Every year over $1 trillion is paid in bribes to corrupt officials. If that doesn’t affect you, it may affect someone you know: More than one in four people have to pay a bribe when dealing with public institutions. In Africa alone, 75 million people are estimated to have done so in the last year.
Those numbers aren’t the only reason to get mad. Corrupt officials divert funds from public services like health care and education to projects that will line their pockets. Corruption also harms societies by undermining human rights. It can cost people their freedom and sometimes their lives.
So how can you fight corruption? By making sure the laws in your country are enforced, says former U.N. youth observer Jackson Dougan.
Many countries have anti-corruption laws, but, as Dougan explains, they may not have the resources to monitor and enforce those laws. That’s where you can help.
Thanks to new technologies, you don’t need a lot of money or power to bring corruption to light. You can use social media and online platforms, such as I Paid a Bribe, to crowdsource reports of corruption in real time, even anonymously.
Web and smartphone applications such as Open the Books in the U.S. can help you keep tabs on government spending, including how much officials are being paid. These kinds of data can be used to hold corrupt officials accountable and push through reforms.