By George Achia

Charles Abonyo worked with the Regional AIDS Training Network (RATN) as an accountant. In his wildest thoughts, he did not foresee the company he has worked for over 15 years shutting down its operations in the East and South African region.

Formed in 1997, RATN was established to strengthen the capacity and skills for effective HIV response in the region. Through its partner institutions across the region, RATN developed, created, and provided a formal network of training organizations in the region.

RATN donors in Kenya such as Ford Foundation and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency pulled out of the project early this year disrupting the organization’s operation.
A United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS case study done recorded that donors had previously criticized RATN for using operational funds to directly support scholarships for course participants

Abonyo, 45, blames corruption for the closure of the organization early this year.
He says misappropriation of funds and inaccurate recording of real cost of goods and services led to inflated expenditure.

Mr. Abonyo adds that the government imposes heavy taxes on foreign sponsored bodies. Any excesses push the sponsors to stop financing.

RATN and other similar cases demonstrate how corruption has affected donor funded projects in Kenya and within the region.

While corruption is deep-seated in the third world economy, it has created chaos. Non-Government Organizations are forced to invest heavily in risk assessment due to lack of trust in the system that has emerged over time.

According to Edward Abira, the Programme Officer at the Global Grant Community (GGC), corruption within donor funded projects has resulted in ring-fencing by donor funders across Kenya and within the region as well.

“This has resulted in stringent rules to supplement the weak financial governance structures that exist within some of these donor-funded organizations. The best way to counter this is to create a culture of accountability and trust, and this is the main aim of the Good Financial Grant Practice Standard (GFGP),” Abira explains.

The Global Grant Community was formed to address corruption in the grant funding sector. It is a platform that allows grantees and grantors to share best practice ideas that improve the governance of grant funding.

“The Global Grant Community was developed by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) with a specific aim of improving the financial governance of grants across the globe,” says Abira.

He adds that: “This is done through standardizing the grant governance process, and getting organizations certified to the Good Financial Grant Practice Standard.”

The GFGP is a new international standard in the management of grant funding. It is structured in four tiers of Bronze (for smaller organization), through Silver, Gold and finally Platinum (for the largest organizations).

The areas of grant management covered in the GFGP standard are Financial Management, Procurement, Human resources, and Governance.

“This is a new international standard in grant management. It is the first and only international standard that focuses on the effective management of grant funding,” he explains, adding that it has a web-based -portal that can be used to simplify the due diligence process in the giving and receiving of funds. It also has a capacity building tool for financial governance of grants, both for grantees and grantors.

The Global Grant Community has several benefits to its subscribers. It helps in reducing the cost and administration time for both grantors and grantees, reduces the number of audits and assessments that grantees have from different grantors, increases the confidence of grantors to fund directly to grantees, reduces the risk of corruption, bribery and fraud and finally, it enables targeted financial capacity building by grantors.

Abira confirms that five countries including Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya have officially adopted the GFGP Standard as their national standard.

“We are still in the process of discussing with other African countries such as Senegal, Nigeria, Botswana, Togo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Morocco and South Africa among others,” he says.

Asked what challenges the body has faced in trying to get countries/organisations to use GFGP, Abira notes that donors may not at first accept the tool in place of their ‘due diligence’ exercise but in due time, though slow, it will certainly take root eventually.

The Global Grant Community recognizes that the best way to counter corruption is to create a culture of accountability and trust, and this is the main aim of the Good Financial Grant Practice Standard.

The Global Grant Community strongly encourages other organizations to begin their GFGP certification journey to strengthen their financial management capacities and increase their chances to attract additional funding.

Bangalore-based Central Research Laboratory at Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (CRL KIMS) becomes the first organisation in the world to be certified under the GFGP international standard.

“This first GFGP certification is a huge milestone for us and a great achievement for CRL KIMS. Our vision for the GFGP Standard is for it to become an international standard under the International Organisation for standardization (or ISO framework)”, said Prof Tom Kariuki, the Director of Programmes at the AAS.

To learn more about how you can get your organisation certified, visit www.globalgrantcommunity.com

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