I walked past this box several times during my week in Nairobi. Secured by a single padlock, it had a simple message: Report Corruption Cases Here. It stood at the entrance to a courtyard in the National Museum, just outside what looked like a security post, or a janitor’s station.
It looked pretty lonely.
The first step in an anti–corruption strategy is always information. Yet, the information has to be delivered within the context of a working system, otherwise such an whistle-blowing box might serve mainly as a stress relief mechanism to give users the satisfaction that at least some action has been taken. Every system that adopts the information box approach has to answer the following questions
- Who opens the box, and what is their relationship to the corruption complaint?
- What do they do with the information acquired?
- Will the box in fact ever be opened?
- Are there informants or CCTVs watching the box to identify ‘anonymous’ informants for retribution?
- Is there an in-line automated shredder in the lower box?
To make sure an information box actually acquires information, these questions must be answered to the citizens’ satisfaction.