Initiatives underway to strengthen citizens’ engagement in anti-corruption efforts
The Governance Facility (GF) through its partners has been supporting the strengthening of citizen engagement in anti-corruption efforts. One of its key partners, the Development Communication Society (SODEC) leads a consortium of partners with the Centre for Media Freedom (CMF) and the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR). Together, in their three-year Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Anti-Corruption Efforts (STREAC) program, they target students and the general public as agents for anti-corruption activities and create linkages between State agencies, especially the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and civil society organisations.
STREAC’s approach to engaging the public and especially students for anti-corruption has pivoted towards the GF’s concept of supporting and leveraging leadership for accountability, responsiveness and inclusion. For example, it recognised the formation of loose student alliances to explore anti-corruption issues in their district, and are thus offering a level of support to enable the alliances to flourish without taking away their agency.
Its campus-based activities are reflected in broader approaches to public engagement including through radio and television programs, which use dialogue to address the gap that has been identified between public service providers and seekers in their perceptions of corruption.
Equally, journalists are being trained with skills for anti-corruption investigation reporting. One of the issues that the project will attempt to explain and elaborate in the second year of implementation will be to understand and recognize if the service providers and service seekers are moving towards a shared vision of governance and accountability. This will be achieved through the district interactions and national workshops as well as investigative reporting from the trained journalists.
The work by STREAC with multiple stakeholders can be further seen in the early stages of supporting the work of the CIAA to bring established domestic statutory norms in compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) through the Government’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (2012). Though there have been obvious setbacks, STREAC has embraced the GF’s guidance on using dialogue and research to underscore recommended policy reform. The principle mechanism for its work is the Anti-Corruption Expert Advisory Committee with high-level committee members supporting in engagement and dialogue with State agencies, including principally the CIAA.
STREAC’s early priority has been to analyse relevant legislation with the longer-term goal of statutory reform and implementation. As a support to this policy reform process, STREAC created platforms for civic engagement on anti-corruption issues in each of Dhankuta, Makwanpur, Kaski, Surkhet and Doti, where CIAA has offices.