Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Condom rumpus affects donor funding

Some international donors have withdrawn and withheld their financial support to Malawi following some churches reluctance to allow wholesale use of condoms in certain communities. But church leaders said they remain unfazed about their stance against universal use of the contraceptive.
Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA) Executive Director, Robert Ngaiyaye, confirmed the development in Blantyre last Friday at a Mutual Faithfulness National Action Plan Dissemination meeting for faith leaders.

This followed a complaint from Word Alive Commission for Relief and Development (Wacrad) Director, Phoebe Nyasulu, who said a Netherlands-based development organization, Cordaid, had made it clear that it would not continue with a programme on behaviour change it had been supporting for four years, unless Wacrad accepts to include the distribution of Female Condoms.

“As a church organization, we cannot be promoting wholesale use of condoms because that will be promoting promiscuity. That is why we have not gone back to them (the donor) on the issue; we feel we can not sell our values,” said Nyirenda.

Ngaiyaye said even MIAA itself had lost funding from Novib/Oxfam International over the same issue of refusing to distribute condoms, as budging would be compromising on values. He said the only tool that worked was abstinence and being faithful to one’s partner, and not condom use.

“If people abstain and are faithful, you will find that condoms will not be needed at all. Those against this principle just want to promote condoms, which, as an interfaith organization, we do not promote. Our main focus will always be these two and we will not compromise on our stand for the sake of donors,” said Ngaiyaye.

He added that only in exceptional circumstances such as cases where one partner was HIV-positive could the stand be compromised. Muslim Association of Malawi executive director, Saiti Jumbe, said the issue of condom use was against principles of religion, and that promoting condom use would be tantamount to encouraging promiscuity. He said his organization would not compromise on the issue even in the face of donor pressure.

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