Integrity Action oversees the Network for Integrity in Reconstruction (NIR), which is made up of partner NGOs from Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia. The NIR provides a platform for sharing lessons learnt and best practice, encouraging all network members to improve their approach. Every month we will introduce you to one of our local partners from the NIR; telling you who they are, where they work, and what it is they do.
February: Integrity Watch Afghanistan
Afghanistan's recent history has been marked by high levels by conflict and instability. Afghanistan has been ranked as one of the world's ten least stable states over the last decade by the Fund for Peace1. Aside from the human toll, the presence of a prolonged state of conflict has meant that large parts of the country's infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed. To counter this, huge amounts have been spent on infrastructure and reconstruction aid by international donors. In 2015 alone the United States spent USD $104 billion on aid to Afghanistan2.
This investment in the future of the people of Afghanistan has unfortunately also provided opportunities for corruption to flourish. According to a UN survey over half of Afghans have paid a bribe to a public official in order to gain access to a basic service3. While corruption is present at the community level it is also rampant at the political level, where politicians seek to personally benefit from everything ranging from small scale infrastructure projects, to large cases, such as when Afghanistan’s biggest bank lost USD $850 million due to fraud 4.
Integrity Watch Afghanistan
Working in this context is Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA). IWA was created in October 2005 and established itself as an independent civil society organisation in 2006. Their head office is in Kabul, with provincial programmatic outreach in Balkh, Bamyan, Herat, Kabul, Kapisa, Nangarhar, Parwan and Kunduz. IWA’s Vision and Mission reads as follows:
The Afghan State is responsive, accountable, and transparent to all of its citizens. Civil society organisations and government actors to work together to increase the self-reliance and sustainability of the Afghan State to deliver basic services with transparency, integrity, and equity. Citizens are free from the threat of corruption, and are empowered to participate in governance and to solve conflicts without violence.
In support of this vision, IWA works with local communities, government officials, the judiciary, public representatives, and the private sector to fight against corruption and empower citizens to act with integrity and demand transparency from their government. To achieve this, IWA trains and mentors members of local communities to monitor public progammes and development projects. It conducts policy-relevant research to better inform decision-makers and Afghan citizens on issues of transparency and integrity in government. IWA works closely with civil society organisations to build their organisational capacity to work on corruption-related issues and to strengthen their internal organisational practices. Supported by its research and staff expertise, IWA advocates with the government and the international community to adopt policies and practices that increase transparency and accountability in Afghanistan.
Relationship with Integrity Action
IWA is Integrity Action’s oldest partner. We have been working together since IWA was first established in 2005. We have provided funding for IWA on an annual basis and during this time we have continued to learn from each other. We recently published a case study about the work their monitors did to help resolve a disagreement between contractors and citizens in Behsud District, Nangarhar province, as well as a learning paper, written in collaboration with IWA, which focused on integrity in education.
One of the ways we measure the impact our work is through the Fix Rate. The Fix-Rate is the rate at which problems are resolved to the satisfaction of the key stakeholders. The Fix-Rate is always measured as a percentage. It is calculated as the number of resolutions divided by the number of problems. Since the Fix Rate was introduced IWA has achieved an overall Fix Rate of 75%, which was fantastic!
During the time we have been working together IWA have trained 2,559 monitors and monitored 919 projects worth a total of over 34 million dollars. In January 2014, they were invited by President Karzai to participate in the Afghan Government’s Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee. This truly reflected their credibility and success.
IWA’s success is due to a variety of factors. Extensive experience in implementing monitoring programmes and established relationships with community groups and local authorities help achieve such a high Fix-Rate. They have a transparent and accountable approach which has given their work a high degree of credibility, both domestically and internationally.
Afghanistan continues to face a lot of challenges with regards to corruption and development. However, IWA are helping to addresses these challenges. By monitoring public programmes and development projects they help ensure that the money goes where it should and that people get access to vital services they are entitled to. Integrity Action looks forward to continuing to work with IWA in the fight against corruption, mismanagement and fraud in Afghanistan.