SELEBI-PHIKWE: Lack of donor funding has resulted in some community service organisations (CSOs) closing shop, thus impacting on the linkages they were providing to the area to supplement government efforts in addressing HIV/AIDS.
The country at large has been facing a challenge of donor fatigue because Botswana is believed to me a middle-income economy.
In Selebi-Phikwe, where there is the highest HIV prevalence rate, the impact of lack of funding from donors was experienced around 2013 that resulted in more than five support groups collapsing. A few remaining have had to downsize their operations, or on the fringes of existence with very little money to effectively run their operations.
Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) that works hand-in-hand with Silence Kills Support Group to provide testing of the key population and their enrolment on treatment have closed their local office and those who were getting services from them have been transferred to government facilities. Already there are challenges of resistance to go to government facilities, hence there is non-compliance to treatment. The District AIDS coordinator Shathiso Daki told Mmegi that the government has been working with the CSOs to effectively supplement efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
He said these organisations are mostly supported by international donors, but support from donors is coming in drips and drabs. He added that some organisations that closed down as a result of lack of funding are Men, Sex and AIDS, Emang Basadi, Lesea Bokamoso Society, Children, Women and HIV and Positive Living Support Group, amongst others. He explained that the support groups have targets that they work on as per the donor’s specifications.
He said Selebi-Phikwe has priority issues, but the support groups are compelled to focus on the targets specified by the donor.
He noted that the closure of some of the support groups obviously impacts on service delivery because most of them complement government efforts by reaching places it cannot reach, including conducting home visits.
They had mobilisers who provided counselling, monitoring treatment adherence and conducting follow-ups on defaulters and also did outreaches most of the time.
“Currently there is not enough capacity to effectively deliver on that,” he said.
He added that the challenge sometimes becomes that the funds are not enough for them to effectively implement those targets.
“Financial challenges are there and support groups do not have enough resources, hence they end up collaborating for some programmes so that they can be able to share available resources to target the community.
Lack of donor funding affects the CSOs’ daily operations. We, however, cannot fold our arms, but instead encourage each other in order to achieve our mandate to ensure testing and dissemination of available programmes to the community,” he said. Daki said they engage members of the inactive support groups for their activities because they still have the passion to serve the community.
“We also assist them to apply for funding whenever there are calls for proposals so that they can be able to implement their programmes when their applications are successful,” he said.
The District AIDS coordinator dispelled fears that even remaining CSOs could close down at some point owing to lack of funding because there are priority areas that donors target. They target specific programmes.
‘We continue to engage the defunct ones and encourage them to find other ways to sustain themselves because impact
Theirs was a home-based approached to assist orphans who then were many because there were no ARVs.
However in 2009, they scanned the environment and realised that Form 3 failures did not proceed to O’levels, hence they started a women empowerment project to address incidences of teenage pregnancy that came about as a result.
According to association’s chief executive officer (CEO) Sinah Teemane, they were funded by the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) to the tune of P600,000 for Kgaola Chaene project and later another P1.2 million.
They received other donations even from the European Union (EU) as years passed by.
During 2015-2016 financial year, they received a cash injection of P1 million and P100,000 small grant from EU followed by P132,000 from the American Embassy. However, in 2016 their donor Skillshare International became insolvent, but EU came to their aid with P450,000 medium-size grant and last year August, they were funded to the tune of P200,000 for Positive Action for Girls and Women project.
Currently, the association is still struggling to secure funds from donors and it is three months since they received their salaries. Out of the 11 proposals they submitted for funding, nine have been rejected and only two are promising.
“Competition amongst support groups is also high, so we have to partner as smaller organisations so that we can be able to compete for funding with big organisations around the world,” she said.
Teemane indicated that there are projects that they are working on, but are crippled by lack of funds. One such project is targeting children abandoned in BCL houses and hostels without parental guidance as parents have relocated to look for greener pastures after the Mine’s closure. “The situation is so touching as we have already registered the highest number of teenage pregnancies soaring at 128 between April 2017 and March 2018. We have also recorded high numbers of rape cases which stand currently at 62 and 22 defilement cases during the same period,” she said.
She said that they have since embarked on a project called Building Community Competence On Addressing Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Issues Amongs Adolescents in which they work hand-in-hand with the traditional leadership.
They even educate church leaders and traditional doctors as well as conduct house-to-house campaigns to sensitise the community.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity due to lack of funding. There is a serious challenge for orphans because they do not have proper parental guidance. We would, however, continue with economic empowerment once funds are available.
“Currently, there are just no funds to push the projects and we are appealing to Good Samaritans to assist so that we address the challenges Selebi-Phikwe faces,” she said.