Africa: Uwimana - 'Access to Basic Services Is Hindered'

interview

Photo: RNW
Still, nearly 9 out of 10 people surveyed said they would act against corruption and two-thirds of those who were asked to pay a bribe had refused, suggesting that governments, civil society and the business sector need to do more to engagepeople in thwarting corruption.

The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has just released its Global Corruption Barometer for 2013. It surveyed over 100,000 people in more than a 100 countries.

Transparency found people have the least trust in organizations meant to protect them - the police, courts and political parties. More than a quarter of those reported having paid officials bribes within the last 12 months. Transparency International said there was a link between poverty and graft. Eight of the countries with the highest bribery rates were African.

An interview with Chantal Uwimana, regional director, Africa, at Transparency International.

DW: What criteria did you use when selecting which countries to survey?

Chantal Uwimana: The criteria we used included the availability of funding for our work. We would have loved to cover the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, but we were not able to do so. But we also looked at those countries that were reliable and in which we could carry out our survey.

And what did you discover?

Focusing on Africa, we realize, from the barometer, that citizens have had to pay bribes to access some services. We have called for a dialogue with the police in different countries to see how best we could alleviate this burden on citizens. We see that access to basic services is hindered by the fact that citizens have to pay bribes in the case of healthcare, access to water, access to electricity, access to justice and access to land. We have been working in countries where we have national chapters setting advocacy and legal advice centers. These are for citizens who are victims, or witnesses of corruption who can come forward and report those instances and this is how we gather data. This barometer shows that corruption comes in different forms in different countries, depending on the context. At the same time we recognize that it occurs across the world

Could you be a little more specific. Why, for instance, does Kenya rank number four and not Somalia?

We didn't do the barometer in that country (Somalia).

Why Kenya, a country that has a functioning system?

People who know Kenya know that almost on a yearly basis, citizens talk about having to pay bribes to the police, for example. It is realistic asking citizens "have you, or somebody in your household, had to pay a bribe" and they say "yes" or "no." It is not like comparing two countries, it's looking at the real experiences of those who are surveyed.

What is the purpose of conducting this research?

The purpose is to help everybody who is interested in the fight against corruption and trying to address issues in specific sectors or institutions, for them to set priorities.

You have the findings - what comes next?

What comes next depends on each of the countries and the different actors. Our chapters in different countries, as I have said, have set up the advocacy and legal advice centers specifically for citizens to come and report what they know, so that they can be supported and brought together to stand against corruption. We will be engaging police in different countries to have a dialogue about their ways - to work together with them to reduce the number of those instances where bribes are paid.

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InFocus

Report Exposes High Corruption Rates

Still, nearly 9 out of 10 people surveyed said they would act against corruption and two-thirds of those who were asked to pay a bribe had refused, suggesting that governments, civil society and the business sector need to do more to engagepeople in thwarting corruption.

A Corruption Barometer has revealed that Africa has the highest bribery rates in the world. Read more »