How bodies use HIV funds

Most of the non-governmental organizations that specialize in HIV/AIDS and health management cannot account for most funds allocated to them. Most of the funds are spent on unnecessary conferences and per diems, corruption monitoring agencies say.

According to Transparency International (TI) Kenyan chapter and the NGO Co-ordination Board of Kenya, the organizations only account for a small portion on the ground.

Jacob Otachi, a program officer with TI Kenya says that a big portion of the monies allocated by donors is spent on unnecessary conferences. Also big spending on allowances they award themselves for attending the meetings.
“The common man on the ground does not get access to any help. He still lives on deep poverty. When the organizations for instance write good smart proposals to donors, even the issue of per diems is not included in the write ups.

“They also do not state the exact amount of conferences that they will plan. The most important’ issue is how much money goes to the ground, is what mostly part of their write ups is all about.

“Interestingly for example, many switch from heath management to climate change when donors pledge for more cash on climate change initiatives. They end up abandoning their in-completed projects they had proposed to their donors,” says Otachi during an interview. Otachi is also compiling a similar field study on the subject for Transparency International.

Kenyan government has now de-registered over 200 non-governmental organizations since February, a big percentage of the organizations specialize in health, Mostly HIV-AIDS. The government has also published in its printer the list of the 200 NGOS it has de-registered recently.

“The organizations have not met financial obligations and that is worrying. They have not submitted their annual reports. They have not accounted for any of the funds. We have reinstated a few that submitted late,’ said Charles Mugo, a registrar at the NGO Co-ordination Board.

The board is a government agency that licenses all NGOs operating in Kenya, both local and international.

The board does not give an exact estimate of the amount of funds that are missing, but estimates them to be close to a billion dollars. The 200 organizations that the government has so far listed have not accounted for the missing funds. Otachi says that a big number of funds organizations spend are mostly on luxury goods such as cars and organization get aways. “It is very disturbing, despite extending our time to give them the chance to submit their annual reports, they ignore our hospitality,” said Mugo.

“Apart from not accounting for the money, the organizations have also breached the Non-Governmental Coordination Act of 1990. This Act defines the conduct of NGOs,” Mugo added.

As the organizations are now de-registered, institutions such as banks, donor organizations, government departments and also members of the public are advised by the board to deal with them at their own risk.

“Yes, the 200 NGOs that have had their certificates confiscated by the Board mismanaged funds. The funds are actually slightly more than a billion dollars. There is no hope of giving them back new certificates as they already have been gazetted in the government printer,’ said a source who wished not to be quoted who works at the Board.

The deregistered NGOs say that despite their operation certificates being cancelled by the NGO Board, they were not given adequate time to submit their financial reports. They complained of continuous harassment by the agency.

“The NGOS have violated terms and conditions attached on their certificates,” explained Mugo during the interview. Oasis of Mercy Foundation located in Rift Valley in Kenya, was one of the 200 organizations that had their certificates cancelled. The organization justified that it was not given adequate time to submit its annual report.

However, the NO Board insists that it did not submit its financial reports as expected by 31st May last year despite several please by the board. The NGO has completely been deregistered.

Some of the other organizations that are no longer operational include, Well of Hope International, the organization is also not operational. Other reasons for deregistration according to Mugo is that some organizations have given false addresses. Some based in the United States and the United Kingdom, the board notes.

The board has hinted that it may soon come up with guidelines that will be stricter in the near future on the registration of organizations.

Africa Wildlife Foundation was once had its certificate cancelled on December 17th 2010.

It did manage to submit its financial Report through a deadline extension by the government the following year. The 200 organizations had their certificates cancelled in February this year by the government through a government legal notice published in the government printer.