“Aid for change” – A study of the influence of Swedish aid on the local level in Rwanda

Published on December 1, 2012 | Author: Johan Wollin

This essay examines how Swedish aid affects local conditions in Rwanda. By analyzing how an NGO operating in Rwanda, Vi-Agroforestry, is affected by the guidelines set by Sida, the Swedish development agency, it shows how an instrumental orientation in aid may be ethically problematic, as well as a threat to its implementation. First the analysis focuses on Vi- Agroforestry Rwanda’s internal relations and how these are affected by the instrumental rationality, and then expands to discuss how their work in Rwanda is affected, and how this affects the farmers they are working with.


The study is based on empirical material collected during a three-month visit to Rwanda and Vi-Agroforestry. The analysis primarily makes use of Jürgen Habermas theories of the systems colonization of the lifeworld, and Erving Goffman’s theories on individuals’ self-presentation in society. Recurring throughout the paper is the relationship between an instrumental rationality and the processes of understanding that people rely on to create trust in interactions.


Wollin, J. (2012). “Aid for change” – A study of the influence of Swedish aid on the local level in Rwanda. Bachelor’s Thesis. Department of Urban and Rural Development. Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Uppsala.


Thesis in Swedish. Link to publication