– Why “what can we learn about corruption in fragile states?” is a central question for The Central Africa Accountable Service Delivery Initiative, and first steps taken to investigate it. –
The Central Africa Accountable Service Delivery Initiative (CAASDI) was initiated due to concerns that anti-corruption efforts by foreign assistance actors were not achieving their desired effects. Funded by the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL) of the US State Department, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects and Besa began work on CAASDI in September 2012, with the aim of developing a diagnostic process to understand corruption dynamics in the criminal justice sector (police, courts, corrections) that will help generate more effective programming in conflict and fragile affected states.
A Diagnostic Process to Understanding Corruption Dynamics
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 analyzing 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 was integral to the diagnostic process because it feeds useful thinking about why the system works.
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.
The diagnostic process was initially used to guide research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As of the end of the initial research in early 2015, several key lessons were identified that have continued to remain relevant.
1. Usefulness of Available Documentation
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. Changing the Key Focus
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. The Role of Donor Behavior
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?
The Corruption in Fragile States Blog Series
CDA and Besa initiated this 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 analyze these dynamics in order to design innovative and effective programs. Our contributions are 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. You are welcome to contact the CAASDI Program Manager, Kiely Barnard-Webster, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below.
Blog Series Co-Authors and Curators
Cheyanne 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 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.
We do our best to keep this running list of series posts up to date:
- What Can We Learn About Corruption in Fragile States? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Kiely Barnard-Webster [see below]
- Designing Adaptive Programming – One Theory of Change by Kiely Barnard-Webster
- Making Power Analysis Useful To Anti-Corruption Programming by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- Common Approaches to Understanding and Combatting Corruption by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- Why the Lid Doesn’t Fit the Pot: The Mismatch Between Corruption and Anti-corruption Programming by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- What Makes Corruption Complex? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- Three Critical Factors Missing in Corruption Assessment by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- How to deal with the complexity of corruption: Four recommendations for programming by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- How Tendering Practices by Anticorruption Research Funders Undermine Research Quality and Credibility by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Diana Chigas
- A Systemic Analysis of Corruption in the Criminal Justice System in Lubumbashi, DRC by Peter Woodrow
- Identifying Leverage Points in Systemic Analysis and Planning for Anti-corruption Action by Peter Woodrow
- Final Blog of the Corruption, Criminal Justice and Legitimacy Mini-Series by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- Breaking out of the Methodological Cage by Michael Johnston
- Are Women Less Corrupt? by Kiely Barnard-Webster
- A View on Corruption and Gender in Lubumbashi by Kiely Barnard-Webster
- 1.39 Cheers for Quantitative Analysis by Michael Johnston
- Who is Leading the Fight Against Corruption? A Review of European Bilateral Donors by Hank Nelson
- Your Donor is Not Evil by Alex Snider
- Three Lessons about Corruption in the Police and Courts in Northern Uganda by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- What Dynamics Drive Citizens to Engage in or Accede to Corruption by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- What Dynamics Drive Police and Judicial Officers to Engage in Corruption by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- Thinking of attending IACC 18 in Denmark? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- 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
- The Unhelpful Nature of Anti-Corruption Research; As seen by people trying to develop solutions by Mark Pyman
- Do Anti-Corruption Agencies Really Matter? Some Lessons on State Legitimacy from Indonesia by Sergio Gemperle
- When Cows Facilitate Court, the Culture of Gifting and Corruption in Modern Courts by Juliet Harty Hatanga
- The Financial Journeys of Refugees: Charting a research agenda – Is corruption a relevant framework? by Roxanne Krystalli and Kim Wilson
- Framing Corruption: Do our frames limit our effectiveness? by Diana Chigas
- Why is our anti-corruption program working? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- Are social norms an important missing link in anti-corruption programming? by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church and Russell Hathaway
- Approaching corruption through the lens of masculinities by Héctor Portillo and Sebastián Molanon
- The case for systems in corruption analysis by Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church
- A helpful response to unhelpful research; and a call for ideas by Mark Pyman