Economic Empowerment Project

Photo by Suzanne Maman

Photo by Suzanne Maman

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GGG_tanzania_projectPreventing intimate partner violence and the spread of HIV through economic empowerment in Tanzania

A project in Tanzania’s capital led by a Gillings professor aims to reduce the spread of HIV and stop intimate partner violence. The project targets young men ages 15-19 for microfinance opportunities coupled with education about relationships, violence and high-risk sex.

The project works in areas where poverty and HIV rates are high and young unemployed men congregate in social groups known as “camps”, a cross between a gang and a fraternity. Read More

Dr. Suzanne Maman, professor of health behavior at the Gillings School, has studied HIV and violence in Africa since 1994. Violence is linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS because violent men are more likely to use alcohol, have more than one sexual partner, and resist condom use with their partners However, where poverty is rampant, the unemployment rate among young men is over 40%, and people live from moment to moment, health education programs to curb violence and sexual risk are not enough. To motivate young men to reduce risk and make big changes in their lives, they need positive goals for their future.  They need hope.

Most traditional microfinance programs have aimed their small loans at women’s groups, since women are widely perceived to use the money more productively and be more likely to pay back the loan.  A feasibility study conducted by Maman and her colleagues in Tanzania provides evidence that men can pay back these loans.  Maman’s program offers young men’s groups in the “camps” business training and small loans to support entrepreneurship. The micro-loans support the groups to increase their income-generating activities and build small businesses.

The groups who receive loans also have leaders among their members who are trained as health promoters.  These health leaders engage the other young men  in discussions about power and control, violence, and HIV.  They challenge the men to set goals for themselves and form more respectful, caring relationships.

With support from the National Institutes of Health, the study is being evaluated through a randomized controlled design among 60 camps in Dar es Salaam.  The study is being conducted in collaboration with Muhimbili University and will  involve about 1300 young men. The evidence that emerges from this work will have far-reaching impact as a model for reducing the dual risks of violence and HIV/AIDS transmission in low-income communities.

Project Team


Sponsored by: National Institute of Mental Health

Total funding: $2,672,005


In The News

Suzanne Maman in Tanzania

Maman awarded NIMH grant to expand HIV and partner violence efforts in Tanzania