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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Does "corruption" and "international development" come hand-in-hand?

The Article: Global Fund statement on abuse of funds in some countries

It's hard to believe someone employed in an organization like this would be involved in such a crime. Having been involved with various development projects in the past, it seems as though with any international development project there, are bound to be corruption.

In many international development projects, it is difficult (not impossible) to work with local employees. especially if the goal of the project is to empower women. Let's say you are a mother of five children (not uncommon in a lot of developing countries), you have just been approached by a group of foreigners promising you a better life if you are willing to commit to this project. You gladly accept and your work starts tomorrow. You are placed in a room full of unfamiliar faces and other local woman just like you, the oragnizers gave you $50 to buy stationary supplies for everyone so the group can start discussing ideas. You make your way to the market but you ran away, knowing that $50 can go a long way in paying for food and education for your children.

In this situation, whose fault would be it? Would it be the organizer who gave her the $50? The women herself? Or is no one at fault? What would you change so the same event does not occur? Are you not going to allow the local women, the ones you are trying to empower, not be in control of the money?

How do you create an organization that is corruption-free? How do you screen your employees so that corruption won't occur? What checkpoints do you put in place and how do you enforce it?

- GlassFrog Blogger Jackel


  1. I dont think the women are to blame, only because I can see how it might be hard for them to see past their family's well being.

    I would suggest not to give any locals control of the money till they have been part of a certain project for a while and can be trusted.

    Alternatively, maybe the women can be screened better to only pick those who are a little better off and might not have much incentive to steal.

  2. Interesting dilemma. I guess this shows how important it is to establish trust between people of the organization and the local citizens. Maybe if they feel a connection with the workers, they will feel more compelled to be loyal to them. And if they believe that the workers really will do everything they can to turn that $50 into lots of revenue for the citizens' families, they will stick around to see that happen. But that just leads us back to the huge question of how to best go about establishing trust.
    I might be being optimistic, but I think that overtime, the more success stories people observe, the more they will play by the rules in order to gain from the opportunity as well.

  3. On the topic of feeling a connection with the workers, like the above commenter suggested, maybe hiring those who know the native language there or are willing to learn would help.

  4. "Alternatively, maybe the women can be screened better to only pick those who are a little better off and might not have much incentive to steal."

    Not only is this immoral, but it would be completely ineffective. Anyone will have incentive to steal, no matter their economic position, because in the end, nobody is near having the living conditions that they dream of having. Also, if I was skeptical about the organization's ability to turn that $50 into something better for me, I myself would even be tempted to steal, even though I am living quite comfortably in the developed world. (I don't steal, of course... but the thought would cross my mind :p)

  5. "maybe hiring those who know the native language there or are willing to learn would help"

    Excellent idea. THAT'S one way that we could start to solve the problem I pointed out earlier regarding gaining their trust. They are much more likely to trust a fellow citizen who knows their language, culture, and better understands their situation.