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Transparency Committees and Monitoring Systems

Corruption is one of the issues that must be resolved in order to successfully alleviate the hunger problem. The proper allocation of funds is crucial in the successful implementation of hunger programs, yet huge sums of money that can be used to combat hunger are lost due to corruption. It is estimated that as much as US$150 billion are lost in just the continent of Africa due to corruption every year.(Corruption Risk Analysis, 2007). By contrast , the total amount of foreign development aid given to the continent only amounted to US $22.5 billion in 2008(Development Aid at Its Highest, 2009).

                       Retrieved November 24, 2010, from:

Control and monitoring of the public procurement process is one of the most effective ways to combat corruption.  Public procurement is the process governments follow when buying commodities and services from the private sector. Virtually all services provided by governing bodies require the procurement of resources. Through the process of contracting, governments hire suppliers and providers in order to forward the implementation of policies. The goal of the procurement process should be the maximization of value for money (VFM) or the greatest benefit of the goods and services for the price (Sahgal, 2005). Money can be lost during any of the steps in the process in the diagram above and corruption is especially prevalent in developing countries with high malnutrition and undernourishment rates, exacerbating the issue (Diriba, 2010). Corruption in the government procurement process results in decreased efficiency, loss of resources, and can affect the quality of services delivered. In Ethiopia, for example, only an estimated 12% of food aid provided by the World Food Program was received by the targeted population in 2008 (McLure, 2010). Most of the loss has been attributed to the corrupt contracting of companies under the control of the country’s ruling party.

The creation of transparency committees will work to address the issues presented by corruption. "Transparency" refers to the accessibility and visibility of information. These committees will target inefficiency and corruption in the procurement process by performing regular audits of large governmental transactions and by ensuring the proper hiring of contractors. To increase transparency in the procurement process, the committees will work with organizations such as the World Bank to simplify and develop a electronic procurement and tendering system. In addition to targeting corrupt procurement practices, the transparency committees will also monitor the financial assets and actions of individual officials in power . Furthermore, the committees will improve upon current technologies to allow for better data gathering and monitoring of corruption. To ensure that governments respond to the committees' reports and recommendations, the committees will regularly issue reports to international agencies and foreign countries that have contributed funds to the problem countries.

By heightening the supervision of finances and implementing measures to increase transparency, the solution will crack down on corrupt practices that siphon money away from funds used to purchase food. This will ensure that more of a country's resources are actually used for hunger programs.

The transparency committees described here will be implemented in all countries that agree to the conditions set about in the conditional aid solution. For the solution to be effective, we will require that:

  • Each country in agreement create transparency committees: Members on committees should not be involved in with the parties/governments in power. Ideally, members should include persons such as opposition party members and representative citizens. The committee will be overseen by an inspector from the UN with minimal affiliations with the country.

  • These committees will work with the Treasury to perform independent, regular and random audits.

  • The committee will create a website that allows citizens to report suspicious activities and construct a database of complaints and cases from the reports. In addition, persons will be able to report cases by calling a special number reserved for case reporting. To increase active citizen participation in this issue, citizens who report legitimate cases of suspicious activities and present convincing evidence in case reporting will be entered into a monthly lottery for monetary compensation. This will incentivise case reporting, and reward people in a manageable and frugal manner.

  • The transparency committees will create a database of all public servants in the government. This database will include regular reports of personal assets.

  • The transparency committees and the World Bank work with developing countries to develop an electronic auditing system that monitors government spending in each step of the procurement process. The electronic system will allow most, if not all, government purchases to be conducted electronically.

  • The transparency committees, the World Bank, and the UN WFP work to create a database that retains information about the contractors that are available for work in each country. The database will be updated with assessments of each contractor's performance and will also include information about their political and ethical affiliations. In supplier selection, the performance evaluation has the greatest weight. Political and ethnic affiliations will be examined in cases of large monetary loss or particularly unsatisfactory service delivery. In countries such as Nigeria where ethnic tensions abound, discriminatory contract rewarding occurs frequently (Haruna, 2008). The situation in Kenya also highlights the need to fully characterize contractors. According to the Council on Foreign Relations,  "unless one's ethnic group was in office, there were no possibilities for economic or political advancement...political patronage in Kenya's public spending has exacerbated economic and regional inequalities (PDF)"(Hanson, 2009).

  • The transparency committees work with the government to develop an electronic infrastructure in countries where one is underdeveloped or unavailable. In the meantime, the UN will train and send envoys of experts to assist the government in the procurement of public goods to maximize VFM in accordance with the guidelines listed below.

  • All countries follow these general procedures for the procurement of goods and services:

1. Identify the need for food. Identify how much money is needed and the type of commodity that best fits the need. The final result should include detailed specifics on requirements of the needed item including the nature, length, and type of contract, and the number and nature of suppliers needed

2. Select suppliers. The best overall value for money results from fair and open competition between suppliers. These values should be observed in the selection of suppliers: equal treatment, non-discrimination, mutual recognition, proportionality, and transparency. In the case of major projects (national and district governmental contracts), the selection must be reviewed by the committee before the contract can be awarded. If it is the opinion of the committee that the above values were not observed in the selection process, the committee would issue an admonition to the government to select another supplier. In the case where foreign aid money is involved, the foreign power would be kept up to date on the contracting process.

 3. Post-contract awards. The committee would aid the government in the identification of risks in food delivery, such as impediments due to natural disturbances or human conflict, and prepare for possible problems beforehand.

These transparency committees and databases will require both short and long-term development. In the short-term, we expect to have functioning committees setup within each country within the first 5 years. By this time, the committees should be actively monitoring governmental purchases. The infrastructure of the electronic databases should be completed in a similarly short amount of time. However, we expect the actual updating of information to take much longer, 15 years at least, as many countries are lacking the information infrastructure that is required. In the case of the electronic procurement systems, we expect these to be in development for at least 20 years before they can be fully integrated into the government purchasing system.

Works cited: 

Development aid at its highest level ever in 2008. (2009, March 30). Retrieved November 29, 2010, from,3343,en_2649_34487_42458595_1_1_1_1,00...

Hanson, S. (2009, August 6). Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from

Haruna, N. N. (2008, October 18). Federal character: Effective economic tool of
ethnic domination. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from

McLure, J. (2010, March 24). Food for Naught. Newsweek. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from

Sahgal, V. (2005, May 22). Capacity development workshop for social change. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from