Information and news about corruption

Understanding the Venezuela Crisis
Venezuela’s socioeconomic debacle has been grabbing headlines over the past few years, especially as the crippling inflation rate—recently eclipsing 10,000 percent—hit the country’s economy and began to unravel its health sector. But these are just two of the key components to understanding the Venezuela crisis and its various impacts as the humanitarian crisis continues to debilitate the region following many years of unrest.

Many Years of Strife

Since the death of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2013 and the appointment of the current leader, Nicolás Maduro, the country has experienced a dire financial crisis as a result of low oil prices and financial mismanagement. Various power struggles and changes within the country’s National Assembly marked the political and humanitarian crisis that ensued.

The country’s military largely continues to back Maduro despite domestic, international and widespread condemnation of his authoritarian government. The political crisis has now spread to all levels of the economy and society, with nearly 4.5 million individuals having fled Venezuela due to the escalating unrest.

Following anti-government protests in 2014 after the victory of Maduro’s party the previous year, the economy and health care sector began their plunge and had all but collapsed by 2016. Malnutrition, child mortality and unemployment rates began to rise as a result. The United Nations estimates that the undernourishment rate in the country has quadrupled since the year 2012, putting more than 300,000 lives at risk due to limited access to medical treatment and medicines. Aid and relief efforts continue to face major hindrances due to mounting strife.

As the economic and humanitarian crisis grew over recent years, there was significant backlash and condemnation from foreign nations including the U.S. followed by significant international sanctions, especially over the increasingly authoritarian measures that Maduro took to pass laws autonomously and virtually unchecked.

Venezuela’s Refugee Crisis

Another dimension to understanding the Venezuela crisis is its refugee crisis as the economic and political problems have resulted in a dire humanitarian emergency. Since the beginning of the crisis back in 2014, over 4.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country. Mass displacement and humanitarian challenges continue mostly unabated due to integration obstacles, immigration and border pressures.

In 2019, the UNHCR-led joint effort, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Rescue Response Plan, along with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) called for the provision of $738 million in assistance to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America that were dealing with the impacts of the migrant exodus. Unfortunately, the Venezuelan refugee crisis remains one of the most underfunded in the world.

Aid and Other Positive Developments

Throughout 2019, the Venezuelan government under Maduro refused aid relief headed by Brazil, Colombia and the U.S., relying on Russia’s 300 tons of humanitarian assistance instead which included food as well as medical supplies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been overseeing foreign aid, especially medical and food supplies from Russia and other countries. However, at the same time, aid relief and efforts such as the distribution of crucial medicines have stalled owing to the escalating political crisis and mounting corruption.

The U.S. and President Donald Trump have not only pledged humanitarian financial assistance but have declared their support for the democratic opposition group led by Juan Guaidó. In October 2019, USAID signed a major development agreement with Guaidó’s shadow government, thereby raising aid and assistance to $116 million and allocating a further $568 million to helping Venezuelans displaced by the conflict. Though the U.S. and its allies remain committed to toppling Maduro’s regime and reinstating rule of law, they are in serious conflict with Maduro’s international allies, namely Russia, Turkey and China.

Hope for the Future

The Center for Prevention Action from the Council on Foreign Relations believes it is imperative to consider important policy options to help promote democracy as well as channel crucial humanitarian aid and assistance, perhaps even by means of forced humanitarian intervention and post-transition stabilization.

Even though the Venezuelan crisis at times may seem to be reaching an impasse, it remains possible that the humanitarian and pro-democracy efforts of foreign powers could ultimately lead to a post-Maduro scenario. The year 2020 will be an important year in determining the ultimate fate of the country and the internal power struggles. The international community will hold an indispensable role in helping to create a better understanding of the Venezuela crisis and to help create a promising future for the country.

Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 Facts about Corruption in Honduras
Honduras, officially known as The Republic of Honduras, is a small country in Central America bordering the Caribbean Sea. The Latin American country has had a rocky political climate since the 1980s and is full of corruption across all levels of government. Here are 10 facts about corruption in Honduras that everyone should know.

10 Facts About Corruption in Honduras

  1. Many Hondurans are fleeing to the United States. At least 350,000 Hondurans have attempted to migrate to the U.S. in the last 10 years to escape the danger, but Honduras has among the highest denial rates for asylum seekers to the United States. The U.S. denies approximately 78 percent of Hondurans legally seeking refuge.
  2. Political corruption is an important factor. Political corruption plays a part in why many Hondurans live in fear or decide to flee the country. Many experts say that political corruption is a big factor as to why there are so many Hondurans fleeing to the U.S. The country has a history of police brutality and one of the highest murder rates in the world.
  3. Politicians are funneling money from nonprofits to fund their campaigns. Univision reported that at least 53 nonprofits are missing funds that politicians are allegedly using to fund political campaigns or buy important votes. The nonprofits raised more than $70 million since 2009 and at least 176 politicians are part of this scandal. This includes President Juan Orlando Hernández who is the President of Honduras.
  4. The presidential election in 2017 caused protests. The Honduras presidential election of 2017 became the cause of protests across the country. When Honduras elected President Juan Orlando Hernández for his second term, many believed the results were fraudulent. Some protests were peaceful, but others took to blockading roads and burning tires. Honduras’ security forces used tear gas and live ammunition against the protesters. This results in the deaths of at least 30 people.
  5. Honduras has the most unequal distribution of wealth in Latin America. Some consider Honduras to be the sixth most unequal country in the world, due in part to policies such as a tax reform that the country implemented in 2013 that seemed to target the poor. Around 64.5 percent of Hondurans live in poverty and 42.6 percent live in extreme poverty. In 2014, the richest 20 percent of those living in Honduras had an 8 percent increase in their wealth, while the poorest 20 percent saw their wealth decrease 7.4 percent.
  6. The public health budget in Honduras suffers as a result of corruption. Studies show that in recent years, 49 percent of the public health budget mysteriously redirected to other unknown causes. The 2018 health budget underspent by the equivalent of about $33 million while hospitals remain in dire need of the funding.
  7. Historically, Honduras has severely misused aid from the United States. The intention of U.S. foreign aid to Honduras was to help President Juan Orlando Hernández in his war on drugs in the region but instead, he used it to fund security and police forces. According to human rights organizations, these security forces in Honduras have been associated with serious human rights violations in the past years.
  8. The U.S. cut funding to Honduras in 2019. In 2018, a slew of immigrants from Central America came together in a caravan of an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people headed for the United States. As a result of the region’s failure to stop the caravan, the U.S. dramatically cut funding to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The U.S. cut over $500 million in aid.
  9. An organization called the Organization of American States (OAS) fights to diminish corruption in the Honduran government. The goal of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras is to support Hondurans in fighting against corruption among those in power. Since April 19, 2016, this group has supported investigations into those accused of corruption. In addition, it worked to restore justice by recovering goods or profits unethically gained and give a voice back to the citizens of Honduras.
  10. The mission within the OAS has made impressive strides toward ending corruption in Honduras. Within six months of the creation of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), it proposed a law called the Law on Clean Politics. The law specified that political leaders be responsible for their finances and that citizens participating in drug trafficking not contribute to political campaigns. This law passed in late 2016.

These 10 facts about corruption in Honduras are evidence that the political climate in the region is rough. However, the security forces loyal to the President of Honduras weakened because the United States cut the funding. Additionally, groups like MACCIH are still working hard to combat corruption and impunity among the Honduran government. Protests continue despite the threat of violence. Also, Honduran activists continue to make their voices heard with the help of the Organization of American States.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Wikimedia

Politics in Liberia
Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world, a ranking that is largely due to the corrupt practices of its politicians. Economic mismanagement and various other corrupt practices plaguing politics in Liberia have sparked protests in the country as its residents become increasingly upset with a failure to tackle the situation. In order to understand the rise in civil unrest and dissatisfaction with the government, it is important to understand certain aspects of politics in Liberia that have collectively brought about its corrupt practices.

10 Facts About Politics in Liberia

  1. Previous Leadership: Liberia’s citizens previously revered their previous president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but the people eventually accused her of nepotism. Despite taking an oath to tackle corruption in 2005, the country did not effectively deal with its corrupt politics during her time as president. Approximately 20 ministers experienced accusations of corruption during this time, but the country did not take action to convict them of any wrongdoing or investigate the claims against them.
  2. Liberia’s New President: George Weah is currently the president of Liberia; people originally expected that his administration would help the Liberian people overcome the persistent problem of corruption within their politics. However, during his relatively short period as president, inflation rates dramatically increased and economic growth has shrunk.
  3. A Shift in Power: The election that Weah won followed a period of war within Liberia. Liberia elected its previous president during a significant time of war, and the most recent election in 2017 was the first democratic transfer of power that the country observed in many years.
  4. Continued Corruption: The previous election in 2017 took place not only in a time of war but in a time that would have been fairly definitive for politics in Liberia. The continuation of corruption undermined the country’s newfound hope in the democratic transition of power. The state institutions remained weak as a result of the corrupt politics in Liberia and it remained clear that personal relationships within politics still heavily dictated the decision-making process.
  5. The Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission: The country has made attempts in the past to tackle corruption but unfortunately has not been widely successful. Liberia implemented the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission in 2008 but it only led to two prosecutions between 2008 and 2017.
  6. Wage Discrepancies: Citizens in the nation typically earn less than $2 a day. The corrupt politics in Liberia ensure that its politicians receive compensation on a much larger scale. Legislators often pay themselves as much as $200,000 a year despite the persistent poverty that overtakes its citizens. Because of this, politics in Liberia tend to lean toward a means of personal promotion rather than true public service.
  7. Ebola’s Impact: The economy in the country took a large blow following an Ebola outbreak. While the outbreak was widespread and already difficult to assess and handle effectively, the politics in Liberia seemed to do more harm than good in the wake of the crisis. Its corrupt practices continued the growth of distrust in the government and politicians were unable to adopt a concerted effort to properly tackle and solve the crisis or stop the spreading.
  8. Lack of Protectionist Policies: Liberia, unfortunately, does not have a protectionist policy or law in place for whistleblowing accounts. As a result, authorities have arrested government employees that have pushed for greater transparency within the country’s politics. President Weah recently fired Konah Karmo who served as head of the secretariat for the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. As a replacement, Weah appointed a loyalist in order to further his own personal goals which sparked discontent and criticism from his constituents.
  9. Citizens Take Action: On a more uplifting note, citizens remain actively concerned and are attempting to tackle corruption and questionable politics in Liberia. Approximately two-thirds of the eligible population within the country can vote and this movement has allowed more women and first-time voters to become more involved with the political processes or, at the very least, the protests of corrupt practices.
  10. The Media vs. the Government: The relationship between the media and government has become increasingly tense in recent years as a result of the corrupt politics in Liberia. This relationship has grown so strained that the press union has recently brought attention to the intimidation and stifling practices that the press often face. Personal attacks of journalists and closures of local newspapers have taken place, further solidifying the corrupt politics in Liberia and making the situation more difficult to tackle and solve.

Liberia’s poverty and low economic growth closely link with its political practices. Despite a seemingly calm, democratic transition of power taking place just a few years ago, it seems that the current administration within the country has continued its corrupt practices rather than solving the problem internally. Liberian citizens are now taking a stance against these corrupt practices and attempting to influence their politicians to change their ways. The country can only make economic progress once it addresses its corrupt politics; once a leader comes into power that prioritizes truly challenging corruption or the current president changes his ways, the country will be on the road to progress and increased transparency.

Hannah Easley
Photo: Flickr

Factors of the Political Crisis in Peru
The political crisis in Peru is an ongoing event that first came about in 2017 and still needs to resolve. Corruption within the country’s government spearheaded discontent among Peruvians and planted the seed for the continued crisis in Peru. The crisis itself has become more complex as it has developed over the years. Thus, the process of a resolution has seemingly become just as difficult to navigate. Here are a few factors that helped create the crisis and continue to perpetuate the political issues surrounding it.

The New President

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won his political position by a very slim margin in a race against Keiko Fujimori in the 2016 election. His political party was only able to secure a small portion of seats within Peru’s Congress. Naturally, it faced strong opposition in many different facets. President Kuczynski’s political opponents and opposers portrayed him as a lobbyist that served as a political threat to Peru’s government. As a result, there were some questions surrounding his presidency and its legitimacy from the very beginning.

The Opposing Party

The political alliance behind Keiko Fujimori is the Popular Force Party. Following her electoral defeat, the Popular Force Party slowly began to pick away at its opposition using an obstructionist strategy. The party continuously targeted cabinet members of their opposition in hopes of ousting them and succeeded in several instances, warping the political landscape of Peru and deepening its government corruption. This strategy ultimately led to a dismantling of the cabinet and a continuous shuffling of members.

Suspicion of Corruption

Under the suspicion of corrupt government practices, the Peruvian Congress ousted President Kuczynski with a vote of no-confidence very early on in September 2017. This vote followed a sort of dare from the President. It forced out his second education minister and gave him a limited time span of three days to swear in a new Cabinet. Following the vote that ousted him, Congress tried the President in a congressional impeachment hearing in December 2017. This happened when he testified on a matter of suspected corruption. The particular incident that the hearing discussed was his involvement in receiving payments from one of his businesses from Odebrecht, a well-known Brazilian construction firm.

The vote following the deliberation of Congress did not result in his impeachment. However, a new scandal arose. It became publicly known that the President negotiated with former President Alberto Fujimori’s son to keep his position in power. These rumors of negotiations between the two sparked unrest and distrust among Peruvian citizens because of the public view of Fujimori. In exchange for the safety of his position, Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori for crimes against humanity and corruption, despite his 25-year prison sentence that the public largely supported.

Release of Former Dictator

The release of former dictator Fujimori sparked intense indignation and dissatisfaction among Peruvians. Arguably, this was the pivotal point marking the beginning of the political crisis in Peru. The courts overturned the pardon that President Kuczynski performed and he eventually resigned, consequently pushing Vice President Vizcarra into the presidency. He wasted no time in pushing an anti-corruption campaign in an attempt to quell protests and civil discord among Peruvians. However, the Popular Force Party still attempts to block these proposed anti-corruption reforms.

Dismantling of Congress

The past few years have been key in determining the political state of Peru, and it remains a delicate one. As of October 2019, President Vizcarra dissolved Congress after facing opposition. This dismantling of Congress has plunged Peru into a constitutional crisis which it must address immediately. The political crisis in Peru does not affect just corruption levels or prominent figures defeating their opposition. Instead, it affects Peruvians in ways they may not even be fully aware of. It primarily stifles public policy progression due to legislative gridlock. This means that no anti-corruption reforms or efforts can come to fruition because of the persistent corruption stalling and dismantling Peru’s politics. Direct legislation cannot pass because of this. For instance, there are necessary reconstruction efforts to address damages from detrimental coastal flooding that occurred in 2017. The Peruvian economy originally experienced a boom following its democratic transition. However, the growth has slowed substantially in the midst of this crisis.

Solving the Political Crisis

Although the situation may seem bleak, it is not an unfixable issue. The political crisis in Peru requires cooperation mainly from its primary political parties. The days of ousting the opposition in a never-ending battle for power must end. In addition, a united front must form against corruption. However, this may not be easy. Such a united front would require the major political parties in Peru. The parties have to abstain from their corrupt practices long enough to negotiate a new way of governance. This will help avoid the power struggles that have brought political turmoil upon the nation. The international community must provide support for Peruvians in this time of crisis. Additionally, it should help to rebuild the once successful democratic institution that existed within Peru. It can accomplish this largely by acting as mediators between parties and pushing for compromise and cooperation.

The government has not completely ignored the political crisis in Peru. Rather, the country has made a decent amount of progress in the past two decades by strengthening its economy, lowering its poverty rates and decreasing the amount of income inequality present. The strengthening of the political institutions and the laws surrounding them will ultimately help Peru the most. Once Peru’s institutions are able to regain legitimacy and close the loopholes that allow political corruption to thrive, the country will hopefully be able to feel a sense of normalcy. Domestic and international actors’ aid in tackling corruption head-on will combat the political crisis in Peru. In addition, forming a sense of unity should help the country attain stability.

Hannah Easley
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Corruption in Kenya
Kenya is one of the world’s most corrupted countries. In 2017, Kenya ranked 143 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s (TI) corruption index. High corruption levels permeating every sector of Kenya’s economy and politics is hindering development and endangering democracy. These 10 facts about corruption in Kenya provide a brief overview of this issue, as well as the anti-graft attempts made by the government and other private organizations.

10 Facts About Corruption in Kenya

  1. Corruption and terrorism: The high level of corruption in Kenya not only undermines counter-terrorism efforts but also provides extremists with funding, access and motivation. Kenya’s security and police force are known to take bribes and collaborate with extremists, allowing easy access for al-Shabaab operatives, which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives.
  2. Police: The Kenya Police Service is the most bribery-prone institution in Kenya. Seventy-five percent of Kenyans believe that most or all police officers are corrupt, and one-in-two Kenyans who have interacted with the police report bribing them. The police force frequently engages in corruption crimes such as false imprisonment, fabrication of charges and abuse of human rights to extort bribes, but are rarely arrested or prosecuted.
  3. Perception of government effort: A 2017 survey shows that 67 percent of respondents from Kenya do not think that the government is putting enough effort into fighting corruption. The respondents rated the anti-corruption performance of the president as average, while the judiciary and legislative service were rated as poor.
  4. Reporting corruption: Journalists often face increasing pressure from the government and new laws that limit their capacity to report freely. Many choose to self-censor. Tipping about corruption is a high-risk endeavor, resulting in being fired, harassed or even murdered. One blogger was arrested in Kenya after reporting on corruption, and another was sent into exile in the U.K. after exposing graft and fraud in the Kenyan government. However, the country’s private media outlets still publish a variety of views and critical reporting.
  5. Financial cost: The country’s anti-graft chief estimates that up to a third of Kenya’s state budget, an equivalent of $6 billion, is lost to corruption annually. Kenya has lost approximately $66 billion to corruption since its independence in 1964. The exact scale of corruption, however, is unknown.
  6. President Kenyatta’s war on corruption: In a recent crackdown, 28 Kenyan high-profile officials, including the Kenyan Finance Minister, have been charged with financial crimes. This marks a turning point for Kenya when someone as high-profile as the country’s finance minister is being held to account in court. However, many Kenyans still hold doubts over this recent crackdown as there have not been any convictions for Kenyan public officials previously charged with corruption.
  7. Engaging citizens in the fight against corruption: The TI-Kenya have Integrity Clubs in primary and secondary schools that teach anti-corruption lessons to students, helping them become more active citizens who promote good values. It also organizes mobile anti-corruption legal advice clinics to raise awareness of corruption and their rights in remote rural areas of the country. In just 12 months after the launch of these clinics, TI-Kenya has received almost 4,000 reports from citizens.
  8. Assistance from the U.S.: The Kenyan government signed an agreement with the U.S. to introduce new anti-graft measures during the former U.S. President Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2015. The deal includes increased assistance and advice from the U.S. on relevant legislation, as well as Kenya’s participation in the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
  9. Business impairment: Pervasive corruption is one of the biggest obstacles for Kenya’s business sector, scaring away foreign investors. Public-service corruption makes starting a business very costly and complying with administrative requirements extremely time-consuming. One-in-six companies report having to pay bribes to get operating licenses, and one-in-three companies need to bribe to obtain a construction permit.
  10. Support from the U.N.: The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) applauds President Kenyatta’s recent renewed pledge to fight corruption in Kenya and make the issue a focus area in the coming months. The U.N. continues its assistance and support of the anti-corruption efforts through several partnerships with the government and the private sectors, including the Blue Company Initiative Project, the Fast Tracking UN Convention Against Corruption project and the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya. The Kenya School for Government is also working closely with UNODC on an online anti-corruption course for public officials.

These 10 facts about corruption in Kenya provide an overview of the critical issues threatening the development of the African nation. A long list of corruption scandals have plagued Kenya ever since its independence, leading to billions of dollars being lost. Corruption in Kenya is a serious problem that urgently needs to be addressed and resolved in order for the nation to grow and harness its potential.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Cameroon
Cameroon shares common challenges with neighboring Central African countries. Conflict refugees are flooding the system, putting a strain on humanitarian aid. People have limited access to health care providers, and especially in rural areas. The reduction of disease and bacterial infection is progressing, but death rates are still high. Read on to learn more about these 10 facts about life expectancy in Cameroon.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Cameroon

  1. Conflict and corruption are important factors to consider when exploring these 10 facts about life expectancy in Cameroon. The war against Boko Haram has compromised security. The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations financial scandal revealed shady dealings and the skimming of public funds. Bribery and nepotism are creating problems for reaching economic goals with inconsistently paid worker’s salaries, often without earned overtime pay. The government of Cameroon, in cooperation with its national and international partners, is working hard to keep its people in the foreground of global concern. Active work toward reducing corruption and conflict is vital to the improvement of life expectancy in Cameroon.
  2. Conflict in the bordering countries of Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) has added some 361,700 refugees to the already struggling population of 27,744,989 citizens. Fundamental to the improvement of life expectancy in Cameroon is to continue developing strategies for managing the fallout from conflict in neighboring countries. Ongoing conflicts have closed down trade routes, markets and schools. Responding to the protection and shelter of refugees has diverted aid and is contributing to the already low life expectancy of Cameroonians.
  3. Limited access to health care is a challenge for Cameroonians. With the goal of improving life expectancy by identifying needs and gaps in the health care system, Cameroon set a national strategic development plan in motion. The most recent data available showed an unequal distribution of health care providers in 2010. There were 1.1 doctors and 7.8 nurses and midwives per 10,000 population, with rural areas having the greatest need. Between 2006 and 2008, the implementation of an emergency plan to train and recruit more health care workers helped to offset a large number of health care workers aging out of the workforce.
  4. HIV/AIDS has dealt the greatest blow to life expectancy in Cameroon. With life expectancy at birth averaging 59.8 years of age, 540,000 people are living with HIV. In 2018, there were 23,000 new HIV infections, a decrease from 36,000 in 2010. Since then, the death rate has dropped 19 percent to 18,000. Outreach and education about HIV have paid off by improving access to testing and treatment. In 2018, 59 percent of HIV positive women and 47 percent of HIV positive men received treatment.
  5. Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS often occur as co-infections. Though tuberculosis treatment coverage is 53 percent, HIV predisposes for tuberculosis co-infection, increasing the risk 20-fold of its progression from latent to an active infection. A systematic data collection and review of medical records for a 93-month period between 2010 and 2017 revealed that the co-infection rate in the Fako division was alarmingly high at 194 cases per 100,000 population. The good news is that the study revealed a high treatment success rate with 76.4 percent of the patients cured.
  6. There is good news and bad news for the treatment and prevention of malaria. Clearly, communicable diseases are the leading cause of premature death in Cameroon, and malaria is another item topping these 10 facts about life expectancy in Cameroon. Health care facilities have seen a reduction in cases to one per 2,000 population, treating 3.3 to 3.7 million cases per year, a reduction of 24 percent as of the year 2017. Insect control measures through the distribution of over 20 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets and the strategic spraying of DDT have significantly lowered the risk of contracting the disease. However, the situation is still out of control. With 16 identified primary and secondary strains of the plasmodium parasite and up to 52 strains altogether, mutation and resistance to drug treatments and insecticides is an ongoing problem.
  7. There is little available data on bacterial and respiratory infections. Bacterial lower respiratory infections and co-infections are examples of the need for better diagnostic tools for the tracking, management and treatment of illnesses that impact life expectancy in Cameroon. Few studies tracking the number of cases country-wide are available, but a 2019 hospital-based review study of tested cultures from 141 adult patients with symptoms showed that pneumonia and influenza are most prevalent. Fourteen out of 61 patients had co-infections, with influenza implicated in 12 out of 61 cases.
  8. The youngest children are the most vulnerable to bacterial infection. An earlier hospital-based review study revealed more tangible information about the cause of death for children under 5 years of age. The study gathered and examined medical records for 812 children who died between 2006 and 2012.  Communicable and parasitic diseases, respiratory diseases, sepsis and nutritional deficiencies related to being too sick to eat were responsible for 71.5 percent of the deaths.
  9. Conflict has forced farmers to abandon their fields, taking away jobs in agriculture and creating further limits on already limited natural resources. The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations have increased funding since 2013. In 2019, Cameroon spent $19.55 million with the goal of reducing dependence on aid through supporting the immediate needs of food security, safe drinking water, sanitation and access to primary health care. The Joint Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019 requested $299 million to assist 2.3 million people in Cameroon. Of this money, $29.5 million went to food security, $3.5 million went to nutrition requirements, $3.2 million went to shelter and non-food items and $1.8 million went to health care requirements.
  10. Cameroon’s economy is a roller-coaster. A roller-coaster economy directly impacts life expectancy by creating financial limits on the quality of life for citizens of Cameroon. Conflict in the C.A.R., the war against Boko Haram, labor disputes over wages and working conditions, corruption and falling tax revenue all add context to these 10 facts about life expectancy in Cameroon. The good news is that the National Anti-corruption Commission, and other such agencies working with the government, have helped restore 375 billion CFA francs to the government coffers. The nation’s economy grew 4.1 percent in 2019, but inflation increased to 2.4 percent. Cameroon’s budget has decreased in recent years as lower oil prices have impacted its chief source of revenue. The government persists in engaging foreign investors for the improvement of infrastructure and to enhance its economic footprint.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Cameroon indicate the country’s challenges in maintaining a high life expectancy for its people. However, its life expectancy should improve through funding, improving medical care and reducing corruption.

Lorna Kelly
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

corruption in Liberia
Political issues have riddled Liberia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, since its declaration of independence from the United States in 1847. Despite its abundance in natural resources, Liberia continues to face the consequences of poverty, including corruption within its government institutions, epidemic outbreaks and violence. Here are 10 facts about corruption in Liberia.

10 Facts About Corruption in Liberia

  1. Corruption Perception Index: According to Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perception Index, Liberia ranks 91 out of the 183 countries and territories analyzed, with a score of 3.2 on the zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) scale. This is a tremendous improvement since the index score for Liberia in 2005, which put the country at 137 out of 158 countries and territories that Transparency International assessed. One can credit this to the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program that emerged in 2005, which strictly adhered to practices of transparency and accountability, as well as working to embrace the role of international help in fighting corruption.
  2. Illegal Forestry: Money that came in to fuel weaponry supplies for the 14-year Liberian Civil War came from the illegal forestry of Liberia’s wilderness, which contributed to the lengthy duration of the war. The outcome resulted in 250,000 casualties and mass deforestation. However, over time, the government has taken necessary action to eradicate this practice such as enforcing reformed forest laws and canceling wartime contracts.
  3. Police Corruption: The Liberian National Police stands at 4,417 police officers, which is twice the size of its army. People have perceived the Liberian police institution as being corrupt due to a lack of professionalism, accountability and abuse of power. This is due to countless accounts from victims about police enforcing senseless brutality and partaking in bribery dealings. The United Nations Mission in Liberia has been working to address the need for better police governing by targeting poor police conduct and pursuing cases against high-ranking personnel in these security institutions.
  4. Female Genital Mutilation: As with most Western African countries, Liberia has not fallen short of falling into the practice of performing female genital mutilation on young girls. Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf put a one-year ban on female genitalia mutilation. However, this ban has since come to an end and the government has not renewed it. The ban only condemned female genitalia mutilation to those under the age of 18, however, which means adults who gave consent could still receive it. The inauguration of the new president, George Weah, largely overshadowed this proving that Liberia still does not see women’s rights as a top priority.
  5. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Liberia elected its first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in 2006 and she remained in office until 2018. Despite being a female in a government position of leadership, she did not strictly advocate for women’s rights during her presidency and did not consider herself a feminist. More so, just as with many other presidents before her, she was under suspicion for corruption and nepotism, such as when she elected her three sons into high-ranking government positions. This ultimately lead to her stepping down as president.
  6. Education Fraud: Education fraud has long been a serious issue in Liberia. Much of Liberia’s student population has taken shortcuts through bribery offerings in order to receive credentials for a degree. Socio-economic and political development may stall if there are no educated young people entering the Liberian workforce, as it will create a workforce that does not have the work ethic or skillset to uphold a stable democracy. In the efforts to uphold accountability, authorities are subjecting people guilty of such crimes to lawful punishment.
  7. The Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Bill: The LGBT community has been in a long battle against the Liberian government for human rights, but in 2012, things continued to escalate when the government passed the Anti-Same-Sex Marriage bill, which punishes people engaging in same-sex marriage and sentences offenders with up to five years in prison. Liberia has done little to outlaw the poor political treatment of LGBT people.
  8. The United Nations Mission in Liberia: The United Nations Mission in Liberia deployed in 2003 to provide Liberia with aid in security assistance and human rights advocacy, as the Liberian government and its people worked to strengthen their democracy, fully intending to leave in the future once Liberia was strong enough to stand on its own. However, according to the Secretary-General’s progress report in 2018, although the Liberian government has shown vast improvements in planning and enacting political affairs, it still requires aid to ensure that such institutions receive sufficient funds to keep them functioning effectively.
  9. Liberia’s GDP: Despite continuing economic stresses, Liberia’s GDP growth has taken a positive turn in the last couple of years. GDP growth increased by 0.7 percent in 2018 over a the span of a year due to major contributions from the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries to the economy. GDP rates should reach 4.8 percent in 2020, along with decreased inflation rates of 9.5 percent in 2020. The Liberian government’s continued corruption elimination tactics have been a major factor in decreasing crime and encouraging its people to work and actively engage in their country’s economic sustainability.
  10. The Domestic Resource Mobilization Initiative: Under the Domestic Resource Mobilization initiative, Liberia and the United States Agency for International Development have united to increase the number of institutions, which will help increase taxpayer education and facilitate positive engagement in Domestic Resource Mobilization affairs. In exchange, the Liberian government will distribute profits that it gains from this program to a multitude of agencies to put them towards education, health and sanitation, thus putting a steady end to corruption within Liberian communities.

Despite the challenges that these 10 facts about corruption in Liberia express, the country is on the path to eliminating corruption. With the help of Liberia’s people and continued ethical improvements within Liberia’s government system, there is still hope that the country will be able to climb out of poverty once and for all.

Lucia Elmi
Photo: United Nations

corruption in El Salvador

In 2018, El Salvador received a Corruption Perception Index score of 35 out of 100, with 100 being no perceived corruption. El Salvador ranked 105 out of 108 countries that the index scored. This poor rating is a reason for concern. However, with the establishment of the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador in September 2019, there is newfound hope.

Cost of Corruption

Corruption is not just morally wrong, it is also expensive, costing the world at least $2.6 trillion every year according to an estimate by the World Economic Forum. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has noted that corruption often disproportionately affects the poor. That $2.6 trillion comes from schools, hospitals and other critical institutions losing resources and businesses and individuals paying bribes, creating a deteriorating effect on the society as a whole.

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador estimates that every year the government loses $1.5 billion without a trace. Former President Tony Saca cost El Salvador $300 million because he redirected government funds into the companies and banks of family and friends. Meanwhile, his successor, Mauricio Funes, gave away another $351 million to family and associates.

Corruption in El Salvador has also largely centered around the actions of the state security forces and gang-related activities. Within the state security forces, there has been a pattern of excessive force, including reports of extrajudicial killings and threats against the LGBT community, children and those who work toward the rehabilitation of gang members by the U.N. In 2017, there were reports of a death squad engaging in killings, disappearances, robbery, sexual assault and extortion. Additionally, there are approximately 60,000 gang members throughout the country, and in many cases, they are the ones who set and enforce local rules and partner with government officials in criminal operations.

The International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador

The commission serves to act as an autonomous and neutral institution to ensure transparency within the federal government by investigating possible corruption in El Salvador and helping to enforce the laws. It is accomplishing this by establishing close relations with institutions in the country. This includes the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Unit within the National Civil Police, as well as working with the Ministry of Finance, the General Directorate of Customs and the General Directorate of Migration.

The El Salvadoran government has worked with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States to set up the commission. The organization includes 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere and dedicates itself to the promotion of democracy, security and development. It has been working with various institutions within El Salvador, including the Attorney General’s Office, Supreme Court of Justice and various civil society organizations to ensure greater transparency and that authorities properly enforce the laws in El Salvador.

Concerns with the Commission

Firstly, Bukele’s major step of establishing the commission has come only in the past few months, meaning it is too early for there to be conclusive evidence of its impact on corruption in El Salvador.

Secondly, the commission is in conjunction with the Organization of American States, not the U.N. People have questioned the legitimacy of the commission due to the fear that the organization will not lead the commission with as serious intent, as the U.N. led the Guatemalan impunity commission. This fear stems from the belief that the organization is “underfunded, poorly managed and inadequately staffed,” according to the Foreign Policy Magazine. It is important to note that despite these concerns, the organization has played a crucial role in uncovering human rights violations in the Americas over the past several decades.

Lastly, President Bukele has stated that the commission will not require lawmaker approval to run. Jessica Estrada of the National Foundation for Development has added that the El Salvadoran “constitution does not allow the establishment of a mechanism” similar to that led by the U.N. in Guatemala. These statements call into question how much will change if there is a lack of legal enforcement available.

Reason for Hope

For one, the International Crisis Group reported in 2018 that the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala has helped lead to a 5 percent average annual decrease in the murder rate in the country since it formed in 2007, providing a precedent for success. The commission in Guatemala accomplished this by being instrumental in the passing of legislation that allows for wiretaps along with greater use of DNA and ballistic testing and with other modern investigation methods. These efforts helped to create stronger law enforcement, discouraging criminal activity.

Also, already under the newly elected President, El Salvador has seen its most peaceful month this century, averaging only 3.6 homicides per day in October 2019. At its worst, the country suffered through an average of 17.6 homicides per day throughout the entire year of 2015.

Finally, within weeks after his election, President Bukele deployed police and soldiers to areas of highly concentrated extortion efforts where the gangs in the country receive 80 percent of their income, giving some sense of how seriously he is taking the issue.

While the fight against corruption in El Salvador is far from over, there is meaningful potential for the creation of a more peaceful and transparent state.

– Scott Boyce
Photo: UN Multimedia

10 Facts About Corruption in Nigeria 
People most commonly define corruption
as the “abuse of entrusted power for private gain,” and government officials and citizens feel its effects on an everyday basis. It is a growing political issue around the globe, but developing countries like Nigeria often struggle deeply to control or combat corruption. The most reliable source that measures corruption is the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Nigeria often ranks in the bottom quartile of this index, with the scale being zero (most corrupt) to 100 (cleanest). Below are 10 facts about corruption in Nigeria.

10 Facts About Corruption in Nigeria

  1. Nigeria has two main political parties: the All Progressive Congress party (ADC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). These parties are almost identical in platforms but still oppose one another. Each party often increases corruption in Nigeria by utilizing misappropriated public funds to run opposing campaigns.
  2. A survey from 2013 showed that over 75 percent of journalists admitted to accepting financial gifts from politicians. These bribes often lead to editors and journalists manipulating stories and coverage to create media corruption in Nigeria. Despite this, the country still maintains an almost completely free press.
  3. Corruption in Nigeria has neither improved nor declined in score over the past several years. Typically, the country’s score varies from 25-28 any given year. Although there has not been a sharp increase or decrease, Nigeria still ranks below the average of 32 for the sub-Saharan African region.
  4. Former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke used a $115 million bribe to secure an election victory for the PDP in 2015. The ADP and PDP collectively spent almost $2 billion on his campaign in the same year. This spending came from public funds and contributed to higher electoral corruption in Nigeria.
  5. Entrepreneurs generate 50 percent of the GDP in Nigeria but often face extortion and racketeering from police forces. Federal legislators have diverted $433 billion to vague projects in the past several years. This hurts small businesses in the country and allows corruption in the government to continue.
  6. Before the 2015 elections, the removal and distribution of $236 billion to 24 state governors occurred without explanation. Nigeria originally opened the fund to provide inexpensive loans to small businesses in the country. As of 2018, there is evidence to suggest that this money has been almost completely embezzled throughout the years.
  7. Nigeria has conducted a fixed exchange rate for its currency, the naira, in hopes of preventing further inflation from corruption. The naira is currently one of the lower performing currencies in the world largely due to continuing corruption in Nigeria. This new rate has caused prices of imported goods to double and inflation to spike.
  8. The Buhari administration has proposed a budget with plans for investing in agriculture and mining while battling corrupt business practices. However, projects like these often consume large quantities of public funds. This appropriation of funds to industrial projects often leads to higher levels of corruption in Nigeria.
  9. Between 2011 and 2015, over $3.6 billion disappeared from Nigerian public coffers. Unfortunately, this stolen sum resulted in a loss of potential roads, schools and homes planned for construction. This includes a loss of 500 kilometers of potential roads and around 200 potential schools that required only one-third of the stolen funds.
  10. Corruption in Nigeria affects poorer families most severely. These high levels of corruption could cost individuals $1,000 per person by 2030 if the country does not address it. Further, the levels of inequality continue to increase in the country due to corruption

The country still has many steps to take in order to successfully defeat corruption and continue developing. A presidential advisory committee has recently established to combat corruption in Nigeria. Nigeria also now legally requires banks to issue universal identification numbers to individuals. This process works by tracking multiple accounts owned by an individual and identifies missing or misappropriated funds. Citizens must speak out against corruption and governments must be held accountable in order to fully combat the issue. Additionally, governments must strengthen their institutions and close loopholes that allow for corruption in Nigeria to continue. For now, Nigeria is taking action in hopes of at least decreasing corruption in the coming years.

Hannah Easley
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Corruption in IraqOn October 1st, violent protests broke out in Iraq. The Iraqi government struggled to quell the protests, which resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people. The protesters cite corruption and failing public services as the sources of their outrage against the government. Prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi responded by claiming that the government is in the process of starting big reforms that will benefit the nation economically and eradicate poverty. However, past instances of corruption have left many protesting Iraqis hesitant to give the government the benefit of the doubt. These 10 facts about corruption in Iraq provide a brief overview of why Iraqis are fed up with their government.

10 Facts about Corruption in Iraq

  1. Transparency International’s corruption index rankings are comprised of 180 countries. Iraq comes in as the eighteenth most corrupt nation. The index measures perceived levels of corruption in the public sector of countries based on ratings by experts and business people.

  2. About a third of Iraqis report having paid a bribe for police services, registry and permits. It is not uncommon for police members to advance in ranks thanks to bribes directed at politicians. Companies with connections to political leaders also benefit more from bribes and kickbacks.

  3. Billions of dollars in public money have been taken due to corruption. In 2013, it was estimated that Iraq “lost” $20 billion to corruption. That is relatively conservative when compared to the $100 billion lost in 2003.

  4. In May, Iraq’s Integrity Commission seized $445,900 from the house of a relative of a former Iraqi official. Iraq’s Integrity Commission found the money while investigating a former Director of the Engineering Department for the Nineveh province. Kickbacks and bribes are rampant in Iraq, and the government is struggling to maintain its integrity.

  5. Iraq’s last Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Judge Ezzat Tawfiq, was killed in a car crash in March. Many Iraqis and members of the commission mourned his death because they supported his work and considered him one of the most important figures in the battle against corruption. Although the car crash was officially categorized as an accident, some Iraqis were quick to question whether foul play was involved given the influence and power of the commission’s adversaries.

  6. Iraqi officials arrested and abused aid workers in Mosul. Some Iraqi officials actively subvert the business of aid workers in the impoverished region. Police have been slandering and detaining individuals by making fictitious claims about them having ties to ISIS. These extortion tactics are aimed at diverting the funds of some organizations to corrupt local authorities.

  7. In September, the Iraqi government had to shut down the nation’s border crossing with Mandali, Iran because of corruption. All of the employees at the location were transferred to different border crossings. An armed group had commandeered the crossing, which generates about 600,000,000 dinars of revenue a month.

  8. In July, 11 ministers and ministerial-level officials were arrested and charged for corruption. In Iraq, members of parliament are considered immune from being charged with corruption charges stemming from their previous work as public officials. Lawmakers must lift this immunity before charges can be brought against those suspected of corruption.

  9. In 2016, Hoshyar Zebari, the former Finance Minister of Iraq, estimated that there were 30,000 ghost soldiers in the Iraqi army. Corrupt officers are able to pocket the money received for the fake soldiers. Some blame the fall of the city of Mosul to ISIS in 2014 on these ghost soldiers because there were far fewer soldiers defending the city than records indicated.

  10. The state-run Basara oil company was accused of corruption for paying two international firms $80,000,000 more than market price for loading equipment. Iraq has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, but the riches it provides are being stolen from the Iraqi people.

These 10 facts about corruption in Iraq provide the backdrop for the protests in Iraq. Many Iraqi executives and public officials are stealing money from those that need it the most. Iraq has won a battle against ISIS, but defeating entrenched corruption may be a more difficult struggle.

Grant DeLisle
Photo: Flickr