I recently met with UNDP colleagues from around the world to discuss anti corruption in the health, education and water sectors.
The message is clear: local communities, citizens and even institutions at times, are demanding that public services are free from corruption and respond to real needs that people have on their way to improving their livelihoods.
For this to happen, there must be more transparency and accountability within the public sector. But how does that happen?
- How can we ensure the efficient use of public resources?
- What are the ways of approaching bureaucratic institutions?
- How can we promote transparency and accountability in inflexible governments and public administrations?
These are the questions challenging anti corruption work, but they also push us to come up with new approaches. Our colleagues in Kosovo came up with an online platform where citizens can report corruption in the public sector. This required tight collaboration with the anti corruption agency, ministries and civil society organizations.
Getting the authorities on board was important because they are the ones that have to investigate and follow up on reported cases. This strengthens the reliability and credibility of the initiative, motivating more citizens to get involved in weeding out corruption.
Bottom up impact
Solutions sometimes come from outside of formal institutions, but can end up influencing them significantly. In Armenia, a lone citizen developed a digital blood registry (Meet Anna, the citizen expert that decided to help the health sector in Armenia). Having a digital registry will help mitigate risks of corruption by improving coordination and screening of blood donors, and is also less time consuming than, say, a piece of legislation and it’s easier to show immediate results.
Whether it’s water, health or education – building institutional capacities, and developing methodologies and strategies is not enough.
Citizens must be engaged.
In Costa Rica, local associations are providing water to 30 percent of the population (especially those living in rural areas), where public services are traditionally less efficient.
The project works with a narrow but strategically defined target group. The local associations are run by community residents and have the task of providing water to communities. Addressing corruption risks in the water sector does not only consolidate the organizational capacities of the associations, but also increases awareness in the community about the impact of fund mismanagement.
But what really makes the difference in terms of transparency and accountability is the direct participation of the community to the work on water management, approving work plans, and agreeing on the budget.
When it comes to addressing corruption in various sectors, engaging citizens is just as necessary as working with governments and institutions – the other half of the equation. And while they go about trying to meet their needs, citizens are proving to be innovators, experts, and leaders.
What are the projects that inspire you where the involvement of citizens helps to eliminate corruption in the public sector?