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 Sunday 15 July 2007
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MALAWI: Accounting for AIDS funding no small matter

Photo: IRIN
The move could jeopardise the efforts of CBOs
LILONGWE, 14 May 2007 (PlusNews) - Smaller AIDS organisations in Malawi are in the spotlight after a recent move by the National AIDS Commission (NAC) to suspend their financial aid because many cannot account for the funds allocated to them.

But community-based organisations (CBOs) have warned that the NAC's decision could jeopardise their efforts to curb the spread of the epidemic in a country with one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. Over 30 CBOs have failed to account for money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, distributed by the NAC.

Malawi has 27 districts and a budget for HIV/AIDS activities is allocated to each, depending on its size and population. Most CBOs work closely with local government district assemblies to implement their interventions.

"Some of the CBOs in Karonga [district] cannot do their work because NAC has suspended funding on allegations that they swindled money meant for HIV/AIDS programmes. The problem is with NAC as well, because they just give out money to organisations without even finding out properly how accountable these CBOs are," said an official from Karonga District Assembly, who asked not to be named.

Many CBOs who start local HIV/AIDS interventions have no experience of running an organisation, and struggle to write funding proposals or report to donors. Organisations such as the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA), an umbrella body of faith-based organisations (FBOs), are calling on the NAC to assist them in managing their financial resources.

Rev Francis Mkandawire, chairman of the MIAA's board of trustees, told IRIN/PlusNews: "We are aware that a number of organisations fail to account for NAC funds, but most of them do not really know how to properly write how the money was spent because they do not have receipts; but this does not mean that they have misused the money."

The donor community and bodies such as NAC, also had a responsibility to build the capacity of CBOs, pointed out Donald Makwakwa, programme officer for the Malawi National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MANASO). "The organisations that are giving the money to the CBOs ... are not training them on how to manage the funds properly ... some of the people managing the funds have no knowledge of how they can account for them," he said.

The CBOs have also accused the NAC of delaying payments to projects that qualified for funding, and have expressed concern that such interruptions and delays pose a serious threat to their continued existence.

"I would like to call upon NAC to review their funding procedures. Most of our FBOs fail to access funds from NAC because their process takes too long. We cannot wait over five months to have the money from NAC even after the proposal for funding has met all the criteria. People are dying and we need to be on the ground to do the work," said Kettie Gondwe, an MIAA programme officer.

NAC Executive Director Bizwick Mwale warned that a lack of accountability could lead to lack of funding. Robert Chizimba, acting head of behaviour change at the NAC, acknowledged the work done by smaller organisations such as CBOs and FBOs, and stressed that the NAC would be willing to support projects "as long as they meet all the criteria."


Theme(s): (IRIN) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report
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