HANS P BINSWANGER-MKHIZE - Agriculture and Rural Development

Scholar - Program Designer - Activist
Agricultural and Rural Development - HIV and Aids - HIV Children

In the early sixties, at the time that ex-colonies became developing countries, intuition suggested that agricultural and rural development were critical for their poverty reduction. I decided to acquire skills in agricultural sciences and economics to equip myself to work in this area. (link to curriculum vitae) At the end of my studies I had become a skilful researcher, and was fortunate to focus almost exclusively on research for the next 17 years. While my scholarship was always focused on policy and program questions, the impact was indirect, and I longed for an involvement with a more direct impact. In the late 1980s therefore I became the manager of the World Bank’s agricultural and rural development (ARD) program in Mexico and Central America, a Region that was emerging from economic crisis and/or civil war. This gave my team and me a lot of scope in helping redesign agricultural and food policies in the Region, land policies, and rural development programs. From scholar I became a designer of policies and programs, an activity I have been involved ever since.My role as an activist started with a decision in 1992 to initiate the foundation of a gay and lesbian organization among the staff members of the World Bank, the first of its kind in an international organization (link to gay and lesbian rights).

This required that I had to make my gay orientation public. To our surprise we found the World Bank to be a hospitable place for sexual minorities: over a decade were granted all the rights of heterosexual couples.

In the early 1990s, with a better grounding in programs and policies, I returned to research on land policy and land reform, decentralization and community development, and political economy of agricultural and agrarian policies. My greatest involvement in policy and program design was when Alex McCalla asked me to draft the new ARD
strategy of the World Bank unveiled in 1997 (link to ARD strategy). With minor revisions has survived to this day.

In 1997 I was posted as the director for rural, social and environmental development in the Africa Region of the World Bank, going back to direct involvement in policy and program design. There I contributed greatly to the development of Local and Community-Driven Development as a program approach (link to Community-Driven Development).
Seeing that HIV and AIDS were ravaging rural areas in Africa, with only few and poorly designed programs to combat them, I decided to reveal my status as an HIV-positive person in order to influence the World Bank to scale up its HIV and AIDS programs.

Debrework Zewdie led this charge and we succeeded in brief succession to create an Africa-wide HIV and AIDS program, and convince the World Bank to start to finance HIV and AIDS treatment (link to HIV and AIDS). In my role as an HIV and AIDS activist I also pushed for the implementation of Work Place Policies and Programs in the
World Bank and to guarantee treatment to all its HIV-positive employees as early as 2000.

My activism in the area of gay and lesbian rights in Africa emerged started in 2002 when I tried to convince the World Bank to tackle the twin epidemics of HIV/AIDS and violence that continue to ravage sexual minorities in Africa. This is an uphill battle, because many African governments are still in denial of the existence of sexual minorities and the twin epidemics that confront them.

Finally in around 2003, while working in Zimbabwe and Uganda I started to push for the welfare of HIV infected and affected children. After initially arranging for treatment and orphan support individually, developed a small HIV Children
and Family Support Program in Zimbabwe and created and endowed the Community and Enterprise Development Against Stigma Trust (CEDAS Trust) to run the program. (external link to CEDAS Trust, internal link to Stigma). At this time the program supports 41 children and family members of which a total of 51 are HIV positive.

The program has faced many difficulties associated with the Zimbabwe political and economic crisis, but it now has solid foundations for a rapid expansion. Please help me save more children.

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