Why does a surgical facemask cost the Kyrgyz government $4.63, while it costs the United Nations $0.87? What about an HIV test for which the government has paid $547, but costs the UN only $20?
Foreign donors are often hesitant to provide cash to Kyrgyzstan’s government, fearing much of it will be improperly spent, or siphoned off. Newly compiled data for one international aid project appears to justify those concerns. The case study involves assistance provided by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has spent $62 million in Kyrgyzstan since 2003.
Between 2003 and late 2010, most of the Global Fund money was funneled directly to the Kyrgyz government via the Health Ministry’s Republican AIDS Center. In February 2011, citing concerns with how the money was being spent, the Global Fund decided to shift money for its programs to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The move, which has saved the Global Fund at least a million dollars, sparked protests outside UN offices in Bishkek and at least one UN official describes receiving anonymous threats.
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