Funds dry up for rape NGO

2013-06-09 21:10
South Africa's total investment in Mauritius was R35.5bn in 2006, R35.1bn in 2007, R46.8bn in 2008 and R53.5bn in 2009.

South Africa's total investment in Mauritius was R35.5bn in 2006, R35.1bn in 2007, R46.8bn in 2008 and R53.5bn in 2009. (Shutterstock)

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Mbombela - A feisty NGO that has helped 30 000 rape survivors in Mpumalanga may have to shut its doors as funding dries up.

The Greater Rape Intervention Project (Grip) boldly gave survivors access to ARVs during the Mbeki administration when provincial authorities initially banned the lifesaving drug. 

Current Sport, Culture and Recreation MEC Sibongile Manana was health MEC between 2001 and 2004, and kicked Grip out of Rob Ferreira Hospital, where it ran a rape crisis centre.

Now Grip's future is at stake again.

“The future looks bleak for us. We already had to retrench more than half of our staff last year, and now, due to lack of funding from the government, we may have to close down at the end of August,” Grip CEO Barbara Kenyon told African Eye News Service.

Until January, Grip was kept afloat through the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).

“In 2008, we signed a five-year contract with [them]. They were giving us R300 000 a month,” Kenyon said.

The money was used to build new care centres and care rooms, and to train staff to support rape survivors and victims of human trafficking. When the US contract expired at the beginning of this year, Grip hoped that government would step in.

"But this hasn’t happened,” Kenyon said.

Kenyon said Grip was now experiencing a financial shortfall of R100 000 per month.

Grip runs 26 care centres across Mpumalanga, providing support, accommodation and food to rape survivors. 

While the provincial department of social development has been giving Grip some funding since 2006, which has been spent building a shelter in Mbombela, the contributions were only a fraction of what Grip needs to keep operating, said Kenyon.

Grip is reportedly awaiting funding from the department of health to provide medical support and proper care for their victims.

According to Kenyon, the South African government is giving the bulk of funding for victims of sexual abuse to 40 state-run Thuthuzela Care Centres across South Africa, of which only five are located in Mpumalanga.

“The Thuthuzela Care Centres are doing good work, but are immensely costly to run, needing R5m a year. Organisations such as Grip can run on as little as R750 000 per year and fulfil the same functions," Kenyon explained.

She said the social need for NGOs such as Grip is becoming greater, yet funding is growing smaller. 

"The government is using money for their own operations, neglecting NGOs,” she said.

Mpumalanga health and social development spokesperson Ronnie Masilela said 35% of the department's budget goes to non-profit organisations like Grip.

He said he would need time to find out exactly how much money was budgeted.

Read more on:    usaid  |  mbombela  |  hiv aids  |  health
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