While reality television shows generally in the West are usually about picking the best performers or choosing husbands and wives, a new campaign is harnessing the power of public voting — and television viewing — to better use in developing nations.
Integrity Idol aims to highlight and honor the most honest government officials in countries like Liberia, Nepal and Pakistan, where bribery is the norm in government-owned sectors.
The concept was conceived by Blair Glencourse, who runs Accountability Lab, a nonprofit group that fights corruption.
"We thought, 'What about some kind of TV show called Integrity Idol where people would vote for honest government officials instead of pop stars?'" he told NPR in an interview. The competition seeks to reward civil servants "for simply doing what they think is their job and being the person that they are.”
The first competition was held in Nepal last year, which was at the time ranked 126th out of 175 countries on global Corruption Perceptions Index.
More than 300 people were nominated from across the country, the Guardian reported. Five finalists were selected and presented during a half-hour broadcast. Viewers voted via email, text messages and social media likes. Gyan Mani Nepal, a district education officer, was declared the winner.
This year, the contest was held in Liberia where more than 1,400 people were nominated. The list was whittled down to 30 and eventually five.
Jugbeh Tarpleh Kekula, a nurse who works in the emergency room at the Liberia Government Hospital in Buchanan, won the country’s first Integrity Idol title.
Even though she wasn’t rewarded with cash, Kekula was happy with her achievement.
“The prize that I know I got, it's not money, it's not cash. I was honored,” NPR quoted her as saying. “I have pride. People in the whole of Liberia are seeing me, listening to me on news, calling my name, people who never knew me. I felt like well-known, like one of the dignitaries.”