Bangladesh is one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. The government and international development partners have committed billions of dollars in adaptation infrastructure to mitigate the effects of storms and flooding as a result of climate change. Unfortunately, corruption has severely impacted the implementation of these projects – estimates suggest that around 35% of project funds are embezzled and around 80% of projects are poorly constructed.
However, corruption has not affected all climate change projects equally or in the same way, even when implemented by the same agency, funded by the same funder, and therefore with identical formal governance arrangements. In this paper, we show that the effectiveness of monitoring by local communities plays an important role in explaining these differences. We also demonstrate that this effectiveness relates to the involvement of influential individuals in particular, who can use informal power and networks to put pressure on contractors and officials, and this involvement can be encouraged through policy design.
To show this, we use intensive surveys of local communities in four project sites: two embankments and two cyclone shelters. We also use estimates of corruption in these projects from 30 key informant interviews. Our analysis finds strong relationships between the participation of influential land and business owners in monitoring, the overall community participation in monitoring, and lower levels of corruption.