AFRICA/KENYA - Bishops ask for clarity on the use of funds to cope with COVID-19

Thursday, 7 May 2020 episcopal conferences   corruption   coronavirus  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "We are concerned by the reports that some funds meant for the pandemic containment appear to be misused", said Vice-Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), His Exc. Mgr. John Oballa Owaa at the end of the televised Mass at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi.
"We appeal to the Government to ensure that the funds available are used solely for the purpose of fighting the pandemic and returning the country to normalcy", added Archbishop Oballa, reading the collective statement of the Bishops in Kenya.
On April 30, one of Kenya’s daily newspaper, The Standard quoted a government document indicating that the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH) had spent KES.1.3 billion (US$13 million) since the outbreak of the pandemic around mid-March, some of which was used for snacks and crisps.
The revelations attracted angry reactions from a section of Kenyans who, through online forums, expressed their criticism of implicated government officials as being opportunistic.
During his Labour Day address, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta dismissed the claims of misappropriation of COVID-19 emergency kitty, assuring Kenyans that the money will be audited "to the last cent".
In April, the International Monetary Fund donated $ 50 million to Kenya to cover healthcare costs related to COVID-19. Yesterday, May 6, the IMF allocated another 739 million to the African Country.
In their statement, the Bishops highlight the plight of the vulnerable citizens such as children, women, and people living with disabilities and exhort parents to “to take extra care of their children, including guarding them against harmful Internet content.
The Bishops also say they are concerned about "an increase of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in our society", and make an appeal to "spouses to gain a heart of love, understanding, respect, and patience for each other, especially during this time of the pandemic".
The government is also asked to help Faith-based Facilities, "most of which serve in hard-to-reach populations in Arid and Semi-arid Land (ASAL) and Informal Settlements", so that "they are included in the distribution of protective materials". In addition to the economic emergency resulting from protective measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Kenya has to deal with the damage caused by the floods that have hit some areas of the Country (see Fides, 6/5/2020)
The message concludes by inviting everyone to "pray for our beloved Country and in particular for those who are on the front lines to save lives". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/5/2020)