Original Research - Special Collection: Engaging Development

Hoist by our own petard: Backing slowly out of religion and development advocacy

Jill Olivier
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3564 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3564 | © 2016 Jill Olivier | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2016 | Published: 24 October 2016

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Jill Olivier, Health Policy and Systems Division, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

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There has been a massive advocacy movement over the last 15 years that has sought to advance the case of religion into view of decision-makers in the international development sector. This advocacy effort has been dispersed and not centrally organised, and is made up of the efforts of multiple development actors, religious institutions, researchers and others. This article shows how this advocacy approach has been highly successful in increasing acceptance of the fact that religion is relevant to development, and religious communities and institutions make contributions to the development effort – and this acceptance can now be seen at the highest levels. However, the article highlights several challenges that have come with this advocacy approach. It therefore supports urgent reflection on the direction of this advocacy going forward and suggests that major and uncomfortable adaptations might now be required.


religion; faith; development; FBO; advocacy; international development; HIV/AIDS


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