Corruption, understood as the abuse of entrusted power (or the improper use of public office in exchange) for private gain, is a major obstacle for sustainable economic development not only in Kenya, but in Africa and the rest of the world. It endangers democracy, equality, the rule of law, ethical values, and justice; and can take multiple forms. It can be classified as grand, referring to high levels of government corruption; petty when the abuse of power is carried out by lower-ranked officials; or political where the manipulation of policies, institutions, and rules in the distribution of resources and financing by policymakers are abused to sustain political power, status, and wealth.
Corruption is a costly, deadly menace both politically, economically, socially and environmentally. To begin with, it corrodes the fabric of society, undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders, and can cost people their freedom, health, money – and in the very worst of cases, their very lives!
On the political front, corruption is a major obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, offices and institutions lose their legitimacy when they’re misused for private advantage thereby making it extremely challenging to develop accountable political leadership in a corrupt climate. Economically, corruption depletes national wealth. Corrupt politicians invest scarce public resources in projects that will line their pockets rather than benefit communities, and prioritize high-profile projects such as dams, power plants, pipelines and refineries over less spectacular but more urgent infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and roads. Corruption also hinders the development of fair market structures and distorts competition, which in turn deters investment. Corruption corrodes the social fabric of society. It undermines people's trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. A distrustful or apathetic public can then become yet another hurdle to challenging corruption. Environmental degradation comes about when the lack of, or non-enforcement of, environmental regulations and legislation leads to precious natural resources being carelessly exploited, and entire ecological systems are ravaged. From mining, to logging, to carbon offsets, companies across the globe continue to pay bribes in return for unrestricted destruction.
From the foregoing, it is clear that corruption encompasses a wide range of behavior; and has today become a lifestyle that not only requires a macro level change in the system, but an alteration in the psychological processes that underpin it. Anti-corruption strategies, based on learning principles, which can be implemented must therefore be applied if the vice is to be tamed. Being a widespread phenomenon which is increasingly a normative behavior; we know that corruption can be curbed through effective implementation of various schedules of reinforcements, punishments, transparency, accountability, awareness, modelling, and psychological strategies to understand and combat corruption. As Psychologists, we believe that runaway corruption can be prevented as a necessary condition for the path to preserving human life; since, the real problem of corruption is not political but rather psychosocial.