Fighting corruption with communication in Afghanistan


Client: UNDP Afghanistan | Pillar: governance

Thematic Areas: Corruption, Governance

Services Provided: Research, Strategy Development


  • High instances of petty corruption during interactions between citizens and public servants, compromising the legitimacy of the government

    • 70.6% of Afghans cite corruption as a major problem in their daily lives

    • 26% of Afghans report having to pay a bribe in the past 12 months

  • Corruption is highly detrimental to the Afghan economy and national development

    • According to Integrity Watch Afghanistan, Afghans pay USD 2 billion each year in bribes to public servants in return for services; UNODC estimates this figure at two times higher

  • Lack of trust in reporting mechanisms and government efforts to combat corruption

    • Only 25% of Afghans agree that there has been some progress in reducing corruption in any public institution

Magenta’s role

  • We conducted formative research to gain insights into the social and behavioural drivers of petty corruption in the justice and security sectors and the drivers of corrupt behaviours in Afghanistan

  • We compiled and analysed our research findings in a Citizen Journey Mapping report and a Barrier Analysis report

  • We used our research findings to arrive at an SBC framework and workshopped the framework with key stakeholders

  • We developed a draft communications strategy based on the SBC framework and stakeholder insights to promote positive behaviours to combat corruption

  • We discussed the draft strategy and outreach activities with Afghans to ensure practicality and effectiveness

  • We provided a final communications strategy to UNDP, including a multi-year action plan and M&E framework.


Social and behavioural change INSIGHTS

  • Afghans believe that corruption is against their religion, morals and values; despite this they are able to morally and practically justify corrupt actions.

    • “Yeah there are some types of bribe which are acceptable to us with paying less money. But totally giving bribe is a bad action and it is forbidden in our religion Islam.”

  • Afghans have low awareness of correct service procedures and reporting mechanisms.

    • “When we don’t have information about the process of the work, we will pay bribe.”

  • Afghans face retribution if they chose to report corruption.

    • “If they know that reporting corruption won’t damage them and their family, they should go report corruption.”

  • Busy, crowded, chaotic nature of offices contributes significantly to opportunities for corruption.

    • “I want to go to Iran and was supposed to get a marriage certificate, so when I went there it was so crowded and I paid them to do the process sooner.”

  • There are currently no social sanctions for paying bribes.

*All quotations are from focus group discussions conducted by MAGENTA in Afghanistan.

Communications Approach

  • A comprehensive SBC communications strategy and messaging campaign design

  • Engaging citizens to take ownership and responsibility for corruption in their communities

  • Community and national level activities to engage citizens and service providers by encouraging positive behaviours regarding participation in and reporting of corruption

  • Developing mechanisms for disseminating information about proper legal service procedures

  • Human-centered design guidelines and safe to fail activity recommendations