New PEPFAR Data: The Numbers Behind the Stories

Michael Bernstein
Steve Rosenzweig
Jonathan Pearson
April 17, 2008

The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the single largest funder of global AIDS relief programs, but it does not regularly release data on how its money is spent. As a result, little evidence has been available to policymakers and other stakeholders to inform policy debates. In this analysis from CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor team, Nandini Oomman, Michael Bernstein, and Steven Rosenzweig analyze newly available data--the numbers behind the stories--that can supplement the largely anecdotal and impressionistic information that has been available to date. On the issue of building local capacity, for example, the authors find that on average only 30% of funding in 15 focus countries has gone to locally-based groups, suggesting that PEPFAR should expand its efforts to engage local partners. The authors call upon PEPFAR to regularly publish official data on obligations to recipients of the funds to improve transparency and allow accurate analyses of its cost-effectiveness to be carried out. They suggest, furthermore, taking the following actions to help PEPFAR reach its goals:

  • Remove congressional earmarks on funding to improve flexibility and responsiveness of locally allocated funds;
  • Reevaluate its strategies of emphasizing faith-based organizations, most of which are international;
  • Work more closely with host country governments and help coordinate their efforts with those of non-governmental recipients; and,
  • Expand its efforts to build the capacity of local groups by ensuring that more of its funds reach local recipients.

Read more analysis on how US AIDS money gets spent

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