Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 520 - 523)



  520. This Committee has always been somewhat sceptical, for example, of what we call the `tick box' mentality, even when, very well run projects, the exhausted workers come home and think, "My God, I've got to fill in this form, and there's your tick, tick, tick, tick, tick," and then that is evaluated as being perfect, dare I say?
  (Dr Cockcroft) It does suggest that you need external evaluation; people who do not have a particular axe to grind, one way or the other.


  521. But could you not design the project so that, in fact, you design it to limit or minimise corruption? For example, from your example of the agricultural extension workers, could you not include in your project funding for somebody to go round to see whether this is actually being done, for example?
  (Dr Cockcroft) Yes, you could; you could.

  522. Yes, but they do not?
  (Dr Cockcroft) Not generally. You could do that.

  523. So there is a lot more that donors could do then, if they recognised the depth and nature of corruption?
  (Dr Cockcroft) I think that is right. I think, sometimes, as well, because there is quite a lot of money sloshing around sometimes in the projects, and because, perhaps not so much now, but there has always been a requirement, or an intention, to spend the money that is there, people actually want to spend the money on the project to show that disbursement is happening properly. So you could almost argue there is kind of a negative incentive, people are more interested in the fact that the money is spent, rather than actually checking necessarily was it spent on the right thing. I would say that a safeguard to it is, actually ask the people who are supposed to benefit from the project, did they benefit; when it comes right down to it, that is the end result that we are interested in, is it not, not were the right number of paper-clips purchased, or whatever, it is actually did the project do what is was supposed to do.

  Chairman: Which, actually, is what you have been doing in all these surveys, and you have been providing us with a very valuable source of information which was not available to the Committee before you submitted your evidence, so we are very grateful to you for doing so. And, what we had felt was going on, it makes it concrete and something we can therefore report on, and hopefully act on. So thank you very much indeed. I am sorry Professor Andersson was not able to join us, but thank you very much indeed. And then we must go on, after you leave, with Simon Taylor, who has given us evidence, from Global Witness, if he could come to the table. Thank you very much indeed, Dr Cockcroft.

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