Transparency International: 1 in 10 Families Worldwide Pays Bribes

To mark UN Anti-Corruption Day in December, Transparency International released the results of its 2004 Global Corruption Barometer highlighting ongoing corruption, especially in the developing world. The survey found that worldwide, 1 in 10 people said they or a member of their household had paid a bribe in the previous year.

The survey polled more than 50,000 people in 64 countries people between June and September 2004.

The rate of bribery was, not surprisingly, much higher in developing countries. For example, in Cameroon more than 50 percent of respondents said they or a member of their household had paid a bribe.

In Nigeria, Kenya, Lithuania and Moldova, 1 in 3 respondents said they or a household member had paid a bribe.

There was some good news, such as surprisingly low levels of bribe paying in South Africa, as well as a surprising level of corruption in Greece where 11 percent of those polled admitted they or a household member had paid a bribe.

Transparency International board member Akere Muna, who heads up the organization’s Cameroon branch, said in a press release,

It is time to use international co-operation to enforce a policy of zero tolerance of political corruption, and to put an end to practices whereby politicians put themselves above the law — stealing from ordinary citizens and hiding behind parliamentary immunity.

Political parties and politicians they nominate for election are entrusted with great power and great hopes by the people who vote for them. Political leaders must not abuse that trust by serving corrupt or selfish interests once they are in power.

According to the BBC, the World Bank estimates that as more than $1 trillion is paid out annually worldwide in bribes.


One in 10 families ‘pays bribes’. The BBC, December 9, 2004.

Political parties are most corrupt institution worldwide according to TI Global Corruption Barometer 2004. Press Release, Transparency International, December 9, 2004.

World Bank Report Finds Mixed Results in Meeting Millennium Development Goals

The World Bank reported this month that many developing countries are falling further behind in efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals of drastically cutting the death rate of children and pregnant women. On the other hand, many countries are on target to meet goals of cutting poverty in half.

On under-five mortality, for example,

60 percent of the people in the Middle East and North Africa are in countries on track to reach the goal for under-five mortality, 39 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 28 percent in Europe and Central Asia, 17 percent in East Asia and Pacific, 10 percent in South Asia, and 0 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

A similar situation holds for efforts to reduce maternal mortality,

84 percent of the people in the Middle East and North Africa are in countries on track to reach the goal for maternal mortality, 69 percent in East Asia and Pacific, 19 percent in Europe and Central Asia, 3 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 0 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

When it comes to poverty and malnutrition, however, the situation is a bit better despite recent economic problems,

Some good news: 80 percent of the world’s people live in a country that is on track to hit the malnutrition target.


Many Countries Falling Behind In Race To Improve Health And Reduce Deaths By 2015. Press Release, World Bank, November 10, 2004.

The millennium development goals for health – rising to the challenges. (PDF) World Bank, 2004.

Zimbabwe: We Don’t Need Food Aid . . . Oops, Hold On A Second, Yes We Do

In May of this year, Zimbabwe’s corrupt president Robert Mugabe made a grand show of refusing food aid. He told Sky News TV,

Why foist this food [aid] upon us? We don’t want to be choked, we have enough.

But in early July, Zimbabwe was making backdoor appeals tot he World Bank for millions in aid, especially to its agricultural sector. Zimbabwe’s agricultural output all but collapsed after Mugabe forcefully displaced the nation’s white farm owners.

The World Bank refused Zimbabwe’s request, saying that it would only consider aiding Zimbabwe when that country takes care of servicing its outstanding $280 million World Bank debt.


Government secretly pleads with World Bank. Savious Kwinika, Zimbabwe Standard (Harare), July 4, 2004.

India Uses Low-Tech Method of Malaria Control: Fish that Eat Mosquitoes

An Indian malaria researcher recently reported on the success of initial pilot projects to use fish that eat mosquito larvae to control malaria.

This is a traditional method that was commonly used before the introduction of DDT in the 1950s and is once again being looked at as part of the solution to malaria.

The idea is to stock ponds, rivers and wells with fish like guppies that feed on the mosquito larvae. Dr. VP Sharma of the COuncil for Medical Research said that while the technique could not be used everywhere, in places where it was appropriate to use it had virtually eliminated a subspecies of malaria-carrying mosquito in some districts where mosquito-eating fish were introduced.

According to the BBC, Sharma credited the fish introduction program for India’s falling malaria rate which declined by about 200,000 cases per year after the program’s introduction. Sharma did add that, “It will take another five years before the real impact would be known” from the numerous fish introduction programs that the World Bank is underwriting.


Fish eat away at malaria in India. Richard Black, BBC, January 5, 2004.

World Bank President Chastises Developed World, But Developing Countries Not Impressed

World Bank President James Wolfensohn gave a speech at the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in September that highlighted the problem with the developed world’s continued hypocrisy when it comes to free trade.

Wolfensohn rightly chastised the developed world for spending just $56 billion in foreign aid while devoting $300 billion to farm subsidies. Wolfensohn said,

There is further imbalance between what rich countries spend on development assistance– $56 billion a year– compared with the $300 billion they spend on agricultural subsidies and $600 billion for defense. The poor countries themselves spend $200 billion on defense-more than what they spend on education. Another major imbalance.

. . .

Action on trade is equally important. It is inconsistent to preach the benefits of free trade and then maintain the highest subsidies and barriers for precisely those goods in which poor countries have a comparative advantage. Developing countries also need to help themselves on this point, since they pay substantial tariffs in South-South trade.

Certainly good to hear as far as it goes, but at least one attendee — Demba Moussa Dembele of Senegal — told the BBC that Wolfensohn and the World Bank were also engaged in their own form of hypocrisy,

It was the World Bank which insisted our countries open up to trade and investment from the North and told us to trust in global markets.

Didn’t the Bank know about the market distortions created by subsidies and trade restrictions? It should not just urger the North to change its policies, but take responsibility for misleading us down the path of rigged prices and poverty.

In fact, it is interesting that while Wolfensohn devoted plenty of time to criticizing the developing and developed countries, he couldn’t afford even a single sentence for a little introspection about the World Bank’s failures.

Being from the World Bank apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.


A New Global Balance: The Challenge of Leadership. James Wolfensohn, September 23, 2003.

Growing gulf between rich and poor. Rick Rowden, The BBC, September 24, 2003.

World Development Report Highlights Failure of Developing World Governments to Provide Basic Services

The World Bank’s World Development Report 2004 concludes that many developing countries fail to provide even the most basic of services to their citizens and the developing world is likely to miss the targets of the Millennium Development Goal. The Millennium Development Goal called for halving poverty and improving meeting basic needs of people in developing countries by 2015.

The problems with services range from lack of improved sanitation to few educational opportunities. For example, 2.5 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation around the world.

The report finds that — surprise — simply throwing money at these problems rarely arrives at solutions. The Middle East, for example, spends more per capita on education than any other developing region, but still has some of the highest illiteracy rates in the world due to unequal access for women and girls.

According to a press release announcing the report,

The productivity of public spending varies enormously across countries. Ethiopia and Malawi spend roughly the same amount per person on primary education – with very different outcomes. Peru and Thailand spend vastly different amounts – with similar outcomes.

The Report concludes that no one size fits all. The type of service delivery mechanism needs to be tailored to characteristics of the service and circumstances of the country. For instance, if the service is easy to monitor, such as immunization, and it is in a country where the politics are pro-poor, such as Norway, then it can be delivered by the central government directly, or contracted out. But if the politics of the country are such that these resources are likely to be diverted to the well-off by way of patronage, and the service is difficult to monitor, such as student learning, then arrangements that strengthen the clientÂ’s power as much as possible are necessary. Means-tested voucher schemes, as in Colombia or Bangladesh, community-managed schools as in El Salvador, or transparent, rule-based programs, such as MexicoÂ’s ‘Progresa”, are more likely to work for poor people.

The report recommends three basic ways to improve basic services to the poor,

1. By increasing poor clientsÂ’ choice and participation in service delivery, so they can monitor and discipline providers. School voucher schemes – such as a program for poor families in Colombia, or a girlsÂ’ scholarship program in Bangladesh (that paid schools based on the number of girls they enrolled) – increase clientsÂ’ power over providers, and substantially increased enrollment rates. Community-managed schools in El Salvador, where parents visited schools regularly, lowered teacher absenteeism and raised student test scores.

2. By raising poor citizensÂ’ voice, through the ballot box and making information widely available. Service delivery surveys in Bangalore, India, that showed poor people the quality of the water, health, education and transport services they were receiving compared to neighboring districts, increased demand for better public services, and forced politicians to act.

3. By rewarding the effective and penalizing the ineffective delivery of services to poor people. In the aftermath of a civil war, Cambodia paid primary health providers in two districts based on the health of the households (as measured by independent surveys) in their district. Health indicators, as well as use by the poor, in those districts improved relative to other districts.


Basic services ‘fail world’s poor’. The BBC, September 21, 2003.

World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work For Poor People. World Bank, September 2003.