The Global Corruption Barometer survey across 107 countries found that, in 2013, in 51 of these nations, people perceived political parties to be among the institutions most affected by corruption. Bribery, corruption, theft and tax evasion cost developing countries $1.26 trillion per year, sufficient to lift the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day above this threshold for at least six years. By conservative estimates, nearly $1 trillion a year of aid and government funds in developing and war-torn countries is lost because of corruption, fraud, and mismanagement.

Though the pernicious effects of corruption are more pronounced in developing and conflict ridden countries on account of weak governance structures, even more developed countries are unable to rid themselves of this corrosion. For instance, an estimated $135 billion is lost to corruption each year throughout the 27 European Union member states. Fraud costs even a country like the UK nearly $110 billion a year.

Controlling corruption is an essential part of good governance and most attempts at eradicating corruption have floundered. However, Integrity Action, founded by Fredrik Galtung and Jeremy Pope, has delivered key development outcomes such as access to education, healthcare, water, roads, and social service, by embedding integrity on the social canvas.

In trying to understand how ordinary people can make a difference and get better services in tough governance environments and amidst less scrupulous contexts, Integrity Action realised that fostering social accountability can be the most potent tool in countering corruption. Building on local resources and skills to further more effective programs and inclusive polices, Integrity Action has pioneered Community Integrity Building across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Integrity Action invariably implements its interventions through local organisations working with local communities who identify, monitor, and inform priority projects. Besides financial and operational support to local civil society organisations, Integrity Action also provides training and support on building transparency, accountability, data collection, reporting, and collaborative problem solving. Trained monitors collect data on the effectiveness of collectively identified priority projects through site visits, beneficiary surveys, project photos, and securing project information. This secures community engagement, generates evidence and demand for accountability, and empowers citizens to ensure that policies are appropriate.

This approach has resulted in more than 4 million people in 11 countries now having better services and infrastructure. Unlike many traditional anti-corruption drives, the Integrity Action approach is non-confrontational and leverages the evidence to achieve a fix in the form of improved outcomes of better infrastructure and service. With quite likely the highest success rate in the sector of nearly 50% in achieving fixes across all its interventions, the Integrity Action approach signals a significant level of consistency, replicability, and scalability. Besides the unquestionable effectiveness, the Integrity Action Community Integrity Building model is highly efficient, offering unparalleled value for money. For instance, in Palestine their work has improved the lives of nearly 382,931 people. Based on the money spent, this amounts to $0.87 per life improved!

Opaque environments breed corruption while participation inherent in Community Integrity Building is a fundamental source of legitimacy. Constructive engagement builds trust and public accountability and bridges the gulf among different stakeholders. As Abed Almajeed Alkateeb, member of Hebron Integrity Committee for Better Services says, “When we started the Hebron Municipality, we thought we were working against them but we told them that we have no agenda, and that we are actually working with them, towards the same goals. We just want our daily cup of water.” The citizen mobilisation and collaborative engagement with local authorities inherent in the Community Integrity Building approach holds the potential of reconfiguring state-society relations.

Learn more about Integrity Action: Act Now