Saturday, March 19, 2011

CORRUPTION CALAMITY: Don't give them more

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Rampant corruption is the single most challenge for poor nations
Stretching helping hands to the needy and disaster-hit is indeed a good deed. But at times, those deeds have to face lots of obstacles. While nature doesn't outweigh countries while it strikes, poor countries always fall prey to its rumbles. While several world communities and agencies show their generosity to the calamity-struck nations, managing disaster relief programmes in the underdeveloped nations is still embroiled with many hassles ' as corruption has become a key problem for them. In addition, poor governance, lack of transparency, callous and lethargic attitude of authorities concerned make relief and rehabilitation work less effective.

A UN investigation report released recently paints a grim picture about how overseas relief programmes are being siphoned off. The report revealed as many as 50 per cent of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Somalia have been stolen. Corruption cost the nation $485 million in 2009. However, Somalia is not the only crisis for the foreign aid agency. Even amidst the ongoing deluge in Pakistan, humanitarian groups expressed their sheer dissatisfaction over the ugliest corruption committed by Pakistani authorities. Pakistan received about $1.5 billion flood relief aid and $3 billion loan from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. But the donors are skeptic as well as curious about how the money will be spent?

A similar crisis was also witnessed while Haiti was struck by a devastated earthquake during January this year. While Haiti received $2.5 billion from the foreign aid agencies, a huge portion of the donation was amassed by government officials and aid workers. Moreover, the Indian Ocean tsunami aid generated a record amount of aid ' more than $11 billion. But the whopping amount, although not the whole, went into the wrong pockets. Africa receives the highest aid, but hasn't used it properly. Since 2001, the US has been donating nearly $1.4 billion a year to Africa for combating AIDS and for welfare works. By 2008, aid to Sub-Saharan Africa reached $50 per person. But rampant corruption has wasted a major portion of the aid. In Africa, cost of corruption is estimated about $150 billion per year. Realising the gravity of corruption, ex-Goldman Sachs economist Dambisa Moyo once asked the US 'to stop aiding Africa.' Apparently, the US is now rethinking its decision to donate $3.9 billion to Afghanistan.

But stopping aid during crisis is an unrealistic move as poor countries desperately need help. There are other ways by which these aid corruptions can be checked. Recipients should show greater accountability towards the donors. Stricter code of conduct and a transparent evaluation system, can certainly produce positive results. Although rampant corruption can't be wiped out totally, the relief-seekers should take some and swift actions against the perpetrators. The poor nations should now jointly take the cudgels to fight against corruptions in their countries.

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