Investigation reveal Norwegian aid to the disabled misused in Malawi

An investigation by a Norwegian organisation has revealed that the majority of the money that the country donates to Malawi for the disabled people is misused. A total of 95% of Norwegian aid to a project that would improve the situation of the disabled in Malawi has allegedly been misused.

In the revelations covered by Norwegian Newspaper Norway Today .The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) believes that there is reason to ask whether the development assistance project under the auspices of the Atlas Alliance has yielded any results at all.

The Atlas Alliance is an umbrella organization that coordinates the assistance work of Norwegian organizations that work for the disabled and their rights in Malawi

In the spring of 2019, some suspicions appeared about the Atlas Alliance’s Malawi projects. 

Investigation revealed breaches of contract valued at more than 89 million kwacha at the Atlas Alliance’s former Malawian partner organization Fedoma.

The investigators also received tips that there was “serious misuse of money” in Podcam, another Malawian organization that the Atlas Alliance collaborated with. Podcam received billions of Kwacha from Norway since 2003.

When the issues were investigated, it turned out that the organization completely lacked an overview and internal control of the funds, according to the investigation.

Undocumented cash withdrawals were found, suppliers could not be traced, invoices and bank statements turned out to be forged, and the employees worked actively to prevent the auditors from gaining access to the documentation.

The investigation only covered the period from 2017 to 2019, when 80 Million Kwacha was transferred to Podcam. According to the investigators, 95% of these funds could have been misused – based on the lacking documentation.

The Atlas Alliance has broken off cooperation with Podcam and has paid the sum back to the Norwegian Treasury last year. Norad believes the organization should have detected the abuse much earlier.

Program advisor Anders Strømsodd Hosar in the Atlas Alliance agrees.“We have learned a lot from this case, and we have implemented a number of measures to strengthen our internal control,” He describes it as a serious case and says that they have spent a lot of resources to get to the bottom of it.