GAVI Alliance steps up transparency on oversight of its cash programmes

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Announces investigations of three cash-based programmes

Geneva, 30 March 2011 - To further increase transparency of the oversight of its cash-based support, the GAVI Alliance announced today that it will make public when it suspends a cash programme to investigate possible misuse of funds.

"Our mission is to make sure life-saving vaccines reach even the poorest children and cash-support programmes help make that happen," said Helen Evans, GAVI interim CEO. "But we do not tolerate any abuse of funds that puts children at risk."

The Alliance has suspended funding to three cash-based programmes in Niger, Cote d'Ivoire, and Cameroon after its oversight processes raised credible concerns about the use of funds in these programmes. GAVI had already informed its Board about an investigation of two cash programmes in Mali last year, which is expected to be completed in May 2011. Investigations have recently commenced in Niger and Cameroon, and will follow in Cote d'Ivoire once the political situation in the country improves.

The amount under investigation in the suspended programmes totals approximately $18 million. The investigations will determine how much, if any, of this has been misused. The governments of Mali, Niger and Cameroon are fully cooperating with the investigations.

Although some cash programmes have been halted, GAVI is ensuring that children in these countries continue to receive life-saving vaccines.

Funded by government and private donors, GAVI spends about 85% of its funds on the purchase of vaccines and other related supplies that are centrally procured and delivered to countries. GAVI's cash grants to countries support immunisation services, strengthen health systems and fund civil society organisations, and represent about 15% of its annual disbursements.

GAVI employs a number of safeguards in its cash-based programmes. Prior to funding a programme, GAVI's Transparency and Accountability Unit assesses the financial controls to be used for the programme and ensures that any identified weaknesses are addressed. Then, as programmes are carried out, these assessments are repeated on an ongoing basis to verify whether financial management arrangements continue to operate effectively.

Each programme is also subject to an annual independent external audit and the country is required to submit the audit report(s) and an overall annual progress report to GAVI. GAVI's internal auditor independently performs verifications of the robustness of the system.

When oversight processes uncover apparent anomalies in the financial management of these cash-based programmes, GAVI halts cash disbursements and freezes any unspent funds in-country of the programme in question. If misuse is confirmed, GAVI requires the government to repay any missing funds.

"We are working in partnership with these governments and no conclusions should be drawn until the current investigations are completed," said Helen Evans. "However, we will now keep the Board and donors informed if, in the course of our regular oversight processes, we decide to halt funding."

Between 2000 and 2010, GAVI has delivered $2.1 billion worth of vaccines and paid $672 million in cash grants. During this period, cash programmes equaled about 24% of total disbursements but have dropped to approximately 15% over the past two years. In 2009 and 2010, 45 countries received cash grants. Of these, 39 are subject to GAVI's financial management assessments. To date, 32 FMAs have been conducted, starting with those that are deemed to be of higher risk. 

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