Information and news about corruption

Poverty in Guinea: The Land Of Extremes

Guinea is a country rich in resources. It is a place where bauxite, diamonds, iron ore, copper, uranium, nickel and gold all can be found in abundance.

Yet it remains one of the top ten poorest countries in the world. Infant mortality in Guinea is very high while the standards for education remain very low. Locals sift through murky water in hopes of striking it big by finding important minerals. Poverty in Guinea is rampant.

So why is there such a stark contrast? Many point to corruption. Large international corporations have flooded the country to mine the natural resources. Guineans, unequipped and unable to mine on their own, are being cut out of this beneficial operation.

Guinean President Alpha Conde aims to correct this corruption by making his people more involved in the mining sector. The first democratically elected president notes that the corruption of Guinea faces is structurally woven into the way business is handled.

“Contracts aren’t signed on the basis of the capability to deliver but on the size of the bribe that goes with it. Corruption is the essence of the contract,” Conde said.

Conde and Guinea have requested that the G8 intervene in monitoring the financial transactions of the shell companies in the country. A grand jury in the United States has recently been listening to testimony regarding the corruption in Guinea.

– William Norris

Sources: Channel 4 News, Defence Web
Photo: UNICEF

Transparency International USA InspiresTransparency International USA, or TI-USA, aims to live up to its name by promoting much-needed accountability in governments and businesses, both at home and abroad.

The task of successfully eliminating global poverty is often precluded by entrenched corruption practices in governments and businesses in both the developing and developed world. TI-USA was founded in 1993 as a chapter of the greater Transparency International movement in an attempt to address this corruption and to “promote transparency and integrity in government, business, and development assistance.”

TI-USA reports that each year, bribery, fraud, collusion, and other various forms of corruption taint over $1.5 trillion in public purchasing. Billions of dollars in illicit assets currently flow out of developing countries that need the money to survive.

TI-USA not only views this behavior as unacceptable and immoral but sees the consequential economic, social and health effects that such corruption may spur. In corrupted governments, most of a country’s assets remain in the top levels of society, placing a greater financial burden on the country’s poor who are often deprived of education, nutrition, clean water and health care.

As a branch of an already well-established nonprofit organization, TI-USA’s chief goal is to make the United States a forefront actor in establishing anti-corruption laws across the globe turning first to addressing transparency issues within the U.S. government itself. By doing this, the U.S. can show its commitment to the anti-corruption goal by reforming its own shortcomings as a model for developing countries to follow.

TI-USA shows that in order to become a leader in global activism a country must live up to the standards it promotes abroad within its own national boundaries.

– Alexandra Bruschi

Sources: Transparency International USA, Business Wire
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid is Practical

While some may make the argument that a plethora of domestic issues overshadow the need to invest in foreign aid and that foreign aid should be cut, the fact is aid is connected to US prosperity. Many who support foreign aid cuts, up to 48% of Americans, according to a February poll by the Pew Research Center, might not know that foreign aid only comprises less than 1% of the federal budget, and any cuts would make a very small impact on deficit reduction.

In fact, US investments in foreign aid have contributed to the development of some of our top trading partners such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Poland. By creating jobs and stable economies in developing countries, the US is working to create new markets for their products and services. Making long-term investments in these places results in plenty of economic and structural benefits for the U.S. as well as positive global impact against poverty and corruption.

For those worried if “aid is truly well spent” in places where political and military corruption are common, aid programs have ways to circumvent this and be sent directly to those in need. According to Clint Borgen, the founder of The Borgen Project, “In recent years, experts have developed numerous strategies for bypassing corruption and ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable people receive assistance. The United States even set up a funding program that requires countries to address corruption before they can receive assistance. This ensures that aid coming from the United States goes directly to the people.”

It has already been seen that small investments can give big returns in terms of future trading partners. These investments also help directly reduce global poverty and hunger. In this way, the growth that can occur from foreign aid given by developed to developing countries benefits not only the countries receiving the aid, but those giving aid as well.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: IVN,Huffington Post,The Borgen Project
Photo: Internationalist

United States Continues Aid to GhanaThe United States Ambassador to Ghana, Scott DeLisi, has stated that the United States will not be cutting the foreign aid given to Ghana. Some donor countries have backed out of Ghana after accusations of the misuse of aid money by the local government but DeLisi claims that U.S. aid dollars have not been misused and that the office will continue to stand against corruption in the local government’s use of aid money.

DeLisi said that since U.S. aid to Ghana is not part of a direct budget support system, the money does not go to the local government to spend on anything; the money is easy to track and has not been misused. DeLisi also spoke about raising wages for regional health workers in order to retain well-trained workers.

The United States gives an annual $430 million to Ghana, a country with great potential for growth, especially in the energy sector. Some of the main programs that receive U.S. funding in Ghana focus on treating TB, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. This is a great example of how the United States’ aid money is being carefully monitored as the country’s aid organizations continue to stand against corruption, assuring taxpayers that American aid goes to helping the poor and building national infrastructure. Learn more about our donor history with Ghana. 

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: allAfrica
Photo: Flickr

Bill Gates Responds to Skepticism of Foreign AidUS foreign aid has recently been thrown into the debate of where to cut government spending. Many Members of Congress have expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of foreign aid and the United States’ responsibility of providing foreign aid to third world countries. In his annual letter, Bill Gates wrote a response to these many concerns asserting that foreign aid works and the United States should continue funding this vital program.

Bill Gates begins his argument by addressing concerns that foreign aid is ineffective and only goes into the hands of the corrupt. By using the example of an organization he supports, GAVI Alliance, Gates is able to explain the specifics of foreign aid in a way that is often ignored. GAVI uses all of the donations it receives to provide vaccines to developing countries. Gates reiterates that the organization does not send cash to these countries, only vaccines. This is one way nonprofits and USAid can bypass possible corrupt political leaders.

Another way GAVI ensures its funds are not wasted is by only operating in countries that have provided evidence of a strong enough immunization system to administer the vaccines to a majority of children. These countries are required also to pay a percentage of the cost of the vaccines. Gates reminds us that China was once a recipient of such aid and now pays the full amount for vaccines. He also stresses how methods for measuring accountability and effectiveness have greatly increased and countries failing to meet certain criteria no longer receive assistance.

Not only are assistance organizations addressing corruption and government accountability, but studies have also shown these organizations to be achieving their goal of reducing global poverty and hunger. GAVI has contributed to the decrease in children dying each year (down by one quarter) by providing 370 million children with vaccinations. That means 2.4 million children’s lives have been saved in about thirteen years, since GAVI was created in 2000.

Gates acknowledges that there is still some corruption when dealing with foreign aid, but that does not mean the US should stop sending assistance. Foreign aid is working, and eventually recipient countries will build their economies to the point where they no longer require aid. The implications of such development mean a larger market for US products and a more secure world, not to mention drastically better living standards for formerly impoverished people.

Bill Gates calls for US politicians to be the moral leaders of the world. Such actions will not only ensure international respect but also international influence. He urges the US to follow the example of Britain and other countries devoted to foreign aid and continue funding for foreign assistance programs.

– Mary Penn
Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Gates Foundation

How To Stop Climate Finance CorruptionLast December, the non-governmental organization Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that documents levels of perceived public sector corruption in many countries. This document was published at the same time as the UN climate conference in Qatar. These two events are related because many of the countries with the highest ratings of corruption in the CPI are the countries that need the most urgent funding for climate change-resilient infrastructure. The United Nations cannot afford to let climate change finances be diverted by corruption. The two most important things to keep in mind when investing in climate finance are that anti-corruption is cheaper than corruption and that the time to act is now.

Taking climate funding away from corrupt countries and giving it to nations that are perceived to be less corrupt is not an option. The countries that were originally allocated funds during the UN conference need and deserve them. We must then focus on how to best reduce the corruption of climate financing in these poverty-stricken countries. This takes more money in the short-term but will pay off in the long run. Installing accountable policies, systems and personnel is an important step to making sure that the money is not squandered. The monetary gain of investing more money, in the beginning, is evident in a recent study of North Africa by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis. In the current corrupt environment, a particular solar power project was projected to cost $2 trillion dollars. However, when they adjusted for a 5% reduction of corruption in the region, the price tag for the project dropped to $750 billion. This huge monetary difference, in the long run, would more than cover the necessary funds to set up a less corrupt system now.

There is no time to lose when installing anti-corruption systems. Climate finance initiatives are a new phenomenon. This makes it easier to tackle problems with corruption than it will ever be. If we can make sure that the system is as secure as possible in its infancy, then there will be no need to do the tedious business of trying to untangle and rebuild a system that never worked efficiently. The keys to fighting corruption are transparent payrolls, budgets and decision-makers, explanations of why decisions are made, input from citizens and monitoring by independent sources. These are technical necessities for an anti-corrupt system, but more importantly, there must be a political will to make them a reality. Climate finance could change the face of our future for the positive, but it is up to people and governments to invest in it.

– Sean Morales

Source: AlertNet
Photo: SABC News

US Troops Removal Affects Aid in AfghanistanLast week President Obama announced that he plans on bringing home 34,000 troops from Afghanistan within the next year. The presence of American troops in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has served more than just a military purpose, but also a humanitarian one as well.

Despite the corruption and backlash from the Taliban, U.S. soldiers have been successful in creating a much safer community for the Afghan population through constant patrolling on both lands and in the air. They have also provided the necessary institutions to provide health care and educate young girls. However, with the removal of most of the remaining troops, certain experts and members of Congress are worried that the $15 billion aid program for development and aid in Afghanistan will have been a wasted effort.

Because of the United States’ current economic standing, continuing to fund civilian-focused programs in Afghanistan is seen as creating a dependency on American assistance. In order to convince Congress and the President to at least gradually remove U.S. troops and continue to provide a small amount of monetary aid, Anthony H. Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests that those in support of aid must quickly plan out their selling points and present a case to Congress that shows social and economic improvements in Afghanistan.

The argument against continuing aid is the belief that after all these years, the Karzai government still remains unaccountable and unable to keep corruption out of its administration. Those in support of aid believe that the Afghan people need more time to adapt if they are to begin independently managing their own affairs.

Over concern for the safety of Afghan women and girls from the Taliban, many senators, both Republican and Democrat, have come together to fully support the continuance of civilian assistance.

The main priority for all is to make sure that the billions of dollars that have been put into rebuilding Afghanistan and the American lives lost in doing so will not go wasted. All sides of the issue also understand that aid can no longer be given at the rate it has been for the past decade.

Reaching a middle ground that can guarantee the safety of Afghans but at the same time encourage them to actively build upwards from the foundations already set seems plausible and will hopefully remain an important concern while troops are being removed.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: The New York Times