Blog Post #9

Name: Jake Donoghue, Brianna Wanbaugh, Sammy Powers, and Tri Nguyen


Systems thinking challenge #1: Police corruption in Afghanistan 

  • 35M Population; 250,000 Policemen
  • 27% Literacy Rate (2019: 32%)
  • 13 Yrs, Billions Later →  Poor Personnel and Payroll Data (No verification)
  • Extremely High (Hierarchical) Corruption
  • 10% “Ghost” Policemen
  • Commanders get a cut from salaries
  • Poor Morale; Defection to the Taliban
  • Law and Order Crises; Public Trust



The corruption in the Afghan police bodies can be accounted for by the following factors: 1) low salaries; 2) poor working conditions; 3) poor recruitment and selection procedures resulting from poor literacy rate among the population; 4) a lack of training programmes 5) and opportunities for corruption due to inadequate controls of payroll data.


As a commander in chief of the police, we will have to collaborate with different entities among the governing bodies of the Afgan to bring in significant police and institutional reforms. The entities will be included but not limited to educators, influences, policy makers, citizens, governors, and more. To address the root cause of corruption and not just the “symptoms,” our solution will be grounded on these pillars: education, enforcement and prevention. The reform practices will be as follows:



  • Education:



  1. Implement additional education for policers to uphold integrity, professionalism, and adherence to human rights and laws
  2. Promote public education of anti-corruption intervention by publicizing the arrest and successful prosecution of prominent corrupted police officers
  3. Promote the public knowledge of anti-corruption laws and use the public to report corruption. 



  • Enforcement:



  1. Adding police auditors and anti-corruption intervention bodies to increase the accountability of the police force. These anti-corruption investigation bureau can be given authority to freeze assets, seize passports, propose reforms, etc. They might also have extensive powers to conduct an investigation, arrest police officers who are suspicious of bribery, and probe into a suspect’s financial evidence
  2. Within the anti-corruption investigation bureau, make sure there is a regulation system to make all anti-corruption investigators accountable for their granted power. For example, classify the main body into 3 sub-components, and have one group reviewed by the other 2 groups in terms of transparency and evaluative performance on a regular basis.  



  • Prevention:



  1. Provide incentive for fairness by making sure the working conditions are reasonable, the salaries are justified for a comfortable living environment, heavy penalties for bribery, and large bounties for reporting corruption
  2. Put emphasis on the recruitment and selection procedures of future police officers; making the process more selective so that the 
  3. Strong leadership, as demonstrated by the commander-in-chief of the Afghan police, will be essential to serve a role model and the beacon of hope and justice.


Systems Thinking Analysis:


Differentiation: The individual components of this large system include the community, Afghan Uniform Police, Afghan Highway Police, Afghan Border Police, Criminal Investigation Department, the Afghan Local Police (ALP) Now part of ANP, and the Afghan government.



Interdependence: Our solution depends on mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationships within the system, including connections between bodies and pillars. As a commander in chief of the police, we will work with several governing bodies in which both the people within the police system will benefit in addition to the governing bodies facilitating reform, as the improvement of the country will reflect them and their work. Additionally, mutually beneficial connections exist between pillars. For example, establishing an education plan can encourage accountability and in turn improve enforcement and prevention by emphasizing police responsibility to act in accordance with the law.


Holism: In order to increase the anti-corruption in Afghanistan, all components of the problem need to be considered in order to fully solve the problem. In this case, the police cannot exist without the community because there would be nothing to protect. If there is nothing to protect then any governing body of higher rank is not necessary. Therefore, these independent components depend on each other to create the problem and solve the problem.


Multifinality: The goal of our solution is to promote public trust in police, to minimize corruption, increase morale, and improve quality of life for the community. With this solution all parties involved will have their goals met. The community will have more trustworthy police because the rate of corruption will have decreased and if there is less corruption the community will be willing to report more crimes. Corruption will be minimized through education of the police and the public. The police will be educated to uphold strong core values such as integrity, professionalism, and their human rights and laws. The people will be educated through the shared knowledge of arrests and successful prosecutions. A strong leader will allow for the increase in morale among police officers. All of these together will lead to a higher quality of life for all of those involved.


Equifinality: As previously stated, our solution is founded on three pillars in which there are several paths to achieving our overall goal. Though there are many different approaches or “inputs” involved, the overall result or “output” to reduce corruption remains the same.


Regulation: Our solution has a system in place that helps hold the police accountable through our implementation of anti-corrupt bodies, public broadcast of arrests and prosecutions, as well as higher salaries to increase the will of the police officers to not be corrupt.


Abstraction: Though this issue focuses specifically on anti-corruption, our solution has broader applications. The implementation of our solution will result in a higher quality of life for the people of Afghanistan by ensuring a proper system that convicts crime and reduces the abuse of power. 


Leverage: If the salaries are being raised the selection process can be more competitive which will ultimately allow for higher quality police officers.


Systems thinking challenge #2: Water hyacinth

  • Water hyacinth infestation is a major problem on the shores of Lake Victoria. The moss doubles every month and blocks the fishermen’s access to the lake. It also results in spread of disease and hence they want it removed at all costs.
  • An entrepreneur has figured out that she can take the hyacinth, crush it, and use it to make compost and briquettes. She hires four people to cut the hyacinth, crush it with manual machines, and bring it to her workshop. 
  • This system works well for 2 weeks and her need for the hyacinth increases substantially. But the communities on the shores are unhappy that she is making money from the hyacinth. They stop her employees from accessing the hyacinth.
  • How does she solve the problem?



To address this challenge, the entrepreneur could try to incorporate the fishermen in her water hyacinth business. As the fishermen need to clean up the hyacinth to get access to the fishing area in the lake, they can also store the hyacinth on their boats during the process and give it to the entrepreneur in exchange of the shared profits earned from the production of compost and briquettes later. After having access to the hyacinth, the entrepreneur can hire labor workers to crush the hyacinth with manual machines and transport it to her workshop where she can make compost and briquettes. To prevent the community from thinking that she is solely the one that gets the benefit from the business, she could share 10% profits of the business from her products with the fishermen. To start off, the entrepreneur can partner with a few fishermen, and if these fishermen earned additional benefits in addition to their finishing income, this might motivate other fishermen to come and join the business. This will be a win-win situation for both sides. The entrepreneur can now get a steady supply of the hyacinth to make and sell her products, while the communities, including the fishermen and labor workers, will be able to earn additional benefits by taking part in the business. In addition, since the hyacinth is the source of the disease that is detrimental to the ecosystems, removing it from the lake on a regular basis is making a positive impact on the environment, which will not only protect the fish in the lake but also the health of the community who is more than likely to eat the fish from where the hyacinth is growing infestedly. 


Systems Thinking Analysis:



  • Fishers 
  • Labor workers – crushing hyacinth and machining compost/briquettes 
  • Entrepreneur
  • Lake Victoria community




  • The fishermen would be paid by the entrepreneur to clear the hyacinth from the water
  • The fishermen will be able to catch more fish 
  • The Lake Victoria community begins profiting from this as the local fisherman are bringing in extra money, and selling more fish to the local population


Holism: Overall, the removal of hyacinth will allow for more fish to be bought and eaten (food security) as well as a decrease in the spread of disease which will benefit the community as a whole.



  • Each individual stakeholder in this hyacinth business is working with different goals:
    • Entrepreneur: get access to the hyacinth that then she can make compost and briquettes 
    • Fishermen: clear out the hyacinth in the lake to do their fishing
    • Labour workers: can still process raw hyacinth and transport it to the entrepreneur’s workshop
    • Lake Victoria community: get rid of the hyacinth which is a source of a disease
  • The system itself also meet its own goals:
    • Get rid of the hyacinth
    • All involved individuals get benefits form the system



  • All stakeholders are working on different parts of the hyacinth business, but they all share the same goals: removing hyacinth and earning additional benefits from the business.



  • Create a quota in weight of hyacinth removed for fishermen to meet to ensure steady business
  • Be clear that 10% of the profit automatically goes back to the fishermen



Our solution has wider applications, as it improves the overall health of the environment and protects the ecosystem.


Leverage point:


  • Partnering with fishermen so that they are not left out

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