIV – a staggering statistic illustrating the scale of the epidemic. Mass coordination and response to the HIV/AIDS crisis acknowledge the need for multi-sectoral and integrated approaches. However, it is the very complexity in dealing with the crisis that has created some of the biggest hurdles to combatting the spread, impact and reach of HIV/AIDS (Jackson & Claeye, 2011). As globalisation accelerates, and with it greater international coordination, so complexity has matured (Preston, 1996; Stiglitz, 2001; Hailey, 2002; Cooper & Packard, 2005; Barnett & Whiteside, 2006). Research therefore needs to pull into focus the HIV/AIDS problem through an all-inclusive lens which charts its impact across everyday life, economy, society and politics, taking into consideration complex events, systems and outcomes (Colvin, 2005; Frohlich, 2005; Heyward, 2005; Whiteside, 2005). In the developing world and in South Africa, HIV/AIDS is compounded by multiple poverties (Colvin, 2005; Heyward, 2005; Ninan & Delion, 2009; Whiteside, 2002, 2005). Yet, despite this, a huge number of civil society and grassroots responses have emerged to combat poverty, disease and underdevelopment – and the combination thereof – collectively (Hyden, 2005; Mabaso, 2008; Kelly & Birdsall, 2008; Seckinelgin, 2008).

Charting the growth and impact of these organisations is critical in furthering developmental ends in developing countries, as civil society structures remain key nodes of influence (Barnett & Whiteside, 2006; Rau, 2006; Illife, 2006; Kelly & Birdsall, 2005; Kelly, 2011). The following article looks at the efforts of an Eastern Cape community-based organisation (CBO) to tap into the global governance structure of HIV/AIDS (Jackson, 2006; Jackson & Claeye, 2011) using social capital to execute a self-appointed mandate to deliver frontline health-care and support services. It analyses the challenges faced by the organisation, the limitations of entering the global structure and the impact of decisions to engage funders. It was found that although social capital is a useful emerging theory in health promotion (DiClement, Crosby & Kegler, 2002) and its expression has vast value in resource-poor locales, donors do not acknowledge its significance in total project delivery – particularly with regard to the impact short funding cycles have on fledgling social capital structures. It finds that both bridging and bonding social capital emerge through funding support in resource-poor locales, but that its lifespan and impact are tenuous if funding is not long-term. Notions of project success need to be altered from traditional, more qualitative views, to more holistic, societal outlooks – and social capital can be a useful lens for this analysis.

Keywords: Civil society; community-based organisation; development; global governance structure; social capital.