Corruption in Nepal

By Narayan Manandhar and Puru Shah

Marking UN Anti-Corruption Day: Breaking the Corruption Chain

On the occasion of UN Anti-corruption Day (9th December), we release the district-wise corruption reporting data compiled from the CIAA Annual Reports (1998 to 2012). We like to inform readers on how these data were compiled from CIAA Annual Reports.

  • These reported figures are total number of corruption complaints filed at District Administration Offices in 75 districts of Nepal. The corruption complaints are the sum of total complaints lodged as (1) corruption complaints and (2) complaints over improper conduct. All corruption cases are decided by the court, if convicted, the accused may have to serve prison sentences besides financial penalty and job termination while improper conducts include departmental actions; the maximum penalty for which could be discharge from the job. Readers interested in analyzing data decomposed by corruption and improper conduct are advised to refer the annual reports.
  • The CIAA has discontinued publishing district-wise data from 2013 onwards, therefore, we are unable to present the most recent information.
  • The data is compiled by Narayan Manandhar and we ant to share it with the wider audience. The reasons being: (1) There is an intense debate on federalism in the country but it has not concentrated much on the issue of corruption and (2) except urban districts like Lalitpur and Kathmandu, why do most districts in Tarai plains rank at the top in the corruption reporting? We like to caution the readers that mere increase in corruption reporting may not imply an intensity of corruption in the particular district. However, in the absence of any other measures, these figures may be used as rough proxies of corruption, particularly at local level.

Two Questions to Ponder

We would like readers to think about the following two questions and request that you offer your insights in the comments section. We hope this data visualization will spur a lively discussion on the state of corruption in Nepal.

(1) Do districts in Tarai (southern plains) have more corruption reporting than in the hill and the mountain districts of Nepal? If yes, why?

(2) Could federalism be an answer to controlling local level corruptions in Nepal?

An Observation

Whenever data is presented, a popular saying by Mark Twain comes to mind, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” The data can often be misleading and interpreted in many different ways, subjective to analyst’s bias, if there are any. The data of absolute numbers of registered corruption cases can be deceiving since it does not take into account the population density factor. Corruption is a human activity so, it would be expected to occur more frequently in densely populated areas. Hence, to maintain fairness, graphs of both absolute numbers along with ratio of corruption cases per 1000 people (as measured by Census 2011) have been presented.

The data visualizations below show the number of corruption complaints lodged at Chief District Officer (CDO) office in each of the 75 districts in Nepal from 1998 till 2012.

Number of Registered Corruption Cases Annually in Nepal, from 1998 to 2012 (By District)

It can be seen that several districts of Tarai have the highest number of corruption cases registered between 1998 and 2012. This, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt since these are absolute numbers. The story is a little different when population adjusted corruption cases are looked at. Several districts of Tarai remain at the top regardless and some mountainous districts make it to the top, perhaps because of their smaller population which results in a higher ratio.

Number of Corruption Cases Number of Population Adjusted Corruption

Number of Registered Corruption Cases by Geographical Region

This large number of corruption cases registered in Tarai districts is obvious when looked at this data by geographical region. The story is different again when population adjusted corruption cases are looked at. Pahad and Himal have higher population adjusted corruption cases than Tarai.

Number of Corruption Cases by Geographical Region Number of Population Adjusted Corruption

Number of Registered Corruption Cases by District

There are 22 districts in Nepal that have higher than average number of registered corruption cases from 1998 till 2012. Out of these 22, two are in Himal, seven are in Pahad, and thirteen are in Tarai.

Number of Population Adjusted Corruption Cases by District

There are 22 districts in Nepal that have higher than average number of registered corruption cases from 1998 till 2012. Out of these 22, seven are in Himal, seven are in Pahad, and eight are in Tarai. So, it suggests that districts in Nepal may be equally corrupt when adjusted for population density.

Could Federalism Control Local Level Corruption?

The second question to ponder is: Could federalism be an answer to controlling local level corruption in Nepal?

This data can be grouped according to proposed seven federal states. It should be noted that these federal states did not exist when this data was collected so this analysis is simply a statistical exercise performed after the fact.

Number of Registered Corruption Cases from 1998 to 2012 (By Federal State)

It can be seen that State 2 has the largest number of registered corruption cases, followed by states 1 and 3 which seem to be tied. Coincidentally, State 2 has only districts that lie in Tarai, some of which have the largest number of registered corruption cases.

When the corruption cases are adjusted for population density, state 6 and state 1 have higher corruption cases than state 2. Similarly, State 6 has the highest and State 4 has the lowest population adjusted corruption cases registered between 1998 and 2012.

Number of Corruption Cases by State Number of Population Adjusted Corruption

When looking at absolute number of registered corruption cases, one could draw several hypotheses around why districts in Tarai and evidently state 2 have the highest numbers. A few hypotheses put forward by Narayan Manandhar are:

  • This could be related to economic activities in Tarai – it has the major custom points, it has higher land values, 51% of population lives in Tarai so it gives rise to more activities and thus more corruption opportunities.
  • It may be easier for bureaucrats to indulge in corruption in Tarai. After interviewing a few people in Sarlahi, an interesting anecdoctal response was, “Tarai people normally do not have connections in the Hill dominated bureaucracy, therefore, they resort to corruption.”
  • Tarai has low literacy rate compared to rest of the country. As a matter of fact, four of the five least literate districts lie in Tarai. Low literacy might render them vulnerable to exploitation by government officials to get official work done.
  • Lastly, the population of Tarai is more dense than that of Pahad and Himal, making it inevitable for the absolute numbers to be higher than the latter geographical regions.
  • In 2004-2008, DFID funded anti-corruption projects in ten districts of Nepal, except Kaski all other nine districts were from Tarai.

 

Bonus Materials (Analysis by Year)

Number of Registered Corruption Cases Annually in Nepal, from 1998 to 2012 (By Year)

The figure below shows the number of registered corruption cases from 1998 till 2012.

Number of Registered Corruption Cases Annually in Nepal, from 1998 to 2012 (By Year)

The figure below shows the years that had above average number of registered corruption cases from 1998 till 2012. It can be seen that years: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, and 2012 had higher than average registered cases.

Number of Registered Corruption Cases During Gyanendra’s Rule, from 2001 to 2008

After King Gyanendra ascended the throne in 2001, the number of corruption cases registered increased soon after in 2002. It reverted to the typical numbers in 2003 followed by a large surge in 2004 and peaked in 2005. Interestingly, it decreased dramatically in 2006, 2007 and 2008 before his oust in May 2008.

Number of Registered Corruption Cases After Gyanendra’s Rule, from 2008 to 2012

The number of registered corruption cases continued to increase from 2008 onward after the political parties assumed power post monarchy. The data collection was discontinued after 2012. Since the number of registered corruption cases has continued to increase after the political parties assumed power, do these numbers suggest that they are more corrupt than the monarchy rule?

Our intent in this article is not to offer any conclusions but seek your insights and experiences about the cause of corruption in various districts in Nepal, especially Tarai. Do you agree that the number of registered corruption cases need to be adjusted for population density to get a more accurate picture of how rampant corruption is? Could federalism be an answer to controlling local level corruptions in Nepal? Please send your feedback via comments below, social media or email (contact@madhesiyouth.com).


 

Data Compiled by: Narayan Manandhar

Data Visualization by: Puru Shah, Madhesi Youth

Download Data

Excel – District Wise Registered Corruption Cases, 1998-2012

Google Spreadsheet – Number of Registered Corruption Cases in Nepal, 1998 till 2012

Puru Shah

Puru Shah is the founder of Madhesi Youth. For Madhesi Youth, he primarily writes about human rights issues and articles with an emphasis on data analysis & data visualization. His goal is to promote justice, equality, sustainable development, and youth empowerment in Nepal.

Connect with Puru Shah on Twitter (@digitalsubway)

  • Can you also distinctly point out the source of the data and may be point out how we can verify those stats? I would also like to perform analysis on those raw data.