Corruption in the aid sector is high on the agenda in the Norwegian aid milieu, with Norwegian People’s Aid too.
More openness about this issue has lead to increased debate and greater mutual learning between organisations as to prevention and handling of such cases.
In 2010, Norwegian People’s Aid had a turnover of over 800 million kroner, working with long-term development work and humanitarian mine clearance with local partners across the globe. Many of the countries in which we have a presence are considered to be among the most corrupt and conflict-filled nations in the world. This is the day-to-day situation to which we have to relate. We therefore recognise the problems but refuse to accept them. For this reason, Norwegian People’s Aid has zero tolerance for all forms of corruption. We work for a unified attitude and common approach across the whole organisation in relation to corruption and strive for full openness concerning this work.
Deficient systems and local culture often provide the seedbed of corrupt behaviour and the combination of great poverty and low wages its trigger. The problems are worst for those at the bottom of the ladder.
Corruption makes itself known in many ways but is always linked to disloyal behaviour and crime. Corruption has therefore become a taboo issue and it often requires both courage and knowledge to acknowledge that this may be a problem among one’s own ranks too. This is why Norwegian People’s Aid is concerned about creating openness and defusing the issue of corruption within the organisation.
In 2008, Norwegian People’s Aid adopted a set of guidelines for anti-corruption work and 2009 saw the release of our own reporting routines. This means that the Oslo head office now has a system for receiving and dealing with reports of undesirable incidents and situations, wherever these might occur within the organisation. Our work with internal control has also been strengthened with a greater number of staff and the establishment of a central procurement function.
There is still a little way to go, however, before an allencompassing tool is in place. We are currently working with the development of a reporting function for all incidents that may involve non-compliance, so called “incident reporting”. Responsibility for this will be with the various programmes and not at head office. The incident reporting system is to have a wide sweep, including HSE issues and incidents that may not necessarily be corrupt but that lie in areas of doubt. Such a system should create a greater sense of ownership of anti-corruption work in the programmes themselves. It will also be easier to catch sight of possible cases which one would not usually view as non-compliance with acceptable routines and practices.
Norwegian People’s Aid recommends that all its partners establish guidelines and procedures against corruption. We evaluate our partners’ administrative and control routines and clearly communicate our zero-tolerance policy. At the same time, we acknowledge that may of our partners lack the necessary capacity or training to deal with these challenges. Where we discover this to be the case, we either make training part of the collaboration or offer external support.