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The costs of corruption during humanitarian crises, and mitigation strategies for development agencies

The COVID-19 outbreak poses particular challenges to anti-corruption efforts. The health sector is especially vulnerable to corruption; causing estimated annual losses of at least US$ 455 billion of the US$7.35 trillion spent. With a huge influx of cashflows and medical supply shortages, humanitarian emergencies create fertile ground for such problems. Corruption in humanitarian assistance results in a reduced quantity and quality of aid reaching the targeted beneficiaries, which may prolong humanitarian crises. Donor agencies can take some immediate steps to reduce the exposure of their own operations. These range from communication and coordination strategies to aid transparency and preventive safeguards in the area of internal controls and procurement processes.

18 April 2020
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Main points

  • Corruption in humanitarian assistance results in a reduced quantity and quality of aid reaching the targeted beneficiaries, which, as a result, could prolong humanitarian crises.
  • Corruption is occasionally seen as a cost of doing business in humanitarian contexts, especially where there is a perceived trade-off between exigency and due diligence. Yet anti-corruption procedures and accountability mechanisms are some of the best instruments to ensure that humanitarian assistance is being used effectively and donors’ objectives are achieved.
  • There are a number of immediate steps that donor agencies can take to tackle corruption in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, regardless of their existing level of preparedness. These range from communication and coordination strategies to aid transparency and preventive safeguards in the area of internal controls and procurement processes.

Cite this publication


Jenkins, M.; Khaghaghordyan, A.; Rahman, K.; Duri, J.; (2020) The costs of corruption during humanitarian crises, and mitigation strategies for development agencies. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2020:1)

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Disclaimer


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Keywords


anti-corruption measures, Covid-19, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian crisis, health sector, procurement