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Evolving anti-corruption programming amid COVID-19

Drawing from the efforts of implementing partners in adapting their strategies in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this learning brief shares lessons on the dimensions of the programme and the reshaping of the programme for a faster response.

The ACORN programme is designed to support Nigeria’s efforts in tackling corruption by reducing public acceptance and improving enforcement strengths that will increasingly disapprove of and take action against corrupt practices. The support ACORN provided fell into the following three inter-locking dimensions: 1) Stronger sanctions regime – aimed at improving capacity of enforcement agencies to detect, investigate and prosecute those who break the rules and to recover stolen assets; 2) Supportive society and social norms – strengthening citizens’ capability to resist and act on corruption; and 3) Results, evidence, coordination & communication – updating evidence on corruption to stimulate public discourse and ensure the continued relevance of  programme coherence and effectiveness of UK support by coordinating HMG anti-corruption interventions.

In reshaping the programme for a faster response, there were several adaptations including 1) rethinking accountability – in a way that ensures that public integrity is not compromised in the management of government economic stimulus packages, and that these, in turn, produce the intended benefits; 2) decentralising the feedback loops and monitoring efforts – ensuring responsiveness in the programme by incorporating other actors in its monitoring efforts, including project partner NGOs and the media; 3) reconfiguring learning – consciously examining the demands and requirements of learning amid the COVIDovid-19 crisis to guide the chosen configuration, improving trust and safety, regular open communication and participation at by all levels; 4) creating virtual communities and networks – seeking to entrench certain pathways that will shape the ever-evolving relationship under extraordinarily compressed timelines by altering communication methods, teaching techniques and monitoring formats to suit the digital space. These changes have been driven by adopting digital tools to carry out work plans.

ACORN’s implementing actors found that the adaptation of their programming in response to the COVID-19 outbreak yielded important insights into the dynamics and cadences of how they work. Key among these lessons are: 1) Having shared understanding of adaptive programming – understanding that solutions to navigate the complexity arising from Covid-19 need to be based on on-going strategic political economy and context analysis that is focused on locally-defined problems and adaptive planning processes informed by learning by doing; 2) Engaging the community to manage adaptability – ensuring that communities can take part in defining their own immediate needs, finding ways to address them and measuring their own success; 3) striking the right balance between accountability and learning – moving beyond monitoring and evaluation for accountability purposes and creating spaces to learn as part of the adaptive process is enormously important, and allows for real-time feedback, ongoing adaptation and improvement.


Read Abdulkareem’s blog on ‘MEL in the time of COVID-19 in Nigeria: Ways to adapt‘.