Thursday, June 11, 2009

Corruption within aid groups

A recent scandal where food aid was stolen from World Vision has brought more attention to corruption within aid groups. Two World Vision workers in Liberia robbed World Vision of food and construction supplies then sold them for a profit. Since finding out about the theft, World Vision has installed more double checks to ensure the aid gets to the people.

Still the question remains why there is so much graft with aid agency's, and why it's so hard to catch. In his article for Reuters Alert Net, writer George Fominyen looks into why aid seems to fall into corrupt hands.

Dishonest staff are not the only problem. Some anti-graft watchers also blame corruption on a lack or resources for external monitoring.

"Often, in an effort to cut overhead costs, on-site external monitoring is de-prioritised. Regular audits only pick up areas where procedures have not been followed, not where procedures have been manipulated to cover up fraud," says Jessica Shultz, programme coordinator at the Norway-based U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre.

In addition, there is a sense of complacency towards corruption.

"Paying bribes to get goods past a road block, for example, may seem acceptable at the height of an emergency when lives may really be at stake. However, that thinking is being challenged now even in emergency situations," Shultz said.

A notorious corruption case surfaced in 2002 when a study brought to light allegations of widespread sexual exploitation of refugee children in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone by aid workers and peacekeepers from 40 agencies in exchange for relief supplies.

Food distribution, a cornerstone of humanitarian assistance, is particularly vulnerable because the complex logistics of aid delivery make corruption hard to detect.

Moreover, food is a valuable commodity and there are many opportunities for corruption in the process of shipping, storing and distributing food aid.

1 comment:

Kale said...

Contest is coming Saturday!