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ICAI Report on DfID and Corruption

Written by Guest on Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Following the ICAI’s report on DfID’s approach to anti-corruption and its impact on the poor, TI-UK Trustee Jeff Kaye discusses two problems that he feels need to be addressed: Government inactivity and aid dependency.


 

The TI-UK blog features thought and opinion from guest writers as well as TI staff. Any opinions expressed by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Transparency International UK.

Following the ICAI’s report on DfID’s approach to anti-corruption and its impact on the poor, Jeff Kaye discusses two problems that he feels need to be addressed: Government inactivity and aid dependency.

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), an independent body that scrutinizes the UK’s aid spending, recently reported. That report maintains that while the UK government department responsible for such spending, DfID, understands the importance of preventing corruption, “there is little evidence that the work DFID is doing to combat corruption is successfully addressing the impact of corruption as experienced by the poor.” This is especially true in the area of petty corruption – which hits aid recipients on a day-to-day basis.

Transparency International UK has responded to the report and I agree with those comments. However I do have a few others that I include below that focus on Government inactivity and aid dependency.

First, I was involved in developing the Anti-Bribery Principles and Guidance for NGOs in 2010/11 around the Bribery Act – I was then working on behalf of Global Witness but under TI-UK’s overall management of the project. Apart from the areas addressed already in the press release, one of the key problems for those on the ground (those dispensing the aid) was where to go to report corruption – quite apart from how to react to individual events. Those on the ground have (from many reports) little direction about who to contact and aid organisations appear to receive too little help from aid providers (governments) when they report the problems and look for longer-term solutions. Government is not doing enough to react to continuing situations and to tackle the issues with those nations receiving the aid – with national and local governments. This means that the problem continues as aid workers and organisations are usually only able to operate at the practical level – there is not enough action coming from the top down. Governments could do much more in this regard. While some thought was given to this issue after the release of the guidelines, Government does not seem to have addressed this (and the UK is not alone in this).

Second, the ICAI report does throw up a serious issue around aid provision. From my own experience in Afghanistan with another charity, the aid culture can itself become a problem, as the report argues, and aid dependency becomes a particular issue for many countries. The change in culture can be substantial and corruption (at the day-to-day level) becomes almost endemic. It is one reason why women in Afghanistan are now taking such a lead in helping to develop new income generating activities and why they are much more likely to be recipients of micro-financing than men – it is usually the men that are involved in the culture change to aid dependency.

As a major aid provider (and I am not advocating reduced aid), DfID could be doing more to understand the impact of aid in the medium-term – in a way that maybe the US has not in Afghanistan, where I have seen the aid dependent culture being hard to untangle.

To tackle both of the above issues, I suggest that DfID should talk with NGO’s (and I am sure Transparency International UK would be keen to be involved in this) about how to work together to tackle endemic corruption that inhibits aid being provided to where it is needed most and to work on how we evaluate this and the issue of aid dependency – where the impact of aid provision is clearly being reduced.

 

 

  Jeff Kaye is a Trustee of Transparency International UK and Chair of Future Brilliance (a   charity developing work opportunities in post-conflict states). 

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Read 3565 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 12:18

Guest

The TI-UK blog features thought and opinion from guest writers as well as TI staff. Any opinions expressed by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Transparency International UK.

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