A recent report by the U.S. Government’s Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction offers a reminder that development assistance, no matter how well-intentioned, can be effective only to the extent that the intended beneficiaries – typically developing countries or their agencies – want the assistance and are willing to cooperate with those providing it. The report found that $200 million had been wasted on a program to train Iraqi police because the Iraqis were not committed to it. Without obtaining Iraq’s commitment, according to the report, expensive construction projects were initiated resulting in a waste of funds when the program was curtailed.
The lesson applies to anti-corruption programs. Especially because the resources needed to provide effective anti-corruption training and support services are limited, it is vital that they be directed toward countries and organizations that want such assistance and can benefit from it. For this reason, IACRC recommends that steps be taken to ensure that every anti-corruption program has the informed support of the country or organization intended to benefit from it. These steps will vary according to the unique requirements of each program, but in most cases will include the following:
A country or organization interested in receiving anti-corruption assistance may initially provide only a general idea of what kind of program it wants. To ensure that the program meets the needs and expectations of the beneficiary, it is usually advisable for the trainers or their representatives to meet with responsible officials of the host country/organization, preferably in the relevant locale. This “scoping mission” has several purposes. First, it is the beginning of what ideally will develop into an effective team relationship between the trainers and the beneficiaries. Second, it is an opportunity to find out not only what the beneficiary wants and needs, but what is practical to deliver. For example, there is a growing demand for training in technology that can assist anti-corruption prevention and enforcement and IACRC can provide assistance in this area. The extent to which a particular country or agency can benefit from specific technical aids, however, can vary widely according to available infrastructure and other factors. Third, the scoping mission should be used to explore logistical issues and to obtain an insight into local conditions and details that will enable the trainers to adapt the course to the specific needs of the client. In some cases, especially where the training is to be comprehensive and of longer duration, there may need to be more than one scoping mission before the program is launched.
Adapting Course Materials
Corruption and associated fraud schemes have many characteristics that transcend national, cultural, and other boundaries. Accordingly, it is possible to design prototype training programs that will have nearly universal application to particular kinds of corruption and fraud, no matter where they occur. To make these programs effective, however, some adaptation to local conditions and variations will be necessary. Such adaptations can include:
- Changing the focus of the program to allocate more time to subjects of particular concern to the host country;
- Translating support materials from English into a language more widely understood by the recipients of the training;
- Arranging for simultaneous translation during live training sessions; and
- Adapting course materials to incorporate terms and examples that will be recognized as familiar in the host country; e.g., changing English names to African ones, using the names of local government agencies, and describing scenarios that will sound realistic to local audiences.
Scoping missions can be used to obtain the information needed to make appropriate adaptations. Host country officials, for example, can review prototype course materials with the trainers and suggest ways to make them more recognizable to local audiences.
Training Host Country Trainers
An important goal of anti-corruption programs is to train the trainers. This is especially important in developing countries that may have limited home grown expertise in the skills needed to implement effective anti-corruption measures. Making it clear that such training is a program objective and using local trainers to the extent possible will help ensure that the host country continues to support the program.
Anti-corruption training works best as a partnership among experts. On one side are experts who will provide specialized training in subjects relevant to the prevention, detection, and prosecution of corrupt practices. It is important to recognize, however, that host countries and organizations have their own expertise, starting with the local conditions they believe give rise to the need for such training. Unless programs are tailored to those needs and proceed with the genuine and informed cooperation of the intended beneficiaries, they are unlikely to achieve their goals.