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Integrity Watch Afghanistan: Fighting Corruption through Collective Action

By Srimal Fernando,  Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society

Corruption has a terrible impact on an economy and causes enormous social instability to a country, yet many challenges remain in fighting corruption and promoting good governance. Transparency International’s International Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 highlights that many countries in the world have a serious corruption problem and noted that “Not one single country, anywhere in the world, is corruption-free”. Patterns of corruption vary from country to country and over time. As the eyes of the world focus on stabilizing Afghanistan, further reforms are needed for Afghanistan to curb corruption and to truly fast-track its development through good governance practices.

Photo: Mr. Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan

Sadly, Afghanistan performs poorly in the area of corruption according to Transparency International’s latest ranking. The causes of corruption in Afghanistan are no mystery and combating corruption is not an easy task. It requires courage and long-term commitment by a variety of anti-corruption actors. Integrity Watch Afghanistan, an anti-corruption civil society organisation puts corruption under the spotlight by committing to anti-corruption through community monitoring, research, and advocacy.  

The Diplomatic Society Global Editor, Srimal Fernando speaks face to face with Executive Director of Integrity Watch in Afghanistan and anti-corruption activist Sayed Ikram Afzali.

Afzali summarised the work of Integrity Watch Afghanistan which has three major components.  

"Firstly, community monitoring work which includes development of community monitoring tools, mobilizing and training communities to monitor infrastructure projects, public services, and courts . Secondly, research work which is focused on policy-oriented research measuring trends, perceptions and experiences of corruption and cover a wide range of corruption related issues . Thirdly, advocacy work which includes facilitation of policy dialogue on issues related to integrity, transparency, and accountability."

Integrity Watch has developed a number of initiatives to tackle corruption in the infrastructure sector. “We work with communities to identify local monitors who volunteer to monitor construction projects on behalf of their communities. This Programme is called Community Based Monitoring (CBM-I ) -infrastructure program promotes social accountability through community mobilization and social audits. We have monitored more than 1000 construction sites, including schools and Irrigation projects” said Afzali  

"Since July 2014 the Community Based Monitoring of Schools (CBM-S) was a major initiative promoting citizen’s involvement and transparency education through schools.  27 schools are currently being monitored in Charikar City and Jabal Saraj in the district of Parwan. Furthermore, a series of checks and balances are put in place. Ongoing monitoring of legislative and regulatory activities through  Community Based Monitoring- Trial Program (CBM-T) and the Community Based Monitoring of Extractives (CBM-E)   is another  effective anti-corruption ethics and compliance programme.”

“The National Corruption survey, released every two years, shows that after insecurity corruption has become the second biggest concern for Afghans,” said Afzali.

Integrity Watch in Afghanistan provides a wealth of reports on issues.  Publications such as National Integrity System Assessment Afghanistan 2015, Political economy of five major mines in Afghanistan and the Open Budget Survey 2015 are important resources by the Civil Society organization.

The organisation's programmes are funded by different sources including many of the large International donors such as Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Open Society Foundation – Afghanistan , United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS).

A wide range of strategies have been adopted in order to enlist the support of the entire community on a partnership to fight corruption. International best practices in combating corruption can be further implemented by civil society. Political will, however is the most important factor in the fight against corruption.

 

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