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US stresses strict supervision of Pepfar funds

2020-10-06  Albertina Nakale

US stresses strict supervision of Pepfar funds

The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) programme in Namibia has rigorous controls in place to ensure its money is properly spent.  
Carey Spear, Pepfar Namibia coordinator said their funding is helping fight the HIV pandemic and not going into pockets. “Namibia would not have achieved the results it has to date if Pepfar funding were being misused. Namibia is making world-leading progress on the HIV fight and is nearing epidemic control. Pepfar funding is money from US taxpayers, so we have a careful process in place to make sure it is used for its intended purpose,” she noted. 

Last week, ambassador Lisa Johnson announced Pepfar will increase its commitment to Namibia in 2021 to N$1.5 billion (US$89 million).
The funding is channelled from the US Department of State to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the US Peace Corps. 

They, in turn, have HIV-related programmes with specific targets to reach HIV goals.  
Spear said she has confidence the Pepfar funding is going to the right place in Namibia and that if there ever is a problem, correction methods are in place and effective.  

There are four layers that monitor expenditures, namely Pepfar’s Washington team, the local coordinator, USAID, CDC and Peace Corps as well as the implementing partner.  
“If any of those layers finds a discrepancy or something that looks off, Pepfar will go so far as to call in an American accounting firm to give an objective, outside, in-depth, lengthy audit to investigate. The US Congress requires that we have all of these mechanisms in place to continue funding the Pepfar programme,” she said.

According to her, not only does Pepfar implement rigorous controls on the funding, but the results in Namibia also show that this funding is going to the right place.  
Since Namibia has made great strides towards HIV epidemic control, the Pepfar team in Namibia received even more funding in 2021 than 2020 and more in 2020 than in 2019.  

Therefore, she said, Washington DC contributed more to Namibia’s Pepfar programme this year in part because the country uses resources effectively and achieve results. 

There are several monitoring systems in place to ensure the funds are properly accounted for.  
 According to Spear, before the money is given to the implementing partner in Namibia, it must undergo a review to prove it has a robust accounting system that can account for every dollar received.  

Second, USAID and CDC routinely hold comprehensive programme reviews of each partner.  
They go partner by partner to look at how dollars are spent, what activities are being executed, where there are gaps and why. 
 Equally, she said, every three months, Namibia’s Pepfar programme has a detailed accountability review meeting with the leadership in the US.  

In this accountability review, the local team must account for every dollar spent by the target and implementing partner.  
“Over 60 people in Washington DC and Atlanta review every dollar spent. They also review the dollars not spent, requiring an explanation of why funding was not spent. Namibia’s Pepfar programme just completed one of these reviews in September, and all funds were properly accounted for,” Spear noted. 

Accountability… This file photo shows 33 vehicles donated by the Pepfar programme and the CDC in Namibia to the health ministry in 2010.

Photo: Nampa

2020-10-06  Albertina Nakale

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