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Alicia Spector

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Country: USA
Background: Sociology

Sitting Allowances and Risk Perceptions and Prioritizations: An Exploration of the Effectiveness of Development Programs in the context of Sitting Allowances in Balaka, Malawi. 

Objectives: The purpose of this research project was to investigate everyday risk and worry perceptions among adults living in the Balaka district of Malawi. By prioritizing their everyday worries and risks, this study aimed to identify worrisome issues other than HIV that could act as a barrier to preventing the virus or voluntary participation in an HIV prevention program. This study aims to investigate the use of sitting allowances in relation to participant’s willingness to attend such capacity and developmental programs. From such, it aims to examine the consequences sitting allowances have on overall development both a national and international level.
Methods: A qualitative interpretivist research method was used in this study. Using a convenience sampling method, focus group discussions with local participants and key informant interviews with NGO workers were conducted to obtain data.
Results: In an area where HIV prevalence is 16.2 percent, the top three concerns listed by respondents were financial concerns, food insecurity and a lack of both proper shelter and education. These worries were mentioned up to three times more than worries about the risks of HIV.  Despite this, each participant agreed that they would be willing to attend an HIV prevention program. This apparent anomaly led the researcher to consider ‘sitting allowances’ – financial incentives received by attendees at such programs. Further research into sitting allowances found that the use of sitting allowances by NGO capacity and developmental programs are now an expectation rather than an incentive for participation. Sitting allowances are replacing the focus of meetings and trainings as the primary motivation for attendance. This motivation has and continues to create developmental implications such as competition between NGOs and overall issues of sustainability.
Conclusions: Sitting allowances are replacing the focus of meetings and trainings as the primary motivation for attendance. This motivation has and continues to create developmental implications such as competition between NGOs and overall issues of sustainability.

Keywords: HIV; risk perception; risk prioritization; Hierarchy of Need theory; sitting allowances
Word Count: 14, 961


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