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Countering corruption amid COVID-19

This project is now complete

This project was completed in 2023. For more information please contact [email protected]

About this project

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed governments worldwide to introduce measures to protect their people and do it fast.

Unprecedented measures required unprecedented funding, and governments and international institutions stepped up. In the name of emergency, however, many of the usual anti-corruption, transparency and accountability measures were pushed to the side.

As anti-corruption controls were ignored, the risk of that funding not reaching intended recipients increased significantly. Without these checks, the money could be diverted at various stages of the decision-making and disbursement process to enrich corrupt officials and criminal organisations.

Controlling corruption is essential to ensuring a fair and efficient response to emergencies. Increasing transparency in government spending, strengthening oversight institutions and protecting civic space can pave the way to fairer, more inclusive societies and better preparedness to the next global crisis.

Why fighting corruption matters in times of COVID-19

What’s at stake

The aim of COVID-related spending was and continues to be to save lives and livelihoods. If the funds are not managed correctly, the wellbeing of people is in danger.

The amount and quality of critical public services are at stake, as well as access to direct financial support to help people and companies weather the storm. All of these are on the line unless government spending is monitored, corruption risks are recognised, and suspected wrongdoings are addressed.

Over the past years, people have been hearing about the misuse of COVID-related funds and watched scandals unfold.

Now it’s time to take a closer look at what went wrong and set the record straight, one case at a time.

What we’re doing about it

We’re working with eleven Transparency International chapters to strengthen key institutions and accountability mechanisms and reduce the scope for corruption across relevant state institutions and sectors of the economy. We believe that learning the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic can help us identify critical risks and ensure that governments handle future emergencies better.

Many Transparency International’s chapters were the first to recognise and call out enhanced corruption risks related to the crisis, including in the areas of procurement, emergency legislation which passed largely unchecked, and the influx and use of large-scale emergency funds from international organisations such as the IMF and the donor community.

We’re working together with chapters to identify specific corruption risks and vulnerabilities in their national contexts and address concrete instances of suspected corruption.

The overarching project goal is to significantly reduce corruption risks in emergency response funding.