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According to a May 3 article in the Kyiv Post, last month the World Bank suspended a $60 million project to combat Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS among high risk groups in Ukraine. The suspension came as a result of the lack of progress in implementing the program. Despite signing the five-year agreement in December 2002, the Government had managed to disburse a mere 2% of the funding to date. According to the article, the World Bank is “still waiting the government’s ‘suggestions about how they would like to restructure the program.’”

Although a new and bold step by the World Bank - the institution is not known for its responsiveness to underperformance among its programs - this is, unfortunately, not a new position for the Government of Ukraine. In January, 2004, the Global Fund temporarily suspended a $92 million grant to the country as a result of substantial management concerns. In this instance, however, the funding has been re-instated and now flows to NGOs in the country, including the International HIV/AIDS Alliance who acts as the Principal Recipient. The grant passed its phase II evaluation and has performed quite well.

This situation opens the door for another new, bold and much-needed step for the World Bank and the donor community: real coordination. Might the World Bank realize that their comparative advantage may not be providing HIV/AIDS assistance to the Government of Ukraine? Might other donors, including those that provide funding to NGOs, recognize the growing challenges that country faces? This kind of conversation and consideration is desperately needed in the crowded field of HIV/AIDS assistance, where there are often multiple donors working in the same communities with different objectives and modes of support. Plus, there just may be a real incentive in there for the Government of Ukraine to get their act together!

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.