GABORONE—Four major HIV/AIDS network organisations are dismayed by events surrounding the possible withdrawal of the remaining US$9.5 million (54 million pula) of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant for Botswana.
The Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme (BOCAIP), the Botswana Network of AIDS Service Organisations (BONASO), the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), and the Botswana Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (BONEPWA) have continually engaged in significant efforts to salvage the grant.
These four organisations have been extremely disappointed by media reports in which the Coordinator of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) repeatedly claimed that it was the failure of non-governmental organisations to report on the grant that created problems for the management of the Global Fund.
In fact, knowing that the disbursement of the fund was based on performance, BOCAIP, BONASO, BONELA and BONEPWA have been regularly submitting verifiable reports for the past two years to the Botswana grant’s principal recipient, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, as well as to NACA.
The HIV/AIDS organisations did not know until early 2006 that their reports were not consolidated into a larger Botswana country report, which itself was never submitted as it should have been, according to Global Fund rules. The submission of a country report was a requirement for Botswana to receive its next installment of funding.
While the Government asserted the problems with the grant were the fault of the non-governmental HIV/AIDS organisations, Government itself has not had proper management systems for the fund in place. It was not until April 2006 that it became known that NACA had not submitted any acceptable reports to the Global Fund.
In good faith, the HIV/AIDS organisations agreed not to apply for the last round(Round 6)of available Global Fund grants because they were under the impression that the Government would deal with the reporting crisis urgently and responsibly. While NACA continued to issue statements to put the blame on non-governmental organisations, it emerged that the Government did not do much to improve on weaknesses in its own management systems.
In regards to Botswana’s Global Fund grant, a great deal has not yet been explained. Among the unanswered questions are:
- What steps did Botswana’s principal recipient (the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning)take after realising that the reports had not been submitted to the Global Fund?
- The NACA Coordinator recently stated in the media that the Government is now making changes to the system of monitoring the distribution of funds to AIDS organisations. It is understood that new guidelines for funding HIV organisations have been developed, but what changes have been made to improve the structure of the management system to distribute and monitor funding? Why were these structural changes not in place at the time the grant was received?
- A significant percentage of Global Fund money was intended to be used by Government agencies.What happened to this funding and how well was it used and accounted for?