Tender Wars By Red Cross Set To Cost Kenya Billions Of Donor Funds

The Global Fund could withdraw funding for Kenya for the fight against Malaria, TB and HIV over tenders wars waged by the Kenya Red Cross.

The Global Fund funds the fight against the three diseases through a Principal Recipients popularly known a PRs, chosen by the Kenya Coordinating Mechanism (KCM) committee through public tendering process. KCM is a committee comprised of CSO representative, representatives of persons affected by HIV, TB and malaria, representative of national and county government, bilateral and multilateral partners, private sector and informal sector.

In this year’s tendering process in preparation for July 2021 to June 2024 disbursement, the firms that expressed interests include World Vision Kenya, KANCO, Amref, Youth Connect Consortium, LVCT, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), Health Strat and PS Kenya.

After evaluation process, three firms were thrown out and Kenya Red Cross, AMREF and PS Kenya made it through to be the finalists. AMREF finally won the bid, after scoring 95.3% for HIV, 96% for TB and 95.3% for malaria ahead of Kenya Red Cross which scored 93% for HIV and 92.3% for TB. PS Kenya was third with 88.6% for Malaria, which it had bid for.

However, after the award, the Kenya Red Cross appealed against the award citing irregularities in the evaluation process.

An independent Review Panel (IRP) was formed comprising of representatives from WHO, DFID, UNAIDS, USAID, UNFPA and UNDP. Two KCM members joined the IRP as observers. The members of the IRP appointed from among its membership the IRP Chairperson Dr Samora Otieno and Secretary Ms Jane Serwanga to provide leadership to the review process and liaison with the KCM Secretariat.

After a review, the Global Fund advised Kenya to cancel the tender process and continue with status quo. This means that Red Cross, which has been receiving the billions for years continues to receive them, despite being rocked by corruption scandals.

A report in our possession shows that under the criteria compliance with guidelines for Grant budgeting Kenya Red Cross financial proposal did not provide adequate information to enable the Committee assess how the cost of the items were arrived at. Such information missing included budget notes, exchange rates, payment period, staffing structure, work plans with objectives.

“The team observed inconsistency in currencies and payment period,” the IRP report noted.

Whatsapp screenshots exclusively obtained by Kenyan Herald reveal the interests in the tendering process, with a Maureen Murenga leaking every step of the KCM decision to a Whatsapp group named KCM Accountability Group, though to be affiliated to Kenya Red cross.

One of the members questioned Maureen’s interests in the process, who with with not doubt advocating for Red Cross to get a share despite losing in the procurement process.

The Kenya Red Cross has been rocked by multi-billion scandals in the past, putting to wuestion its accountability in use of public funds.

For instance, during the Kenyans for Kenyans saga in the reign of Abbas Gullet, the funds contributed by Kenyans were allegedly used to complete the Boma hotel while a big chunk was pocketed by top individuals, allegedly. At least Ksh1 billion was contributed during this initiative in 2011, and to date, it has never been accounted for. Some of the projects started during that time, like boreholes, were never completed.

Some of the projects cited by Gullet included five boreholes in Turkana and two agriculture projects to enable locals grow kales and water melons.

Also, Kenya Red Cross signed a Ksh500 million a year deal with NHIF a couple of years ago, that would see NHIF members use Red Cross Ambulances for free in cases of emergence. The deal was not publicised properly, and the was was accused of receiving funds for no or little work done.

Kenya will reach a decision on Global Fund’s directive to cancel the tender on Monday, September 15, failure to which Kenya may be unable to submit a proposal to receive the funds.

This means that the country might not get the Ksh41.5 billion which has been allocated to it in the next four years, hence crippling the fight against Malaria, TB and HIV.

“The Global Fund recommends that the KCM cancels the non-state PR selection process as submitted to
the Global Fund Secretariat on 31 August 2020 given the significant flaws noted in the financial evaluation
part of the procurement process. Further, the Global Fund requests that in the interest of ensuring Kenya’s
eligibility for the funding request; the KCM undertakes a transparent and documented process for selection
of the non-state PR/s through clearly defined and objective criteria; and submit to the Global Fund’s Access
to Funding department no later than cob 14 September 2020,” recommended the Global Fund.

Globally, the Global Fund says it has saved over 32 million lives by putting 18.9 million people on anti-retroviral therapy for HIV, treated 5.3 million people for TB and supported over 131 million mosquito nets for control of malaria.

It now remains a matter of time to see if the status quo remains, that will see the Kenyan Red Cross handle billions of donor funds despite being riddled with several accountability issues.

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