CMI’s U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre has held in-country training workshops in over 20 countries since the centre was established in 2002. This month they were in Liberia where more than 40 participants from government ministries and agencies, county administrations, anti-corruption agencies, civil society organizations and development partners took stock of anti-corruption initiatives in Liberia.

-A key outcome of the workshop was the increased understanding between county superintendents, central government officials and civil society representatives on the challenges that they all face in the fight against corruption, says the General Auditing Commission in a press statement.

Urgent need for systemic reform
The need for systemic reform is urgent in Liberia. Liberia is centralized, with few and poorly developed connections between the central and local authorities. Service delivery is a national concern, but the actual implementation is administered by local authorities. There is little control of how centrally allocated resources are spent locally. This increases the risk of corruption and embezzlement.

-Keeping track of resources is a crucial part of anti-corruption work. Tools for social accountability and public expenditure tracking were eagerly discussed, says U4-adviser Jesper Johnsøn.

Tailor-made strategies and tools in the fight against corruption increase the chances that workshop participants keep up the good work after the workshop has ended. The tools and strategies that were discussed in Liberia are adjusted to the needs of the end-users and to the specific challenges that the local and national authorities face every day. According to Johnsøn, the input from the workshop will probably make a difference.

-The participants identified solutions that would make a difference in the fight against corruption, and even went on after hours to discuss how different organisations could work better together, he says.

Cooperation reduces corruption
-One of U4’s central goals is to assure that the knowledge we produce through our research activities gets into the hands of development practitioners. U4-workshops are an important means for us to reach this audience in a setting where they can put knowledge directly to work, says Liz Hart, U4-director.

The workshops provide a meeting place for the development community in a given country, space and opportunity for dialogue on mutual challenges and priorities, mechanisms and opportunities. Workshops lay the foundation for cooperation.

-Anti-corruption work cannot be the responsibility of a sole institution. National and local institutions are all part of a national integrity system, where all partners depend on each other. In Liberia, the auditor general is a well established and competent institution, but their competence is not valuable if they cannot depend on their partners to follow up on their good work, says Johnsøn.  

The workshops also highlight the importance of cooperation between donors and their local development partners. Two World Bank programmes on public sector reform were on the agenda on the workshop in Liberia.

-Prioritizing and sequencing are crucial elements in anti-corruption strategies. This workshop was a positive example of how it helps to get local stakeholders together in one room and identify what they perceive as obstacles, what kind of competence they need and what anti-corruption measures would be most relevant Ideally, donor programmes should fully integrate such concrete findings and measures into their approaches, says Johnsøn.