Down the drain

Lack of transparency in INGOs and NGOs and misappropriation of funds made available in the name of Nepali people have been identified as chief obstacles in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country. Since the early 1990s when the non-governmental sector came to play an active role in the social milieu of the country, millions of dollars have poured into NGOs to prevent HIV/AIDS. It is unfortunate, however, that this contagious disease continues to spread fast, especially in the rural areas. Misuse of funds by NGOs in this and other areas — for instance, women’s empowerment and child rights — has now become an issue of major public concern.

Official figures put the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Nepal at 50,000, but it is believed that some two hundred thousand people could be suffering from this fatal disease. Worse, the social taboo associated with the disease is still strong, leading often to cruel treatment of victims. In the villages, HIV-infected children are even prevented from attending school due to sheer ignorance and rank poverty. That also goes to prove how ineffective awareness campaigns and government policies have been. Therefore, unless the poor and the vulnerable are made fully aware of the dangers associated with HIV and till such a time when they are educated about the various facets of the disease, all high sounding policies would be meaningless. Also, unless the government puts in place a regulatory mechanism to ensure proper utilisation of donor funds, no significant achievement can be made in rooting out corruption in the NGOs.