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TI focuses on Sleaze in aid agencies

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – Anti graft watch dog Transparency International is now turning its focus on humanitarian aid organisations to scrutinise the level of corruption in the institutions.

This follows revelation of massive irregularities in many organizations which hinder the provision of aid.

TI Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu said that humanitarian aid is being diverted for private gain and does not reach people in need.

"The truth of the matter is that there are integrity issues and some of them have been highlighted in the press.  For example, the altercation between several agencies on food assistance delivered in distress prone areas," he stated.

The TI boss said that following an investigation into the situation, a report will be released by the end of this year.

"There are issues and that is what we shall be looking at on a preliminary basis and we can say that there is a lot of conflict of interest," he further disclosed.

He pointed out the need for actors in the humanitarian sector to play their role to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the context of life threatening situations in the most effective and accountable manner.

He underscored the importance of undertaking their mandate in a transparent manner and operating within the scope of their work and the eligibility criteria of the relief services they are providing to communities.

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He was speaking during the launch of two humanitarian handbooks designed to enhance accountability and effectiveness in humanitarian aid.

"As from last year, Transparency International has started a program working on issues of transparency and accountability in humanitarian assistance," he said. "This launch is part of that program. We intend to do some work in the food assistance chain."

The \’Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Operations\’ handbook published identifies the types of sleaze that occurs in humanitarian operations.

It summarises the policies, good practices and tools that can be used by humanitarian aid providers to prevent, detect and mitigate corruption.

\’The Sphere 2011 Handbook, \’Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response\’ establishes shared principles and a set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response.

The 2011 edition incorporates a chapter on Protection Principles which considers the protection and safety of populations affected by disaster or armed conflict as an integral part of humanitarian response.

It also addresses emerging issues like climate change, disaster risk management, early recovery of services and livelihoods, cash transfers and civil-military operations.

The project further aims to improve the quality of humanitarian response to disasters or armed conflicts and the accountability of status and humanitarian agencies to their constituents, donors and affected communities.

Humanitarian aid is not a new concept in Kenya as drought and floods are a common phenomenon and the government and humanitarian aid agencies have to reach out to those affected.

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"TI-Kenya believes that addressing corruption is an integral element in humanitarian aid accountability, quality assurance and equitable access," said Mr Kimeu.

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