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Before yesterday4. Cross-cutting

Integrity management for sanitation and water operators: cost-effective booster for service delivery

20 October 2021 at 11:03
By: Ivanna

Water and sanitation services mean life and dignity for city residents and are essential to urban development.

Poor integrity practices in sanitation and water operators impact severely on the delivery of these services. They directly raise costs and legal risks, weaken service levels, and threaten operators’ reputation and long-term sustainability. Improving integrity on the other hand can improve service delivery, efficiency, and credit-worthiness.

For too long, integrity risks have been underestimated or ignored by water operators because they were too difficult to measure, too misunderstood to fix, or too sensitive to address.

The first two barriers now have solutions. There are well-established tools to assess integrity risks and to address them by strengthening corporate governance, management and compliance. Water operators can now take advantage of these tools to improve and ensure sustainability of service delivery.

“An action utilities can take is prioritising transparency and accountability in corporate governance. This is what a service provider in Ecuador did with the Integrity Management Toolbox. They looked at risks and found ways to act preventively. They invested in accountability through public consultations, presentations and publications. They also used innovative ways to reach communities, promoting participation through community theatre, adding information on bills, and investing in communication technology.”

Marcello Basani – Lead Water and Sanitation Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank


Tools for integrity: understanding and mitigating common integrity risks

Getting a good understanding of the critical integrity risks is the first step towards being able to address them. There are a number of tools to help with this process: internal financial or compliance audits can provide useful input on corruption risks, as can data analysis on key risk areas such as procurement. More comprehensively, there are a number of governance indicator frameworks and assessment methodologies that can be used.

The international Aquarating utility benchmarking standard has recently launched an additional Focus Analysis to measure integrity. WIN also has two complementary tools for integrity risk assessments in utilities depending on their scale and resources, including an indicator-based Integrity Assessment.

Such tools can bring to light integrity red flags and help to identify the most severe risks at a given time: are procurement rules adhered to or more frequently applied with exceptions? Are high level positions exercised by under-qualified people? Are staff accepting bribes within the exercise of their duties?

WIN’s assessment tools are generally applied as part of a longer term integrity management change process. The Integrity Management Toolbox (and the extended version, referred to as InWASH) is used to drive a process of identification of priority risks and the tools to mitigate them. It includes tools to improve integrity across different areas, such as human resources, customer service, procurement, governance, and financial management.

The Integrity Management Toolbox has already been used by water and sanitation operators across the globe serving over 4 million users.


Priorities for integrity action for sanitation and water providers

There are many ways for operators to advance integrity. And every step counts. TAPA, short for Transparency, Accountability, Participation, and Anti-Corruption, is helpful in framing the key elements for integrity.

Transparency: Ensure users and staff know their rights, see how decisions are taken and money is spent.

Accountability: Clarify responsibilities, give space to complaints and discussion, ensuring stakeholders uphold mandates.

Participation: Engage with the people affected by your decisions.

Anti-corruption: Play by the rules, leave no space for corruption or impunity.

In addition to internal governance and management risks, the Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021 highlights specific integrity risks that require attention from urban service providers. Addressing these risks can play a major role in driving change and supporting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6.



Case studies: water operators in Latin America lead with integrity and see results in customer satisfaction

Several sanitation and water operators across Latin America are successfully using integrity assessment and management tools. They shared their experiences at the Stockholm World Water Week 2021 (see full video of their interventions here).

Like many sanitation and water operators we work with, these leaders are using integrity as a cross-cutting management principle to improve service and build resilience and effectiveness.

An integrity change management process like the one they have all initiated, usually starts with an integrity assessment followed by training and awareness raising, internally and for users. Most of these operators have already seen efficiency gains and are particularly positive about the impact of customer engagement measures and efforts to open service and management data.


Water Operator: SEDAPAL

Location: Lima, Peru

Population served: 11.512. 594

Representative: María del Pilar Acha, General Secretary

“With WIN and support from IADB, we worked on mapping integrity risks to mitigate acts of corruption in procurement, clandestine connections, and abuses in water billing. We also created the Office of Regulatory Compliance and Institutional Integrity.

Both, paying customers and users who have received free water during the pandemic have access to complaint mechanisms and can provide comments. We’ve made a clear commitment to transparency and included this in our KPIs and monitoring via Aquarating.”


Water Operator: CEA

Location: Queretaro, Mexico

Representative: José Luis de la Vega, Head of the Transparency Unit

“We see integrity as a way of acting in all administrative and operational processes. We see transparent management, accountability and participation as fundamental elements to mitigate acts of corruption and embezzlement. We put this into practice by creating a results-based budget, implementing institutional internal control, and directly engaging with the public via a portal for communities.

The Integrity Management Tool made it easier for us to assess the effectiveness of practices we have been applying such as a code of conduct.”


Water Operator: AySA

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population served: 14.441.422

Representative: Marcelo Rogora, Director of Integrity and Best Practices

“The integrity consortium (WIN, SIWI and cewas) has collaborated with us in identifying risks, monitoring and evaluating them. We developed an online tool (AySA DATA) which has four pillars: integrity and transparency, citizen participation, open data and digital transformation. With it, we seek to incorporate the citizens’ perspective in the management of the company and to adhere to accountability processes.

When we refer to integrity risks, we cannot only focus on internal mitigating processes; citizens are essential. They can make complaints, queries, suggestions and thus, serve as sources of risk identification.”



Overall, building water integrity into the values of an organisation can be transformative. It is a new way to identify and address root causes of recurring issues and to strengthen trust with users and funders. As such, it benefits sanitation and water operators. And, it benefits users, who receive better sanitation and water services, as is their human right.



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The post Integrity management for sanitation and water operators: cost-effective booster for service delivery appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

35th UN-Water Meeting

18 October 2021 at 11:28

The 35th UN-Water Meeting, convened as a virtual event from 4-6 October 2021, brought together UN-Water Members and Partners to advance progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: to ensure … Read more

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State of the world’s hand hygiene report launched on Global Handwashing Day

14 October 2021 at 10:45

Global Handwashing Day, on 15 October, is the annual day dedicated to the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. … Read more

The post State of the world’s hand hygiene report launched on Global Handwashing Day appeared first on UN-Water.

Clean Hands Save Lives

13 October 2021 at 18:41

Sustaining Positive Handwashing Behavior Change During COVID-19 and Beyond

When the world was thrown into the unknown at the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, one thing remained true: handwashing is our first line of defense against the spread of infectious diseases. With nearly 2.3 billion people worldwide lacking access to clean water and soap in their homes, efforts to support communities and health facilities access handwashing resources became more important than ever.

In Indonesia, handwashing stations represent an important resource to reduce disease transmission. Photo credit: USAID/IUWASH PLUS

Healthcare providers and public health professionals have continued to reiterate the message that handwashing can help prevent illness. With such a focus on improving hygiene behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many communities have been able to improve handwashing to prevent not only COVID-19 infection, but other infectious diseases as well.

USAID has been a critical part of the effort to improve handwashing in homes, communities, and health care facilities worldwide since the start of the pandemic.

More than 11,000 households in 40 districts across Ethiopia have purchased handwashing stations as a result of Transform WASH’s (T/WASH) COVID-19 response interventions. Photo credit: Kedir Hassen, T/WASH

As part of USAID’s COVID-19 response efforts in Ethiopia, local partnerships with manufacturers of home handwashing products and a robust marketing campaign resulted in more than 11,000 handwashing stations purchased by households to date.

A woman washes her hands with a Generation One handwashing station in Benin. Photo credit: Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD)

In Benin, USAID’s Sanitation Service Delivery program teamed up with the Government of Benin’s COVID-19 task force, led handwashing campaigns within municipalities, and facilitated the delivery of handwashing systems, soaps, and hand sanitizer to homes. Through this partnership, USAID program staff worked alongside local authorities to launch COVID-19 awareness campaigns.

Access to handwashing resources in health care facilities is essential to provide quality, equitable health care but globally, globally, 42 percent of health care facilities do not have access to handwashing resources, and one in four health care facilities lack basic water services.

At a health post in Nepal, patients are required to wash their hands before entering to help limit the spread of infections, including COVID-19. Photo credit: DevWorks International

In response to COVID-19 and with USAID support, local committees in Nepal installed water drums and handwashing stations at health posts for patients to effectively wash hands with soap and water before entering. In addition, USAID built fully functioning water supply systems in 57 health posts across Nepal to assist health workers and patients in limiting the spread of infectious diseases through proper handwashing.

Handwashing education and COVID-19 awareness campaigns are a critical part of USAID’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Cote d’Ivoire, USAID supported a nationwide handwashing education campaign with the Ministry of Sanitation in markets, hospitals, and public places in 50 localities, reaching more than 10,000 people. USAID also partnered with 15 local radio stations, broadcasting more than 14,000 radio messages on the importance of safe hygiene practices.

In Indonesia, USAID worked to reduce the spread of the virus by partnering with community health clinics to share messaging about safe hygiene habits through mediums such as radio jingles and social media posts.

Women in Kaduna, Nigeria access water from a newly installed water source. Photo Credit: Donna Hobson, USADF

As part of Nigeria’s National WASH Response on COVID-19, USAID partnered with local telecommunication firms to share messaging about handwashing with millions of Nigerian cellphone users.

In order to build back better, sustained handwashing behaviors can help to limit the spread of all types of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, to keep communities healthy and thriving.

By Stephanie Mork, a Communications Analyst in USAID’s Bureau for Global Health

Ibu Eko and her son enjoy newly installed piped water services from the Sidoarjo District water utility, made possible through USAID support. Photo Credit: USAID/Indonesia

Clean Hands Save Lives was originally published in Global Waters on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

UN Biodiversity Conference

11 October 2021 at 23:30

The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) will take place in two parts. The first part will take place in a virtual format, from 11-15 October 2021. The second part of COP … Read more

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State of Climate Services: Water

11 October 2021 at 10:43

The 2021 State of Climate Services: Water report was launched last week by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The high-level online event was attended by representatives of major organizations and … Read more

The post State of Climate Services: Water appeared first on UN-Water.

From research to resilience – webinar series

5 October 2021 at 09:29

‘From research to resilience’ is a webinar series, running throughout October 2021, exploring the role of research and innovation in enhancing climate adaptation/mitigation, strengthening the resilience of food systems, protecting … Read more

The post From research to resilience – webinar series appeared first on UN-Water.

Water and Health Conference hosted online 4-8 October 2021

4 October 2021 at 10:09

The UNC Water and Health Conference is convened online 4-8 October 2021. This year’s event, themed ‘Science, Policy and Practice’, invites professionals everywhere to participate. A selection of sessions hosted … Read more

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Running dry: water scarcity and children in the Middle East and North Africa

30 September 2021 at 10:28

Water challenges in the Middle East and North Africa existed for thousands of years. However, the scale and impact of the crisis today is unprecedented. UNICEF’s new report, Running Dry: … Read more

The post Running dry: water scarcity and children in the Middle East and North Africa appeared first on UN-Water.

IAHR Young Professionals Congress

27 September 2021 at 09:45

The IAHR Young Professionals Congress gives young professionals, researchers and students the opportunity to present their work and access mentoring from leading global experts. IAHR is the International Association for … Read more

The post IAHR Young Professionals Congress appeared first on UN-Water.

UN Food Systems Summit

23 September 2021 at 09:32

The UN Food Systems Summit 2021 takes place today, focusing on the power of food systems to drive our recovery from the pandemic and get the world on track to … Read more

The post UN Food Systems Summit appeared first on UN-Water.

Young Water Diplomats Program

20 September 2021 at 10:38

IHE Delft Institute for Water Education invites early career diplomats interested in international water and environmental politics to apply for participation in the six month Young Water Diplomats Program, starting … Read more

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Virtual workshop: Strengthening the integration of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation in UN-Water’s work

16 September 2021 at 10:39

In a virtual workshop hosted this week by OHCHR, various UN-Water Members and Partners discussed the development of a roadmap to strengthen the integration of the human rights to water … Read more

The post Virtual workshop: Strengthening the integration of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation in UN-Water’s work appeared first on UN-Water.

Costing hand hygiene interventions

13 September 2021 at 09:42

A new tool launched by WHO and UNICEF is designed to estimate the cost of interventions to improve hand hygiene in domestic settings. Adequate levels of funding are critical to … Read more

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The latest data – SDG 6 progress webinars

9 September 2021 at 10:30

How are we doing on SDG 6 to ensure water and sanitation for all by 2030? Where is the progress being made? How can we accelerate efforts and reach those … Read more

The post The latest data – SDG 6 progress webinars appeared first on UN-Water.

Registration open for Global Water Operators’ Partnerships congress

6 September 2021 at 10:12

Registration for the 4th Global Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) congress taking place on 18-29 October 2021, is now open. Congress sessions will focus on WOPs’ issues, highlight good approaches, and … Read more

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Youth webinar: Building your business and seizing opportunities

31 August 2021 at 13:46

On 2 September, The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) host a webinar on land-based jobs for the youth, titled ‘Building your business and seizing opportunities’. The webinar will … Read more

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2030 Agenda review processes will be ‘voluntary and country-led’

30 August 2021 at 10:59

UN Member States have reached agreement on changes to the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development and how it conducts review processes. The changes will come into effect from … Read more

The post 2030 Agenda review processes will be ‘voluntary and country-led’ appeared first on UN-Water.

Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021: Urban Water and Sanitation

The new Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021: Urban Water and Sanitation (WIGO 2021) report shares paths to address massive, long-term impact in cities of corruption in water and sanitation.


The global urban population (today already 4,2 billion people) is increasing rapidly and with it the number of people living in informal settlements, often referred to as ‘slums’. All urban residents, including those in informal settlements need water for life and sanitation for dignity. However, access to essential services is not keeping up with needs.

Today already 1.5 billion people don’t even have access to adequate toilets. Rates of progress since 2015 to achieve SDG6 must increase at least 4 times to reach targets. Many people in poorer neighbourhoods pay 2 to 5 times more for water than richer neighbours and services to wealthier neighbourhoods are disproportionately subsidised and supported. Corruption and integrity failures are making matters worse, siphoning off needed resources and capacity, and impacting the lives of city residents and the sustainability of water and sanitation services. Horrifyingly, some recent studies suggest 1 in 5 women in several regions are forced to pay for essential services with sex, or know someone who has.

Recent 2021 floods across the globe, from the United States to China, have shown that cities are unprepared to deal with rising water sector threats linked to climate change, despite advanced warning and resources. Recent droughts, are stark reminders of the possibility of more ‘day zeroes’ for cities running out of water. And the COVID 19 pandemic response has brought to light more evidence of our vulnerability to corruption in emergency situations.

Cities need clean water and sanitation to build resilience. Clean water needs clean governance and safeguards from corruption. Integrity in urban water and sanitation is a means to address the compounding risk cities face in terms of water.


Integrity Champions around the world are strengthening water and sanitation systems

Water integrity is using vested powers and resources ethically and honestly to ensure people have access to equitable and sustainable water and sanitation services. It’s an aspiration, a way forward. And, there really is no other way: water and sanitation are too important to leave them unprotected from poor integrity, corruption, and malpractice.

The new WIGO 2021 report shares cases studies and examples of how everyone from mayors to residents, from utilities to civil society, and from WASH officials to funders and the media, can take steps towards integrity. It’s possible to put in place very practical measures for Transparency, Accountability, Participation, and Anti-Corruption. These are the building blocks of integrity.

The former mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, implemented a strong anti-corruption programme with zero tolerance policy for corruption and rewards for civil servants working with integrity. Utilities in Bangladesh, Peru, and Mexico, are using new integrity indicator frameworks to better understand and mitigate integrity risks, becoming more responsive to user feedback and streamlining accounting or procurement processes. In South Africa, organisations like the International Budget Partnership are working with residents of informal settlements to monitor sanitation service levels and contribute to filling the gap in data and statistics that leaves people behind and out of the system. ControlaTuGobierno in Mexico is holding water and sanitation sector officials to account by reviewing supreme audit report findings. Some WASH organisations are getting started by organising safe spaces to discuss corruption issues internally or engaging with local communities through survey tools to increase downward accountability.

In the coming months, WIN and its network partners will collaborate on initiatives to promote WIGO’s key recommendations and motivate new integrity champions for water and sanitation.


It’s Essential. Make a difference for your city, become an Integrity Champion!


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The post Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021: Urban Water and Sanitation appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.