Multiple accountabilities: development cooperation, transparency, and the politics of unknowing in Tanzania’s health sector

Noelle Sullivan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Accountability and transparency are considered best practices within development cooperation frameworks characteristic of global health practice today. In this article, I ask: How do accountability and transparency work, and for whom? I develop three main arguments. Drawing on Geissler’s concept ‘unknowing,’ I first demonstrate that global health actors are aware, yet strategically obscure, the instabilities and problematics of data and indicators in Tanzania. Second, I suggest that multiple and contradictory forms of accountability are pursued by global health actors, while this multiplicity is often unspoken in order to render accountability frameworks legitimate to sustain the existing development cooperation system. Third, I argue that foreign and Tanzanian actors within the health sector perpetuate accountability and development cooperation frameworks which are neither cooperative, nor accountable to citizens and purported beneficiaries of aid, because doing so allows actors to pursue interests often unrelated to formal policy goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2017



  • Tanzania
  • accountability
  • ethnographic fieldwork
  • global health
  • transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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