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DfID is urged to tackle corruption

07 November 2014


Noted: the World Bank has identified  persistent mis-spending of Nigerian oil revenue, the report says

Noted: the World Bank has identified  persistent mis-spending of Nigerian oil revenue, the report says

CORRUPTION abroad is not being tackled effectively by the Department for International Development (DfID) because of political sensitivies, a new report warns.

The second report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), published last Friday, also suggests that aid may be facilitating corruption.

The ICAI's chief commissioner, Graham Ward, said: "We saw very little evidence that the work DfID is doing to combat corruption is successfully addressing the impact of corruption as experienced by the poor. Indeed, there is little indication that DfID has sought to address the forms of corruption that most directly affect the poor: so-called 'petty' corruption. This is a gap in DfID's programming that needs to be filled."

The report expressed concern that the DfID's efforts to tackle corruption might be restricted by its "reluctance . . . to take a sufficiently strong stance with host governments on corruption within their own institutions".

It also suggested that the principle that aid should first "do no harm" had been breached. "We witnessed negative impacts of programming, where government systems that lead the poor to have to pay bribes and become the victims of corruption were perpetuated and not tackled by programmes."

In Nepal, the researchers found that poor people needed to pay bribes to government officials, or forge documentation, in order to receive funding for projects supported by the DfID. In Nigeria, people reported an increase in requests for bribes from police in an area where the DfID was funding a project designed to tackle police corruption.

The report identifies corruption as a "formidable challenge". The World Bank estimates that, in Nigeria, since independence in 1960, about $400 billion in oil revenue has been stolen or misspent. Tackling the impact made by this corruption on the poor should be a priority for the DfID, it argues. The department should gather evidence about "what works", and set out a ten- to 15-year plan, with a series of goals against which progress could be measured.

A DfID spokeswoman said last Friday that the department had "anti-corruption and counter-fraud plans for each country that we give bilateral aid to". It also funded UK police units and crime agencies to "investigate the proceeds of corruption by foreign officials through the UK. Internationally, the UK is leading the drive to clamp down on corruption through the G20, World Bank, and IMF programmes."

On Monday, a letter sent to the Daily Mail signed by 11 aid agencies, including Christian Aid, Tearfund, and World Vision, agreed that "more can, and should, be done" by the Government to tackle corruption, but said that the British Government had done more than most.

"The answer is not to stop giving aid," the letter concluded. "That punishes poor people twice: firstly by having to live with corrupt governments, and secondly by taking away the funds needed for health, education, water, and sanitation."

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