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Corruption, gender, and small‐scale cross‐border trade in East Africa: A review

Jacqueline M. Klopp, Melissa Trimble and Eleanor Wiseman

Development Policy Review, 2022, vol. 40, issue 5

Abstract: Motivation Small‐scale cross‐border trade is critically important to livelihoods and food security in East Africa, but bribes, harassment, and violence remain serious problems. Based on current research, we ask which anti‐corruption interventions tend to work to improve the conditions of these traders? Purpose This article critically and systematically reviews a growing literature on small‐scale cross‐border trade, corruption, and gender. The aim is to synthesize and assess the current state of knowledge, highlight progress, and gaps, and assess the potential of anti‐corruption programmes to address the needs of traders. Methods and approach A systematic literature review with supplementary interviews with traders and policy actors. Findings We found research is increasingly drawing on diversifying interdisciplinary methods and focusing on individual trader behaviours, networks, interactions with state actors, and, increasingly, on gendered dynamics; more work might focus on state actors, especially the police, and what determines how bribes function and their levels. Associations, civil society, and the platforms, both informal and formal, by which traders voice concern and confront government officials, as well as how traders choose between formal and informal pathways, and how these pathways interact, require more attention. Policy implications Government reforms like the One Stop Border Post, need to be better tailored to the specific, gendered needs of small‐scale cross‐border traders. Simplifying and reducing formal border procedures, reducing tariffs, improving information desks and complaints mechanisms are all needed to enhance access and accountability. Programmes that support access to capital, business support, networking, and knowledge around border procedures have positive impacts, as do those that promote strong associations to put to the government the specific needs of small‐scale traders. Police reform tailored to border areas is also required.

Date: 2022
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