Micah Challenge Highlights Corruption as Roadblock to Ending Poverty

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Leigh DeVore

A Micah Challenge paper being released today
reveals a critical need for Christians to further engage with international
advocacy efforts to tackle corruption as a key tool to eradicate poverty.

Open for Service: A Case for Good Governance, being launched on International Anti-Corruption
Day, refers to evidence of
corruption negatively impacting the poor in Latin America, Asia, Africa and
Europe. The paper urgently appeals for transparency in government, business and
the global Christian church.

The document follows
discussion between development
practitioners, politicians, economists and academics reflecting the views of
those living in extreme poverty and proposing solutions to corruption crimes,
which could prevent governments achieving the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) by 2015. Joel
Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge said: “Corruption is a like a tower block on a
runway. It accounts for over a trillion dollars going missing, and is a massive
barricade to the well-being of the poorest people in the world.  It’s difficult to define, complex in its
treatment and entrenched in business and political systems.  No wonder it has gone on underground for so
long. Simply, corruption kills people.”

The Rt. Rev. Dr
Benjamin Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos in Central Nigeria, spoke on
corruption as a global problem at Africa’s Transformation conference this year:
“Compared to
corruption in the West, Africa is an apprentice.”

The call for good
governance comes alongside firsthand evidence on the effects of corruption on
poverty released by multiple international stakeholders earlier this year.

Research in the World
Bank’s Africa Development Indicators 2010
report highlights the severe effects of “quiet corruption” such as bribery,
weak regulation and poor service delivery in the health, education and
agriculture sectors of Africa. In one instance more than 50 percent of drugs
sold in Nigerian drugstores in the 1990s were found to be counterfeit. The
study also mentions that there are as many as 91 children per primary school
teacher in the Central African Republic, compared with 22 children per teacher
in Mauritius, due to absenteeism.

Case studies from
Peru, Cambodia and Zambia in a Tearfund report called Corruption and Its Discontents similarly establishes that corruption
and a culture of bribery form one of the biggest barriers to poverty

A female interviewee
from Moyobamba, Peru, said: “I took my
daughter-in-law to the hospital. She was really sick with appendicitis. She was
initially taken to one hospital but then she was referred elsewhere because
they needed to operate on her. When we arrived at the second hospital, the
nurse who was supposed to be supervising her said to me: ‘It is the end of my
day and I am very busy. I cannot see to her.’ I pleaded with her to take care
of her, and to give her the injections that she needed. I had to take her a
gift to persuade her to take proper care of her.”

 Open for Service highlights the role that churches can play in
advocating for good governance in overcoming poverty. Former Director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign
Salil Shetty said in the
foreword: “The people in the frontend of the evangelical churches know that if
public resources are managed in a transparent and accountable manner, there is
nothing stopping the world from achieving the MDGs by 2015.”

President of Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Emminent Person of the Centre for Peace Initiatives
in Africa Goodwill Shana said: “The document captures the central role
that governance plays in the broad agenda of poverty reduction and

This paper launch follows Micah’s 10.10.10 campaign where
60 million Christians in over 70 nations prayed for an end to extreme poverty.
This global event formed part of a growing movement mobilizing the church to
play a greater part in alleviating poverty. 

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