A Micah Challenge report being released this week backs international advocacy efforts to tackle corruption as a key tool in eradicating poverty.
The paper, launched on International Anti-Corruption Day (9 December 2010), refers to evidence of corruption impacting negatively on the poor in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and also in Europe.
Development campaigners have been arguing for some time that the practices of Western governments, businesses and agencies also need to come under scrutiny.
Open for Service: A Case for Good Governance urgently appeals for transparency in government, business and the global Christian Church.
It has been produced by Micah Challenge, a predominantly evangelical network seeking to mobilise Christian concern for anti-poverty action.
The document follows discussion between development practitioners, politicians, economists and academics reflecting the views of those living in extreme poverty and proposing solutions to corruption crimes, which could prevent Governments achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Joel Edwards, the international director of Micah Challenge, commented: “Corruption is a like a tower block on a runway. It accounts for over a trillion dollars going missing, and is a massive barricade to the well being of the poorest people in the world."
He added: "It’s difficult to define, complex in its treatment and entrenched in business and political systems. No wonder it has gone on underground for so long. Simply put, corruption kills people.”
The Rt Rev Dr Benjamin Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos in Central Nigeria, spoke on corruption as a global problem at Africa’s Transformation conference this year: “Compared to corruption in the West, Africa is an apprentice.”
The call for Good Governance comes alongside first-hand evidence on the effects of corruption on poverty released by multiple international stakeholders earlier this year.
Research in the World Bank's Africa Development Indicators 2010 report highlights the severe effects of ‘quiet corruption’ such as bribery, weak regulation and poor service delivery in the health, education and agriculture sectors of Africa. In one instance more than 50 per cent of drugs sold in Nigerian drugstores in the 1990s were found to be counterfeit.
The study also mentions that there are as many as 91 children per primary school teacher in the Central African Republic, compared with 22 children per teacher in Mauritius, due to absenteeism.
Case-studies from Peru, Cambodia and Zambia in a Tearfund report called Corruption and its Discontents, similarly establish that corruption and a culture of bribery form one of the biggest barriers to poverty eradication.
A female interviewee from Moyobamba, Peru said: “I took my daughter-in-law to the hospital. She was really sick with appendicitis. She was initially taken to one hospital but then she was referred elsewhere because they needed to operate on her. When we arrived at the second hospital, the nurse who was supposed to be supervising her said to me: 'It is the end of my day and I am very busy. I cannot see to her.' I pleaded with her to take care of her, and to give her the injections that she needed. I had to take her a gift, to persuade her to take proper care of her.”
The Open for Service research paper highlights the role that churches can play in advocating for good governance in overcoming poverty.
Former Director of the UN Millennium Campaign, Salil Shetty, says in the foreword: “The people in the front-end of the evangelical churches know that if public resources are managed in a transparent and accountable manner, there is nothing stopping the world from achieving the MDGs by 2015.”
The President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Emminent Person of the Centre For Peace Initiatives in Africa, Goodwill Shana, said: “The document captures the central role that governance plays in the broad agenda of poverty reduction and eradication.”
The launch of the paper follows Micah’s10.10.10 campaign during which 60 million Christians in over 70 nations prayed for an end to extreme poverty.
This global event formed part of a growing movement mobilising evangelical churches to play a greater part in alleviating poverty.
A copy of the report can be viewed of downloaded here: http://www.micahchallenge.org/get-involved/good-governance