Even though there is a growing public awareness about widespread corruption in politics and the economy and its detrimental effects on development, especially in poor countries, it is still largely a taboo to talk about it as an internal problem for aid organisations. Individual cases might be reported, occasionally also in the media, but in general, the aid community is extremely reluctant to acknowledge the fact that corruption is happening in numerous projects. The issue is widely perceived as concerning only auditors and accountants; however, aid practitioners easily agree that it is a widespread phenomenon which is part and parcel of aid operations in a large number of countries, affecting a large number of organisations active in all the different sectors of aid. This paper focuses mainly on corruption and its relevance in emergency aid operations where a number of factors – such as high time pressure, transfer of large quantities of relief goods, and often very volatile security environment and a high level of media interest – make fighting corruption especially difficult.
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