‘DFID failed to tackle corruption’

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
‘DFID failed to tackle corruption’

Oct 31, 2014-

The programmes of the Department for International Development, the aid agency of the United Kingdom, failed to tackle Nepal’s government system that gets the poor to pay bribes and become victims of corruption, a UK watchdog has said.

Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), responsible for scrutinising foreign aid of the UK and which submits its report to the British parliament, showed concerns over corruption in the projects supported by the Local Governance and Community Development Programme. It pointed out the fact that the citizens are required to pay bribes to government officials or to forge documentation in order to receive funding from LGCDP-supported projects.

A team made field visits and held stakeholder discussions, according to the report. The LGCDP is a Nepal government-led programme supported by 13 donors including the DFID which ran from 2008-July 2013.

‘DFID’s Approach to Anti-Corruption and its Impact on the Poor’, the report released on Friday, states that the DFID and other donors knew or should have known, given the media coverage of these negative consequences for the poor. “We also noted instances where DFID did not seem to realise that its programmes were simply not reducing corruption as experienced by the poor,” it added.

On the other hand, the report stated that the UK aid agency failed to take stance on continuation of existing programmes with anti-corruption benefits to the people. Citing the Community Support Programme, which is said to have taught citizens the practical method for fighting corruption, the ICAI said that DFID has recently agreed with the Nepal government to reduce coverage of CSP from 44 districts to the 18 ‘most needy’ districts, much to the disappointment of the beneficiaries.

The CSP, which was initiated in 2003 during the conflict, was to support community-led service delivery at a time government service was severely restricted. It worked to implement infrastructure projects prioritised by local communities.

The report states that the instances, such as those in the context of LGCDP and CSP, raise concerns that the general principle that aid should first ‘do no harm’ has been breached.

Narayan Manandhar, a researcher on corruption, said that the donors’ failure to select good projects due to their overdependence on English for concept notes which they usually get from Kathmandu-centric non-government organisations is a reason why donor-funded projects have failed to succeed.

“Corruption has decentralised over the years but the donors and anti-corruption watchdogs are still concentrated in the Capital. So corruption is not being controlled at the local level,” he added.

The report points out anomalies in the LGCDP-supported projects, particularly the political influence on them. “We heard from citizens that the Ward Citizen Forums, established by LGCDP to be locally representative bodies, remain subject to political capture. Political elites are often able to use their status to influence the direction of government funds towards their preferred projects.”

Published: 01-11-2014 09:03

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