Need and greed: corruption risks, perceptions and prevention in humanitarian assistance
Humanitarian assistance injects valuable resources into resource-poor and often insecure contexts with high levels of need. The complexity of humanitarian operations and their rapidly increasing budgets make addressing corruption and the taboos surrounding it absolutely essential for aid agencies. Despite recent efforts by humanitarian agencies to increase participation, accountability and transparency, humanitarian assistance remains an opaque process to those impacted by crisis. Investing in appropriate and effective accountability systems is imperative to demystify the process and prevent, detect and respond to corruption. Practices and policies to tackle corruption risks go hand-in-hand with promoting programme quality, particularly monitoring. Donors should permit and encourage flexibility in allocating funds to these functions, while not unduly pressuring agencies to accelerate spending. Although there is no clear consensus on the trade-offs between speed and control, above all in the critical phases of an emergency, we argue that the humanitarian imperative of saving lives and alleviating suffering is compatible with using time and resources to minimise corruption risks.