Corruption

What Can We Learn About Corruption in Fragile States?

An Introduction to Adaptive Anti-Corruption Programming

CDA and Besa are initiating a learning-focused blog series to foster a space for conversation between actors working in the field of anti-corruption in fragile states. The goal is to explore systems-inspired strategies and tactics for changing corruption dynamics, and better means to analyse these dynamics in order to design innovative and effective programs.  Our contributions will be inspired by, but not limited to, the Central Africa Accountable Service Delivery Initiative (CAASDI) and a sister project housed at The Fletcher School and funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York looking at Uganda.

As we continue to examine our own thinking, we gladly welcome reflections and questions.  Your feedback will be part of the greater learning for this program.

The Central Africa Accountable Service Delivery Initiative

CDA and Besa began work on the CAASDI in September 2012. The aim of the project is to develop a diagnostic process to understand corruption dynamics in the criminal justice sector (police, courts, corrections) in order to generate more effective programming in conflict and fragile affected states. Currently our work focuses on efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Funded by the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL) of the US State Department, the project was initiated due to concerns that anti-corruption efforts by foreign assistance actors were not achieving their desired effects.

In order to analyse corruption dynamics differently, the first step was to develop a pilot diagnostic process.  Initially designed in early 2014, it drew on a variety of disciplines including political economy analysis, human systems dynamics, social norms research, negotiation theory, collective action best practice and traditional anti-corruption work namely principal-agent approaches.  The theory being that we needed to look beyond traditional areas in order to gain new insights.

The analysis stage of the diagnostic process drew on adaptive systems research to help develop a way of understanding the realities of corruption. The logic behind this approach is that: any system, for example your digestive system, involves a cycle of cause and effect which catalyses action and reaction.

When analysing how to change any system, particularly a complex one like corruption, focusing on ‘fixing’ specific parts/outcomes in the system will not work. Understanding the relationships and interconnectedness of the entire system is crucial because it feeds useful thinking about why the system works, thus was integral to the diagnostic process.

The diagnostic process made the system of corruption more explicit, aiding project design by highlighting gaps and possible ‘entry points’ into the corruption system that served as a starting point for effective program design.

Initial Key Lessons

The diagnostic process was initially used to guide research in the DRC. As of the end of the initial research in early 2015, several key lessons were identified that have continued to remain relevant.

1. Though significant documentation on corruption and/or conflict may be available, CAASDI discovered that this rarely offers useful information for a systems-centric corruption analysis either in focus, coverage or depth. Thus, key questions for the diagnostic process included:

  • Given the quantity of things one could learn about corruption in the criminal justice sector, where are the boundaries between must know, good to know and just interesting in order to develop more effective programming?
  • How does one balance the level of detail and nuance (particularly when it comes to power analysis) needed to understand how corruption embeds within a service delivery mechanism with the amount of resources ($, skills, time) agencies generally have to conduct analysis?

2. The coalition building literature suggests a successful coalition must be built upon existing momentum in a society; we coined this outrage. However, we quickly learned that the way the word ‘outrage’ translated into Congolese French was not immediately accessible to people in the cities of Kinshasa or Lubumbashi.  More importantly, even with appropriate translations and variations of the term/concept the team was not able to find the equivalent of ‘outrage’ with respect to corruption in the criminal justice sector.  Eventually concluding that outrage against corruption did not exist, thus making the idea of mobilizing existing energy in some form of collective action defunct.

As a result, a key focus of our initial diagnostic process has been thrown out and has since been re-formulated in the second edition of the diagnostic process in our sister project in Uganda (details forthcoming in a future post!).

3. Though not a new lesson, the role of donor behavior in a corruption system was reinforced.  Despite explicit statements about the primacy of fighting corruption with foreign aid, in many instances an anti-corruption agenda is not in the international donor community’s interest.  Thus, analysis of the dynamics of corruption in fragile states does not often benefit from a sufficient level of nuance and reflection.  This is exemplified through the repetition of obviously flawed programming that in theory is meant to advance an anti-corruption agenda. This knowledge prompts us to ask:

In order to create an effective program that seeks to impede corruption, do the actions of the supporting donor or all international donors in relation to complacency on corruption need to be taken into account?  If so, how? You are welcome to contact the CAASDI Program Manager, Kiely Barnard-Webster, at kbarnardwebster@cdacollaborative.org, or comment below.

The Corruption in Fragile States Blog Series

We do our best to keep this running list of series posts up to date

  1. What Can We Learn About Corruption in Fragile States? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Kiely Barnard-Webster [see below]
  2. Designing Adaptive Programming – One Theory of Change by Kiely Barnard-Webster
  3. Making Power Analysis Useful To Anti-Corruption Programming by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  4. Common Approaches to Understanding and Combatting Corruption by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  5. Why the Lid Doesn’t Fit the Pot: The Mismatch Between Corruption and Anti-corruption Programming by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  6. What Makes Corruption Complex? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  7. Three Critical Factors Missing in Corruption Assessment by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  8. How to deal with the complexity of corruption: Four recommendations for programming by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  9. How Tendering Practices by Anticorruption Research Funders Undermine Research Quality and Credibility by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Diana Chigas
  10. A Systemic Analysis of Corruption in the Criminal Justice System in Lubumbashi, DRC by Peter Woodrow
  11. Identifying Leverage Points in Systemic Analysis and Planning for Anti-corruption Action by Peter Woodrow
  12. Final Blog of the Corruption, Criminal Justice and Legitimacy Mini-Series by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  13. Breaking out of the Methodological Cage by Michael Johnston
  14. Are Women Less Corrupt? by Kiely Barnard-Webster
    1. Les femmes sont-elles moins corrompues ?
  15. A View on Corruption and Gender in Lubumbashi by Kiely Barnard-Webster
    1. La Corruption et le Genre à Lubumbashi : quelques points de vue
  16. 1.39 Cheers for Quantitative Analysis by Michael Johnston
  17. Who is Leading the Fight Against Corruption? A Review of European Bilateral Donors by Hank Nelson
  18. Your Donor is Not Evil by Alex Snider
  19. Three Lessons about Corruption in the Police and Courts in Northern Uganda by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  20. What Dynamics Drive Citizens to Engage in or Accede to Corruption by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  21. What Dynamics Drive Police and Judicial Officers to Engage in Corruption by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  22. Thinking of attending IACC 18 in Denmark? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
  23. Finding My Way Around the Corruption System with a Map: Mapping the Effects of an Intervention and Extending Systems Mapping to New Areas by Peter Woodrow
  24. The Unhelpful Nature of Anti-Corruption Research; As seen by people trying to develop solutions by Mark Pyman
  25. Do Anti-Corruption Agencies Really Matter? Some Lessons on State Legitimacy from Indonesia by Sergio Gemperle
  26. When Cows Facilitate Court, the Culture of Gifting and Corruption in Modern Courts by Juliet Harty Hatanga
  27. The Financial Journeys of Refugees: Charting a research agenda – Is corruption a relevant framework? by Roxanne Krystalli and Kim Wilson
  28. Framing Corruption: Do our frames limit our effectiveness? by Diana Chigas

Blog Series Co-Authors and Curators

Cheyanne Scharbatke-ChurchCheyanne Scharbatke-Church is Principal at Besa: Catalyzing Strategic Change, a social enterprise committed to catalysing significant change on strategic issues in places experiencing conflict and structural or overt physical violence. She has significant experience working on anti-corruption and state legitimacy in the DRC and Uganda.  As a Professor of Practice she teaches and consults on program design, monitoring, evaluation and learning.

 

Kiely Barnard-Webster PhotoKiely Barnard-Webster is Program Manager at CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, working on innovative approaches to tackling corruption in the DRC and peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity in Myanmar. She also has experience in the field of gender and development.

23 thoughts on “What Can We Learn About Corruption in Fragile States?

  1. Tugume Desteo

    I am very happy with this important work done in my country Uganda. Corruption has become a problem in a sense that it is hidden especially in public offices, bribery, tribalism or nepotism taking effect. I would very much love to see concerted efforts to scale down through working with grass root organizations that fight corruption of all forms especially in empowering the masses to air out their views that affect their rights while advocating for corrupt free environment in Uganda.

    I am a Do No Harm trainer, I have made several observations in issues to do with conflict, there are some tendencies where some masses are being sensitized on tribalism, breeding a culture of hatred, disunity, and enmity between tribes. It is a time bomb mechanism, while this is happening, the leaders are keeping quiet and the young generation are growing up with this suicide thinking. I feel the concept of Do No Harm should be expanded widely to the Country Uganda, I can offer to work given the mandate and logistical support so that we can together help mitigate the silent conflict going on which may become so destructive in the future.

    1. Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church

      Thank you for your comment Tugume. You raise a number of important points pertinent to the Uganda context. We are currently in the midst of data collection and will certainly take the variables you mention into account.

  2. Trond K. Botnen

    There is a lot of interesting work that has been done by Shaazka Beyerle and ICNC on bottom-up, people power approaches to fighting corruption. See e.g. her book:
    http://www.curtailingcorruption.org/

    and. i curriculum that has been developed and available for free.:
    http://www.curtailingcorruption.org/sites/default/files/Freedom-From-Corruption-Final-Edits-Aug-19-2015.pdf

    I was quite surprise to see above that the exsitence of “outrage” was denied, partially on purely linguistic grounds. Experience show that the idea of channeling existing energy into collective action is far from defunct, it happens and has happened in many places.

    I would therefore like to ask CDA to what extent these approach have been taken into account in the project and if you really think you can generalise from two DRC cities to conclude that it is not possible to chennel existing energy into collective action?

    Best,
    Trond.

    1. Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church

      Thank you for your thoughtful reflections Trond. Your questions are appreciated. Shaazka’s work, amongst others, related to collective action and/or nonviolent action were reviewed carefully. And I should note as we continue to think, we continue to engage with all of these ideas including Shaazka’s new curriculum..

      We certainly would not generalize our findings to the entire DRC given its size and complexities. Our inability to find ‘outrage’ simply represents the two cities noted above that were included in the study. Further the linguistic point, was more of a research lesson and was not the basis of the conclusion. Once we found suitable means to convey the concept, it was suggested to us that corruption was so normal, it was banal and therefore not something that catalyzed great reaction. .

  3. Pingback: Three Critical Factors Missing in Corruption Assessment – CDA Perspectives

  4. Pingback: How to deal with the complexity of corruption: Four recommendations for programming – CDA Perspectives

  5. Pingback: A Systemic Analysis of Corruption in the Criminal Justice System in Lubumbashi, DRC – CDA Perspectives

  6. Pingback: Designing Adaptive Programming –  One Theory of Change – CDA Perspectives

  7. Pingback: Identifying Leverage Points in Systemic Analysis and Planning for Anti-corruption Action – CDA Perspectives

  8. Pingback: Final Blog of the Corruption, Criminal Justice and Legitimacy Mini-Series – CDA Perspectives

  9. Pingback: How Tendering Practices by Anticorruption Research Funders Undermine Research Quality and Credibility – CDA Perspectives

  10. Pingback: Breaking out of the Methodological Cage – CDA Perspectives

  11. Pingback: Les femmes, sont-elles moins corrompues ? – CDA Perspectives

  12. Pingback: Are Women Less Corrupt? – CDA Perspectives

  13. Pingback: 1.39 Cheers for Quantitative Analysis – CDA Perspectives

  14. Pingback: Who is Leading the Fight Against Corruption? A Review of European Bilateral Donors – CDA Perspectives

  15. Pingback: What Dynamics Drive Citizens to Engage in or Accede to Corruption – CDA Perspectives

  16. Pingback: What Dynamics Drive Police and Judicial Officers to Engage in Corruption – CDA Perspectives

  17. Pingback: Thinking of attending IACC 18 in Denmark? – CDA Perspectives

  18. Pingback: The Unhelpful Nature of Anti-Corruption Research; As seen by people trying to develop solutions – CDA Perspectives

  19. Pingback: Do Anti-Corruption Agencies Really Matter? Some Lessons on State Legitimacy from Indonesia – CDA Perspectives

  20. Pingback: The Financial Journeys of Refugees: Charting a research agenda – Is corruption a relevant framework? | CDA Perspectives

  21. Pingback: Framing Corruption: Do our frames limit our effectiveness? | CDA Perspectives

Comments are closed.