Fight for HIV/AIDS funding intensifies

Grace Muzila
Grace Muzila

Uproar over HIV/AIDS funding is intensifying after more Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) expressed displeasure at the selection criteria used to distribute the Global Fund (GF) monies.

Following its forum held in Palapye recently, Botswana Networks of People Living With HIV (BONEPWA), an umbrella body for HIV/AIDS support groups has joined in the fight for the funds to be received by four NGOs selected by the principal recipient (PR), the African Comprehensive HIV and Aids Programme (ACHAP).

The money is a donation from the GF for the fight against HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. With many local NGOs livelihood dependent on donors to carry out their programmes and stay relevant, they feel hard done by the decision by ACHAP to dismiss their proposals for the funding.

Just a week ago, Selebi-Phikwe Civil Societies’ Forum also accused ACHAP of unfairly dismissing many NGOs in favour of the four more established ones and called for re-tendering for the GF funding. ACHAP  selected Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme (BOCAIP), Kagisano Women Shelter and Tebelopele from the 89 who had applied for the funding. In their complaint letter that Mmegi is in possession of, Selebi-Phikwe CSOs had also called for the withdrawal of ACHAP as the principal recipient.

BONEPWA has also raised similar issues although now directing its complaints to the National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA). In the petition letter to NACA, BONEPWA called for re-tendering of the GF funding.

“BONEPWA is unhappy about the attitude adopted by the PR of the GF, the Botswana Country Coordinating Mechanism, and other role players in the processes of awarding the fund for HIV/TB programming,” read part of the petition.

Like the NGOs based in Selebi-Phikwe, BONEPWA laments that ACHAP’s decision was not guided by what is in the public interest and is consequently invalid. It also says that the PR’s nomination defeats the purpose of the GF, as it was irregular.

According to BONEPWA, the award sidelines people living with diseases, contrary to ‘the National Strategic Framework (NSF)’, and the recommendations of the ‘Botswana’s Strategy to Combat HIV/AIDS (Lessons for Africa and President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief - A Conference Report of the CSIS Task Force on HIV/AIDS (January 2004)’, both of which advocates for the involvement and participation of people living with diseases.

BONEPWA implored NACA in its petition not to allow ACHAP to deny Batswana opportunity to fight the scourge under the pretext of not being good at proposal writing, because there is evidence of the differences BONEPWA has achieved overtime in people’s lives. The director of NACA Grace Muzila confirmed receiving the petition this week. She, however, said they have looked at it and forwarded it to the Country Coordinating Mechanism, as they are the ones with the authority to deal with ACHAP over the matter. She said the matter is operational hence the CCM is best placed to address it.  “We come in at strategy level not operational level. We have no authority to summon ACHAP over the matter,” she said.

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