Case study

Technology to tackle corruption

This World Anti-Corruption Day, see how a new mobile technology is helping to clean up salary payments to Afghan police officers

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This World Anti-Corruption Day, see how a new mobile technology is helping to clean up salary payments to Afghan police officers.

In Afghanistan, significant challenges remain in overcoming corruption. A recent Transparency International Report shows the country ranks the third lowest on its world scale of corruption issues, following Burma and Somalia.

But progress is being made to tackle the problem, and bring about a more transparent government. And today, the difference can be seen in the pay packets of Afghanistan’s police force.

Using “M-Paisa” technology in a pilot scheme - first pioneered in Kenya with DFID-funding - police officers are now able to access their salaries through their mobile phones.

As a result, some Afghan police officers have been finding out they are actually paid more than they realised - because some was being withheld by superiors.

By cutting out the middleman, they now get their full pay directly. One policeman reported that he was taking home around $70 more a month now that he was being paid through his phone - and this is by no means an isolated case.

Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell met with some police officers when he visited the country earlier this year. He discussed the benefits of the scheme with them, including how they now are able to receive their salaries with just a mobile phone.

Cutting edge technology like this, combined with other approaches, look set to reap dividends in the fight against corruption in Afghanistan and elsewhere, in future.

Stamping out corruption

Beyond the technology, the UK is also working closely alongside the international community to help stamp out the wider problem of corruption.

The British Government takes a comprehensive approach - which includes the three-pronged method of prevention, enforcement and accountability.

DFID is helping to prevent the problem by encouraging institutions which monitor corruption and financial management to reduce the opportunities for it to occur in the first place - through external audits and better accounting.

We will support enforcement of anti-corruption issues through the law and legal frameworks, and encourage the Afghan parliament, the media and non-government organisations to hold the government to account.

As part of this approach, the UK is helping to:

  • strengthen Afghanistan’s public financial management in partnership with the World Bank and IMF
  • strengthen institutions such as the police, Afghan security forces and local government
  • build up civil society, including civil society, to hold government to account
  • make government systems and operations more transparent.

Core facts

*World Anti-Corruption Day, 9 December, marks the UN Convention Against Corruption signed in 2003 - the first global anti-corruption agreement.

*148 countries have signed up to the Convention, which sets standards for prevention, law enforcement, international co-operation and assert recovery.

*The UK has played a key role in lobbying for the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, as well as other institutions.

Published 9 December 2010