Particularly when juxtaposed with studies that show that the entire foreign aid establishment would do better by just giving people money, I am inclined to believe that there is way too much careerism in among the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), and that it takes priority over results.
Case in point, it appears that NGO anti-corruption campaigns increase the level of corruption, because they reduce the confidence in the government of make both the citizens and the bureaucrats.
Of course, for the NGOs, and more importantly the donors, it is more important to appear to be fighting corruption than it it is to actually fight corruption:
Donors and civil society groups spend tens of millions of dollars every year trying to combat corruption. They do it because corruption has been shown to increase poverty and inequality while undermining trust in the government. Reducing corruption is essential to improve public services and strengthen the social contract between citizens and the state.
But what if anti-corruption efforts actually make the situation worse?
Our research in Lagos, Nigeria, found that anti-corruption messages often have an unintended effect. Instead of building public resolve to reject corrupt acts, the messages we tested either had no effect or actually made people more likely to offer a bribe.
The reason may be that the messages reinforce popular perceptions that corruption is pervasive and insurmountable. In doing so, they encourage apathy and acceptance rather than inspire activism.
The NGOs, and more importantly the donors, will likely be impervious to data showing that what they do does not work.
This is because for the NGOs, accepting this would require a change in tactics which would involve working with more local input and local agents, which means that there would be fewer jobs for the professionals staff of these groups.
As Upton Sinclair so pithily observed, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
As for the donors, it’s an easy sell, because it is, as H.L. Menken so pithily observed, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”