Water + corruption
This photo was taken in one of China’s so-called water cities. The smell of the streets is awful – no toilet installations exist and people pour sewage into the river between the streets, increasing water pollution. Food, vegetables, laundry and dishes are washed in the same water. This means the water flowing in channels between houses is simultaneously the source of contamination and of cleansing. This image, by Kalenderli Erkan, was shortlisted in on ‘Integrity in water and food’.
Water is the foundation of our existence and is part of our everyday lives. Water is needed for economic growth – it is used in the production of cars, mobile phones, clothes, streets, houses and energy. Water cultivates crops for the food we eat and is vital in the protection of our environment.
Global population growth coupled with an increase in the number of people moving to cities has changed consumption patterns, with jumps in the amount of water-intensive products like meat being consumed. This, combined with economic development and a changing climate, are putting immense pressure on global water resources.
When water becomes scarce, the very foundation of societies is threatened. The risk of disease and infant mortality increases. The hours lost daily to fetch water keep women out of work and children out of school. Businesses and farmers have to compete for diminishing water supplies to make a living. Riverbeds dry out and ground water levels diminish.
When resources are misused, the already pressing problems of how to equitably govern scarce water resources are exacerbated. As a result development is undermined and economic growth slows. This is why there is a need to address corruption risks and increase integrity in the water sector, so as to improve water resource governance.
Scarce drinking water is a severe problem in parts of rural India, where some people must walk 8-9 kilometres each day to collect drinking water. Sometimes people are compelled to drink pond water.
Water - Corruption = Space for Integrity
Addressing corruption in the water sector is not an easy task. We need to understand the complexity of how corruption manifests itself in the interaction between people and institutions. Improving our knowledge of corruption and integrity problems in the water sector, learning from the experience of others and using anti-corruption instruments can pave the way for positive change in the governance of water resources.
This is why the has developed the , a new platform for knowledge exchange among members of the public. The Water Integrity Space is a place to learn, share experiences and find solutions.
The Water Integrity Space offers user-friendly search functions for resources on water and integrity from around the world, sorted into three sections:
The includes articles and books from different organisations and journals on the topic of corruption and integrity in areas including water, energy, food and hydropower.
The contains a variety of case studies from around the world where organisations show which projects and methods they have implemented to address corruption in water.
The showcases a portfolio of instruments and methods which can be used to take action, to assess corruption risks and to create capacities.
Have a look at our space to see for yourself what it has to offer to you, by clicking .
You can also contribute to the by sharing tools, case studies or other publications, and the staff at Water Integrity Network will make them available in the Space. Send us your resources at [email protected].
"When you think of corruption in water, you think of something large, ominous and impossible to combat. The Water Integrity Space provides a way to condense that ominous threat into something that can actually be understood and tackled" – a Water Integrity Space user
Examples from Water Integrity Space
A case from West Africa
A journalist network uses mass media to address the challenges the urban and rural poor face with regards to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and to act as watchdogs for the sector. According to figures published by the African Ministers’ Council on Water in 2011, 29 per cent of the population in West Africa practiced open defecation and only 27 per cent of the total population had access to improved sanitation facilities. Moreover, the challenge of accessing improved WASH services mostly affects the rural poor. The journalists from the WASH network publish stories on past budgetary allocations to the WASH sector which have not yielded tangible results as a means to push the issue onto the political agenda in West Africa. Read more about this case .
(Image: Hanging toilet in West Point, an urban slum in Monrovia, Liberia, © Mustapha Sesay)
A tool to build capacities
In response to an increasing demand for institutional capacity building to promote water integrity, the UNDP Water Governance Facility at SIWI (WGF), Cap-Net and Water Net, in partnership with the Water Integrity Network (WIN), have developed a tool for action-oriented capacity building: . A better understanding of corruption risks in the water sector and increased knowledge of transparency, accountability and participation in water resource management can help actors in the promotion of water integrity through the development of institutional capacity.
Literature to understand the problem
As a vital resource for life, water has a wide range of uses. Water is used for drinking and sanitation purposes, for industrial processes and for agricultural food production. Of all those water users, the agricultural sector is by the far the largest, accounting for 70 per cent of the world’s total freshwater withdrawal. Water supply for agriculture is essential to maintain world food security. The allocation of irrigation water has reproduced existing inequalities, disregarding water use by women and prioritising large-scale or upstream-located farmers. Mismanagement and corruption play a role in the sector’s poor performance and the persisting inequalities in rural societies. Read more about the challenges of integrity in the irrigation sector .
About the Water Integrity Network
The (WIN) was formed in 2006 to respond to increasing concerns among water and anti-corruption stakeholders over corruption in the water sector. It combines global advocacy, regional networks and local action, to promote increased transparency and integrity, bringing together partners and members from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia, to drive change that will improve the lives of people who need it most.
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