Harakat Integrity Initiative Project takes bottom-up approach to fight corruption

Kabul, 12 November 2013 – Harakat –curreption Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility Organization, Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) and the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs (MoHRA) gathered to sign an agreement aiming to launch “Harakat Integrity Initiative” which pursues a bottom-up approach to reduce corruption.

The Harakat Integrity Initiative will fight corruption from three angles: Corporate, Social and Religious.

The corporate angle of the Harakat Integrity Initiative will facilitate the formation of a group of ethical Afghan-led business leaders – Business Integrity Network – who will promote a culture of clean business through the development of a code of conduct and ethics for private sector businesses. This portion will be launched in the near future.

The social and religious aspect is designed to increase awareness, promote integrity and mobilize public opinion to encourage collective action against corruption throughout Afghanistan. This portion is implemented by IWA in partnership with MoHRA which will last in fourteen months (November 2013 – December 2014)

Speaking at the inauguration event, H.E Dahihulhaq Abed said, “the project includes a number of awareness activities consist of public addresses by the religious leaders and Mullas in Masjids (mosques) to educate general public about the causes and consequences of corruption and corrupt practices as per the principles of Islam; developing vibrant mass media tools and website in fighting for integrity by publicizing cases of corruption and mobilizing people against it; anti-corruption and awareness conferences; academia involvement both university and Madrasa students to write essays and draw cartoon characters strongly affected by how corrupt practices appear in the individual perception; and capacity enhancement of institutes and at the grass root level on recording and reporting corruption cases through mass and electronic medias.

Naseem Akbar, Chief Executive of Harakat said, “Anti-corruption measures adopted by the Government of Afghanistan and its allies have not had the impact desired, and systemic corruption continues to endanger the political economy,” said Naseem Akbar, CEO of Harakat.“Harakat’s agenda for integrity focuses on a variable bottom-up approaches that empower the majority of the population to self-improve, build norms, become ethical, and increase honesty in their interaction with each other as well as with the government.”

There have been many initiatives tried and tested elsewhere that can be replicated in Afghanistan with informed adaptation. To date, very little has been done to deal with the most difficult aspect of corruption: willingness of the general public to acquiesce to, and thus help perpetuate, the corrupt practices of officials, the private sector and religious leaders

“Getting public to say no to corruption and to report corruption can help a great deal in the fight against corruption.” People might not need to be told that corruption is bad but they certainly need to know how to take action against corruption. The initiative will use mobile technology to capture information related to payments of bribes through public,”said Dr. Yama Torabi, CEO of IWA. He added: “Both the rigors and anecdotal data revealed that a joint approach by all involved stakeholders is required to fight against this malady.”

Recent researches indicate that corruption distorts fair market competition and thus deters investors. Therefore, corruption is one of the biggest hurdles to the development of private sector and economic growth in Afghanistan.