Corruption-A Major Obstacle in Reducing Poverty

When Sen talks about poverty in terms of “capability deprivation” (Development as Freedom, P. 87) or Jeffery Sachs associates it with “deprivation in well-being” (The End of Poverty) or Economists view it in strictly Gross Domestic Product of a country or from the microscope of Gross Happiness Index; I wonder what if there is one major obstacle in the way of increasing the human capability or well-being in a society/country. An obstacle that does not allow countries to take full benefit from its poverty alleviation policies and seek progress as planned. I think there may be many factors that may reduce the impact of global and domestic efforts towards reducing poverty but widespread corruption in poverty ridden countries/societies may be one of the prominent reasons behind “capability deprivation” and “deprivation in well-being”. According to Amitai Etzioni (Professor of International Relations at George Washington University) in his article Corruption Reduction (Harvard International Review, winter 2011 Volume 32, No.4) World Bank had invested scores of billions of dollars since mid 1990s for economic development in 25 developing countries, and due to widespread corruption in these countries more than half had the same or worsening rates of per capita income from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s. Transparency International Report 2010, Sub-Saharan Africa has seen 62% increase in the corruption levels from 2007-2010 whereas Asia Pacific has seen 47% and Latin America has seen 51% increase in their corruption levels during the same period. A US State Department report found Iraqi government to be rife with corruption at all levels and according to Iraq’s top anti-corruption investigator, around US$11billion dollars are lost to misconduct/corruption in Iraq. Transparency International ranks Afghanistan as the second most corrupt nation among 180 countries with about 23 percent of its GDP is paid in bribes (Etizioni).

 I think it should be of no surprise that poverty ridden countries happen to be the most corrupt ones as well and vice-a-versa. When global efforts to alleviate the poverty hit corrupt practices we can see not only loss of aid money but also loss of hope for many living in dire situation which in turn makes human rights organizations’ job much more daunting.

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