Anti-corruption drive sees success at grassroots level
HA NOI – Hundreds of patients in six pilot hospitals nationwide were able to benefit from using an automatic queuing system and thousands of Khmer residents in a mountainous village in An Giang Province were able to attend training on the laws that affect their daily lives.
These were among 34 innovative anti-corruption ideas that were considered to have been effectively implemented one year after the first-ever Viet Nam Anti-Corruption Initiative Programme.
Speaking yesterday at a mid-term review workshop co-organised by the World Bank and the Government Inspectorate, deputy chief of the Government Inspectorate Nguyen Duc Hanh reaffirmed the need to link communities' anti-corruption initiatives to work done by local Government authorities and agencies.
But he added that even though these initiatives have had pervasive effects, especially in raising locals' awareness on corruption, challenges remain for these grassroots organisations in tackling such a sensitive issue.
Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director in Viet Nam, said the competition made a strong point about the need to empower citizens at the grassroots level to hold officials accountable for their actions.
In August 2011, around VND9.2 billion (US$450,000) was awarded to 34 innovative anti-corruption ideas at the first-ever VACI, which focuses on innovative ideas that strengthen public integrity and attack corruption, especially at a local level.
Each winning proposal was entitled to receive up to VND290 million ($14,000) in funding over the course of one year.
However, a mid-term review report by the Government Inspectorate suggested that after one year of implementation, several projects face a low rate of disbursement and have not engaged enough with local authorities, especially projects that aim at increasing transparency and accountability.
A report from Viet Insight, an independent consulting agency, suggested that most of the projects were completed at the average level of 40 per cent. However, since most of the projects aim at raising awareness and are propaganda-related, changes must take longer than two years to implement, the agency noted.
Nguyen Cam Ha, a member of An Giang Farmers Association, said her project aimed to increase awareness among farmers in her province about the legal system, especially the Khmer residents.
The project began in An Cu village, Tinh Bien District, which has more than 1,819 Khmer households, accounting for 75 per cent of the village's population. About 33 per cent of the population are classified as poor.
With funding from the competition she was able to train monks, local staff members, and residents to teach Khmer residents about laws and regulations related to marriage, family, land, and other subjects.
However, since the residents awareness level is very low, it will take time to see any results according to Ha.
The next VACI will be held in 2013. — VNS