U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


Please provide an overview of how civil society organisations (CSOs) can contribute to lower corruption in fragile settings. Please include any good practices in CSO community engagement and the provision of channels to report wrongdoing.

Fragile states are characterised by high vulnerabilities to economic, environmental, political, security and/or societal risks (OECD 2016). These countries can be particularly exposed to corruption as institutional safeguards are often weak or absent (Pompe 2022). Corruption can further exacerbate problems and lead to increasing fragility as it weakens the state’s authority, legitimacy and ability to deliver services and respond to citizens’ needs (Johnsøn 2016). As such, anti-corruption interventions play an important role in reducing fragility and building a more resilient state with stronger governance and accountability mechanisms.

It has been documented that top-down solutions and single-issue engagements (such as the creation of anti-corruption agencies and/or the simple application of international standards) fail in these settings as they do not address the multidimensional challenges of state fragility (Pompe 2022). As such, the literature is increasingly recognising the importance of supporting grassroots bottom-up approaches led by local civil society organisations (CSOs). These CSOs have localised knowledge on the issues facing a region, can help to rebuild trust within and between communities, support individuals to report instances of corruption, and help to implement social accountability tools which monitor the delivery of public services.


  1. Background
  2. Challenges in fragile settings
  3. Anti-corruption solutions led by CSOs
    1. Building trust within and between communities
    2. Identifying corruption hotspots
    3. Supporting people to report corruption
    4. Social accountability tools
  4. Strengthening the enabling conditions for CSOs
  5. References


Caitlin Maslen (TI)
[email protected]

Reviewed by

Guillaume Nicaise (U4)
Anoukh de Soysa and Roberto Kukutschka (TI)




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