Corruption in humanitarian work is among the worst kind. It can mean the difference between life and death. It robs people of essential resources, destroying dignity and causing desperation. Emergency assistance pumps large amounts of money and goods into damaged economies. The risk of corruption is acute. Aid often flows through new, unmonitored channels. It faces the chaos of conflicts or natural disasters. So it’s extremely hard to track where aid goes.
Food, water and medical supplies can be stolen and sold on the black market. Companies can bribe procurement officials to win contracts. This can mean displaced families receive sub-standard housing or poor-quality food. Aid agencies feel the need for speed. Sometimes this makes them bypass standard anti-corruption measures. The result? Money or goods go missing. Aid can be used to buy votes or influence. Too often, powerful local groups and existing corrupt networks benefit. Those most needing help miss out. The solution?