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Corruption can, at worst, take lives

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Corruption in the aid sector is particularly serious because it affects the most vulnerable of us. "Those who have to pay the highest price are usually the people desperate for help," says Gro Skaaren-Fystro, Special Adviser to Transparency International (TI). Together with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), TI has developed tools that can help combat corruption.

She believes that it is human nature to choose the path of least resistance, which can involve cutting corners and stretching rules to get things done.

"The 'Fraud Triangle' is a simple illustration; 'pressure', 'opportunity' and 'rationalisation' either as individual events or combined, say something about why fraud occurs. But it also lays out how we can prevent corruption. Preventive work should be given higher priority," says Skaaren-Fystro.

A person can be under pressure –either because he or she is a high achiever, or as a result of pressure from managers, pushing you to get "creative" in order to achieve high results. If the risk of exposure is low, the inclination to commit corrupt actions is greater. Then we justify our actions: We may think that our salary is too low, and that we deserve some extra gifts, and that everyone else would do the same if put in our situation.

"I think the answer lies here," she says.

Humanitarian aid is usually distributed in countries that are ranked at the bottom of TI’s anti-corruption index. Thus, organisations working in these countries face greater corruption challenges.

“Crisis situations worsen when assistance is reduced or prevented from reaching the population in need. This can be dramatic for the individuals, families and villages affected. It can therefore be said that anti-corruption work and the humanitarian imperative take the same direction”, says Skaaren-Fystro.

Anti-corruption tools

When Transparency International and the International Red Cross received funds from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create anti-corruption training materials, Berit Faye-Petersen, responsible for NRC’s anti-corruption work, participated in an expert group.

Read the interview with Faye-Petersen here.

The 2015 collaboration resulted in an e-learning software. This is a 3.5 hour-long training programme that is free to use. The course is scenario-based and challenges you in different situations.