Transparency Recognized

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Getting help into the hands of the people who need it can be extraordinarily difficult when that effort is compromised by the corruption that's too often a feature of governments in the developing world. Corruption can choke off food, medicine, and funding that's supposed to be destined for people who desperately need help and projects that will build prosperity and take people out of poverty.

I've often written here about Rwanda, a nation that's taken great steps to eliminate corruption. As I write this from Kigali, the Rwandan capital, I'm happy to be able to report that Rwanda's successful and vigorous efforts to eradicate this "disease of bureaucracy" have been recognized this week by Professor Peter Eigen, a founder and former chair of Transparency International.

We've seen it time and again in countries from the Congo to Kenya, where gross corruption moved this tourist destination from relatively calm stability (albeit plagued by despair) to violent riots seemingly overnight. Corruption fosters resentment, frustration and despair, and can hold an entire people back from achieving their potential.

Prof. Eigen, who is a 25-year veteran of economic development programs in Africa and Latin America through the World Bank and other organizations, shares the belief that stamping out corruption is the surest means of achieving economic development. On Monday, he praised the Government of Rwanda's successful anti-corruption initiatives while visiting the country with a 50-member delegation from Germany.

Prof. Eigen noted in a statement: "Rwanda has various programs that aim at eliminating corruption completely. It is also among the countries that give opportunity to the civil society to play its role in the corruption fight. Once a nation desists from corruption, all sectors begin to flourish thus attaining development."

That's yet another validation of Rwanda's success, but it should also be evident if you compare the success of Rwanda's economic development - and the resultant social stability - with other nations in the developing world. Transparency should be praised and recognized, but the best thing about transparency is that it has its own rewards: stability, prosperity and peace.