Alvine Kapitako WINDHOEK – Out-Right Namibia (ORN), a community-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that advocates the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, is feeling the pinch of a reduction in donor funding. ORN, which was incepted in 2010, relies on donor funding, primarily from the Global Fund, to carry out its mandate. The Namibia Network of AIDS Services Organisations (Nanaso), which is the Namibian civil society principal recipient of the funds from the Global Fund, only received N$78 million (US$6.6 million) for the next three years to 2021, compared to the N$247 million (US$19 million) received the previous three years. Nanaso’s task is to distribute and administer the funds to civil societies and NGOs doing the actual work to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Considering the decrease in funding, Nanaso could only fund the work of four NGOs, which are two old beneficiaries and two new ones. These are Positive Vibes, Society for Family Health, Walvis Bay Corridor Group and the Advanced Community Health Care Services Namibia (CoHeNa). All other former sub-recipients of the Global Fund’s financial assistance in the previous grant such as the Catholic AIDS Action, Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NPPA), Namibia Red Cross Society, Ombetja Ye Hinga, Out-Right Namibia and Philippi Trust Namibia could not receive funding. ORN director, Friedel Dausab, said there are no bona fide community-based NGOs linked to the grass-roots on the new Global Fund grant. With the funds ORN previously received from the Global Fund, the organisation had packaged services and programmes for men who have sex with men (MSM), and the LGBTI community, explained Dausab. Most programmes have become redundant, Dausab explained. Office rent and operations of ORN were also largely supported by the Global Fund grant and now that they are not on the new grant operations are difficult, he explained. “Our staff have reduced from 18 to nine so half of the full-time staff positions were lost and those that are working are getting paid 30 percent less and are also working 30 percent less time. People now work till Thursday instead of Monday to Friday. That has impacted our productivity but we can’t keep people if we amended their contracts to reduce their salaries,” said Dausab. The experienced employees cannot make the same impact as before, Dausab said, explaining: “We’re losing people that we have invested in training because people won’t work for less. They’re already not getting enough and now we’re reducing it even more.” Dausab is worried that with the reduction of HIV funding the current sub-recipients might change “direction” in terms of serving the people who most need the services. “Community-based organisations such as ORN will not change to go and serve any other population but the LGBTI population,” added Dausab. He also does not see the Namibian government immediately funding organisations such as ORN because of its criticism of the government’s human rights record of dealing with people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. “The thinking of the international community is that because Namibia is getting so much money the government must fund its community-based response but how possible is it that our government will ever fund an LGBTI rights organisation? I don’t think the government is likely to fund us, at least not now. When we’re talking about government we’re talking about current policies and not the people,” said Dausab. ORN and other community-based organisations have had a positive impact on the communities they serve, noted Dausab. Before ORN, there was no focus on men who have sex with men, Dausab added. “We were at a stage where the government was saying we don’t have them. Now we have recognition in the national strategic framework that men who have sex with men exist and they are at risk of contracting HIV, that transgender women exist and they are at risk and that we need to give them services. We worked out service packages that we are implementing,” he said.
New Era Reporter
2018-06-19 11:30:15 8 months ago