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Yesterday — 2 August 20214. Cross-cutting

New World Bank response to flood and drought risk management

2 August 2021 at 10:12

Over the last two decades, at least 1.65 billion people have been affected by floods and 1.43 billion by droughts. The economic and social costs have been enormous. A new … Read more

The post New World Bank response to flood and drought risk management appeared first on UN-Water.

Before yesterday4. Cross-cutting

WIN partner meeting 2021

The partner meeting was an opportunity for WIN partners to come together to look beyond 2021. Around 60 participants joined us. We shared the results of the WIN partner survey, a preview of the soon-to-be-launched Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021, and new ideas on the future funding landscape for integrity in the water and sanitation sectors within the context of COVID-19.

Here are the full notes:

The post WIN partner meeting 2021 appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

Strengthening Urban Sanitation Regulation to Expand and Sustain Services

A new research report examines urban sanitation in Lusaka, Zambia, with a focus on integrity, corruption risks and the capacity, strengths and weakness of the regulatory framework to deal with these risks. It bridges a critical gap in research on integrity in sanitation governance, highlighting new ways to strengthen the regulatory framework and ensure effectiveness of WASH systems.


Infrastructure construction alone will not solve the challenges of extending and sustaining water and sanitation services in cities with growing populations facing the threat of climate change. Strong WASH systems are critical to ensure the effective and sustained delivery of urban sanitation services. That is, the effective delivery of urban sanitation services depends on the proper functioning of various actors (i.e. ministries, city authorities, regulators, public and private service providers) and factors (i.e. monitoring, institutional arrangements, regulatory enforcement, public and private finance).

Strong regulators are a critical component of these WASH systems. They can help to expand safe sanitation services by creating and arbitrating the ‘rules of the game’ to balance the interests of the government, users and private sector while also limiting harmful behaviours. Effective regulation has wide-ranging benefits. These include ensuring compliance with public health guidelines and other statutory requirements, promoting efficiency gains and good performance by service providers, and limiting the opportunities for – and heightening the disincentives for – integrity failures.

Conversely, where a robust regulatory system is not in place, we see that corruption and integrity failures are often prevalent. These acts occur at all levels, from skewed policy formulation to mismanagement of organisational resources, down to bribes for essential services. This severely undermines services, delaying interventions, causing the inefficient use of resources, and contributing to challenges such as high non-revenue water rates and service disruptions. However, globally, insufficient attention has been given to formulating and implementing the practical measures required to strengthen regulatory actors for urban sanitation and the broader regulatory environment to combat these acts.


Lusaka – A city making considerable progress but one that remains emblematic of integrity challenges

Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, is illustrative of many of the broader challenges affecting urban sanitation service delivery and the need to strengthen regulation. Like many cities in low- and lower-middle-income countries, Lusaka is experiencing rapid population growth (5% per annum). Expanding access to safe sanitation is a challenge, especially in the densely populated peri-urban areas that house 70% of the city’s inhabitants and most new arrivals. Climate change is also already affecting sanitation service delivery.

Zambia has well-established institutional arrangements for regulating the urban sanitation sub-sector. Responsibilities are split between the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), the Zambia Environmental Management Agency, and the Zambia Public Procurement Agency. However, all these institutions suffer capacity constraints.

Zambia also has an altogether impressive regulatory environment for urban sewered sanitation. Regulators have autonomy, there are systems in place for effective participation and incentives for transparency and accountability. NWASCO reports on performance and has oversight over the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LWSC). Moreover, a 2018 strategic framework sets out how the non-sewered sanitation services used by 85% of Lusaka’s population are to be regulated moving forwards.

Eighteen percent of Zambians who had contact with a public service in 2018 paid a bribe – this is lower than the same figures for across Africa and globally, which are both 25%. Despite this somewhat positive picture and the progress made regulating Zambia’s urban sanitation sub-sector, new evidence shows that integrity failures and corruption remain pressing challenges.

Our report highlights several instances of corruption and poor integrity at different levels and involving a range of sector stakeholders. We focus on corruption in public financial management, corruption at the interface between institutions and individuals and other integrity failures. For example, there are cases where LWSC did not follow procurement protocols. Abuse of per diems is common and there are reported cases of bribery of public officials by the private sector, and bribery of public officials to obtain a service, reduce regular fees or speed-up administrative fees. These acts have delayed sanitation interventions, reduced the scope of large WASH programmes, caused scarce resources to be wasted on assets that were ultimately unused, and resulted in the inefficient delivery of services.


Moving forwards – further strengthening urban sanitation regulation

Corruption and integrity failures are undoubtedly common in the urban sanitation sub-sectors of many other countries, highlighting the global need to improve urban sanitation regulation. However, debates on these issues often centre on the broad need to strengthen governance. Insufficient attention is paid to developing and implementing the practical measures required to strengthen urban sanitation regulation and address these issues specifically.

The regulatory environment in Zambia is strong. Nevertheless, a comprehensive set of further improvements are required to address the entrenched factors causing corruption and integrity failures and to reap the wider benefits of effective regulation in sanitation in particular. One important means to this is to ensure the effective implementation of Zambia’s e-procurement system in the water supply and sanitation sector. The capacity of regulatory actors also needs to be enhanced – for example, by further expanding NWASCO’s pool of part-time inspectors to cover all of Zambia’s districts.

NWASCO could also expand the collection and reporting of data on petty corruption or corruption at the interface between institutions and individuals, including on indicators such as the percentage of the population that have paid a bribe and the rate of illegal connections and meter manipulations. Expediting the implementation of the 2018 strategic framework on regulating non-sewered sanitation is a further critical action point.

More broadly, the sanitation sector must develop a better understanding of underlying integrity risks and entrenched dynamics holding the sector back. We must move away from talking broadly about the need for good governance and start pushing national governments and development partners to increase funding for the substantive and long-term interventions required to strengthen urban sanitation regulation and improve integrity in the sector. It is only then that progress will be made in moving towards meeting universal coverage of safely managed sanitation services.


Download full report


Find out more about opportunities and ways to address integrity risks in urban water and sanitation – join WIN at Stockholm World Water

The post Strengthening Urban Sanitation Regulation to Expand and Sustain Services appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

Handbook on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

29 July 2021 at 10:13

Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is promoting the Handbook for Realizing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, created by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right … Read more

The post Handbook on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation appeared first on UN-Water.

New UNDRR Strategic Framework is launched

26 July 2021 at 10:17

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has launched its new Strategic Framework, covering the period 2022-2025. Following a consultation process that involved all of UNDRR, the UN … Read more

The post New UNDRR Strategic Framework is launched appeared first on UN-Water.

World Bank launch Farmer-led Irrigation Development Guide

19 July 2021 at 10:38

By 2050, the world’s population will reach 10 billion people and global food demand will increase by 60%. This challenge is intensified by agriculture’s extreme vulnerability to climate change. The … Read more

The post World Bank launch Farmer-led Irrigation Development Guide appeared first on UN-Water.

New UNICEF report highlights attacks on water and sanitation facilities

15 July 2021 at 10:09

UNICEF has warned that attacks on water and sanitation facilities and workers in conflicts around the world are putting the lives of millions of children at risk and deny children … Read more

The post New UNICEF report highlights attacks on water and sanitation facilities appeared first on UN-Water.

Webinar: Impact of Sanitation and Water for All

12 July 2021 at 09:43

On Monday 12 July, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) host the webinar Impact of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA): High-Level Processes on Political Prioritization of WASH during COVID-19. … Read more

The post Webinar: Impact of Sanitation and Water for All appeared first on UN-Water.

UN Global Compact: business narrative and call for health resilient climate action

8 July 2021 at 10:37

An UN Global Compact action-oriented narrative synthesizes key insights gathered through a series of webinars organized in 2020 on the climate-nature-health nexus, in the framework of the Business Ambition for … Read more

The post UN Global Compact: business narrative and call for health resilient climate action appeared first on UN-Water.

Campaigning for payment of water bills by public institutions in Zambia

The #GovernmentsPayYourWaterBills campaign took off in 2020, backed by WIN, End Water Poverty, SWIM (Solutions for Water Integrity and Management), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). We investigated utilities in 18 countries and found that 95% of respondents reported cases of non-payment of water bills by public institutions, including for water services to public office buildings or military, and police facilities.

Overall, the collection rate for public customers is consistently lower than for private customers. And, in at least 10% of cases, the reason for non-payment is linked to abuse of power or undue interference.

These late or missing payments by public institutions have direct impact on the ability of utilities to provide service.

They hamper the realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation and highlight a lack of accountability. There are ways to address the issue: these require determination and concerted action from stakeholders and public institutions.

With these findings in hand, SWIM teamed up with partners in five countries (Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Zambia) to investigate the situation in specific contexts and advocate for change.

In Zambia, a local campaign led by the NGO WASH Forum was launched in 2020 and was particularly successful. They organised radio discussions to raise public awareness on the issue and engaged with the Minister of Water Development to discuss sector financing, debt, and outstanding water bills of public institutions. In a positive move for accountability, the Zambian Parliament requested that NGO WASH Forum and partners submit a response to the National Auditor General’s report on commercial water utilities in November 2020.

The SWIM team caught up with Bubala Muyovwe, the National Coordinator of the Zambia NGO WASH Forum, for her take on the campaign and next steps.


Were you surprised that 95% of utility companies surveyed report non-payment of water bills by public institutions?

Bubala Muyovwe: I was not surprised that non-payment was reported. But I did not foresee the magnitude of the situation. I also had little idea about how payments are made or how the debt is managed. In a 2018 budget address, the Honourable Minister of Finance did mention that the ministry were unbundling debt. That’s when I first realised that the government had a history of non-payment.


What was the situation in Zambia at the time of your research in terms of government non-payment?

Bubala: When we started the research, an audit carried out by the Auditor General revealed that nearly 475 million kwacha (26 million USD) was outstanding in terms of unpaid bills. This was in line with figures we received from the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO). In 2020 the government reduced some of the debt, also by carrying out debt swaps with other entities, like the electricity company and the tax authority.


Was government non-payment previously a topic of discussion within the water sector and/or civil society?

Bubala: Honestly, no. I would like to think that a conversation took place between NWASCO, the regulator, and the utility companies. Perhaps they were trying to find strategies for dealing with the situation because it was hindering the operational capacity and efficiency of many utilities. As a civil society group, we didn’t have much experience with these problems. When the Auditor General’s report on the performance of the utility companies came out—just before we signed up for the campaign—it became clear that there were several issues related to the management of utilities, and we began to think about ways to discuss these.


Who would you say is most affected by government non-payment in Zambia?

Bubala: Ultimately, it is the small community user, the private user. Access is already a challenge, and the government has recently expanded the mandate of the commercial utilities. Previously, coverage by commercial utilities was restricted to urban and peri-urban areas. Their mandate has now increased to include rural areas, where much more of the population lives. To increase and improve access in rural areas and attain the Sustainable Development Goals requires considerable investment.


What was your approach for the campaign?

Bubala: We first focused on getting information from the key actors. NWASCO was instrumental in helping us understand sector power dynamics. Initially, we also tried to reach out to the commercial utilities. A few were able to provide some information, but overall this approach didn’t yield many positive results and we changed our strategy.

We then focused on awareness-raising. We ran some social media campaigns and designed several messages for national television. We wanted to sensitise everybody to the issues, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Water Development directed commercial utilities not to disconnect water during the pandemic. This added to existing debt, but also created a new dynamic by showing that some users had not been consistently paying their water bills. We therefore came up with a holistic message emphasising everybody’s responsibility to pay for their water use, including government departments, private users, and so on.

During the campaign, we were able to meet with the Honourable Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, Dr Jonas Chanda, and his technical staff in late 2020. We discussed debt and took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of assisting the commercial utilities by addressing various governance issues. Non-payment of the utilities is turning into a big problem. To have any chance of attaining our national targets, this is something that cannot keep happening.


What aspects of the campaign would you say were key to its success?

Bubala: Dr Jonas Chanda has since become the Minister of Health, but the meeting with him in late 2020 remains a key success for the campaign as it opened possible paths for collaboration with the health ministry. We’re hoping to follow up to ensure utilities get as much support as possible when debt is dismantled and to find strategies to ensure bills are paid promptly.

In late 2020, the NGO WASH Forum also made a joint submission with WaterAid Zambia to the Committee on Parastatals of the National Assembly to discuss the Auditor General’s report on the water companies. The submission highlights how commercial utilities play a critical role in the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation, gives insight on their performance, and provides recommendations on how to improve the efficiency of their operations to ensure value for money. One recommendation is for government to link funding to operational efficiency of utilities, while looking at ways to address financial leakages and enhancing oversight.

As a Forum, we also discussed with various members of parliament the operational side and impact on utilities of different political decisions, highlighting the need to ensure utilities have the resources to sustain operational costs over the long term.


Did you involve any other stakeholders in the campaign?

Bubala: We are a network of national, regional, and international NGOs, and we brought in a number of our members to plan and formulate the various submissions and engagements with government. We tried to be as participatory as possible. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some Forum members were already supporting commercial utilities, for example, by providing the necessary water treatment chemicals. They are particularly involved in devising strategies to support utilities. Other members helped share the work with partners and on other platforms. Going forwards, we would like to have a bit more engagement with the public and raise awareness as much as we can.


How would you characterize the changes in the sector so far? What are you most optimistic about?

Bubala: It’s very significant, being able to have the conversation around accountability where debt is concerned. This is a big win for us. We’ve also become a recognised voice, with the national assembly asking us to contribute to the conversation around this key governance issue. That relationship is something to harness to help effect change.

Moving forwards, we hope to see some big improvements and policy changes to strengthen governance in the sector. In terms of leadership, we were sorry to see the Minister of Water Development move to the Ministry of Health but it is valuable that we now have a WASH ambassador in the health sector. We see a great opportunity for him to champion some of our causes. At a recent courtesy meeting, the new Minister of Water Development, Sanitation, and Environmental Protection, the Honourable Raphael Nakachinda, has demonstrated good leadership and a willingness to collaborate with the Forum. We see potential to collaborate with the government and continue to strengthen the sector.


Thank you Bubala for your insight on the campaign and all the best going forward!


Bubala Muyovwe is a health psychologist, soon-to-be lawyer, and a human rights activist. She is the National Coordinator of the Zambia NGO WASH Forum. She has worked for 10 years in the water and sanitation sector in Zambia to influence policy and practice through advocacy.

SWIM (Solutions for Water Integrity and Management) is an NGO based in Dresden, Germany, working for a world in which every person has unconditional, conflict-free access to water and sanitation.

The post Campaigning for payment of water bills by public institutions in Zambia appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

WIN annual partner survey

Water integrity means using powers and resources ethically and honestly for the provision of sustainable and equitable water and sanitation services. It is built through Transparency, Accountability, Participation and the proactive implementation of strong Anti-corruption measures.

To strengthen integrity in the water and sanitation sectors, WIN works with networks, associations, and partners from across the globe. While doing so, WIN remains keen to learn more about what we are doing right; what we can improve upon and whether – within our resource constraints – there are ways to enhance the functioning of the network, and with that, integrity in the water and sanitation sectors. The aim of WIN’s annual partner survey is to tease this information out and understand what the needs of our diverse network partners are. It helps us find ways to improve the support we can offer to or receive from the network.

As in the WIN partner survey 2020, this year we asked our partners what WIN resources they employed or found useful in their work. We focused specifically on tools, research, training and publications, including the theme of the next Water Integrity Global Outlook 2024. We also wanted to know how integrity features in partners’ work and activities in 2021.

Seeking integrity in the way we work within the water and sanitation sectors is asking for change, focusing all our collective energies – in not only fighting the old – but building the new. As a network of partners, it is exciting to see the constellation of relationships and collaborations in the network and how they are growing.

Explore the results of the WIN partner survey 2021 here or below.


WIN Partner Survey 2021

The post WIN annual partner survey appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

FAO host science days side event on water management for food system transformation

5 July 2021 at 09:38

In the preparation of the upcoming report on the State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations … Read more

The post FAO host science days side event on water management for food system transformation appeared first on UN-Water.

Billions of people will lack access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in 2030 unless progress quadruples

1 July 2021 at 16:30

GENEVA/NEW YORK, 1 July 2021 – Billions of people around the world will be unable to access safely managed household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services in 2030 unless the … Read more

The post Billions of people will lack access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in 2030 unless progress quadruples appeared first on UN-Water.

Water Dialogues call for action to accelerate SDG implementation

Over the past several months, a high-level Steering Committee made up of representatives of countries and water organisations, has been grappling with the challenges of how to accelerate progress in delivery on SDG 6, ahead of the mid-term review of the International Decade for Action on “Water for Sustainable Development” in 2023.

The Committee was assembled by the German Environment Ministry (BMU) under the umbrella of the Water Dialogues for Results, which culminated in a Virtual High-Level Conference on July 1, 2021.  The Water Integrity Network was privileged to be part of this Steering Committee.

The issue on the table is urgent. There is less than a decade left to deliver on the SDGs, and billions of people do not yet have access to safe drinking water and decent sanitation services. Water is not only critical for life, it is critical for development opportunities across almost every other sector.  Failing to meet the SDG 6 targets will affect most of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Sustainable Cities (SDG 11), Zero Hunger (SDGs 2), Good Health (SDG 3) and Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7). Without improving access to water and sanitation, the Gender Equality goal (SDG 5) is unlikely to be met, nor the goal on Education (SDG 4). The list goes on.

Business as usual in the water and sanitation sectors is no longer an option. Allowing failures in integrity and widespread corruption to hamper progress on SDG 6 is no longer an option.

The Water Dialogues Steering Committee identified a range of actions under five “accelerators”, which include a recognition of the importance of improving integrity and accountability in the water and sanitation sectors.


Financing for Acceleration: a New Paradigm

Under the financing accelerator, the Water Dialogues recognise two important integrity-related measures. Firstly, that more effective use should be made of existing funding, and secondly that institutional capacity needs to be strengthened by promoting transparency, participation and accountability, as a means towards improving bankability.

Work done by WIN and its partners with, for example, water utilities and small water supply systems, has shown how improved integrity practices can drive improved financial viability and effective use of limited resources. For example, the Khulna Water and Sanitation Authority (KWASA) developed a roadmap to improve integrity using the Integrity Management Toolbox. After a two-year programme, the improvements in performance were significant (Table 1).


Table 1: Operational improvement on key indicators following Integrity Management Toolbox implementation
Utility efficiency indicator Operational improvement
Time to install water connection 33 % decrease
Water supply quantity 8 % increase
No. of customer connections 12 % increase
Revenue collection rate 5 % increase
Increase in billing of previous unidentified customers + 1250 customers
Meter installation for household customers 30 % increase
Time needed to detect and repair pipeline leaks 40 % decrease

Source: KWASA and Global Water Intelligence (23 March 2017, Vol 18, Issue 3)


Data for Acceleration – Data-based Decision-making

For the second accelerator on data, the integrity implications are also significant. One of the key pillars for improving integrity is improving transparency of information. Such transparency cannot be achieved unless appropriate data exists. The requirement, as captured in the dialogue process for decision-makers to be able “to employ quality, accessible, timely, and reliable disaggregated data for analysis, planning and implementation of effective cross-sectoral action in order to leave no one behind” is critical. We are pleased to see the emphasis on transparency and locally adapted monitoring and reporting systems, and on data disaggregation, which is especially needed for gender.

What is equally important, is to make the information, including budget and planning information, available to all stakeholders in a manner that they can understand and use to hold service providers accountable.

Data poverty is an essential concern linked to transparency, disclosure policies, and coordination between institutions, which all are linked to integrity. When data poverty leads to inequitable service delivery – for example in informal settlements where data on service levels is particularly scarce – we face a deep failure of integrity that requires urgent attention.


Capacity Development for Acceleration – an Inclusive Approach

The Water Dialogues messages make clear that “capacity development needs to holistically transfer knowledge beyond training to foster cross-sectoral decision-making, planning and implementation, intensifying horizontal and vertical cooperation on all levels”.  The emphasis on cross-sectoral knowledge is important.

We are acutely aware of the silos in which water and sanitation stakeholders work on one hand, and open government or anti-corruption stakeholders on the other. Cross-sector knowledge sharing and support among these actors would be an important and innovative lever to speed up progress on the delivery of SDG 6.


Governance for Acceleration – a Cross-sectoral, Cooperative, Good water Governance Approach

Of equal concern in the fight against corruption and integrity failures in the water and sanitation sectors is the fragmentation of governance arrangements as recognised in the Water Dialogues messages.

This fragmentation creates a vulnerability to corruption arising from unclear roles and responsibilities and the difficulties of knowing who to hold accountable. Clarity on institutional mandates and responsibilities, as well as clear accountability lines and mechanisms are essential elements to counter these risks and to support effective implementation of SDG 6.


We have limited time and limited resources for delivery on SDG 6.

Each day that we continue with business as usual sees resources wasted, and unserved communities still struggling to escape from poverty.

We must accelerate the delivery to those still facing a daily struggle to collect water and to access safe sanitation services. Improvements in transparency, accountability, participation and integrity are non-negotiable if we wish to meet SDG 6.

The post Water Dialogues call for action to accelerate SDG implementation appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

The Fifth UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters

28 June 2021 at 16:01

Millions of people around the world have been affected and thousands of people lost their lives due to water-related disasters which are increasingly frequent with the impact of various global … Read more

The post The Fifth UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters appeared first on UN-Water.

Water Dialogues for Results, Bonn 2021

28 June 2021 at 09:10

The Water Dialogues for Results, on 1 July 2021 in Bonn, are about “accelerating cross-sectoral SDG 6 implementation”. This high-level conference is being convened by the German Government to support … Read more

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New UNDRR report launched with stark warnings that drought could be next pandemic

24 June 2021 at 10:56

The United Nations is urging countries to take urgent action on water and land management and tackling climate change in order to reduce the impact of drought across the world. … Read more

The post New UNDRR report launched with stark warnings that drought could be next pandemic appeared first on UN-Water.

Webinar on hand hygiene in public spaces

21 June 2021 at 08:42

As part of the Hand Hygiene For All Initiative, the joint WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) has made a review of monitoring of hand hygiene in public spaces, with particular … Read more

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17 June: Desertification and Drought Day

17 June 2021 at 08:55

Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s ice-free land has been altered by humans to meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials, highways and homes. Fixing damaged ecosystems mitigates against … Read more

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