POVERTY AND CORRUPTION IN AFRICA

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Image of poverty in Africa amidst all the rich mineral resources

Original article published in ti-logo

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Around 80 per cent of African people live on less than US$2 a day. Corruption is one factor perpetuating poverty. Poverty and corruption combine to force people to make impossible choices like “Do I buy food for my family today or do I pay a bribe to get treated at the clinic?” Poor people often have low access to education and can remain uninformed about their rights, leaving them more easily exploited and excluded. In order to fight against their social exclusion and marginalisation, poor citizens need a space for dialogue with the authorities.

WHAT WE’RE DOING ABOUT IT

To escape the vicious cycle corruption creates for disadvantaged groups, people need to be able to speak up for their rights and demand accountability from their leaders, ensuring access to basic social services and resources. If the social compact between the government and the people fails, citizens – and especially the poor – are forced to compromise on the quality of their livelihoods and their social and human rights.

Our Poverty and Corruption in Africa (PCA) programme enabled disadvantaged people to take part in development processes by opening dialogue between them and their governments. From video advocacy to pacts binding officials and communities to agreed development targets, every activity was tailored to the national and local context.

Communities focused on their most pressing issues – such as agricultural support, water supplies or free medicines, all underpinned by the common principles of community participation. With its universal principles and adaptable methods, the programme’s approach is applicable in communities far beyond its scope.

If people have a say in how they’re governed (participatory governance) and officials are accountable to the people they serve (social accountability), poor people become aware of their power and the force their voices have when raised. Participatory social accountability tools increase contact between citizens and governments, and therefore increase transparency, accountability and good governance. They reduce the opportunities for people in authority to abuse their power.

Increased citizen participation means better informed communities, more public oversight and less corruption in planning and monitoring local development. This creates a win-win situation: the poor benefit from local development, and people in power benefit from being considered champions of integrity, all while the community prospers.

WHO’S INVOLVED

The PCA programme ran in six different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Six of our national chapters participated:

These chapters used different social accountability tools they developed to engage poor people and their governments in constructive dialogue. Starting on a small scale at the local level, their experiences show how the community participation they initiated gains momentum and ripples outwards, increasing the citizen-government interface further.

OUR APPROACH

In order to increase the voice the people have in shaping and monitoring service delivery, our chapter inLiberia set up poverty forums. These brought together authorities, service providers and communities for open discussions. These forums helped fill the information gap across a wide range of subjects, giving the people the confidence to contribute to decision-making and demand accountability from officials. Local officials now act with more transparency and integrity, unwilling to incur people’s criticism or loss of confidence.

Our chapter in Mozambique worked with community radio and activists to hold officials accountable for the quality of service delivery, by overseeing development budgets and planning. The community activists gathered information about irregularities in services and presented their complaints to local and provincial authorities. The process was reinforced by community radio programmes on fighting corruption, to inspire communities to demand accountability.

In Sierra Leone and Ghana, our chapters established monitoring groups to hold officials accountable. The committees monitor specific sectors such as health, education and agriculture. Members report their findings at quarterly meetings with public officials, where they agree on improvements needed. Monitoring team members then ensure these adjustments take place.

Using participatory video, the problems facing the communities are highlighted, and progress – or the absence thereof – can be recorded. Because making a video is easy and accessible, it is a highly effective tool to engage and mobilise marginalised people and to help them drive their own forms of sustainable development based on local needs. With community action at its heart, this approach opened dialogue between communities and the authorities.

Development pacts were used by our chapters in Uganda and Zambia as a way to hold officials accountable for public service delivery. These pacts act as a social contract, committing communities and officials to an agreed development priority. In Uganda, this meant transparent delivery of agricultural services, whereas in Zambia, the development pacts helped complete a bridge over a river that cuts a community off every rainy season. By opening projects to public scrutiny, in non-confrontational way, the pacts reduced opportunities for corruption, thus helping community members achieve their development targets

http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/activity/poverty_and_corruption_in_africa

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African Children Exposed to Violence, Brutality and Victimization

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What a shame? A defenseless African child being beaten by ‘law enforcement’ agents

There are problems brewing in Africa against children, that need attention. Africa is not only known for its rich mineral resources but one of the brutal continents in the world. Lack of education and corruption have weakened the continent’s economic infrastructure without remedy. The result is often ethnic conflicts, political unrest, crime, and brutality against children.

If children are not forced into child labour and soldier, they become victims of political unrest and abuse.  It is estimated that tens of millions of children worldwide are street children, according to UNICEF. For example, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over 100,000 homeless children can be found living on the streets.

Neglected, unwanted, abused and many as orphans, children get entangled in African conflicts they didn’t call for. They are beaten mercilessly by adults, while the so-called head of states, sit without any efforts to save or help the children, all because Africa’s politics is not for the people but for greed and corruption.

It’s normal for every country to have a leader, that’s the reason we have world leaders, but if one sees the problems children pass through in certain countries, including African countries, you may wonder if that country has a leader. Without proper care, many street children turn to glue sniffing, affecting their health badly, while many become juvenile criminals.

Years after independence, despite all the abundant resources, many African countries still wallow in poverty, feeding on a bread of sorrow. State funds are secretly deposited at Swiss banks, while the common Africans, including children, continue to suffer, due to poor educational and health facilities.

Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping, ex-Chinese leader, once said “We should give Africa technological know-how, so that African governments can transform their resources on the spot and create jobs and markets for their people locally, regionally, at the continental level and internationally.

Africa must cease to be forever the provider of raw materials to other people. Africans must never sell their land. They should say no to land grabbing by big agro-business multinational companies that displace African natives.”

These great statement towards Africa’s development was made years back, when China was crawling like a baby learning how to walk. Today China is rubbing shoulders with great countries including America and Japan, leaving Africa far behind.

If Africa can’t do it today, they can never do it tomorrow, because, for ages, we are like fools, living in abundant of water, yet we are still thirsty.