Oxfam America urged the US Government to adopt a locally driven approach to foreign assistance in order to fight against corruption. The organization emphasized that adopting a such an approach to development would give local partners the support they need to take on the challenge of reforming dysfunctional institutions in their countries.
In a new report released today, “To Fight Corruption, Localize Aid,” Oxfam America outlined how US foreign assistance can support a locally driven fight against corruption. The report includes a number of stories of citizens and leaders in countries around the world who are working to make their governments more accountable.
“America is the most generous country in the world, reflecting both our interests and our values,” said Gregory Adams, Director of Aid Effectiveness at Oxfam America. “However, by seeking to avoid corruption rather than changing its approach to aid, the United States is missing out on the vast, untapped potential of local actors to strengthen accountability, improve governance, and fight corruption.”
The report also outlines how traditional donor-driven methods of fighting corruption, such as building anti-corruption units, are failing to deliver necessary development outcomes on their own, and how locally driven approaches can be a more effective way to fight corruption.
“There’s a lot on the ground that is intangible to international donors," said Jacqueline Musiitwa, an attorney with the Hoja Law Group in Kenya, who traveled from Kenya to Washington for launch of the report. “If tapped, local knowledge and expertise could make aid projects happen faster and have longer-lasting results.”
A host of political, regulatory and statutory conditions on aid imposed by the US Congress and the executive branch constrain US government efforts to help locally driven fights against corruption. These restrictions often undercut US capacity to support innovative, passionate local leadership in their fight against corruption, and drive US development professionals to default to inflexible and cumbersome aid and anti-corruption approaches that do little to change a citizen’s ability to demand reform.
While a locally driven approach could help in the fight against corruption, it is not a silver bullet. Rather, such an approach is currently underutilized. Oxfam urged the US government to change its practices to seize opportunities to invest in leaders who are already working to hold their governments to account.
"I joined the civil service to make a difference in the community," said Gyan Mani Nepal, an education officer from the district of Panchthar, Nepal who recently won Nepal’s first Integrity Idol competition and also traveled to Washington for the launch. "It's important for me to show results."