Developing the bond of integrity: Volunteers share anti-corruption and community engagement experience

Ali Ahmad Mashalafrooz – Provincial Coordinator, Kapisa

Integrity Watch facilitated a four-day exchange visit for fifty community volunteers of six provinces of Parwan, Nangarhar, Herat Balkh, Kapisa and Kabul to share experiences about working with people and community monitoring to prevent misuse in public funds and learn about good practices in Kapisa province.

The community volunteers shared what worked and what did not work in their respective provinces. Building trust was determined as a key factor in establishing relations with government officials. Participants also believed that using local resources and mobilizing communities were key to solving problems at the local level. However, they also thought that volunteers need to be patient but persistent to make things work. Adherence to the value of integrity was considered as key to building trust with communities and officials. Mustafa Hakimzada, a participant of the exchange visit expressed that “Fighting corruption is tough and challenging and at times frustrating but together with communities and step by step it becomes possible.”

The volunteers met with court officials in Kapisa and discussed citizens’ right to participate in open trials, promoting the culture of integrity in the judicial system, as well as the right of access to information. The volunteers also visited construction of a road in Kapisa and discussed the defects that were reported to the implementing company by local volunteers.

Integrity Watch has been working with community volunteers in Kapisa to monitor construction projects, schools, and courts for more than six years. The province has become an example of how community volunteers and civil society activists can build trust with the government, improve services and jointly prevent misuse of public funds. The exchange visit was intended to expose Afghans from six other provinces to learn from the example being set by volunteers in Kapisa.