- Focus areas of our work
- How we work
- Countries we work in
- Examples and results
- The organisation
ActionAid Denmark fights corruption by means of information, awareness-raising and mobilisation of poor people. We support legislation tackling corruption and institutions capable of exposing it.
Doctors don't steal, do they?
Molly Olume lives with her daughter in an area of northern Uganda riddled with mosquitoes and the world’s highest incidence of malaria. They often need anti-malarial drugs. The medicine is free, but only in theory, because 75 percent of it disappears in the system and is put up for sale in private clinics. This particularly affects poor people like Molly Olume, who cannot afford to buy the drugs.
The example of fraud with state-funded medicine is but one example of corruption. Abuse of power and securing state resources for personal gain are additional examples of corruption. Likewise, illegal charges for seeing a doctor, teachers demanding payment to move a pupil up to the next grade, or local businessmen bribing civil servants to lighten their tax load are not uncommon. Poorly paid public employees are tempted to abuse their position, and this is why the fight against corruption is an integral part of MS’s work in terms of building local democracy for the benefit of the poor.
Anti-corruption coalition in Uganda
In 1998, 24 civil society groups – supported by MS – formed the ACCU, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, which has since grown into a vigorous organisation with 60 member organisations. ACCU works both at the national level, where it has achieved the enactment of a law on transparency in public administration, and at the grassroots level, where annual campaigns turn the spotlight on various forms of corruption.
Corruption hinders development
“I get angry, when somebody is cheated, and in my opinion corruption is stealing, especially from the poor and powerless. The impacts of corruption affect society as a whole, because who wants to invest, if there’s a risk of losing everything? In Uganda, corruption hinders development.”
Marina Buch Kristensen, MS development worker at ACCU
Corruption has many faces. It can be anything from bribery and embezzlement to blackmail and nepotism. It exists among civil servants and politicians. It occurs on a vast scale as fraud involving mind-boggling sums, and as widespread ‘petty’ corruption nurtured by a socially accepted and deep-seated mentality and culture of corruption that is hard to tackle.
Corruption undermines democracy by buying votes and paying off courts of law, fomenting inequality and injustice. Corruption eats away at shared resources and public service. The consequence is that people fail to receive what they are entitled to. The poor people are worst affected, as they have no option other than to use the public system. They cannot afford bribery, and so they are pushed to the back of the queue.
Corruption also hits women and young people particularly hard, since they tend to depend more on public services and have fewer resources. On the other hand, they are not as set in their ways, and more willing to confront the culture of corruption. For this reason, women, the poor and the young are central target groups in our efforts against corruption. They suffer the most from the effects, and also benefit the most from fighting this scourge.
How MS supports the fight against corruptionMS works in Uganda, Mozambique and Kenya alongside local partner organisations to fight corruption locally, regionally and nationally with a focused programme approach using a variety of means. In the other countries where MS supports long-term development, the fight against corruption is less focused but nevertheless an integral part of the work.
Information, education and awareness-raising
In order to fight corruption, it is important to start with ‘petty’ corruption in its myriad forms, as encountered, for instance, in the police, schools and health sector. This requires knowing one’s rights and challenging the notion that corruption is inevitable. This requires setting out to change people’s mentality. Consequently, information, education and awareness-raising are essential weapons in the fight against corruption. Messages can be disseminated by means of teaching in schools, forum theatre with corruption themes, as well as radio programmes, talk shows and campaigns.
Transparency, budget control and citizens’ groups
The opportunities for corruption can be monitored through control systems, in which local leaders can be held accountable and be confronted with any misuse of public funds, and by working for transparency in local administration. This is why we support the mobilisation of citizens’ groups, who can take part in budget monitoring, organise citizens’ hearings, and push for greater transparency and accountability.
Empowering civil society groups and organisations
We support training and political empowerment of citizens’ groups and organisations locally, regionally as well as nationally. Thus we enhance citizen capacity to analyse public budgets and accounts, and to draw attention to corruption. Moreover, we work to mobilise research institutions and journalist associations in the fight against corruption, and to adopt and enforce codes of conduct against corruption – also within MS's own partner organisations.
Advocacy, legislation and watchdogs
At the central level, we support advocacy that highlights the politicians’ and civil servants’ accountability to citizens, we support legislation against corruption, and we support watchdog institutions and critical journalism capable of monitoring and exposing corruption.
Learn moreAnti-Corruption Thematic Programme Concept Paper Draft (pdf)