Zero tolerance for corruption is the fundamental principle of Norwegian Church Aid's work. This principle has also been adopted by the Norwegian Parliament, (Stortinget).
Our organization's vision is a just world for all. Corruption primarily affects the poor, marginalized and most vulnerable groups in many countries. These are the target groups for our work. We see anti-corruption as a central part of our work and the fight against corruption as fundamentally a fight for justice.
Unfortunately, the scale of corruption on a global basis is large. According to the World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org), 5% of global national products in 2018 were lost in corruption. In 2018, Norwegian Church Aid worked in 24 countries, through approx. 270 partners and 1000 projects. Transperancy International is a global civil society organization in the forefront of the fight against corruption. (www.transperancy.no) The organization publishes an annual corruption index. Of the 24 countries in which Norwegian Church Aid works, most are on the lower part of this index. Examples of such countries are Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo and Afghanistan. The challenges of working in such a context are many. We work according to strict procedures and work continuously with financial monitoring, follow-up and control.
Our procedures and internal routines for control are stated in our Operations Manual. All our staff are trained in our procedures and are responsible for implementing these in all their work. Furthermore, all employees must undergo an annual training in our ethical guidelines. (Code of conduct).
Over the past few months, the capacity of our anti-corruption efforts has been the subject of extensive restructuring. This, as well as the expansion of staff, has been carried out and our capacity for preventive work, control work and capacity building has been significantly strengthened.
In the field of anti-corruption, we work on four levels: prevention, detection, handling and learning.
With regards to prevention, we work with anti-corruption and accountability at every stage of the development chain: head office, land offices and with local partners.
We have strict requirements for the management of our funds and are actively working to build competence and raise awareness of these and the principle of zero tolerance for corruption. This work involves anti-corruption training for employees and partners, ensuring that partners have good anti-corruption and alert procedures, building expertise in the area of finance and control, and close monitoring of projects and partners.
Corruption is most often detected through these channels: Analysis of financial reports, audits, project / partner evaluations, and through whistle-blowers. We have a globally available and effective alert system which receives and processes all alerts. We have also established alert channels which the villagers can use if something goes wrong. Financial reports and audits from our country offices and local partners are analyzed by local auditors, our own finance staff, international auditors and Norwegian auditors.
All cases are treated confidentially. The information is recorded in our system and processed according to our established procedures for alerts and suspicions of corruption. The case will be handled in close cooperation with the relevant back-donor. We work with our back- donors in several ways. After our initial briefing on suspicions of fraud, the back-donor etablishes a preliminary alert. Subsequently, the head office and the relevant country office work to obtain the facts of the case, in a preliminary investigation. In collaboration with the back-donor, it is assessed whether sufficient information has been obtained through the preliminary investigation or whether further investigation is necessary. If further investigation is required, the case changes status, from being a preliminary alert to becoming an alert case. The examination is expanded, and in some cases external expertise will be required. A TOR (Terms of Reference) is established for the assignment and the relevant back-donor is asked for input on this. Conclusion and report are sent to the back-donor. In some cases, the conclusion will result in a repayment of the embezzled funds to the donor.
Learning and transperancy are important parts of the fight against corruption. This gives us the opportunity to adjust practices with regards to weaknesses that are uncovered and to promote learning throughout the development chain. We see this as a win-win situation that creates the opportunity for more coordination among the actors and to develop common standards in the anti-corruption work.
ACT Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy (pdf)
As part of our ongoing work to combat corruption, we publish an anti-corruption report each year. In 2013 we published this report for the first time in English.