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‘Quiet Corruption’ Hitting Africa’s Poorest, Hardest

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published
25 March 2010

Residents in Port Harcourt, NigeriaThe failure of public servants to deliver basic goods and services, or ‘quiet corruption’, is a having a deeply negative impact on impoverished societies across Africa, according to a new World Bank report.

The World Bank’s annual African Development Indicators report was released on the 15 March. This year the report’s associated essay focuses on what it calls ‘quiet corruption’ – the failure of public servants to deliver services paid for by the government, like health and education.

According to the report, corruption is more than just the payment of bribes or kickbacks. Just as damaging, and perhaps more pervasive in the lives of Africa’s very poorest people, is the problem of quiet corruption.

“Quiet corruption does not make the headlines the way bribery scandals do, but it is just as corrosive to societies,” said Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist for the World Bank’s Africa Region.

“Tackling quiet corruption will require a combination of strong and committed leadership, policies and institutions at the sectoral level, and – most important – increased accountability and participation by citizens,” Mr Devarajan added.

According to the World Bank report, quiet corruption is effectively pushing many impoverished families to give up on their country’s systems and services.

For example, in a survey of primary school teachers in a number of African counties found many were not at their schools 15 to 20 percent of the time and many of those present, were not teaching. Such examples of absenteeism and low effort by public servants hits the poorest, hardest and encourages impoverished parents to pull their kids out of school.

The report also cites a survey of malaria facilities in rural Tanzania. There, nearly four out of five children who died of malaria had sought medical help from a modern facility. However, absence of diagnostic equipment, drug pilfering, absence of medical staff and other forms of quiet corruption all contributed to the high death rate.

To read the full findings of the World Bank’s ADI report, click here. There, you will also find online tools to build charts and graphs from the latest World Bank data.

To watch a World Bank multimedia presentation on the key findings of the report, click here.

 

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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