Campbell systematic review finds that community monitoring interventions can reduce corruption

New Campbell Collaboration systematic review finds that community monitoring interventions can reduce corruption

review cover imageThe United Nations’ ‘United Against Corruption’ campaign website draws attention to $1 trillion paid in bribes and $2.6 trillion stolen annually through corruption. Corruption blights the daily lives of the poor in developing countries, where people must pay bribes to access services and avoid harassment. The quality of services suffers as funds are diverted to the pockets of officials and managers of private companies and other intermediaries.

Today, anti-corruption is clearly established on the international development agenda. The UN observes an International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December. There are also grassroots movements that tackle the issue at local level. In the 1990s, the Association for the Empowerment of Workers and Farmers in India introduced social audits. Official government accounts of local expenditure were read out at village meetings, so villagers could raise concerns. Bottom-up accountability is now common in many countries under the general label of community monitoring initiatives (CMIs).

A recent Campbell systematic review, Community monitoring interventions to curb corruption and increase access and quality of service delivery in low- and middle-income countries, identified four types of CMI:

  • information campaigns provide information on local services and peoples’ right to access these services
  • scorecards, or citizen report cards, allow community members to rate the quality of local services
  • social audits bring together community members, service providers and politicians to monitor implementation of specific investments
  • grievance redress mechanisms provide channels for community members to report about mistreatment, corruption and poor services.

The review finds that community monitoring interventions reduce corruption. They also improve use of health services. And there are beneficial effects on education outcomes as measured by test scores.

Lead author of the review, Ezequiel Molina, said “Our review of 23 interventions revealed that community monitoring can work, and CMIs can reduce corruption. However, it is important to understand the details of the intervention and the context in which it was applied. Research in this area should focus on testing different types of CMIs in different contexts, sectors and time frames, to identify when and how such programmes may be most effective”.

The review also finds that community monitoring interventions appear to be more effective when they promote direct contact between citizens and providers or politicians, and when they include tools for citizens to monitor the performance of providers and politicians.


Chui Hsia Yong
Communications and Outreach Manager
[email protected]org

Howard White
[email protected]org

The Campbell Collaboration is an international network which publishes high quality systematic reviews of social and economic interventions around the world. Campbell’s mission statement is ‘Better evidence for a better world’.

The lead author Ezequiel Molina is affiiliated with the World Bank and the Center for Distributative, Labor and Social Studies (CEDLAS) at the University Nacional de la Plata.

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