Do Donors Support Corruption?

Donors who focus on how much money they spend and not on how many people they serve, nor the benefits of their service, are contributing to corruption in Malawi, according to a report by Susan Marmion under the aegis of Global Integrity. Christine Gorman comments on the report at the Global Health Report Blog.

Marmion reports three-quarters of the government’s income is from foreign aid. Donor money isn’t tracked and this, coupled with outright corruption, has led to abuse of funds, failed programs in education and health and contributes to the continuing disbelief in the integrity of the systems that should be seen as helping lift people from poverty.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t limited to Malawi. It’s been documented in many countries with developing economies across the world. Gorman, who is currently in Malawi on a Nieman fellowship, is looking at health care in Malawi. She cites the investigative research of Global Integrity which works with journalists to document integrity issues in the use of donor aid.

In her most recent post she also links to an important article by Andrew Meldrum in The Lancet about the deteriorating health care system in Zimbabwe. Meldrum’s report offers a cautionary point. When Zimbabwe is able to begin recovering from its current disastrous state of political degeneration merely throwing dollars into health delivery could do more harm than good. After reading his report, and having been there and seen the conditions health professionals labor under, it is tempting to want to get as much money in as fast as possible to help the ailing system get back. But merely opening the spigot won’t be enough and it could do unintended harm.

After all Zimbabweans have been through, that would compound tragedy upon tragedy.

Those who have an interest in Africa, and in Malawi and Zimbabwe in particular, will find these reports very informative reading.

One Response to “Do Donors Support Corruption?”

  1. Christine Gorman April 21, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the plug. I’m not in Malawi yet. Still finishing up at Harvard. Head for Malawi in mid-June and will try, as I find Internet access, to blog from there for the next three months.


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