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Development Communications and Anti-corruption 

By 3 May 2016

There is not abundant literature or readily available evidence about what works in communicating anti-corruption initiatives, but there are some useful guides and best practice reviews out there. Here at R2A we have pulled together some of the key resources that we have found into a reading list, to enable you to more clearly and cleverly communicate anti-corruption initiatives.

  1. This presentation ‘Good Practices in Corruption Prevention: Preparing a Communications Strategy‘ shares Bart W. Edés’ (Asian Development Bank) tips for building an effective communications strategy. The presentation outlines eight key steps to building a communications strategy, starting with analysis of the situation and ending with M&E.
  2. The UN Anti-corruption Day held annually on the 9th of December provides a range of resources, messages and materials in a wide variety of languages to guide communications campaigns around anti-corruption.
  3. The World Bank’s Communication for Accountability and Governance Program (CommGap) which ended in 2011 collated a plethora of resources and research. Numbers 4, 5 and 6 on the reading list below were produced as part of the program.
  4. A working paper by Byrne et al. entitled ‘Building Public Support for Anti-corruption efforts: Why Anti-corruption Agencies Need to Communicate and How‘ stated that communication is not optional; rather it is a primary obligation for anti corruption agencies(Byrne et al. 2010: 41).  The paper includes analysis, tools and a useful roadmap for building a communications strategy.
  5. This Rapporteur’s Report for the ‘Using Communication Approaches and Techniques to Support Anti-Corruption Efforts: A Learning Event for Anti-corruption Agencies’ held by CommGap and UNODC in 2008  brings together best practice, practical problems and suggested solutions to communicating anti-corruption efforts from a gathering of high level anti-corruption policy makers.
  6. The GDSRC’s ‘Topic Guide Communication and Governance‘ written by Haider et al. provides a comprehensive review of the broader literature aimed at policy makers. Sections include: media development, social media and access to information with its associated constraints.
  7. The OECD’s ‘Communication in Anti-corruption work: Articulating Messages to Structure a Communication Plan‘ written by Heather Marquette outlines how to craft more effective messages, for example, by highlighting the human cost of corruption. The report focuses on public opinion and anti-corruption strategies conducted by OECD donors countries.
  8. A systematic review written by Hanna et al. and conducted by the EPPI (IOE) entitled ‘The effectiveness of anti-corruption policy: what has worked, what hasn’t and what we don’t know‘ evaluates micro-level interventions in developing countries and points out the evidence gaps around anti-corruption policy. The review is primarily focused on the policy interventions themselves opposed to the communication of the interventions, but the main finding that a combination of monitoring and contextualised incentives form the most effective approach for an intervention is relevant to the design of anti-corruption communications strategies and subsequent use of the media.
  9. The U4 Anti-corruption Resource Centre at the CMI houses a number of literature reviews, reports and ‘Expert Answers’ about all aspects of corruption. The Expert Answer ‘Best practices in engaging youth in the fight against corruption‘ emphasises the importance of engaging with young people to combat anti-corruption in a multi-generational manner. The brief report covers a number of innovative practical examples utilising different methods of engagement, mainly drawn from the various global branches of Transparency International youth groups.

Given  the absence of clear evidence about what works and the importance of contextualising communications approaches, this reading list can never truly be complete or offer simple answers to questions about how best to communicate anti-corruption initiatives… A particular problem in the field of  communicating anti-corruption is that when communications initiatives are successful and public awareness around the initiative is increased, paradoxically, public perceptions of corruption can increase whilst instances of corruption are actually decreasing.

This resource list is intended to be dynamic and will be updated regularly. We welcome your input and any suggested resources in the comment section below or, alternatively, you can tweet them to us via @Research2Action.

Programmatic learning is particularly important to share in order to optimise future communications outcomes. The lack of publicly available project evaluations around anti-corruption communications makes the exchange of success stories and solutions to problems encountered even more difficult. If you have any insights, stories or evaluations to showcase please let us know.