View: Removing Corruption in Aid Programmes

Last week saw the International Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) publish a detailed report on how The Department for International Development (DFID)were failing in their attempts to combat petty bribery and corruption in the countries where they deliver aid programmes.

ICAI, a public body who scrutinises UK aid spending, said that DFID has not “developed an approach equal to the challenge” and is not focusing enough on the poor.

All agencies, not just DFID, and many of their interventions are faced with this problem. They need to turn more to technology which can, if not eradicate corruption completely, then reduce it significantly.

The good news is that the technologies are out there, and they are starting to be embraced by the humanitarian and development community. There is a lot of interest right now in mobile money transfer platforms and voucher systems, and increasingly tailored smartcard-based systems which offer greater controls.

sQuid’s digital eMoney platform and smartcard based technology is one such solution, already proven in successful aid disbursement programmes in Kenya and in The Democratic Republic of Congo. This platform allows a beneficiary to receive the intended financial support via an electronic wallet on a smartcard, and then to cash-out or spend the value at an approved merchant outlet. That means that the agency funding the programme only has to manage settlement to a comparatively small number of merchants, and only in respect of electronic records of real transactions by those beneficiaries.

Using eMoney with simple but secure contactless smartcards and readers, aid can be distributed a small amount at a time, and can be tracked all the way from the aid agency to the intended recipient.

sQuid’s Aid platform combats bribery and corruption, making it much more difficult to siphon off money, and it is proving easy and intuitive to use. It also provides huge amounts of accurate data, which enables the possibility of better targeting of programmes in the future. And it accounts for every dollar or pound distributed.

Adam Smith, sQuid CEO