Skip to main content

Leveraging Civil Society to Combat Corruption Risks in Emergency Response Management: The COVID-19 Experience

Governments and multilateral banks have spent unprecedented amounts of public money on the COVID-19 response. As with other public emergencies, this was no black swan event, as these loans brought increased vulnerability to corruption in public procurement and spending.

Around US$560 billion is lost to corruption in the health sector globally every year, with the procurement phase being one of the areas that is most vulnerable to corruption risks. Public health emergencies, through the increased “urgency of needs, required flexibility and requested speed”, significantly exacerbate the corruption risks in procurement.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Transparency International clarified why procurement corruption costs lives when public funds and resources intended to benefit people’s lives and improve public services are siphoned off from their proper use.

In response to these risks, the Transparency International secretariat, in collaboration with 10 national chapters, implemented the Adaptive, Risk-Based Approaches to Anti-Corruption in Covid-19 responses (ARBAC-19) project over the course of the past two-and-a-half years. The project aimed to identify, respond and follow up on the corruption risks in emergency response funding through tailor-made anti-corruption measures at national and international levels.

This best practice report has been compiled to share the findings from the ARBAC-19 project and the chapters that took part. It presents three best practice case studies and makes global policy recommendations with a view to improving future pandemic and emergency responses.