New Book – Citizens Against Corruption – Report from the Frontline


“Corruption lies at the core of bad government and is the most critical obstacle to overcoming poverty in developing countries” – author Pierre Landell-Mills

Available as a paperback and e-book  from &

  Over the last dozen years The Partnership for Transparency Fund has support with money and expert advice more than 200 projects across the developing world to reduce corruption. Now, in a brand new book, Landell-Mills reviews the record: he highlights the civil society organizations that are making a real difference to secure basic human and civil rights for tens of thousands of poor people; he describes fascinating projects in Asia, Africa, Latin America and in Central & eastern Europe; and, he brings to the fore the key lessons that all engaged in the fight against corruption need to use to advance their work.

Book Foreword by Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International


Says Author Landell-Mills, PTF co-founder and first president, and member of the PTF Board of Directors:

“This book challenges the notion that, at best, civil society can only have a marginal impact on reducing corruption. Quite the opposite; it argues that civil society organizations have demonstrated again and again that their impact can be game-changing.”


Pierre Landell-Mills is a development economist with a long standing interest in political economy and governance issues. He was the founder and first

president of Partnership for Transparency Fund (2000 – 10) and was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Bath (2001-2006). He worked for 10 years in Africa before joining the World Bank in 1973. He was the lead author of the 1983 World Development report on Managing Development and the 1989 report on Sub-Sahara Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Development. He served as the World Bank’s Country Director for Bangladesh from 1994 – 98. He is currently a Principle of The Policy Practice and has been associated with Transparency International from its start.


“Citizens Against Corruption – Report from the Front Line” draws on over 200 case studies that describe impressive initiatives undertaken over the past decade by 130 civil society organizations (CSOs) in 53 countries which engage directly with public agencies to stop the bribery and extortion that damages peoples’ lives and obstructs social and economic progress.”

Examples from some of the poorest countries show how a single CSO initiative can save several million dollars. Several million such initiatives can transform the way government does business, making public agencies accountable to those they serve. The message is clear: aid donors need to radically rethink their assistance for governance reform, tilting it dramatically in favor of supporting CSOs.

The book is in four parts.

Part 1 analyses the role citizens can play in fighting corruption and promoting good governance and briefly tells the story of the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF).

Part 2 presents countries studies from India, Mongolia, Philippines, and Uganda – each with its unique history and distinctive circumstances – to illustrate activities undertaken by CSOs to root out corruption. These describe the tools and approaches that CSOs are using successfully to build pressure on corrupt public agencies to become transparent and accountable.

Part 3 addresses key themes—strengthening the rule of law, putting in place effective national anti-corruption strategies and institutions, making public buying and selling honest, promoting grass roots monitoring of public expenditures and the provision of public services, mounting media campaigns to expose and defeat corruption, and empowering ordinary citizens to keep watch on what actually happens at the point of delivery of public services.

Part 4 summarizes what has been learnt and explores the potential, as well as the risks and limitations of the civic activism in a world where greed and dishonesty is the norm—talking to power. Finally, the book explores the opportunities and dangers faced by aid donors in supporting local CSOs and charts a way forward.

Notes Landell-Mills: “When we put together all the stories we have of citizens making a real difference often with very few resources, it becomes evident that we have a true revolution in the making. Individual initiatives may be impressive, but they are inevitably limited in time and space. But if countless such initiatives across the globe were aggregated, then we would soon reach the ‘tipping point’ where the relationship of citizens to their government starts to shift from deliberate opacity and lack of accountability to one where public officials will not dare to abuse their power or steal the common wealth. Modern information technology and an ever growing proportion of citizens aware of what is happening and no longer willing to tolerate misuse of power will speed this process forward.”

Peter EigenFounder of Transparency International:

“This book tells the story of a remarkable endeavor, simple in conception yet brilliant in execution. PTF’s success has been the marrying of high quality expertise with the energy and guts of young activists who are determined to stop the corruption that undermines the development of their countries and damages the lives of ordinary citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable. This experiment has shown that small grants can have a huge impact.”

Laurence Cockcroft author of Global Corruption (2012):

“This book provides a unique insight into citizens campaigning against corruption head on in countries where it is endemic – from low income villagers to students and national level activists who have been remarkably successful in contexts as different as Mongolia, India and Latvia in challenging the abuses of power which undermine everyday life. Their stories are remarkable.”

Anabel Cruz PTF Chair:

“Pierre Landell-Mills presents a fascinating account of the story of a pioneer organization, PTF and its global fight against corruption. It is amazing to see how much PTF, its projects and volunteers who have contributed in its short 12 years of existence to the advancement of a culture of transparency around the world.”

John Clark civil society and anti-corruption expert:

“This book offers a rich account of the ‘cancer of corruption’ and how it undermines development. And what makes it compelling is the myriad accounts of how citizens groups can and have tackled the problems head–on, forcing accountability where it was absent before. These well-told stories are an inspiration to citizens around the world who ask: “yes, we are submerging in corruption, but what can I do about it?”

Frank Vogl, author of Waging War on Corruption-Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power (2012)

“Pierre Landell-Mills brings his extraordinary international development experience and insights of just how civil society organizations work in very poor countries to this ‘must read’ book. The daily human rights abuses, humiliations and indignities that are imposed by corrupt officials on millions of very poor people across Asia and Africa must be stopped – this book provides detailed brilliant illustrations on just how to do this.”
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Click here to read the Reuters/Trustlaw Book Interview 

Click here for a book review by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB