UNODC releases report on fraud & corruption risks associated with Covid-19 Emergency Support Packages in West and Central Africa

02-11-2020

The year 2020 has been marked by the Covid-19 pandemic on a worldwide scale. Countries around the globe have taken significant measures over the past months to sustain the health and livelihood of their citizens, including through the provision of economic safety nets. West and Central African countries were no exception, and most of them have implemented emergency support packages.

The 2020 UNODC report Covid-19 Emergency Support Packages in West and Central Africa - An overview and analysis of fraud and corruption risks presents the emergency measures adopted in West and Central Africa, and the associated fraud and corruption risks linked to those measures.

The study shows how West and Central African countries provided many examples of constructive engagement of parliamentarians, anti-corruption agencies, and civil society organizations in their responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

However, the role of these actors could be further strengthened to ensure transparency, integrity and accountability in the design and implementation of emergency support packages.

While recognizing the need for urgent action to prevent economic and social collapse, the lack of sufficient accountability and oversight mechanisms in the allocation and distribution of economic stimulus packages, as well as simplified procurement procedures, increase the risk that corruption and fraud will weaken the impact of the measures being taken. This can result in a shortfall of desperately needed aid reaching the intended beneficiaries, impacting the least powerful among the population[1].

In total 21 countries were surveyed: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The data was compiled primarily through a questionnaire sent to government representatives, as well as anti-corruption agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) in May 2020. The information collected was combined with direct research on Covid-19 emergency packages and regulations.

The report firstly focuses on the adopted measures. With the support of graphs, it shows the different types of measures taken, who they targeted, by whom they were set up and the funds disbursed, as well as the channels used to spread the information. It then presents the legal frameworks of these measures, and the institutional oversight and accountability mechanisms in place. The analysis provides an account on the involvement of anti-corruption agencies and CSOs, as well as the reporting mechanisms in place. Finally, the last section covers the identification of correlated fraud and corruption risks.

This report falls within UNODC’s commitment to providing an overview and deeper understanding of the risks of fraud and corruption undermining Covid-19 emergency support packages on a global scale.

For more information:

[1] UNODC, “Accountability and the prevention of corruption”, https://www.unodc.org/documents/Advocacy-Section/COVID-19_and_Anti-Corruption-2.pdf