The 9th of December the UN celebrates the anti-corruption day. It is clear that this is a global issue and a cross-cutting one. It concerns virtually all countries, even if in different degrees, and it can be found in all sectors of the development arena; e.g. health, rural development, agriculture, sanitation and many more. Corruption is not an issue that concerns only the rich; on the contrary, the poor are those who suffer the most from corrupt practices, in a number of ways. First of all, corruption subtracts money from the tax revenues which are the main source of social programmes and services. Secondly, the money the rich pay to corrupt officials are usually passed back as increased costs to consumers, and the poorest ones are the ones that will pay the higher price. Finally, corruption affects not only multimillion deals but spread throughout the social realm like a cancer and I know of bribes asked (and paid) to obtain jobs with a salary of forty dollars a month.
The energy that members of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA) brought to their first meeting is beyond words. “Stealing is bad enough, ripping off the poor is disgusting.” With those words, the World Bank President kicked off a 2-day momentum for the Corruption Hunters to “draw strength, learn from one another and create their global alliance.” And rightly so, they did. A “marketplace” showcasing select country experiences offered some space for some delegates to speak firsthand of their challenges and lessons of success and failure.
Courts must expeditiously, but fairly, adjudicate corruption cases, and the penalties imposed on those convicted must be sufficient to dissuade others from similar acts. To ensure that anti-corruption laws are indeed being effectively enforced, governments need to monitor the enforcement process.
Doing so can provide performance measures to inform and guide policy design and implementation. These performance measures also serve as indicators of corruption. In the short run, policy makers may not be able to do much to change these indicators, but measures, focused on performance, can provide a country something more concrete to act upon, helping policy-makers to prioritize.
For example, if the number of completed corruption investigations in a particular country is low because of difficulty in obtaining evidence, it can identify changes in policy and procedures which expand or strengthen investigators powers and tools such as providing it with subpeona powers or access to financial records.
How many of you keep journals where you write down your thoughts and feelings? Does it make you feel good to get it all out on paper? Art in all its forms, whether writing, music, painting, dancing, etc. has been found to have an immensely therapeutic power on people. Often, it helps people give vent to deeply buried emotions and trauma that perhaps they would not face otherwise.
In the world of development, research is not enough; a free and protected media is not enough; policy is not enough; but together, the combination can be unstoppable, when communicated well. Communication is the key. Disparate pieces floating in a vacuum cannot garner the type of result that is possible when they are combined and communicated as a whole, properly.
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Research Makes the News: Strengthening media engagement with research to influence policy
- Research and Policy Development
- relationship building
- Panos Network
- Panos London
- Overseas Development Institute
- Mabira rainforest
- civil society
- child welfare
Well, this will probably be my last update from Battery Operated Systems in Community Outreach (BOSCO) Uganda in northern Uganda. Over the next week, I will be shifting to Syria for new learning experiences in a region I have never visited. As a closing thought on my work with BOSCO, I wanted to briefly reflect on the organization's future.
This week, I took brief leave from the office to visit two of Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach (BOSCO)'s Internet sites. The first one I visited was the Pagak Peace and Information Center. Located on the Pagak Primary 7 campus, this is one of BOSCO's most successful Internet sites.
A few months ago, I was at a dinner at Erik Hersman’s (also behind Ushahidi). His team has started a new project called iHub, basically a technology (web and mobile) incubator in a great new office building in Nairobi. Fledgling programers submit an application for membership and, if accepted, are given free & fast wireless internet and a great place to work with like-minded people.
I have spent the past few days doing research on traditional telecenter sustainability. By traditional, I mean telecenters that charge a small fee for offline (photocopying, mobile charging etc.) and online services (Internet access) to meet their costs. While the news is rather bleak, I have stumbled across some interesting sources that might be of use to others: