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Aid and Corruption

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Many of the objections to my blog post, “Another reason why aid to Africa must increase”  centered around corruption.  “I disagree.  Africa needs to get rid of corruption…” said one commentator, while another said, “Aid to African countries must follow country steps in good governance, democracy, fighting corruption, etc.”

I think we can agree on the following two facts:

 

But even with these two facts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that aid should be cut off from countries with high corruption. 

 

First, there is very little evidence that cutting-off aid reduces the extent of corruption in the country (think about Zimbabwe). 

Second, rampant corruption is a symptom of widespread failure of institutions throughout the country. To reduce corruption, therefore, we need to strengthen these institutions, a process that takes a long time, and requires fairly continuous engagement by external experts.  Unfortunately, when aid is cut off, so is the engagement.  In principle, countries should be able to provide technical expertise without financial assistance; in practice, this is very hard to do. 

Third, some donors think that, in high-corruption countries, their aid should be “ring-fenced.”  That is, it should be provided according to the donors’ financial management procedures, to ensure that the aid money is not stolen.  While this reaction is understandable, there is little evidence that this practice does much for reducing corruption in the recipient country. 

In fact, as a recent paper by Steve Knack and Nicholas Eubank  shows, donors will systematically over-rely on their own systems, and under-invest in recipient country systems, thereby further weakening these countries systems.

Comments

Submitted by Menahem Prywes on
Shanta: I sympathize with your observation that there is little evidence that cutting off aid reduces corruption. But I don't know of any evidence that external donors can reduce corruption, even over the long-term, by building institutions. I have not seen evidence that training the judiciary, helping draft new commercial laws, improving accounting systems and training accountants, supporting anti-corruption agencies, etc. makes any difference. My experience is that any effective push for accountability in Africa has to come from within, from the population and not from donors. Best wishes, Menahem

Submitted by Tim Klein on
If we are waiting for U.S./European governments or INGO's to create economic development in Africa, I believe that it won't happen. After spending six months filming the documentary "What are we doing here?", which explores why foreign aid has often been ineffective and in many cases harmful - I believe the development community needs to start supporting the best ideas that are coming out of Africa as opposed to supporting the best ideas coming out of the U.S. or Europe for Africa. As opposed to coming up with solutions for Africa, we should be looking at how we are a part of the problem. The U.S.A. has food security because the government pays American farmers to produce far more food than we need - this surplus is food security. At the same time, the international community discourages African countries from offering food subsidies to their farmers. The US then takes that food surplus and ships it to an African country experiencing famine - the result is good for American farmers and shipping companies, but very bad for African farmers, who are forced to compete against free food. Instead we should be buying food aid locally, from within African countries and in the process, providing a bigger market for African farmers. It is time to start supporting the best businesses; artists, community leaders and local aid projects that are already in Africa and stop try to solve Africa's problems from abroad. The other side of the coin is that our businesses and government often support very corrupt and backward African governments (i.e. Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia...) because they serve our national/corporate interest (oil, war on terrorism, corporate profits...) - Western activists should start looking within, at how we are causing harm. Our film, "What are we doing here?" contains a few such examples - if your interested check out the trailer at www.whatarewedoinghere.net

Submitted by Yi-An on
I agree with all of the points that have been made and certainly aid has proven to be a weak tool in reforming corrupt governments (to put it mildly). But I think the real question is whether aid is being effective, especially as dollars are often targeting much more than fighting graft. If aid programs can build local institutional capacity and deliver improved basic health care despite a nasty governing environment, then by all means aid should continue! But programs should be able to prove their results through reasonable and accurate evaluation, which seems to be so difficult, even in countries with low corruption. It feels like a stale message, but one that is worth repeating - programs need to set clear and measurable goals, and track progress against them. And those goals should be ones that matter to local communities, not financial process metrics that create operational burdens without creating any accountability for real results.

For the past 60 years Africa has been receiving aid, but when you take a close look at how export capacity and health care infrastructure to mention a few, one wonders where the aid has gone. This is not to suggest that aid has not had some positive impact of development and growth. Nonetheless, aid has not necessarily helped Africa achieve the necessary economic growth, development and sustainability capacity. Why do we even have African governments, if they cannot put there houses in order. The only way I can be in favor of aid is when a country is in a crisis. Other than that aid must be cut-off. Most people in Africa have survived not because of the dependence on government aid, but rather their ability to provide for themselves with whatever resources they can produce minus government help.

Submitted by Salima Kane, UN... on
Corruption is present in every given country around the world. Rich or poor nations. It is a fact. To get rid of AID in Africa to fight corruption would be a grave danger and mistake. Both AID and Corruption can be controlled: 1- Monitor and evaluate progress of AID in African Countries , especially countries with a totalitarian regime. Countries where elections are not just or fair, because by eradicating that type of ugly political views that AID could only be effective in Africa. 2- Recently a report on CNN show that hunger is well established in Africa and more than 1 million people live under the poverty line in Africa... where only 50 cents a day could feed a child. Does it really make sense to eradicate AID in Africa? a continent with a sluggish economy, toppled with all kind of diseases such as TB, AIDS... 3- The faux pas of getting rid of AID in Africa is denying millions of people especially women and children: access to health care, education, food to name a few. 4- The Option is to find a way to get rid of dictators, leaders who are there for themselves and install a just political and system of Governance in Africa. It is important that we look at the bottom line. The bottom line of Africa's Poverty is the lack of integrity in the African Political system; This indeed has jeopardize the whole political and judicial process in Africa. There should be more round table discussions in order to come up with ultimate and adequate solutions that will benefit the continent in a long term and also the Bank in coming years. Though, injection of millions of dollars in AID to Africa should not be the long term goal or option of multilateral organizations, donors.. because in the end, it is important for the Africa Region to come up also with a strong and lasting political system that is clean, transparent and without ambiguity for the upcoming generations.

Submitted by Bayite-Kasule on
Salima, i appreciate your comments but for arguments sake lets consider these questions 1. How effective are the M&E approaches employed in Africa? To assume that Aid monies are siphoned by African officials alone is to blind ourselves to the realities on the ground. The officials from western capitals are part and parcel of this practise-they use the faces of the Africans but also partake of the Aid hence making Aid less effective but also cultivate the notion that Aid monies are eaten by africans. 2. What is the role of Aid in keeping african dictators in power? It has long been argued that Aid monies entrech bad leaderships in Africa, Such governments are subsidized by such funds-they use this money to buy off legitimate opposition, buy guns and other tools of oppresion. One wonder how helpful aid is in this regard 3.Does aid offer a sustainable solution to ending hunger in africa? Aid can take different forms but in the case of hunger there are both short term and long term effects. In the short term aid is helpful in abating food shortahes however in the long term communities loose the ability to sustain themsleves due to over dependence on Aid. what do we need for our African brothers and sisters? To buy them a hook anf teach them how to catch fish or to offer them fish ready to be consumed? in a nutshell, the long term implication of Aid in Africa will continue to be negative until African start determining there own destiny. As President Kagame of Rwanda has always stated," If western countries want to give us Aid, that is ok but we should determine which Aid we need and for what purposes in particular"

Submitted by Salima Kane on
Bayite- Kasule thank you for reacting to my contribution. I have read it thoroughly and do side with you just for some of the comments. I have jot down three issues from your reaction: 1)M& E : Monitoring and Evaluating 2)Does AID Offer Sustainable solution to ending Hunger in Africa 3)Long term implication of AID in Africa Let me react to them: 1)It is important to bear in mind that the monitoring and evaluating demands a strategic planning in order to deliver adequate results, and good monitoring and evaluating could have been a major driver to end poverty in Africa. Unfortunately it has been a failed approach, because Africa itself does not have a strong monitoring ethics. Monitoring and evaluating is a new process in Africa's political, economic and social Agenda. Indeed there Western Governments and Grants/AID receivers should establish a strong M&E for long term results. Do the vulnerable, the needy have access to AIDS? only a small percentage of these needy people do receive a piece of the cake. Just look around, how Africa is crippled economically, politically and socially? and yet ending AID now to Africa will crippled more the continent . M&E does work, but it needs to be reinforce, and closely monitored. 2) AID is not the long lasting solution to end Hunger in Africa. It is up to the Africans to decide what would be the faith of their continent: A continent of hope and despair? or a continent that would depend on AID for the next century. Indeed AID is not going to be the solution. We have to find ways to develop strongly our agricultural system for a better and strong economic growth. Despite the overwhelming odds, Africa's land is very fertile and we can find ways to produce enough food for a great number of people. In the end, it is truly Africa as a continent to decide about the faith of its people. But, again, I will not say that Africa should refuse the AID: FOR NOW, THE CONTINENT NEEDS IT.. BUT NOT FOR LONG. 3) The long term implication for AID in AFRICA: The continent is used to it.. unfortunately that is the long term implication. Yes I side with President Kagame's theory: we should determine which AID we need and for what purposes in particular" but, the continent is so used to AID to that effect Any AID is acceptable and accessible. Through the prism of history, the continent shows that AID has always been the ultimate goal. Indeed it is high time the continent fetches for itself. Everything starts with that first step. I nevertheless still position myself in my first argument : Ending AID will still be a big mistake, but , if it is the last resort, it needs to be done gradually; the continent still needs foreign Aid. Citizen Kane

Submitted by Ken Corsar on
Since the word came into being the capacity of Africans to look after and nurture Africans has fallen by the wayside. The fact that a large proportion of aid funding has been salted away in many devious schemes - largely reaching a priveleged few in many cases through political associations and crony clubs. The way forward is to facilitate trade instead of aid, provide the infrastructure to develop economies through depth of outreach and capacity. Africa has all the resources to fuel much of the world markets in minerals and other commodities - there is no lack of 'wealth' in Africa so whyis aid needed - only to address the fact that wealth doesnt reach the smallest village.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Rather than preparing power point presentations asking for money from donors. The younger generations in Africa, some of which already in politics, have not seen anything else but a political and business structure organised about the money from donors and how to split it among themselves. If we cannot spot injecting their economies with useless efforts, at least we should ask them to prepare better power point presenations.

Submitted by Neesh Chand on
If the consider the government machinery as resembling a pyramid most of the corruption (in terms of number of 'transactions') occurs at the bottom of the pyramid while foreign aid deals directly with the top level. Policies at the top level do not necessarily get fully transferred to the lower level. Anti corruption measures targeting the lower level directly would be far more efficient. Why not give greater support to institutions dealing directly with the operational level?

Submitted by Biadeg on
Shanta: Overall, I agree with you that aid shouldn't be stopped even for corrupt nations. The main focus should be on what kind of aid? how much? when? under what condtions? and to whom it should be given. In most cases, the aid that had been given to Africa by western powers (except a few) was led by their own self interests rather than by Africa's. It was given either to extend hegemony, influence and military power or purely economic interests (profits & markets), regardless of the aid being effective or making a difference in the aid receipient country. This was much more clear during the "cold war" than now. The evicence suggests that after the "cold war" many African countries showed sign of growth, because corrupt leaders in Africa were not getting large infusion of fund just to buy sphere of influence and exploitation by super powers, as it used to be. In addtion, a new generation of leaders (still far from democracy but relatively better than the old ones, and more nationalistic) have risen to power (e.g. in Uganda, Ethiopia etc), who use the aid money to make a difference in their countries (though not clean of corruption yet). I agree with you that the strenghtening of institutions should go hand in hand with the growth of Aid, as you said. However, the west should avoid the notion of "one jacket fits all" for helping to strenghten instituions either. Fundamenatally, corruption can be eradicated (if at all possible) only from inside not outside. Africa must be fortunate enough and work hard to cultivate "good leaders" following a few role models it has in its backyard, rather than looking up to West or East. Leaders like Mandella and countries like S. Africa could be used as role models on their struggle to strenghten their institutions, however far they are still from perfection. Peer-to-Peer discussions and exchange of information and best practices among Africans themselves should be encouraged. Finally, the population (especially the new generation) should be mobilised and enlightened to defend its interests and fight for its future along with the strengthening of the institutions. The Western nations should only be catalysts in this process. One other point I should add is that international donors and development agencies should have an aggressive program to involve the African Diaspora in their native countries by encouraging "brain recycling" and detering "brain drain". Africa should learn from the exps of India & China on how to tap on the enormous resource of the Diaspora, which can serve to build a bridge for technology and knowhow transfer from the West. Thanks!

Submitted by VNU on
Before we talk about aid, or no aid, or limiting aid, maybe we should ask a simple question: Are we giving aid to viable entities? By this I mean how many countries in Africa (Not African Counties) are truly ‘viable? How many ‘Countries in Africa’ have the capacity, uniformity of purpose and single mindedness to move their people forward, with or without aid? A very important fact always gets lost in the endless forest of arguments about ‘Africa’ and the countries therein, is this, ‘Almost every African country is a colonial creation, created for the benefit of the then colonial power, not for the benefit of the tribal groups that make up those ‘Countries. What does this have to do with corruption you may ask? I say everything, as many ‘Counties in Africa’ are failed states, for the very simple reason that they were designed to fail. Africans need to take a cold hard look at their current countries, and the progress or lack of, since independence and ask the question “Is this structure working? Can we really go anywhere with this current set-up?. Corruption is Africa is due to a lack of empathy between the rulers and the ruled. Most African countries were forged in the heat of greed coupled with the ‘Winner takes all’ philosophy of the colonialists. These traits were picked up by a lot of African leaders post independence, when coupled with the basic human tendency of ‘Insatiable Wants’ it is no surprise that so many African leaders find it impossible to ‘share’ or encourage the kind of governance that spreads the wealth and ensures that the ‘least able’ can still have a seat at the table. The corruption in Africa runs deeper than just financial, it goes to the very heart of the counties that have been created in the ‘Image’ of foreigners, till that curse is broken there will be no progress.

Submitted by African Expat on
Corruption and not so strong governance have not prevented China or India from developing their economies and in effect addressing the issues of economic growth and poverty reduction. It is not for lack of capacity building programmes, endless seminars & workshops, training, study tours, etc There is only so much that donors can do. Africans came up with NEPAD, which is a shambles as it simply arranges one talkshop after another, and has delivered nothing tangible to date. It is time to gradually withdraw aid to African countries irrespective of levels of corruption or governance, this will enable them to think for themselves and hopefully come up with home-grown solutions that are more likely to work as they would have a better understanding of their own values and interests, which a donor with the best intentions simply cannot fully grasp. Time for Africans to get serious.

Submitted by Anonymous on
I agree, the African people should not be deprived of critical development programs simply because of greedy and corrupt leadership. It may be better to change the way aid is being allocated rather than cutting the aid tap completely. Focus can shift towards partnership with reliable NGOs and Private Sector counterparts in cases where governments are too corrupt. As far as improving institutions to root out corruption - I still fail to see any successful development projects in this particular area. Changing the mentality of the leadership needs to come from within these countries and for aid projects this means empowering the populace to hold their leaders accountable to higher standards. Particularly in the African case, too many people have resigned themselves to functioning within the constraints of corrupt systems. Simply attaching conditions against the allocation of aid funds has not worked in the past and will undoubtedly not work in the future.

Submitted by oveitare19 on
Evil beget evil. Good intention is rewarded. With Good results. There are two sides to a coin. There are two sides to corruption ie the Giver and the Taker.I will say the Giver of Aids are Currupt so also the Taker of Aids are currupt. The foreign Aid Donors give Aids to Corrupt Goverments so that they can also get their" cut". When there is no result , the Giver of Aids "Gives the Dog a bad Name so as to hang the Dog " The foreign Donor do successful and profitable businesses in Africa with honest Businessmen/women . When it gets to Aids they meet their fellow corrupt government official, giving Aids to them. We all understand the Game they have been playing all these years 80% of sucessful Business ventures in Africa is from the Private Sector, Redirect your Energy to the productive Sectors , then you will get Results However, we are not expecting a change in the scenerio because corrupt people handling the foreing Aids directs it to currupt African Government To Get a Different Result you will have to do Things Differently " Teach African How to Fish , Don't Give us Fish " Live is a passing phase. We do our best while still alive. The World is created. In pairs--ie Good and Evil . Male and Female . White and Black, Day and Night,positve and Negative , Paradise and Hell .Rich and Poor , water and Fire , Life and Death Although the poor Suffers, the Rich also Cries Let the Donor counries Starts with Goog /Godly intention , then they will see positive Results Thanks you all for reading my SIMPLE MESAGE

Submitted by Peter on
Where are the investments of the super rich Africans? Most of them in London appartments or Swiss Bank accounts and similar. The African leaders should give an example and invest in their own countries before begging for money from abroad. Giving loans or aid will only increase corruption, if the rich Africans invest themselves they would make sure the money is channeled the right way.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Forget the statistics, its about morals and accountability. Aid reduces accountability. Aid perpetuates bad morals. The logistics of the delivery and effect of aid mean that it will never be effective unless the inherent governance morals (acting in the greater good) of the societies within which aid is delivered changes This change will not come unless there is a catalyst. The absence of aid is a good catalyst to focus peoples attention. People will die but life is not fair.

I think if we are ready to curb corruption, we should use the grass root level one, because they are more agrived about the corruption in the higher level, which affects them indirectly. Just to build their capacity, empower them and create a check, then some thing will start to happen in the higher level. stoping the grant is not the best option, because whether grant or no grant corruption will still excist. civil society and grass root empowerment is solution to corrution, especially in Nigeria.

Submitted by Anonymous on
I think there is a flaw in the logic. It is true that cutting off aid will not reduce corruption, here is no disagreement here. What the question should be is aid effective when there is corruption, especially at the high levels we see it at present in some African countries. If it is not effective in these weak governance environments then it should be cut anyway, because it is a waste of money and those funds should be used in an alternative way to achieve the stated objectives. E.g. finding ways of cutting corruption. Stuart Wilson Resource Extraction Monitoring www.rem.org.uk

Submitted by Haidy Ear-Dupuy on
Hi Shanta long time no see, About five years ago, I was Ethiopia shopping in one of this place where they have silver items for sell. A group of important looking government officials from many African countries entered the shop and pulled out a stash of hundred dollar notes and paid for a large amount of silver items theat they purchased for their wives and mistresses. I was shocked at how much money they had. I could not help but wonder where did the money come from.... I am living in Cambodia now and I've seen too much to believe in your statement about no evidence of corruption with aid money....

Submitted by Leslie Taylor on
Hi Knwazota, Perhaps Aid is necessary in environment with high levels of corruption to finance anti corruption structures and as well as restructuring government departments and ministries. One could also argue that promotion of a free press and media would help to expose fraud and hold the government to account. We all know that even in developed countries the press is vitally important in helping the public to scrutinize the role, function and credibility of individual politicians and government. Perhaps aid can also create additional opportunities for senior politicians and civil servants as it may well be that these individuals are inclined to and indulge in these activities as a way of compensating for low income or fear of loss of income and position. Low wages and poor examples at the very top of the civil service and amongst politicians are the drives of corrupt practices and a culture based on preference and personal patronage is the real issues. Reducing Aid or stopping it is collective punishment which will only make for more pain and suffering for the vulnerable. Leslie

Submitted by Claudia Dima on
In my opinion aid should not be cut off from countries with high level of corruption. It would be better to asses the causes of corruption and direct part of this aid to address the causes of corruption (including attitudes, behaviors, culture, basic needs such as housing, food, etc). Of course another point should be to ensure a proper surveillance in order the aid not to feed a corrupted chain. But definitely the aid should be provided. Cutting the aid is not the solution.

Submitted by Yacob Fisseha on
If aid is allowed to be given to corrupt regimes, what assurance is there that external loans will not also be preyed upon by corrupt officials and what moral ground can there be to burden future citizens with loans that were stolen by corrupt officials. To give aid to corrupt regime is to license and abet the corruption. This is a sad, sad commentary on the bankruptcy of development agencies to, in effect, sanction corruption because it cannot, allegedly be controlled. The issue is not elimination but control or minimization. We do not have a cure for HIV/AIDs but we do not stop treating sick people because we cannot cure it; we do what we can do even if the number of people we save (sometimes for a short time) is small.

Submitted by milton on
Corruption has been said to harm the poor mostly but the real reality is that it even leaves the rich wretched and miserable too. The main use of corruption has been driven by the determination to acquire wealth, funds, influence and run underworld entities at all cost. Corruption is quite an expensive habit yet it is easily sustain by it major ingredient- easy money. Corruption has been underestimated for a long time, it is time we acknowledge that corruption is an institution. This institution is a well structured system borrowing its hierarchy from the much feared Mafioso, actually it is the same cartel reincarnate. A system of powerful high level control organ run and supported with a lower level of henchmen/women to facilitate dirty money circulation. Corruption is well instituted various legal protocols systems; within countries system, oversight bodies, public sector, legal system and NGOs- surprisingly for the later. The question you might pose is how do you know? My answer is, ask me how it feels! Corruption is a habit and a preoccupation and very little can be done to contain it within the social, political, or religious organs. Because the conflict of interest between individuals and the fight against corruption is a major hurdle given survival is a lifeline for even skilled profession. Corruption operators are skilled, well informed, and have successfully been able to create barrier to owners of productive capital. Corruption proceed have been invested in property investment and consumption, thereby, starving initial intended development and productive investment. Since corruption is an institution, and a very expensive institution to run and maintain, there is no better option than running the funding taps dry. The funding taps to target are those that are the blood stream to corruption. Eye brows might be raised but the question to answer is what percentage of donor funding can actually be accounted for as having reached the intended target? Donor funding in cash has rarely reached the poor, but donor funding in kind has the possibility of 40-60% to reach the target. Donor funding stoppage is a bold and better move to clean the system, because money is virus that spread corruption.

Corruption in Africa more than any other developing countries around the world has become chaotic, excessively complicated and seems not to have any discernable solution. This is because everyone in the continent (citizenry) is involved, either as deeply corrupt person or beneficiary. Theories have failed and research works of the past years on the problems of corruption are not working for the continent simply because all the citizens are involved, all the institutions are getting weaker by the day. The Civil Servants who are career officers lured and taught politicians what to do with foreign aid they invited and taught he Military the act of corruption and severely corrupt and bastardized that institution, the professionalism and discipline in the African military institution can never be redeemed again. For as long as the entire society is involved in corruption, it becomes hereditary, passing on from one generation to another, with the acts being perfected for more serious actions. The developed world community has the responsibilities to provide aid for any member of world the community who could not fend for herself it is morally justifiable and politically rewarding for such donor country to do in order to scale up her relevance in the world affairs. Unfortunately, there is little or nothing those developed countries could do as regards controlling the aid because of the sovereignty of the recipient nation even the UN is limited in this respect. However, the truth is that the hands that give is always on top and the one receiving must perpetually be brought lower no matter how conceited it may be. Again the nature of the extremely corrupt society is absolutely foreign to the less corrupt society where rule of law is more effective and had reduced the act of corruption to an insignificant level and unpopular culture over the past decades. My thinking under this confusion of a complicated issue of corruption is that if the US, Europe and the UN will really and genuinely want to help Africa it is best that they strategically insist and direct all funding to fortify the rule of law in the continent. Effectiveness of the rule of law will strengthen the citizenry who are the foundation of every national structure including all leadership structures and, once the rule of law can achieve active citizenship, then, citizens will take control of their destiny and prevent criminals from emerging as leaders to underdeveloped them. For now the emerging leaders profit with disabilities of citizens because that offers them greater chances to steal and empty the nations’ treasury and all foreign aid. When citizens are strong and active, they will be able to stand high to receive aid at the level of inter-dependency, side-by-side with donors as each become useful and benefited from each other in a way not with the present total dependency. But for now the aid given to a weak nation further disables them and reduces them to nothing, which is why nothing works in the Continent. Effective rule of law will strengthen the minds of people it will grow them stronger and make them feel tall from cutting corners for short term benefits but are willing to take longer route for long-time benefits.

Submitted by Anonymous on
How does aid can help a continent? Africa need investment and access to loan as it is in the western countries. For the past 6 years I worked and live in 15 countries in all the continents. My experiences open my eyes on Africa problem. One day a friend was saying as many western why African are living in very bad condition houses and driving so old cars and having difficulties for food? My answer to him was: Can you tell me what kind of house would you build without any loan, but only with your Salary? And what kind of car would you buy without any 0% - 10% down payment and 10 years loan? I don't really think that the problem in Africa is about the efficiency of aid but the efficiency of investment? But I understand that the true thing about investment in Africa is corruption. We need very smart Leader in Africa, so far the smart African are not yet in control but afraid of the violence in the politic. The time should come when the Smart African takes control of the politics in Africa.

Submitted by DG on
In a presence of high corruption, aid should follow channels which reduce the opportunities of rent seeking behaviors from recipient governments. Donors facing the Samaritan Dilemma should adapt their aid modalities and sectoral affectations to the prevalence of bad governance. Corruption is mostly a symptom of weak governance infrastructures, then aid in a context of corruption have to challenge the time inconsistency problem both at recipient and donors side. therefore one should wonder about the ability of donors and recipient governments to make credible commitments while dealing with pro-poor aid.

Submitted by Bayite-Kasule on
Over the past years, economists have strived to find effective pathways of stimulating economic growth and development in Africa.Aid is one of such pathways identified. As the Marshallian development plan demonstrated after the second world war, Aid can have positive effects, however positive effects can only be realised if institutions are in place to regulate and monitor aid facilitated activities. On the whole Aid in Africa seems to have positive effects in the short run but slowly looses this momentum and creates negative effects.The issue of poor leadership and strategies designed under the guidance of African leaders and intellectuals who are corrupt to the core means that Aid fueled to Africa lands in the claws of thieves. Aid is doing a good job of entrenching dicatorships in Africa.Money intended for development is used to buy off voters.This not withstanding, cutting off Aid will yield more negative effects on the African population.I argue that with the current trends of corruption, increased investments will still benefit those few who are strategically positioned politically! International agencies tend to have more faith in central governments which are the real shakers and movers of corruption.In the face of a benefactor turned thief-what is the best thing to do? Cut aid or pour in more aid so that some gets past the thieving claws to the intended pouplation?

Submitted by Udo Etukudo on
Shanta, I share your views that there is little connection between these two important topical issues. The levels of corruption across the continent is largely a reflection of two things: (i) massive institutional failures and/or breakdown, i.e. poor accountability, weak enforcement mechanisms, low levels of law and order; and (ii) low incomes.However, if one were to zero in on the root cause of the corruotion issue, one would inevitably single out low incomes. Many Africans in leadership positions come from poor backgrounds, where years of underdevelopment have eroded personal value systems. As such, once they assume positions that offer opportunities for enrichment, there is an instantaneous orgy of theft and personal enrichment of glutonous proportions. Comparatively, in western advanced democracies, with higher living standards, the kind of courruption in existence there does not feed personal interest in the first instance, but is first and foremost considerate of delivering a service, after which a small commission exacted. This practise is more sustainable and "development friendly" than the African version.

Submitted by Anonymous on
The rapport between corruption and socio-economic rights (housing, education, water, health---- ) cannot be over emphasised. In effect i belong to the school of thought that thinks that aid should be primarily orientated towards solving the root causes of corruption. Sector wise, sectors such as the police could be strengthened so as to inturn use a sae police i the holistic corruption fight. this is the theses statement defended in my Master Degree dissertation on the topic/ POLICE CORRUPTION IN CAMEROON AND UGANDA. ACOMPARATIVE ANALYSIS presented at the centre for huma rights - University of Petoria - 2007 available at www.chr.up.ac.za.

Submitted by Rick Mavogan on
Shanta, I dont agree with your view that cutting aid will have no effect on corruption. I beg to submit that having lived in Africa for nearly a decade, I see that the Aid that comes in is not accounted for in some countries or accounted for by shady book-keeping and front organisations and contractors (propped by the regime) and is re-routed to fund corrupt politicians and pseudo democratic regimes to fund their re-elections and hold on to power. Basically who is fully monitoring how the dollar is actually spent? The de facto monitoring process takes into account the European or Amercan estimate of spending a dollar. The same dollar can give much more benefit in Africa, where the local costs are not high when properly monitored. There is no open tender system. But I agree that cutting the aid will have more profound impact on the people than the corrupt regimes.

Submitted by Tola on
While I agree with other commentators that the problem of corruption in Africa requires internally packaged antidote, the truth however is that proper deployment of foreign aids to critical sectors of education and social advocacy may help in tackling the problem of corruption in the long run. Illiteracy can be a major hurdle in efforts to curb corruption at the highest levels of government but an enlightened and educated citizenry could be a major force in pushing for the sanctioning of corrupt leaders at any level of the society. So, if aids are channeled to education sector, there is the hope that in the long run the soldiers required to prosecute the war against corrupt leaders and systems in the various countries would have been empowered. In other words, foreign aids could still be used as catalytic tool for waging the locally-designed strategies for combating corruption at all levels in the society

Submitted by Bamidele on
I see no reason why a country like Nigeria, for instance should be given any form of aid. We have virtually everything we need to be a great nation but for the menace of corruption. Corruption is an in- house issue in Africa. I feel personally that granting the continent aid is a way of making available more free money for the use of some persons in government. Howbeit, the menace must be tackled internally. There is nothing much any outsider can do to help. Whatever change we desire must come from within. It is good to know that not every person in the continent is fraudulent and this gives hope for change. The cleansing process has already started in my country Nigeria as the judiciary is now becoming bold enough to jail influential politicians who are corrupt. Nothwithstanding, I advocate aid for very poor countries, especially those which are prone to natural disaster.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Fighting of corruption in Africa will be the solution to many problems in that continent.African leaders should look inwards for the solutions to her problems and focus less on solutions to her problems from the western world. The problems of Africa were created by Africans and it will take right actions in the right direction to solve these problems. Africa you have the huge resources to develop your continent,just be sincere to yourself and fight your enemy called corruption

Aid will ever remain inevitable for as long as we are addressing development as there will always be disparity in development. There will continue to be those regions that will remain in their childhood level of development and others will be those retarded by the evil of corruption, both remains obvious disability which will continue to beckon for helps. It is a written natural law that there must be a continuous and unrestricted movement, when a part is infected with some sorts of self inflicted disability, such that corruption often caused others will naturally have to take charge of what ought to have been their responsibilities, if such others could still be magnanimous to offer succor in the sorry self-inflicted situation in terms of financial aid, who says they are enemies of the self-made-disabled people. An irresponsible society or individuals have no right to their rights. That was why I spoke of the need to strengthened the rule of law in Africa and other developing countries to be able to enable the citizenry, once you have achieve having active and enabled citizens the problem of bad leadership will disappear and the culture of cap on the table will also seized while relationship based on interdependency will emerge. Corruption is a product of weak and defective mind and it is only discipline emanating from effective laws that can cure and strengthen it. When the rule of law is made stunted, the entire people will be disabled and corruption will become a growing culture as majority of the people buys into the culture which often do not stress them, but offer them freedom to do what they like most at no cost. Every human-being has tendencies to do evil and especially to corrupt his/her path and the fact remains that there are traces of corruption in every country of the world but, in those advanced societies where their laws are empowered and made not to respect anyone, corruption beginning to disappear and over several decades of relentless efforts it has become unpopular and anyone caught doing it will be severely stigmatized. But in Africa, when you insist on transparency it is then you will be stigmatized and become enemy of the state and outcast amongst the citizenry, the only exemption is when playing politics. Corruption kills inspirations and skills and prevents innovations. There was a time in Africa, not long ago when some indigenous industrialist do physically killed young talented graduates who attempted to apply their fresh knowledge from the universities to invent new technologies which the industrialists use to import into Africa and a channel they often adopt to siphon funds into their private accounts in the developed countries. Other young ones who escaped such persecutions, succumbed and were disabled while they now learn the same act which has now become a growing hereditary in the continent. Who bells the Cat! Except the rule of law is made to work again, Africans will continue to succumbed for short-cuts and short term benefits as an acceptable tradition. Donors’ aid in kind will be an expression of sincerity and it will be very helpful in some strategic sectors in addition to building strong institutions to strengthening the rule of law. Take our agricultural sector for example, the poor peasant farmers are those producing over 90% of the foods locally produced in the continent and they are the most excluded as most nations profit from importation of foreign food products which were not forced on them but for personal gains of those citizens in the position of power and their cohorts. I recently experiment putting together some of these excluded farmers on cluster farming basis in Nigeria, with view thousands of Dollars it is amazing the level of progress made in three private Millennium Villages with about 150 farmers being govern by the established village-council. If donor countries will channel their assistance to such independent groups from different sectors, you cannot easily comprehend the unprecedented positive outcome within few years and the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 will become achievable even in the African continent. The funds released by donor countries and International Agencies as a result of the current global food crisis have been distribute into few pockets and are further used to tyrannize the entire society. This is when aid becomes ineffective and creating more problems than can be envisaged and that was why I said in my previous posting that the donor countries are foreigners to the cunning intrigues of the African corruption culture.

The blog Africa Works (http://africaworksgpz.com/2009/11/23/is-corruption-is-better-than-we-thought/) has posted a critical comment on my blog post. Since it is difficult to comment on the blog (you have to have a user name and password; when you ask for a password, they don't recognize your username), I reproduce it here, so I can post my reply as well. Africa Works: I beg to differ. Devarajan generates many interesting ideas about African political economy, but in this case he’s trying too hard to be interesting. His argument commits donors to willing agree to have some of their assistance stolen by corrupt officials. While no one aid program can immunize itself from theft and pillage by recipients, donors must at least symbolically stand for something. Mere practicality seems a poor excuse for holding to durable values. Devarajan may be right that there is little “evidence” that cutting off aid to corrupt governments changes behavior of those governments. But striking back at corruption may make the donors feel better, and since donors rely on taxpayer dollars often for their own funds, these taxpayers may appreciate even “empty” gestures so long as they send a message worth remembering. My response: If you agree that no aid program can immunize itself from theft and pillage (and there is plenty of evidence of aid fungibility to corroborate this), then the only reason to cut off aid to corrupt governments is, as you say, to "make the donors feel better." The tradeoff then is between making donors feel better and helping poor people escape poverty. I assume the taxpayers funding aid program are interested in reducing poverty, in which case they may not be impressed by "empty gestures"; they may be more impressed by results on the ground which can be achieved even in countries with high corruption.

Submitted by Shaheena on
Corruption or no corruption, financing is needed for the poor countries to move development forward. Aid funds should be budgeted into annual programs and activities monitored with the built-in incentives of expected results. If AID is targeted to end poverty, funding should be channeled to the lowest tier of the government in such a way that incentives (synonymous to managerial profits) may be built in programs for producing results that are sustainable for the poor.

Submitted by Sako on
There is an African proverb which says that you cannot use fire to quench fire and no matter how long a log stays in the water it cannot turn a crocodile. Corruption is a result of express human behaviour, whenever there is an opportunity to diverty majority rights into personal right. Therefore, the major theme here is OPPORTUNITY. The basic question is if AID is cut who is affected most? A corrupt official or majority of poor people? If the Aid is cut, we are not solving the problem... the solution to the problem is straight and clear CLOSE ALL THE CORRUPTION OPPORTUNITY DOORS. Corruption is much of behaviorial issue which is very different in perspective compared to AID cut. The best strategy is to ensure well established controls are in place and monitoring of impact through periodical assessment process. The CORRUPT will naturally have no opportunity. In most of developed nations, UK in particular, we hear a lot on corruption for example the issue of MPs pay and BAE under SFO, but their approach to address corruption issue is to deal with the Behaviorial selfish aspect of corruption, the legal system is excellent which makes it easy to handle corruption problem. Therefore, It is important that part of the AID should be committed to strengthenign of the legal system in those countries which should have zero torelance on corrupt elements.

Submitted by Sako on
There is an African proverb which says that you cannot use fire to quench fire and no matter how long a log stays in the water it cannot turn a crocodile. Corruption is a result of express human behaviour, whenever there is an opportunity to diverty majority rights into personal right. Therefore, the major theme here is OPPORTUNITY. The basic question is if AID is cut who is affected most? A corrupt official or majority of poor people? If the Aid is cut, we are not solving the problem... the solution to the problem is straight and clear CLOSE ALL THE CORRUPTION OPPORTUNITY DOORS. Corruption is much of behaviorial issue which is very different in perspective compared to AID cut. The best strategy is to ensure well established controls are in place and monitoring of impact through periodical assessment process. The CORRUPT will naturally have no opportunity. In most of developed nations, UK in particular, we hear a lot on corruption for example the issue of MPs pay and BAE under SFO, but their approach to address corruption issue is to deal with the Behaviorial selfish aspect of corruption, the legal system is excellent which makes it easy to handle corruption problem. Therefore, It is important that part of the AID should be committed to strengthenign of the legal system in those countries which should have zero torelance on corrupt elements.

Submitted by BK on
I agree with Shanta but we do need to create home grown solutions to fight corruption in Africa, which is endemic, viral etc and also crosses generation gaps e.g from graduate interns to the almost retired. I think requires our input as interested parties but also political will from the powers that be in the nation concerned being the government/leaders without that we will not get very far anytime soon e.g. Rwanda has shown the way at least on corruption. Also rewarding good performance by donors may assist somewhat e.g. Tanzania and MCC award of US$700Million.

Submitted by Mian Akbar Hussein on
What is needed in Africa is to eradicate poverty and corruption by educating people, build up peoples capacity and organization. Aid will be needed as because last several decades people lost their agricultural and natural resources. But all international aid must go directly to emergency relief, health care, education and agricultural works. All International ( so-called bi-lateral aid ) to corrupt government for military and law enforcement should be stopped (!) It is true African problem should be solved by African by themselves. How will we expect them to make decision when they do not have political power. Education and training would requires and mechanism should be develop so that people can get involve in local government institution building and empower them to participate in nations building. people must be involved in political process. Doing so economic growth, food security and environmental development would be necessary. I think this could only be possible through African Unity with a leadership like Nelson Mandela.... etc. Africa has been divided into pieces by vested corrup regimes, who are getting aid from our government, international donors, in turn these aid are being used to strengthen their coterie, military power. Can we ask our government to stop providing aid to the corrupt regimes, instead channel aid to local organizations who work directly with the people? To develop sustainable development and ensure peoples participation in decision making process.

Submitted by Femi Ogunleye on
Corruption appears tp bea course in Africa. Only the Africans can clean themselves of this scourge. Very many people concentrate on cities and urban centres for assessment of corruption and government activities. In many African countriess, the rural life is very degrading with poverty stacked in their faces. These are the areas assistance are needed and theyshould be directed to their local people rather than civil servants or politicians who have no other business than thieving. God bless Africa.

Submitted by Joshua on
Yes, Shanta Devarajan. I strongly buy your views. I wish to further state that President Obama's approach of frowing with the corrput regimes and his efforts of stating his grounds is great. I am sure that if the G8 takes the similar stand and straight talks without reservation of any fears of jeopardizing any interests or relations with Africa, will have better and faster results. The corrupt regimes personnel trips abroadshould be strictly restricted as well as taking firm decisions or drawing policies about their accounts since the AID is often monopolised and piled in these accounts. Joshua

Submitted by Eberechi on
Why continue to give aid to these countries, when all the do is circle it within those in power in these countries and come back begging for more, when absolutely nothing has been achieved with the ones earlier recieved? The world bank should endeavor to appraise the work and what has been done with funds given to these countries before more funds or aid are doled out. In most countries, where these aids go to, there are no consistent records kept on how these funds have been spent,so why keep doling it out when it finally finds its resting place in the pockets or just a few when the masses for who these aids were supposed to be made available still suffer in penury????????

In my view there's currently a great opportunity for African governments to seize: as emerging economies have (in many cases) come through the recent global economic downturn well relative to the developed economies, African countries have every chance to attract greater amounts of investment capital from institutional investors internationally. The topic of endemic corruption, though, continues to crop up as a convenient excuse for investors not to engage and invest in Africa. Those African governments who lead by example and eradicate corruption at the highest reaches of governement - have the best chance to benefit from the institutional money waiting to be deployed: on infrastructure improvements, education and other key areas. Best regards, Charles Gundy

Submitted by ACCRO on
Aid as that of Marshall Aid is very critical and beneficial. But aid which is being given at present and ever since the process of decolonization in Africa has become very harmful to the broad masses of the African people. It has inflated the the wealth of individuial dictators and their luckeys in Africa, while at the same time has created a number of aid barons in the West. In the final analysis, it has become clear that Africa and its people are the victim a mafia style cliques composed of the elites of both the donor and the receiver countries. And this at the misuse of the trust of the vast majority of good intentioned taxpayers in the Western counbtries and the abuse of the human and material resources of Africa. Since time immemorial Africa has existed without aid and was better off. Colonialism came and devasted the continent. Then decolonization started but with the East-West tension of politics came neocolonization veiled in aid. At the same time, there flowed into the continent huge quantities of weapons and ammunmitions which was used by the thugs in the continent to run a a so-called revolutionary armed struggle to seize power. These revolutionary thugs were helped and assisted by the so-called aid givers (be it from the West or the East). The end result became that Africa fell in the hands of the so-called revolutionary armed struggle leaders, who are now, paradoxically, Statesmen and Leaders of Africa. But the dignity and serenity of Africa has been wiped out along with its culture, resource wealth and human brain lost for ever. So, Aid to whom? By whom? Why? Aid to whose benefit? Just for the fun of the so-called World Bank economists, IMF specialists, Chinese neo-imperialists, Russian or Ukrainian or Israeli weoponists or the Gulf Sheikdoms Islamists? ... Have fun with it. As a matter of fact, Africa is not corrupt. Africa is full of human decency and very much endowed with human and material wealth. Africa has only been invaded and remains to be under the influence of very bad people from the West and the East. If you can think like human beings, please try to think and consider how to redress this basic problem which has been going on during the last 200 years and try to address the basic issues and make efforts to ameliorate the situation of Africa. Regards, for African conflicts research office.

Submitted by Anonymous on
its quite simple really. Our LEADERS!! None has a VISION for its people other than feed their greed. Corrupt leadership only breeds corrupt people. They do let the continent down and continue to do so. Wipe the continent clean of all its leaders. A search for proper change agent as a leader with a VISION to help set the pace for change. Until then, we're forever doomed. Sorry!

Submitted by SANJOSEMIKE on
Recently, at the Copenhagen conference on Global warming, (which they assume to be anthropomorphic,) developed Countries pledged over 100 billion dollars to "assist" 3rd World Countries and help them go-green. The reasonable assumption, based upon previous experience, is that the greatest majority of that money will go into numbered Swiss bank accounts. If 5% is actually spent on green technology, that will be a remarkable achievement. In the mean time, Muslim Countries have not only refused to assist fellow Muslim Countries in their economies, but also have contributed to population explosion, illiteracy and internecine warfare. Like most readers here have expressed, poverty in Africa and other undeveloped countries will continue until and unless they want to help themselves. Most of these countries are locked in the 13th century of Warlordism. Money spent on warlordism (while essential to lessen insurgencies) is almost always wasted. Not a penny of my money will go into a morass of over-population and corruption. I'd rather donate it to those who wish to help themselves. Sanjose Mike

Submitted by Daniele on
Shanta: I agree that that there is little evidence that cutting off aid reduces corruption. In fact, I think we must avoid a simplistic and linear approach "cause/effect". A multidimensional intervention is needed, including international pressures, a growing role of civil societies, institutional building, transparence of public life, a serious monitoring and assessment of international aid and cooperation in loco, etc.

It seems to us that there is a yawning gap between the theoretical world of development economists and the sordid, messy and chaotic real world. Development economists in the UK's Department for International Development have been responsible for the introduction of 'budget support'. This involves pumping cash directly into the beneficiary government's treasury rather than spending it on specific projects or trusted organisations. http://bit.ly/8UJJYD Budget support was hailed by DFID as an innovation when they introduced it. Budget support is a great idea in theory. In practice it's a disaster, particularly now that most donor countries have been persuaded by DFID to adopt the same approach (Their aid agencies responded enthusiastically: budget support makes their lives much easier and enables them to hit otherwise unattainable percentage of GDP based targets.) In the real world budget support makes no sense at all unless one's aim is simply to shift more money to Africa as quickly as possible. DFID's contention that budget support ' had made a major contribution to good macro economic management' is, to put it politely, deluded in the extreme. Even Tanzania's President says that 'A significant amount of Government money is diverted to personal use each year by corrupt senior public officials' http://bit.ly/5wwb2V Over the last 15 years massive amounts of aid money have been spent on institutional reform in Tanzania. However, it can be argued that the systems which have been put in place are simply window dressing aimed at keeping the donors happy. The brand new systems generate the data which donors want to see while in the real world, millions of dollars fly from the country to secret bank accounts in Geneva and London. There is, to conclude this overlong comment, a massive difference between what donors say is happening and what is actually taking place. This is not an argument for ending aid but very serious questions need to be asked about current structures and mechanisms in situation like Tanzania's - until recently, at least, a darling of the development community - where industrial scale corruption is enriching a tiny elite at the expense of the continuing grinding poverty of the masses. www.twitter.com/tanzaniawatch

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