One Big Thing: Has corruption made international humanitarian assistance for COVID-19 less effective?
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What is it?
- The COVID-19 outbreak poses a greater threat to people living in countries with high levels of corruption as kleptocrats around the world have disrupted emergency humanitarian assistance supply chains for their own personal gains. At a lower level, many other local anti-corruption practices, such as procurement processes to ensure fiscal transparency, are being ignored.
- Often items that are in high demand but short supply are especially vulnerable to corruption which currently include personal protective equipment, swabs, ventilators, potential therapeutic medicines and other COVID-19 related medical equipment.
- In March 2020, the IMF held up 5.5 billion dollars in humanitarian funding for the Ukraine because the country was unable to meet the required anticorruption benchmarks.
Why is it important?
- Full governmental transparency and accountability must be a priority during public health crises. Past disasters including 2004 Banda Aceh earthquake and the 2014 Ebola outbreak have demonstrated the effectiveness of continued international oversight for humanitarian aid funding in corruption-riddled or insecure environments.
- The United Nations announced a 6.7 billion dollar appeal for emergency COVID-19 aid on top of the World Bank $14 billion-dollar global assistance package to help protect economies and jobs. Also, The U.S. State department pledged $900 million in humanitarian funding to help other countries. All this being said, the total amount of funding made available is obsolete if it is corruptly stolen before it can reach the intended beneficiaries.
What can you do?
- Read the Anti-corruption Resource Centre’s report on Corruption in the time of COVID-19 for things to watch and best practices for past outbreaks.
- Check out more from CFR on how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect foreign assistance after the crises is over.
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