[LETTERS to the editor]To root out corruption, help people to feed themselvesThe eradication of global poverty is the World Bank’s primary goal and purpose. In trying to reach this goal it has found corruption a huge hurdle, but after a decade-long worldwide campaign to root out corruption, the bank found that its efforts have had little influence.
In many cases, the situation has worsened instead of getting better. That is why the president of the bank, Paul Wolfowitz, announced last month the launching of additional strategies to strengthen the campaign against corruption. The strategies consist of three linked efforts: 1. “investing in professional expertise to address corruption and backing teams in the field with governance specialists;” 2. sending anti-corruption teams to work with local institutions; and 3. connecting global organizations, governments and the private sector. These are huge plans that sound somewhat like a solution. However, I find them to be just another failing effort.
In the past, the World Bank has focused on big projects but the results have not been satisfactory. One of the main reasons for failure is that in the countries that received aid, the bank did not have governments or local institutions to work with that were up to the job. Either they were too corrupt or did not have the capacity to put such huge plans into action.
In recent years, [experience has shown] that rather than a huge plan, many smaller, feasible projects focused on smaller numbers of people proved more effective. This kind of approach should be adopted in the battle against corruption as well. The projects would primarily focus on key issues such as sustainable economic performance and education.
Projects that enable people to feed themselves in turn allow them time for education. Afterwards, through knowledge, people come to realize and do something about the unsoundness in their society. It is only when people can change their society on their own that they can mark a fresh beginning and, eventually, victory over corruption.
by Park Jin-sun