Roles of women highlighted. Recommendation to major aid agencies – continue support for PTF.
Key finding: “Donors should allocate sufficient funding to the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) (and to other similar non-governmental organizations—NGOs—who respond to civil societies’ governance initiatives) to foster a more secure funding base for civil society organizations—CSOs—who demonstrate courage and innovation in tackling corruption.”
John Clark, an international development consultant, former civil society activist and adviser to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and by the World Bank to evaluate scores of PTF supported projects. UK Aid and the Bank were the largest funders of PTF in the 2008-2013 period. The evaluations completed by Clark are the most comprehensive of PTF’s work by an independent expert.
The evaluations are wide ranging. To substantiate his findings, Clark travelled to Africa, Asia and Latin America to visit projects and talk with PTF’s civil society partners, project beneficiaries and government officials in Argentina, Ecuador, Kenya, Uganda, India and Mongolia. His final reports (which can be downloaded here and here) go well beyond individual project case studies to examine the core drivers of PTF’s approaches—ones that are pioneering and very different to the usual anti-corruption/good governance projects supported by development aid agencies and by many philanthropic foundations.
John Clark assessed the PTF projects in terms of their effectiveness and impact, their sustainability, their replicability, their innovative approaches, and whether they truly represented value for money. In each area he found substantial accomplishments. His reports contain recommendations to help PTF become still more effective and to scale-up its overall activities.
The evaluation covered PTF grants supported by the World Bank’s Development Grants Facility amounting to $1.4 million that supported 42 projects implemented by 36 partner civil society organizations (CSOs) in 22 poor and transition countries from 2010 to 2013. The evaluation for DFID covered 74 projects undertaken by 52 partner civil society organizations in 21 countries funded from a £2 million (approximately $2.98 million) grant from DFID’s Governance and Transparency Fund.
Clark concluded that the PTF program represented “high value for money, impressive innovation, and valuable support to civil society in fighting corruption.” He stressed that the PTF way of doing business yields significant results, should be widely replicated and scaled-up significantly.
Context of PTF Work
The evaluations noted that: “Most grants support civil society’s efforts that tackle malpractices impacting on ordinary (especially poorer) citizens, particularly regarding the governance of public services. While larger scams usually attract more media interest, the cumulative impact of pervasive smaller-scale corruption is much more damaging to society and to development. One PTF-financed survey of an Indian city found that 82% of citizens pay bribes in order to access public services to which they are entitled. And before and after surveys in conducted for several of the Indian projects are able to document a marked reduction in such corruption.”
The Leadership of Women
The Citizens Against Corruption approach pursued by PTF, according to Clark, “…has been on-track in identifying appropriate and effective grantees and working with them to design small scale, fast-moving projects that address specific malpractices in the public sector—usually instances of corruption that directly impact the lives of poor people.” He pointed out, “Many of the PTF partners visited during this evaluation are led by women (including all the Mongolia projects and most of the Ugandan ones). This tends to mean that strong attention is given to gender considerations. Hence, although PTF hasn’t explicitly incorporated equity issues into its mandate, in practice its projects have a strong orientation towards women’s interests.”
To illustrate this point, the evaluation highlights projects in India where the training of women’s’ groups to make them aware of their rights and how to secure them has produced far-reaching improvements in their lives and those of their fellow villagers. This has enabled extremely poor people to obtain ration cards and jobs and basic entitlement payments for the first time, while putting an end to their daily humiliation at the hands of low-level public officials.
PTF’s Business Model
PTF is an all-volunteer organization involving over 50 experienced development experts who provide advice to those CSOs that win small grants from PTF. The advice tends to assist the CSOs to refine their plans to strengthen their implementing approaches. Almost all PTF projects are based on the specific proposals made by CSOs–PTF does not tell CSOs what kinds of projects to pursue, rather PTF supports projects that CSOs propose and develop that strive to enhance governance, reduce corruption and in most cases secure efficient delivery of basic services to the very poor.