NGOs protest move to deprive them of HIV funds

At stake is the Sh42.7 billion grant from the Global Fund.

In Summary

• Civil society organisations could miss money from Global Fund, which relies largely on the Kenya Aids Strategic Framework (KASF) to disburse funds.

• The KASF is a five-year guide for the country’s response to HIV at both national and county levels.  

Communities in Migori town march to mark Worlds Aids Day in 2019.
Communities in Migori town march to mark Worlds Aids Day in 2019.

The National Aids Control Council will meet civil society groups on Friday over the proposed national HIV strategy.

The groups complained that the proposals lock them out of future donor funding. They said the draft Kenya Aids Strategic Framework (KASF) for 2020-25 provides no role for civil society in combatting HIV.

The draft has transferred all activities previously carried out by civil society organisations (CSOs) to the council and the National Aids and STI's Control Programme (Nascop) — both run by the Ministry of Health. 

This means CSOs may miss part of the Sh42.7 billion 2021-24 grant from the Global Fund, which relies largely on KASF to disburse the funds.

In the existing 2018-21 Global Fund grant, Kenya was awarded Sh33 billion, from which CSOs received at least Sh3.85 billion, channelled through the Kenya Red Cross Society. 

The 61 groups refused to validate the draft KASF II when it was brought to them on May 8.

"The KASF-II version presented for validation fails to comply with the principle of the multi-sectorial approach that has been a core pillar of the HIV response in Kenya," they said in a protest letter to the NACC director Dr Nduku Kilonzo. 

On Wednesday, Dr Kilonzo told the Star HIV response in Kenya must always be all-inclusive. 

"We are having a consultative meeting following this letter on Friday for clarity of what the issues are," she said. 

The groups said the draft shuts out communities and puts all HIV response under government for the next four years.

"This spirit of ‘government-only response’ is well illustrated in the table 8b on page 48; table 6 on page 64; table 10 on page 73, under which the government will solely be leading even community participation," they said. 

The letter was signed by 61 groups, including the Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (Kanco), Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (Kelin), Kenya Treatment Access Movement (Ketam), Stop TB Partnership Kenya and the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya ( Nephak).

The KASF is a five-year guide for the country’s response to HIV at both national and county levels. It also guides the budgeting of funds from donors, especially the Global Fund for Aids, TB and malaria. 

Currently, the country is writing a concept note, based on the draft KASF, to access the Sh42.7 billion awarded to Kenya in January for 2021-24.

"The KASF-II is a key document to guide HIV response in the next five years, including the GFATM funding request for 2021 to 2024 grant,"  James Kamau, the director of Ketam, said

He said this would be the first time in history the government tries to fight HIV alone without the help of communities.

"The HIV response in Kenya is largely a product of the community groups," he told the Star.

Nephak said CSOs and communities are now likely to rally together to approach the Global Fund application outside the HIV framework. 

"By having a national document that only provides for the government, civil society already saw a deliberate attempt to exclude their priorities from the Global Fund discussions and submission," said Nelson Otuoma, Nephak national coordinator.

(Edited by F'Orieny)