Kenya Investigating Dozens of Nongovernmental AIDS Organizations in Fake Charity Crackdown
Kenya's National AIDS Control Council, the agency that coordinates the country's response to the AIDS epidemic, has recently cut off funding to four fraudulent nongovernmental AIDS organizations and is investigating another 10 organizations, the New York Times reports. In addition, the government recently suspended the operations of several hundred NGOs that did not have proper documentation for their funding; several dozen of those groups reportedly focused on AIDS-related activities, according to the Times. The large amount of money flowing into Africa to fight the escalating AIDS-related death toll "is more than sufficient to attract the attention of unscrupulous operators," the Times reports. Experts say that while more support for anti-AIDS activities is needed, so are programs that fight corruption and stimulate the African economy. "Ever since AIDS arrived on the scene, we've had all manner of people, some with no professional expertise, trying to elbow in on the pandemic," Frances Angila, head of Kenya's oversight group for NGOs, said, adding, "The potential for fly-by-night organizations is very high."
National AIDS Control Council Under Investigation
President Mwai Kibaki, who was elected in December 2002, has begun an anticorruption crackdown in the country, which some say is "riddled with corruption" after the 24-year presidency of Daniel arap Moi, according to the Times. Kibaki's efforts have, among other things, led to the investigation of the National AIDS Control Council. The group is accused of mishandling money allocated for the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the anticorruption unit of the Kenyan police is investigating whether the group misspent $250,000 during the observance of World AIDS Day in 2001. Despite the investigation, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently granted the government a $37 million grant to fight AIDS, with some of the money set to go to the council. However, Jerry van Mourick, the regional representative of the fund, said that he has urged Kenya to carefully track how the money is spent. "We don't just write blank checks," van Mourick said, adding, "A very important principle of the Global Fund is we need some assurance that the grant monies are properly spent" (Lacey, New York Times, 7/10).