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The UK aid watchdog’s unflattering report on DFID’s impact in tackling petty corruption in the countries where it works generated some even more unflattering headlines.
But academics, including DLP’s Director Heather Marquette, have criticised the report’s assumptions and use of evidence.
Was UK aid watchdog right to accuse DfID of failing to tackle corruption? No, argue Dr Marquette and colleagues Richard Mallet (ODI) and Mick Moore (IDS) in this commentary for The Guardian.
‘Frankly,’ writes Dr Marquette, ‘the report from ICAI [the Independent Commission for Aid Impact] is a mess … It lambasts DFID for instances of corruption that no external aid agency could possibly control.’
She argues that it encourages ‘window-dressing’ projects, rather than support for the domestically driven higher-level reforms that are more likely to be effective. ‘If public servants are open to bribery because their wages aren’t being paid, do we target the servant or the paymaster?’
In an article in The Conversation, Dr Marquette also argues that, ‘We need to be honest with the public. We need to say that aid is risky.’
‘Research I’m doing with colleagues at UCL and Birmingham, some of which will published soon by the OECD, suggests that as long as we are also able to tell success stories about how we fight corruption, those who support aid will continue to support it.’
DLP recently published further findings on anti-corruption. A paper by Caryn Peiffer and Linda Alvarez examines when citizens are willing to engage in anti-corruption activism. More findings on anti-corruption will be published in the coming months.
For further commentary on the ICAI report, see Professor Moore’s longer post on IDS’ Governance and Development blog, and Harvard Professor Matthew Stephenson’s post on the The Global Anticorruption Blog.