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Curbing corruption in tsunami relief operations

New publication contains lessons for other humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)/Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific, and Transparency International (TI) today launched an important new publication “Curbing Corruption in Tsunami Relief Operations”.

"Although developed in response to the devastating tsunami which struck Asia in December 2004, this publication contains lessons relevant to other humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts”, said Peter Rooke, Transparency International's Regional Director for Asia Pacific.

The new publication contains the conclusions of a regional expert meeting on curbing corruption in tsunami relief, which was held in Jakarta on 7-8 April 2005, as well as the text of key papers presented there.

The expert meeting was convened jointly by ADB, OECD and TI and hosted by the Government of Indonesia. It brought together stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector from affected countries as well as donors and international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

The Jakarta meeting and the resulting publication has benefited enormously from the open and frank dialogue between representatives from these involved stakeholder groups”, confirmed Frédéric Wehrlé from the OECD Anti-Corruption Division.

The meeting outcomes and options for follow up action were discussed yesterday at the 5th Regional Conference of the ADB/OECD Anti Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific being held in Beijing this week.

Jak Jabes from the ADB Governance and Regional Cooperation Division said “Corruption in the delivery of humanitarian aid undermines the very spirit of humanitarian action, which is: to 'do no harm'. Relief supplies - including food, water, medicines and shelter- can, as a result of corruption, be diverted or distributed inequitably. This can have devastating consequences for affected communities at the time when they are most vulnerable.”

Long term reconstruction after major disasters can involve huge funding flows and is particularly prone to corruption, for example due to a tendency to bypass standard procedures to speed rebuilding.

Recommendations in the new publication include:

  • All stakeholders involved in tsunami assistance must ensure transparency and accountability in their operations, in particular in the management of the financial flows.
  • As the affected people's ownership of the relief and reconstruction process is essential, operations should build on their leadership, participation, and commitment to ensuring the best use of assistance.
  • Donors should coordinate with governments and among themselves to avoid duplication of assistance schemes.
  • Governments must involve affected people and civil society in decision making, ensure information dissemination, and provide easily accessible corruption reporting channels combined with effective mechanisms to encourage and protect whistleblowers.
  • Non-governmental organizations play an important role in monitoring the relief and reconstruction process and in reporting any suspicion of corruption to authorities.

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ADB and OECD are working together in the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific, the region's unique forum uniting Asian and Pacific countries in the fight against corruption. The meeting in Jakarta was their first joint initiative with Transparency International, the civil society organisation leading the global fight against corruption with more than 90 national chapters around the world.


For any press enquiries please contact

Jak Jabes
Director, Governance and Regional Cooperation Division
ADB
Phone: +63-2-6325749
Fax: +63-2-6362182
Email: jjabes@adb.org

Frederic Wehrlé
Coordinator Asia-Pacific
Anti-Corruption Division
OECD
Phone: +33-1-45251855
Fax: +33-1-44306307
Email: Frederic.wehrle@oecd.org

Inés Selvood
Press Officer
Transparency International
Phone: +49-30-3438 200
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912
Email: iselvood@transparency.org