AFRICA/KENYA - Corruption undermines the fight against Covid-19: the poorest pay the price

Saturday, 4 July 2020 coronavirus   corruption   bishops  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - In Africa, 383,747 people are currently suffering from coronavirus, of whom 183 thousand are hospitalized in healthcare facilities, while the number of deaths has reached 9,691. In Kenya there are 6,190 cases (of which 2,013 are hospitalized) and 144 deaths. The pandemic has increased slowly, but the effects on the population have been significant. This has led many international institutions, non-governmental organizations and individuals to support the Country's healthcare facilities, but the results are uncertain.
Of the billion Ksh (Kenyan shillings equal to 8 million 300 thousand euros) donated by the World Bank to provide for personal protective equipment, medicines and to create isolation structures, it appears that 42 million Ksh were spent on the leasing of ambulances , 4 million Ksh for tea and snacks and 2 million Ksh for communication.
The work of the governors of the counties for inadequate expenses and misappropriation are under observation. In early May, four senior Kilifi County officials were arrested for tenders regarding the contract to build a Covid-19 center and for the maintainance of hospital equipment. The same governor of Bungoma County, Wycliffe Wangamati, is under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for speculation in the county on the prices of healthcare articles.
Then there is an investigation into the donation made by Chinese tycoon Jack Ma in the early days of the epidemic. Investigators have confirmed to the BBC that the investigation will be extended to all donations that have arrived in Kenya to combat the coronavirus. The hypothesis is that millions of dollars and large quantities of equipment have been stolen. Local media recently reported that $ 2 million worth of personal protective equipment donated by the Chinese government has disappeared. President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised that all donations to fight the virus will be thoroughly analyzed.
"In Kenya - explains a high-level official who prefers to remain anonymous - things happen and we don't talk about it. Money and goods donated to the sick disappear: they steal everything and you can't do anything and can't say anything. Few get rich".
Catholic bishops have urged the government to ensure that emergency funds for Covid-19 are aimed at fighting the pandemic and to bring the Country back to normal. In a statement in May (see Fides, 7/5/2020) the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kenya (KCCB) asked for clarity on the management of the funds donated to face the health emergency: "as a Church, we appreciate the different measures that have been adopted by the government to contain the spread of the pandemic in our Country. However, we are concerned about news regarding the misuse of some funds". (F.F.) (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/7/2020)