Kenya Starts Crackdown on Fake Charity Groups
July 15, 2003
Across Africa, fake AIDS charities, which often lack offices or phones, have sprung up. Experts say the impostors illustrate that while money is desperately needed to fight AIDS, so are programs to combat corruption and stimulate African economies.
Kenya's AIDS oversight body recently stopped financing four such groups, although none of the organizers has been apprehended. Another 10 are under investigation, and several hundred more nongovernmental organizations, including several dozen focused on AIDS, have been suspended for not properly documenting their spending. Experts say the bad apples represent only a small percentage of the 680 AIDS-related nongovernmental organizations in Kenya and of the hundreds of other community-based organizations working to combat the disease.
Not only mom-and-pop operations are accused of misspending. Kenya's National AIDS Control Council, which finances the country's AIDS fight, has itself been accused of mishandling funds marked for the disease. The anticorruption unit of Kenya's police force is currently investigating the group to determine whether it misspent $250,000 during the observance of World AIDS Day in 2001.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is doling out huge amounts across the developing world, still granted Kenya's government $37 million recently for its AIDS fight. Some of the money will go to the control council. But Jerry van Mourick, the regional representative of the Global Fund, said he has pressed Kenyan officials to track the money closely.
"We don't just write blank checks," van Mourick said. "A very important principle of the Global Fund is we need some assurances that the grant monies are being properly spent." The change in Kenya's political leadership is giving him and other donors some hope of increased oversight.
New York Times
07.10.03; Marc Lacey
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.