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Sunday, July 21, 2024

USING TECHNOLOGY TO FIGHT CORRUPTION: CENTAL BEGINS OUTREACH ON CORRUPTION REPORTING MOBILE APP

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MONROVIA – “Corruption only benefits few and robs the larger population of what they deserve like basic social services”, Peter N. Dolo says. Dolo is Executive Director of Community Solutions Aid, a local advocacy group in Bong County, Central Liberia. If Dolo’s statement is anything to go by, then the poverty and lack of basic services in the country can rightly be linked to the menace of corruption.

In Liberia, allegations of corruption are rife. In the 2022 State of Corruption Report released by CENTAL, 90 percent of those surveyed indicated that the level of corruption in Liberia is high. Liberia has also reached its all-time low on the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, scoring 26 out of 100.

But despite these alarming statistics, whistleblowing, which remains an important tool in preventing and detecting corruption and other malpractices, has been discouraged by inadequate protection for whistleblowers, amongst others.

The government of Liberia through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has partnered with the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia CENTAL, Integrity Watch Liberia and the Accountability Lab Liberia to deliver a corruption reporting tool and ramp up awareness around the tool in Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Gbarpolu and Montserrado counties on implementation of an Anti-Corruption Innovation Initiative.

Under the initiative, a mobile application called ‘TALKAY’ has been developed to provide citizens the platform to report corruption allegations anywhere in Liberia without disclosing their identities.

This effort places whistleblowers in direct and secure contact with the LACC. Those using the mobile app and website to file complaints would be able to send reports and attach multiple files (video, audio, document etc.) with an option to remain anonymous or not. Once sent, an automatic generated reference number that can be used to follow up on the report will be received.

All reports submitted using either the web app, mobile app or SMS go to large screens dashboards at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in real-time. The LACC then investigates the report and takes appropriate action. Once actions are taken, the system updates based on the action taken and those filling reports can track the status of their report using their unique ID numbers issued when they submitted their reports.

In Bong, CENTAL has kicked-off awareness activities around TALKAY with Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Bomi to follow. Like many other counties, Bong County is suffering the effects of corruption. Already, the county is feeling the pinch from the menace. The County’s account, which holds the county development funds has had a moratorium placed by the national legislature over allegations of mismanagement of previous funds.

This has in a way, hamstrung the provision of some basic social services for the people. “Through this initiative, we are hoping to turn the history of this country around to one that uses its resources and taxes to develop the country”, said, Madam Bendu Kpoto, Legal Officer at CENTAL, during an engagement session with students of the Dolokelen Gboveh High School.

Madam Kpoto rallied the students to utilize the mobile app, the 4419 SMS service, 4432 call-in service to report any act of corruption. This, she said, will allow for the delivery of basic services like health, education, and infrastructure development. Arthur Bono, Bong County Chapter Chairman for the National Union for the Disabled pledged to make use of the application and other services to report corruption issues because of the current effects it is having on members of his organization.

Also, members of the Bong Athletic Social Intellectual Center, an intellectual forum promised to use the app and other platforms to flag corruption issues. Because of the significance of this initiative in the fight against corruption, Peter Dolo, recommended that government of Liberia and its partners increase education about innovation, increase protection for whistleblowers, and ensure speedy prosecution of corruption cases. CENTAL’s press release

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