Tuesday, May 11, 2021

America cuts back aid to Botswana

Although the American development aid is expected to increase to every region of the world, Botswana will instead suffer a cut back in US bilateral aid. In an apparent change of course of U.S. aid strategy, the fiscal 2016 budget request sharply increases U.S. development funding to South Africa and Namibia, there will be a cut back in the funding for Botswana. Botswana, South Africa and Namibia are the three focus countries for the U.S. President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Until recently, South Africa and Namibia had seemed to be far along in PEPFAR’s multiyear transition to host country financing and ownership. Botswana, where that transition is well underway, is however slated for an 8 percent cut in U.S. development aid.

On track for a 32 percent jump, South Africa is expected to see $371.8 million in U.S. development aid in fiscal 2016 ÔÇö just one year before PEPFAR funding had been initially slated to fall to $250 million. Meanwhile, U.S. development aid to Namibia is set to rise by 85 percent to $43.5 million. PEPFAR funding accounts for the vast majority of U.S. development aid to both South Africa and Namibia. Botswana and Angola are Southern Africa’s biggest losers in the 2016 US development budget, while Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique will be among the top 10 US aid recepients in the world.

This comes a few weeks after a study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, asked how some of the 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will pay to expand efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic as international donor budgets tighten. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Robert Hecht, managing director of Results for Development Institute in Washington, D.C. noted that their study found that “countries such as South Africa and Namibia, while burdened with very serious AIDS epidemics, they have stronger economies, and will be able to fund their own AIDS activities without international support.” The US government has however increased substantial the PEPFAR funding to the two countries.

Currently, AID funding in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, come primarily from domestic resources. But others such as Mozambique and Ethiopia depend heavily on foreign donors. Since its 2003 inception, the PEPFAR has given nearly $63 billion as part of an effort to mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS and save the lives of those in the Motherland affected by the global epidemic.

Those finances have provided antiretroviral treatment for more than 7 million people, funded HIV testing and counselling for more than 14 million pregnant women, and supported more than 6 million voluntary medical male circumcision procedures. However, as PEPFAR’s coffers tighten amid a growing demand for antiretroviral medication, the debate rages on about the greater role that Africa’s more financially solvent nations can play in eradicating HIV/AIDS.

“This is going to cost more money over the next few years, but the question of where the funding will come from is complicated,” Dr. Robert Hecht, an author of a Harvard School of Public Health and the Results for Development Institute study that explores this issue, told Voice of America. In the study, researchers test the capacity of more than one dozen African countries with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS ÔÇö including Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Ethiopia ÔÇö to increase domestic HIV/AIDS spending.

“We know that treatment has a preventive effect; it slows down the rate of transmission of HIV. We have more tools on the prevention side like medical male circumcision. All of these things cost quite a bit of money, so the balance between the national ÔÇö the domestic funding ÔÇö and the outside funding needs to be re-thought, re-calibrated.

And our study feeds right into that discussion and debate,” Hecht said. While developed countries have made progress in helping the Motherland combat HIV/AIDS, their assistance hasn’t been sufficient in keeping up with the increase in cases on the continent. Analysts estimate the resource gap for HIV/AIDS funding to reach $22 million this year, due in part to the United States’ declining commitment to funding these efforts.

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