Saturday, July 6, 2013

Social marketing campaigns in the Cote d'Ivoire

Baobab has a good post on corruption in the Cote d'Ivoire, which is poor even by sub-Saharan African standards, but which seems to be improving under President Ouattara: 
One of the indicators in the ruling justly category is control of corruption, an area in which Côte d’Ivoire fares particularly poorly. The World Bank’s most recent corruption rankings, from 2011, put it 38th out of 49 African countries. Transparency International ranked it 130th out of 176 countries last year in its Corruption Perceptions Index, ahead of Nigeria and Guinea but well behind neighbouring Liberia, Burkina Faso and Ghana. 
Progress has been made under President Alassane Ouattara, who came to power in May 2011. The Transparency International ranking is a big improvement over past years when Côte d’Ivoire hovered around 150th. Mr Ouattara is credited with curbing the corruption that prevailed under his predecessor, though many Ivorians insist shady dealings remain as prevalent as ever, if slightly better concealed.
But the government recently began a publicity campaign against corruption: 
The ostensible idea of the publicity campaign is to create a popular groundswell against corruption to compel elected officials to clean up their acts. Yet the adverts seem to have been met mostly with indifference. Baobab’s unscientific polling over the past few days suggests many Abidjaners think the billboards are adverts for Orange, a mobile service provider.  
A tough new anti-corruption law might be more helpful. But the one being drafted, which would establish an authority to investigate allegations of impropriety, is riddled with loopholes. Many of the original draft’s provisions have been heavily watered down, according to a source close to the process. The latest version reduces the statute of limitations on corruption-related offenses from ten years to three, making it extremely difficult to prosecute cases in time.
It's not a particularly well executed campaign thus far, but I tend to think that such campaigns have the capacity to do more good than new laws.  Even if the government were to pass a model law -- which seems unlikely -- the greater problem lies with enforcement.  In countries such as Rwanda, campaigns aimed at changing norms have met with impressive success, and such campaigns have much to recommend them.  Ultimately, however, the success of either approach will depend on leadership and how well the government's leaders are willing to prioritize the issue.

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