Dec 18th, 2012 4:30 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
What can we do to fight corruption? One of the most frequently asked question Transparency International got when we published the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 last week.
The question is especially pertinent in Africa, which only has five countries in the top 50 countries on the index, where lower scores indicate a greater perception of public sector corruption in 176 countries. 90% of African countries on the index score less than 50 out of 100, with Botswana in 30th place showing what can be achieved in the fight against corruption, and Somalia in last place warning what happens if you don’t.
Corruption is a daily burden in Uganda, which ranked 130th out of 176 countries, and has recently faced a major aid scandal. The situation is particularly tense in the health sector. Our research has shown that less than half of staff were available at health facilities. The absence of health specialists inevitably exposes people to paying bribes if they want preferential treatment.
Indeed, 24 per cent of health providers we surveyed acknowledged that taking informal payments in exchange for services is common. 44 per cent reported that service users sometimes offer gifts to health workers. (Our colleagues in Zimbabwe face a similar challenge: nurses once fined women for screaming during labour).
The situation is aggravated by the lack of transparency and accountability, making it harder for citizens to tackle the problem. None of the lower level health facilities we looked at had complete financial records, and most facilities did not have updated drug stock registers.
In 2010 we set out to address corruption problems in healthcare and farming by rolling out several development pacts in central Uganda, similar to those tried by our colleagues in India.
We told communities to pick their own development agenda, then asked local politicians to commit to fulfilling that agenda. People were able to pick the issues that matter to them, and clearly described what they expect their leaders to deliver.
Some of the leaders refused, some signed up. Not surprisingly, more of the latter were re-elected than the former.
Photo: A regional politician signs a pact.
After the pacts were signed, citizens set up committees to monitor progress. Politicians and officials now often give the committees access to their offices to get information.
The result was relentless community pressure for better services. The committees personally counted drugs as they were being delivered. The list of drugs received is posted on notice boards. More staff have been hired, more mosquito nets delivered and more people are visiting the health centre. Parents have learnt to monitor budgets, and are now tracking school budgets too.
The people from my village are happy because they can receive all the basic drugs prescribed to them by the physician at no cost and drug shortages have become history in the health centre – A member of the Kyebe sub-county community
Another priority was government funding for subsistence farmers. The government provide funds to support farmers. Under the scheme, local authorities are supposed to use funds from the state to buy seeds and equipment for local subsistence farmers. The problem is they often buy sub-standard seeds and machinery and keep the difference.
We held review committees attended by both local politicians and government representatives. In the past, politicians had always blamed the other for failings. But when they were all in the same room, it suddenly became harder to duck responsibility.
Photo: Transparency International and community members witness the pact signing
We have managed to give farmers more control over the process. The criteria for selecting farmers who receive support was made simpler and more open. More farmers joined the government support programme, having been made aware of their rights and the selection process was made more open.
Our work continues.
In the north of the country, we are now helping citizens report problems in health care by sending SMS text messages. For example, they warned that malaria nets are not being distributed despite the fact that a health centre that recently received a delivery from central government. Read more on this here.
Oct 27th, 2010 7:19 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
Dr. Sipho Moyo, ONE’s Africa director, wrote this blog post for Transparency International (TI) to help illustrate how public sector corruption makes an impact on development. To view the original post, go to TI’s blog.
At ONE we are enhancing our aid advocacy work by highlighting attention on issues of good governance and transparency as being key elements to achieving sustainable development outcomes, including better service delivery across sectors like health, education, and better management of natural resource revenues, as well as more efficient investment in infrastructure for growth – energy, water, roads etc.
Our take at ONE is that transparency is a cornerstone of good governance as it allows citizens everywhere to hold institutions and governments accountable for their policies and performance, and thus fosters trust and helps to minimize corruption. That is why we support the emerging global governance initiatives which seek to partner with donor agencies, civil society, and governments for better development outcomes – such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) and the Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) initiative.
In further acknowledging transparency and governance as global concerns we at ONE are proud to have been part of the advocacy coalition behind the success of the critical Lugar-Cardin oil revenue transparency amendment tucked into the recent US Financial reform legislation. This requires extractive companies listed on the US stock exchange to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission all payments made to foreign governments of the countries in which they operate. This increased transparency will help to reverse the “resource curse”, which has become shorthand for the corruption, conflict and poverty that is too often associated with natural resource-rich countries. Shining light on the payments made by multinational companies will empower African civil society to hold their governments to account for revenue received – an important step in ensuring resources benefit all citizens, not just corrupt elites. We are now rolling this campaign out in the UK and Europe, which will force companies trading in those countries to be more transparent and thus have a direct, positive impact on economic growth.
The 2010 Ibrahim Index, Africa’s leading governance assessment, reveals a mixed picture about recent progress across the continent. While many Africans are healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities than five years ago, many are less physically secure and more politically disenfranchised. The index highlights both the areas of progress and the setbacks in governance, and points to the need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens if Africa must continue to make progress along a sustainable growth and poverty reduction path.
As we heighten emphasis on results we also believe that increased assistance should be given to core public sector institutions in developing countries for improving their capacity, efficiency, transparency, and accountability in key functions like budget formulation, implementation, oversight and procurement management. This will result in higher quality service delivery particularly as the role of parliaments, judiciary, audit agencies, civil society and media becomes more important.
Ultimately better governance helps fight poverty, improves living standards and raises development outcomes. With improved governance, infant and maternal mortality will decline significantly as resources allocated to health service delivery are fully deployed as intended. The same is true for improving education and boosting GDP. Furthermore, good governance has been found to significantly enhance aid effectiveness. Transparency lies at the heart of much of this, and will continue to be a core principle for ONE’s advocacy work across the world.
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