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Before yesterdayWater Integrity Network

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.

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.

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.

“Integrity is an imperative principle for us”

WIN is proud of many of our partners, and this week we are featuring the work of our partner SWIMSolutions for Water Integrity and Management. SWIM works towards a world in which every person has unconditional, conflict-free access to water and sanitation. We interviewed two “SWIMmers” to tell us about their organisation; Sara Ramos and Armin Bigham.

 

WIN: Hi Sara and Armin, can you tell us a bit more about SWIM, and what life backgrounds you have that led you to starting the organisation?

Sara: I am a 33-year old Environmental Engineer from Colombia. I had the opportunity to work for around 7 years in quite diverse fields from water management in industries to environmental impact assessments for infrastructure projects. This allowed me to have a broad view of water issues from different angles. While studying in Germany (Master in Hydro Science and Engineering) it was revealing that many of the problems I observed in previous years are rooted in inadequate water governance and lack of integrity. My perspective was broadened, and this led me to be a part of SWIM, as I am eager to engage actively on IWRM and water governance to work on the foundations for equal access to water for all people.

Armin: I’m 28 years old, German-Iranian and spent 7 years of my life in the United Arab Emirates where I had the chance to understand the highly fascinating and complex geographical and political dynamics of the Middle East. This was also when I realised that some oil-rich gulf-countries can simply afford to provide water resources through desalination, whereas many other countries have to be careful with every single drop of water.

We founded SWIM in the Summer of 2019 as we realised that conflicts or at least rising tensions over water resources were increasing globally, particularly in the Middle East. The violent demonstrations in Basra, Iraq, in 2018, over precarious water quality is just one example. We believe that these challenges will be exacerbated by rising population and extreme weather events such as droughts. It is therefore essential to mitigate these risks by acting before rising tensions turn into open conflicts,  creating solutions to which SWIM wants to contribute.

 

WIN: Why is integrity important to you?

Armin: Integrity is an imperative principle for us. Corruption, poor water management and wasted or stolen water affect the poor and vulnerable first, depriving them of their basic human right to water and sanitation. Therefore, we at SWIM believe that open, accountable decision-making by everyone involved in managing water resources leads to strengthened integrity, which in return reduces the likelihood of water conflicts on all scales. It is crucial that water is managed equitably and sustainably, especially in transboundary water arrangements. What happens if equitable and sustainable management is not given is evident in the MENA region and Central Asia, where tensions are rising as we speak.

Sara: I have personally witnessed the tremendous impact that corruption has on ordinary people, and how it is entrenched in institutions and seems to have no solution. I worked on wetland preservation projects in Bogotá – Colombia, seeing first-hand how corruption affects all levels of contracting institutions and executors. For example, because of poor integrity, the construction of a road was prioritised over the preservation of one of the few remaining strategic ecosystems in the middle of the city. Moreover, the scandalous cases of corruption in my country are no secret, and I sympathise with the people who have been affected, mainly in rural areas or vulnerable conditions.

 

WIN: What do you think is the role of the youth in addressing the topic of integrity, and how can you be involved more?

Armin: I believe that the youth has the biggest responsibility to act for positive change. We are the generation that has been sensitised from a young age about the impact climate change can have on our future lives. The Fridays for Future movement has shown that our generation is aware of the challenges. We are the ones that will inherit the planet; we must have a say in what it should look like, and we will have to work with the challenges that are yet to come.

Sara: Furthermore, we will inherit the work from our senior colleagues and will be in charge of making it evolve. Therefore, it is essential for us to learn as much as possible in collaborations with established organisations in the water sector such as WIN to ensure that water integrity can be consolidated even when the conditions are more challenging.

 

WIN: What kind of work have you been doing with WIN, and what is important about it?

Armin: We had the chance to be an integral part of the “Government, Pay Your Water Bills!” campaign, where we were responsible for the research. We looked at how big the scope of governmental non-payment of water bills is on a global scale and tried to identify approaches to transform the problem. We investigated a great best-practice example from Romania that involves different stakeholders, from the regulatory authorities to the judiciary. We also looked into the impacts non-payment has on water utilities, customers, society and the environment. A policy brief is based on this research, and is being used for awareness-raising campaigns globally, for example in Mexico, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya and Nepal. It was a very interesting project, especially because non-payment is highly overlooked, which sets the perfect conditions for corruption. In Zambia, for example, we identified a utility where government arrears were so high that they represented 50% of its revenue. This represents a big drain on resources for the water sector and is an additional challenge for the realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation and the SDGs by 2030.

Sara: We are now supporting the update of the Integrity Management Toolbox, which was created to improve service delivery and performance of water organisations – utilities in particular – by reducing integrity and corruption risks. With new research, and based on lessons learned from 10 years of implementation, we are updating and further developing the specific tools that utilities can use to address key integrity risks.

 

WIN: Thanks for your time Armin and Sara, and good luck with SWIM!

 

The post “Integrity is an imperative principle for us” appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

Open Government and Water and Sanitation Declaration

The Declaration on Open Government and Water and Sanitation is an international call to bring together water and open government reformers and mobilize ambitious action that strengthens implementation of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) service delivery. It outlines targeted recommendations that leverage transparency, participation, accountability, and anti-corruption measures in the Open Government Partnership and other WASH forums to increase collaboration and realize the human right to water and sanitation.

Adopting open government reforms can help governments strengthen their institutional capacity, facilitate coordination and trust among stakeholders, and resolve information asymmetries. These reforms can also ensure that civil society organizations and direct citizen engagement have a role in shaping government commitments to transparent, responsive, and accountable WASH services, free from corruption.

At this pivotal moment in time, we have the opportunity to galvanize political will and leverage open government strategies to transform our shared values for clean water and sanitation for all into a reality.

 

Read full declaration in EN, SP and FR:

 

A broad coalition of civil society and international organizations worked to co-create the Declaration.

 

You are invited to endorse the Declaration to send a clear message on the importance of addressing WASH through an Open Government lens, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Declaration is open for endorsement from open government and water advocates through September 2021.

Endorse here:

English endorsement form

Spanish endorsement form

Or contact Elizabeth.Moses(at)wri.org or WaterOpenGovernment(at)siwi.org with questions about the Declaration.

 

The Water and Open Government Community of Practice (CoP), is supported by Fundación Avina, Stockholm International Water Institute, Water Integrity Network and the World Resources Institute, and aims to strengthen water and sanitation (WASH) services for all and ensure the needs of vulnerable, marginalized communities are considered.

The post Open Government and Water and Sanitation Declaration appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

Mother’s Parliaments in Bangladesh bring home award

Congratulations to the Development Organization of the Rural Poor (DORP), which recently won first place in the ‘People’s Choice’ category of the Water ChangeMaker Awards organised by the Global Water Partnership, for work on one of their many successful projects; the Mother’s Parliaments.

DORP is a long-time partner of WIN. We interviewed DORP’s Zobair Hasan, Director – Research, Planning and Monitoring, to learn more about Mother’s Parliaments and their role in strengthening women’s voices in the water sector in Bangladesh.

 

WASH challenges in coastal Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s south-west coastal region is quite vulnerable to effects of climate change; flooding, high levels of salinity in groundwater, soil, and drinking water due to sea level rise. Resulting reductions to drinkable water adversely affect health and sanitation.

Additional challenges in the region include:

  • 38% of people live below the poverty
  • inadequate local government funding for WASH facilities
  • lack of local awareness of water rights
  • lack of understanding about how to effect change

Zobair Hasan of DORP explained the situation: ‘Transparency is a problem, and budgeting decisions are not participatory. Many elected policymakers don’t make time to engage people after elections.

 

Increasing participation to improve service

DORP began working with Helvetas Swiss Inter-Cooperation in 2016 on the Panii Jibon (Water is Life) project, which began as a four-year project to build resilience in climate change affected communities, especially for youth and women. The project area was to be disaster-prone districts of Bagerhat and Khulna in south-west Bangladesh. The partners prioritised work with local governments and empowerment of communities and women.

To raise awareness of the communities and create a space for their concerns to be discussed and resolved, 130 Health Village Groups (HVG) each consisting of 25 members, were established, representing the vulnerable and disadvantaged women households. Starting in 2017, they formed an apex body called Mother’s Parliament (MP), who meet 3 times a year. Each MP consisted of nine women elected at sub-district level. DORP had based this initiative on earlier experience in Bagerhat District in 2012, where they had worked at the lowest tier ward level.

Key organising measures of Mother’s Parliaments:

  • created space for inclusive discussion and problem solving
  • flagged up communities’ needs and concerns
  • made plans for awareness raising, especially for disadvantaged women
  • created cost-benefit analysis of solutions
  • developed advocacy plans, organised trainings on advocacy techniques

DORP’s Zobair Hasan explained, ‘The MP plays a key role advocating with their local governments and departments to solve water problems, for example reducing long distances needed to fetch water.‘ Reductions in the distance needed to fetch water are vital to women’s equality in Bangladesh, where women do this job 90% of the time for their families according to Unicef.

 

Mother’s Parliament being handed over a water point by local government official
Mother’s Parliament being handed over a water point by local government official

Photo by DORP

 

Improvements in integrity continue

Once better informed of their rights, women started raising their voices for WASH at local government budget meetings. The local government was forced to involve women in decision making, resulting in increased water budget allocation. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Mother’s Parliaments achieved an increased budget allocation or investment of up to 212%. With the MP’s now involved in multiple stages of planning and decision making, the entire process also has become more transparent. For example, budgets are now disclosed on public billboards and walls. The water system has benefited from improvements in integrity. Roughly 12,500 people now have better access to drinkable water at household and community level.

The Mother’s Parliaments have come a long way, and now local families are able to access water points in their communities. The MP’s work is crucial to making government service providers more accountable.

 

Thanks to Zobair Hasan and the Global Water Partnership for background to this article. Read more here about the Water ChangeMaker Award recently awarded to DORP and the work of Mother’s Parliaments.

The post Mother’s Parliaments in Bangladesh bring home award appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

When government institutions don’t pay their water bills, they push water utilities towards insolvency and service delivery failure

8 February 2021 at 21:45
By: Ivanna

Delayed or non-payment of water bills by public entities is widespread in developing countries, and has significant impact on the bottom line of water service providers. A 2020 survey by the Water Integrity Network (WIN), End Water Poverty, Solutions for Water Integrity and Management (SWIM) and other partners showed that 95% of the utilities investigated in 18 countries, mostly from the Global South, reported cases of non-payment by public institutions and that collection rates for public customers are consistently lower than for private customers.

Access to water is a human right and yet, according to a 2019 UN analysis, 2.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to safely managed drinking water sources or are not connected to water networks, and 3 billion people even lack access to basic handwashing facilities. The situation is putting millions at even greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic when it is paramount that services be delivered as effectively as possible.

Water service providers are on the front lines. They must maintain adequate service and ensure that new measures mandated to face the pandemic are implemented effectively. They must do this while facing shortfalls in revenue collection due to the crisis and without compromising their ability to improve and increase service provision in the long-term.

National and local governments must take action to ensure water is accessible to all and do so by supporting service providers to weather the crisis and ensure optimal service, for the long-term. The first steps are to prioritise the payment of public institutions’ outstanding water bills  and to back up the promises made in response to COVID-19.

 

Arrears from public customers jeopardise financial stability of water service providers and ability to respond to crisis

The reasons for non-payment are varied but at least 10% of survey respondents claimed abuse of political power or undue interference are to blame.

In a number of cases, the arrears represent a high proportion of the total revenue of water service providers. And, survey results show that the situation is worsening during the pandemic crisis as arrears are increasing. Two out of five surveyed water utilities suffer from increasingly delayed payments or a reduction of their bill collection ratio from public institutions. The missing money is urgently needed to provide adequate services and to ensure that the human rights to water and sanitation are realised.

There are now reports of a growing number of water utilities facing financial distress in part because of these issues. In Ghana, for example, the Water Citizen Network, warned that the Ghana Water Company Limited “will not be able to sustain a regular supply of water or expansion to reach unserved communities if the debt situation of the company is not resolved“.

 

Financial stress is compounded by lower collection rates and increased losses due to the crisis

In addition to delays and missing payments from public institutions, many service providers are also suffering financially from losses and a decrease in water demand and associated revenues. Otherwise reliably paying customers with high consumption rates, such as industry or the hospitality sector, have been hit hard by the crisis.

Many private customers, who had paid their bills may also be struggling to cover costs as they are confronted with the effects of the pandemic. As reported by the World Bank, the Uganda National Water and Sewerage Corporation for example “only collected 39% of the revenue expected between February and June 2020“.

This is leading to a general decrease in the collection efficiency of payments and is putting a serious strain on the operations of many water utilities. A Zambian water service provider shared insight on collection efficiency for our survey and research, showing a notable decrease since the beginning of 2020, with collection rates now far below the sector benchmark.

These issues are major concerns for utilities worldwide, and not only on the short-term. In the United States, for example, it is unclear for many how accumulated debt will be paid and what the impact of the crisis will be on collection and delinquency rates when emergency measures expire.

 

Measures to respond to COVID-19 provide relief, but they must be effectively funded and sustainable

Measures are being taken by governments to support water users and to provide water and relief for people during the crisis. Various governments have pledged to make water free or cheaper, put a moratorium on disconnections, and reduced or waived fees and extra costs. Governments are also, in some cases, already supporting utilities with additional financing and other measures to improve monitoring and coordination, all in an effort to maintain continuity of service. These are necessary and important steps forward that highlight the crucial importance of the water and sanitation sector.

The issues are whether, in practice, these measures are adequately funded and what their impact will be on the long-term. From our research, a Kenyan utility worker reported that: “Free water supply to hand-washing points and informal settlements“ was mandated by government to fight against COVID. But to pay for these additional services, water service providers still need to maintain sufficient income. Another Kenyan utility worker added that “the Government announced there would be no disconnections for non-payment of water bills, yet no subsidies have been provided”.

Overall, the inability for water service providers to avoid losses in revenue in combination with non-payment from public entities and accumulated arrears increase the risk of severe financial stress and bankruptcy. Immediate as well as long-term actions must be taken to protect and sustain water and sanitation services that are indispensable to overcoming the pandemic.

Two streams of action are required: a) Governments must support utilities, backing up their promises for COVID-19 relief with adequate subsidies that fit in to a longer-term strategy towards the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation. b) To ensure a sustainable financial basis for utilities, measures must be taken by governments to ensure that all public entities, at every level, pay their bills to water service providers in full and on time.

Without these actions, any progress to provide water and sanitation to all is being put at risk by the very governments that claim commitment to this target.

 

 

 

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Putting integrity at the heart of climate adaptation

Integrity-readiness is key to safeguarding development funds. Climate finance in particular must flow where it is intended and most needed. We must ensure climate adaptation programmes are not derailed by corruption.

To mitigate integrity risks and to ensure the water sector is integrity-ready for climate finance, we need effective, strategic partnerships. Join our network of organizations committed to smarter investments by hindering corruption and building integrity.

 

Talking integrity with Ibrahim Pam from the Green Climate Fund

As Head of the Independent Integrity Unit at the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Mr. Ibrahim Pam knows first-hand how damaging the lack of integrity in the water sector can be. Watch this compelling exchange of ideas between him and our Executive Director, Barbara Schreiner.

 

Water Integrity as an Opportunity: Climate Change Finance and the Water Sector

Our policy brief provides an overview of challenges and opportunities concerning corruption in the water sector in the context of climate finance, and addresses policy makers and practitioners from both sectors. This document, drafted by GIZ and WIN, is based on a literature review and interviews with experts from international and civil society organizations and implementing entities. It seeks to promote greater responsibility and accountability in climate finance.

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Strengthening integrity: crucial in advancing water security in Asia Pacific

11 January 2021 at 17:26
By: Ivanna

The 2020 Asia Water Development Outlook (AWDO), the just released flagship publication of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), introduced governance as a chapter and applied the OECD Water Governance Principles across AWDO’s five key dimensions of water security.

Among the Water Governance Principles, the 9th principle focuses on Integrity and Transparency. Based on a survey undertaken by OECD which provides a snapshot of governance gaps in the Asia Pacific area, AWDO underlined the low adoption of integrity practices and tools among the member states. It further establishes that less than 20% of the countries in the region have implemented relevant international conventions or institutional anti-corruption plans.

Poor integrity in water governance and management is a major barrier for achieving water security and resilience, which have been stated to be objectives of key sectoral stakeholders, including the ADB for the Asia Pacific region. For the first time, AWDO has specifically called for “mainstreaming integrity and transparency practices across water policies, water institutions, and water governance frameworks that are key for greater accountability and trust in decision-making, and effective implementation of water policies”. WIN welcomes AWDO’s initiative of highlighting the urgent need to strengthen integrity within the water sector processes among member states.

AWDO’s report points towards the need to address integrity and corruption in the capital-intensive water sector. At least US$75 billion is siphoned off annually from critical water projects for every 10% of investment lost to corruption. This significant risk, if not tackled, leads to misuse of the investments coming into the sector and further hampers more investments from diverse sources. Poor integrity tarnishes the reputation and creditworthiness of water sector entities and overall, the economic, social, and environmental ramifications are enormous. Mitigating corruption risks can lead to substantial savings across the sector.

WIN has worked with numerous development sector partners, donors, and government agencies to promote integrity and good governance in water and sanitation. We have also established a set of Integrity Tools and practices, useful in strengthening institutional integrity, improving performances and taking measures that prevent corruption. Applying these tools in collaboration with government agencies and water utilities in the Asia Pacific region, has led to valuable lessons and practices that can be scaled up within countries and in the region.

Addressing integrity concerns requires each stakeholder to equally collaborate; otherwise, it can be very challenging to establish good governance. We encourage ADB and other regional partners to support the implementation of the AWDO recommendations on good governance, especially on integrity among the member states.

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Women and Water: The Story of Alice Rutto

28 December 2020 at 23:11

When Nakuru Rural Water Service Company (NARUWASCO) and the Dutch NGO WaterWorx picked Total Mau Summit in Nakuru as the base for the Total Mau Summit ‘Water for Life Project’ in December 2017, Ms. Alice Rutto, had no idea it would change her life. Now, Alice and the other residents of Total Mau Summit in Nakuru County, Kenya, no longer have to walk long distances every day in search of clean water from the Silibwet Spring, or pay unscrupulous water vendors exorbitant prices to access the precious commodity.

Alice explains while showing us the spring:

‘We used to line up here to fetch water from the spring for hours, and in the dry season, sometimes fights would occur because we didn’t have enough water. But now, with this water project, we can now look to the future and also focus on other things.’

Alice is one of more than 15 million people in water-scarce Kenya on the fringe of water services, dependent on sometimes distant wells, ponds, water bowsers and water vendors or rainfall for farming or personal use. With the introduction of the ‘Water for Life’ project which supplies water to 17,000 people along the Nakuru – Eldoret highway A104, she benefits not only from the safe drinking water and improved health, but far more.

It all started when Alice was recruited as part of the 25-member Task Force team of men and women mandated to assist in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the project. The Centre for Social Planning and Administrative Development (CESPAD), WIN, and NARUWASCO supported the Task Force with training on integrity and transparency and helped them acquire the-know-how to monitor the project.

Her new role forced her to grapple with longstanding gender disparities. According to Alice, management is traditionally seen as a man’s job; therefore, the women here found limited access to the information on water management. Nevertheless, when it comes to water issues, women feel the pinch the most as they are the ones who are directly impacted.

Alice increasingly saw the importance of women’s role in protecting water sources. She slowly found her voice in the team and eventually ended up leading implementation. Today, Alice is the main guard of the Silibwet Spring. She monitors the construction of the water storage tank, ensures that the materials listed in the bill of quantities are what is provided, and educates the community on the importance of protecting the stream from over-exploitation. Alice is also campaigning for yard taps to be placed in strategic locations and negotiates with farm owners to allow for their installation and use.

 

Ms. Alice Rutto, taking notes during a budget process training

Photo: CESPAD

 

Like many other women who have recognised their critical role in the sustainability of water projects, she now ensures that more women in the Total Mau Summit area are stepping up and getting their voices heard. Recently, she formed a group of community members living near the spring to restore the riparian land and to stop the drawing of spring water, especially during the dry season. This group is mainly made up of women, but also includes former members of the Task Force. With the trust and relations built in the trainings with WIN, they are now able to lobby for more infrastructure from NARUWASCO and the county government.

Before this project, if you had have asked me what I thought of water management issues, I would have sent you to the MCA,’ says Alice. ‘I never, in a million years, would have thought I would be on the frontline of solving water issues. As long as I had enough for me, my family and my farm, I was ok. I did not realise how powerful I was; how my voice was relevant and needed. I would watch as people exploited the spring, and I would grumble to myself but leave it to someone else to solve the problem. Now I know it was and always will be my problem. If anyone exploits or contaminates the spring, I am responsible for it; and it will be a problem I will pass on to my children if I do not solve it now. Now, I have a voice and a platform, and I will use it. I will get other women to use it too. Water issues are women’s issues. The moment we accept that and rise up to the challenge, that will be the moment, we begin to achieve SDG 6’.

The Task Force was disbanded with the completion of the ‘Water for Life’ project in December 2019. But Alice, along with her team members, now know how to hold themselves, the community, NARUWASCO and the county government accountable for equitable water supply in the small town of Total Mau Summit.

 

Alice is now the guardian of the Silibwet Spring

Photo: CESPAD

 

Alice and other women in Total Mau Summit now have more time to focus on other income-generating activities. Alice’s farm is thriving, and she has more time to deliver her products to the market. For sustainable development of the Nakuru county, Alice urges the government and non-profits to involve more women in technical skills training so that they do not have to look for technicians to repair water pumps or fix a broken water pipe. These skills, she says, will help reduce delays and will give these women, most of whom do not have formal education a sustainable source of income to improve their livelihoods.

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WIN’s annual General Assembly 2020

21 December 2020 at 16:19
By: Ivanna

The Water Integrity Network’s General Assembly online meetings included official GA Members such as the OECD, GIZ, SIWI, Sida, Transparency International and a dozen other kindred key global players. These were held from the 18th to the 20th of November and highlighted the progress made in 2020, while offering preliminary showings in vital, new and continuing projects for 2021. 

On the ground projects

Despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 WIN was able to continue work on the ground:

  • In Bangladesh, with three utilities and numerous school WASH programmes. 
  • In Kenya, with local partners to deliver a Training of Trainers for 18 people, and 16 partners trained on the Integrity Management Toolbox (IMT) for Small Water Supply Systems (SWSS).
  • In Mexico, a further Training was done with the IMT for SWSS, and an integrity assessment tool for water utilities was successfully piloted. 
  • Further projects were delivered in South Sudan, Honduras, Uruguay and Benin. 

Executive Director Barbara Schreiner explained that, our Annual Plan and Budget for 2021 will continue to allow us to remain stable in staffing, and deliver targets as expected. WIN may be able to add to existing work-plans if fundraising in the pipeline is successful. 

Leadership change

WIN’s former Board Chair and now first Honorary GA Member, Mr. Ravi Narayanan, is stepping down, and was thanked for his years of leadership, which started from the very beginnings of WIN:

“It wasn’t so long ago that corruption was not a word that was spoken in polite society. This changed when WIN was born. I’m very happy to be leaving WIN in such good hands, despite the large challenges we face.”

– Ravi Narayanan,  2020

We would like to heartily welcome Dr. Letitia A Obeng, the newly elected Chair of the Water Integrity Network (WIN). Letitia is a Water Supply, Sanitation and Water Management professional with 40 years’ experience.  She served with the World Bank in managerial and director positions on water management and sustainable development. Letitia has served in leadership roles in WaterAid America, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.  She holds a PhD in public health and water resources engineering from Imperial College, University of London. 

The General Assembly unanimously elected the additional Members: 

  • Dick van Ginhoven, Secretary of Supervisory Board, (2nd term) 
  • Peter Conze, Member of General Assembly and member of Supervisory Board (1st term),  
  • IWMI General Assembly Member Nov 2020 – Nov 2023 (re-election) 

 

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Human Rights and Water Integrity in Informal Settlements

Despite clear international law on the human rights to water and sanitation, and widespread recognition of these rights, people living in informal settlements (slums) typically lack access to essential services. They pay more per litre for precarious, potentially unsafe water than residents in wealthier areas, and have limited access to toilets; relying on shared latrines, self-dug pits or overflowing chemical latrines.

Lack of integrity and corruption contribute to the failure to deliver services, reinforcing existing inequalities in access to water and sanitation, diverting resources from where they are most needed, and reducing the quality and availability of services.

A new paper from the South African Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) and the international Water Integrity Network (WIN) discusses these issues based on research conducted by SERI in Siyanda, Marikana and Ratanang, three informal settlements in South Africa, and by partners in Mukuru, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.

The paper shows how an integrity focus can help to achieve human rights obligations and how a human rights focus improves integrity and reduces opportunities for corruption.

 

 

 

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What does it mean to mainstream gender in open government processes and why are gender-blind indicators not enough?

25 November 2020 at 21:02

Globally, women and girls take on a grossly disproportionate burden in the work of securing water for their communities. Yet they remain dramatically underrepresented in water management at all levels. This leaves them vulnerable to and dependent on men for their water and sanitation needs – despite distinct menstrual, pregnancy, and child-rearing needs – and effectively deepens their economic marginalization. Gender-blind indicators don’t make these issues appear and that’s a big problem.

In Open Government co-creation processes, including those related to water and natural resource governance, we often talk of mainstreaming gender to address these issues more systematically. At Técnicas Rudas, we’re proposing that to do this and take the next step in advancing gender-inclusive governance, we need to mainstream the use of gender indicators.

 

Why gender indicators?

To measure impact, to observe change, or to detect differences in characteristics across populations, policy makers, social scientists, and project managers make use of indicators. The feminist perspective calls our attention to two dangers of relying on easily accessible, simple indicators of well-being like GDP per capita, literacy rates, access to healthcare etc. First, the assumption of relative homogeneity obscures significant, systemic disparities within a given population along these indicators. A second and deeper danger is that the indicators generally neglect to take into account the systematic exclusion of marginalized populations from data collection efforts, which further exacerbates the fact that women’s and minorities’ realities are made invisible.

These dangers have significant consequences at the design, implementation, and evaluation stages of open government commitments related to Natural Resource Governance (NRG).

  • At the design stage, the blind spots mean that policy ideas and “theories of change” might be much less relevant and far-reaching in practice than they appear on paper.
  • At the implementation state, implicit discriminatory practices can go entirely unnoticed.
  • At the evaluation stage, the same blind spots mean that skewed or counterproductive impacts might go undetected and uncorrected.

Gender has been part of human rights and development sector discourse for years! In that time, many have come to realize that relying on feminist intuition or focusing on getting people of diverse backgrounds “at the table”, is simply not enough. For gender to be taken into account, it needs to count, and be counted. That’s why we’re proposing gender indicators.

 

New research to show impact of gender-based approach

In 2019, the Feminist Open Government Initiative invited organizations to present proposals for action-oriented and evidence-driven research to support the adoption of a gender perspective in Open Government. As a feminist organization that works a lot on issues related to transparency and extractive industries, and one that relies on open data and grassroots participation, this call for proposals made us think.

What does having a gender perspective look like in practice? Does a gender-based approach have observable consequences? For example, do policy priorities change? Do strategies change?

In 2019, my colleagues and I embarked on a year-long, action-driven exploration of the practical potential of gender indicators within the Open Government Partnership. We adopted a specific focus on commitments related to natural resource governance (NRG) and the differential impacts of the extractive industries on women. Our case study countries were Mexico, Colombia and Peru – contexts where land rights movements and socio-environmental conflicts persistently challenge both traditional and sustainable development logic, and where NRG commitments feature frequently in National Action Plans.

Our research took a detour almost as soon as we kicked off. Because the open government discourse is so embedded in the Sustainable Development Agenda, our original layout also integrated the SDG framework. However, we quickly realized that in the contexts where NRG challenges are most extreme – where indigenous communities face off against multinational corporations to keep toxic spills from contaminating bodies of water, and where open-pit mines threaten to displace entire villages – the development agenda doesn’t quite resonate. Instead, we turned towards the international human rights framework to help us think strategically and ethically about where we need gender indicators most.

We proceeded with an intensive period of literature review, interviews, and round-tables with specialists on the extractive industries, open data, and feminism in Mexico, followed by workshops with women land rights defenders in Peru and Colombia, with whom we worked together to test methods for creating and using gender indicators in the context of the challenges and needs of their communities.

 

 

Gender indicators highlight the harmful impact of extractive industries in terms of human rights

According to front-line land rights defenders who participated in this research, the differential impact of decisions about how natural resources are exploited or safeguarded is most apparent in connection with the impact of extractive industries on human rights.

In particular, when it comes to the right to water and sanitation, we see a very dangerous chain reaction of impacts. For example, a mining project has a dramatic effect on a community’s ability to exercise its right to water (due both to pollution and scarcity), which has cross-cutting consequences, by affecting the health of the entire community, which disproportionately burdens women due to traditional roles as caregivers, and thus in turn also lead to a drop in their ability to participate in the labor market, a subsequent reduction in livelihood, and further deterioration in access to health. Meanwhile, fewer clean water sources translate to more time dedicated to household chores and supporting agriculture production, further reducing time available for rest, education, and remunerated work.

 

Where there is resource extraction, there is violence

We also discovered that using gender indicators in the process of co-creating Open Government Commitments brings issues to the forefront that we rarely see in conversations, let alone in action plans, on open natural resource governance. One of these issues is violence.

Across the board, where there is resource extraction, an increase in the threat of physical violence appears to be ubiquitous. This includes forced displacement, forced labor, domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual extortion, human trafficking, militarization, intimidation and attacks against community leaders and land rights defenders, and more. Natural resource governance strategies need to confront head-on the violent consequences of opening communities and the environment to extractive industries.

 

Beyond specific indicators, committing to the process

Our research illustrates what using gender indicators can accomplish, which is to:

  • make visible what has been invisible for many up until now
  • assign value to what is normally taken for granted – issues that have traditionally been viewed as secondary or only indirectly related to natural resource governance – and put it center stage; and, finally,
  • serve as guideposts for designing much more inclusive and impactful natural resource governance strategies that have respecting and protecting human rights as one of their primary objectives.

We now have an extensive menu of gender indicators, which, for the water sector, includes for example disaggregated data on water quality and perceptions on water availability. But the most relevant result of this research is not the indicators, but the process.  We created a replicable process to develop gender indicators and published two short, simple guides (in Spanish) to help stakeholders design gender indicators for evaluating long-term impacts as well as short-term results of Open Government commitments.

Overall, it’s important to recognize we don’t have to wait for sweeping reforms or for the next national action plan to start using gender indicators. They can be incorporated from the word go, in implementation. That said, and as far as OGP on the international level and on the country level is concerned, there are  key moments where we can start to plan and integrate gender indicators: during co-creation, as part of the processes, at the conclusion of a national action plan – specifically in the self-assessment and in the independent reporting mechanisms methodologies- and, ultimately, at impact evaluations.

We should think of indicators not just as evaluation tools but also as guideposts that can help us ensure – from the moment of co-creation – that what we’re trying to achieve and the path we’re taking to getting there takes into account gender and gender minorities

The emphasis on process is in line with one of the final takeaways that I am left with as this project comes to a close:  One doesn’t “have” a gender perspective in a passive state; a gender perspective is, or should be, the active, collective and continuous undertaking of a deliberate process. Keeping this in mind will be key if the OGP is to transform into a genuinely inclusive platform.

 

About the author

Tamar Hayrikyan, Managing Partner at Técnicas Rudas, a Mexico-based organization that aims to contribute to social movements and human rights defense through strategic research, technology, creative alliances and organizational strengthening. Prioritizing grassroots initiatives, our approach integrates an intersectional gender lens and digital security. Tamar has an academic background in political economy and human rights, as well as professional expertise in corporate accountability, transparency in the extractive industries, documenting human rights violations and protecting human rights defenders.

 

See more posts from the Water and Open Government Community of Practice here.

See more posts on gender and water integrity here.

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Water and sanitation through a gender lens

Every day, across the world, women and girls spend around 200 million hours collecting water. Women also have specific WASH needs. Yet they remain dramatically underrepresented in water resource management at all levels. Corruption and integrity failures shrink revenue for and effectiveness of the sector, further threatening the welfare of poor women and children in particular.

The Water and Open Government Community of Practice is working to change this by sharing research, best practices, and recommendations on how decision-makers in water management can significantly improve gender-related outcomes of their work. In a recent webinar, experts in national and international water and resources management focused on one means of action: gender-specific strategies linked to the WASH commitments made in Action Plans under the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Here are the key discussion points and conclusions.

 

 

Gender across OGP action plans

Allison Merchant, Open Government Partnership

Platforms like the OGP have major potential for governments and civil society to work together on improving gender responsive reforms. In the past years, we have seen promising transparency and accountability reforms on gender equality priorities through these collaborative efforts, building on strong partnerships as well as learnings from the Feminist Open Government Initiative.

Gender is the second fastest-growing area for OGP action plans. To date, throughout the partnership, 41 members – governments in particular – have made 127 commitments on gender. Furthermore, there are currently 28 members implementing 82 commitments in 2018 and 2019 action plans.

However, this merely scratches the surface of how these cross-sector initiatives can collectively champion ambitious reforms to close economic, resource, and social gender gaps. Natural resource governance has particularly been a long-standing integration into OGP’s work, but bringing a gender perspective is relatively new. So, when we think about opportunities to advance gender throughout open government work, I would urge that the following be considered as part of our water and sanitation reforms:

 

Inclusive co-creation:

The process of co-creating reforms can be made more inclusive through proactive outreach and engagement with government ministries and departments which are tasked with gender or inclusion

 

Gender mainstreaming:

Non-gender-specific action plans and commitments can be transformed by gender analysis.

Such a gender analysis can take many forms and use specific tactics like gender budgeting or gender-disaggregated data.We have examples from Kenya related to open contracting and from Cote d’Ivoire related to participatory budgeting.

 

Gender-specific commitments:

Specific interventions are needed to close gaps that disproportionately impact women and other key communities and reforms must be designed around those areas. Germany, for example, is monitoring women’s leadership in public and private sectors and using that data to inform law. Sri Lanka is connecting international protocols with the open government platform, by ensuring reporting for the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women is cross-populated and reinforced within open government structures.

 

 

Integrating gender priorities into WASH commitments

Kanika Thakar, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Of the 65 WASH and sanitation commitments made to date, there are two on gender or gender equality, three on women’s participation, and another three on women’s agencies among their supporting actors. Gender equality is key to achieving sustainable water governance yet those numbers indicate it is largely forgotten in the process for open water governance.

We can’t just will gender equality into WASH.We need a process, with renewed and ongoing commitments on gender. Rather than having only specific areas of work dedicated to improving gender equality, we must actively mainstream (or include) at every stage: from planning and implementation to monitoring and resourcing.

It can feel like a huge undertaking, but we can build on our existing work and find easy entry points for activities that can deliver gender-equal outcomes.

 

Represent gender diversity:

Participants in the co-creation process should reflect our populations and their needs.

One woman or one non-binary individual does not represent all; we need to strive for strong representation of women and gender minorities from different backgrounds.

One tactic is to request that all partners or supporting organizations send gender-diverse representation to meetings. If these organizations have gender focal points – increasingly common among WASH institutions – they should be engaged in the process. Consider your audience as well – guarantee the right conditions which allow full participation. Segregated consultations or groups may be appropriate, particularly when it comes to discussing toilets and menstrual hygiene management.

 

Be gender explicit:

While the term “community involvement” is used with good intention, it can result in gender blindness. Too often we take for granted women as part of the community. However, without being deliberate that the community includes men, women, and gender minorities, experience shows that one group will outweigh the others: typically, many men participate while women and gender minorities are left out, due to lack of engagement or underlying barriers to participation. This results in missed critical information about times and quality of service, as each group engages in WASH infrastructures at different hours and in different ways.

 

Illuminate and account for inequalities:

At first glance, pledging that a newly developed platform will offer “access to updated, complete information on drinking water supply and sanitation services” seems strong and gender neutral. However, women and girls make up two thirds of the world’s illiterate population, meaning that reports and written media are far less accessible to them. Women also have fewer financial resources, which can translate in less access to smartphones or computers and therefore less access to less online information. By appending to a commitment that access to and reporting on data is equally done by women and men, or by including the consideration that women and gender minorities face difficulties to do so, gender is brought to the surface. This may ensure follow-up on gender in implementation of open government commitments.

 

Collect gendered data and set targets:

With any good commitment, outcomes must be measurable.

Evidence and data are the backbone of good policies; sex-disaggregated data is thus critically important.

To recognize and measure how women and gender minorities are engaging with or being affected by commitments, is to gain deeper insight into otherwise hidden barriers and motivators, which helps in noticing implicit bias in our commitments and activities. Seeing low numbers in these areas can also help motivate better policies to address these challenges and help us take active steps to achieve gender-equal outcomes. However, it’s important to be ambitious but reasonable about targets. Achievable targets are more likely to be realized. The World Water Assessment Programme’s gender and water toolkit (2019) is a helpful resource for this, including interview questions, indicators, and methodologies.

 

Be prepared to pay:

Mainstreaming does not need to be hard, but it doesn’t come without cost. The process of monitoring indicators, addressing barriers, and ensuring women and gender minorities are engaged and equally provided for takes resources, and these should be allocated from the start. Gender-sensitive budgeting, advocated for since the 1980s, works to achieve gender equality by providing funds to ensure gender-responsive outcomes. In South Korea, for instance,  gender-sensitive budgeting was applied to modify their act on public toilets and allocate more resources to building them for the differentiated needs of men and women.

 

 

Developing and using gender indicators for open natural resource governance

Tamar Hayrikyan, Tecnicas Rudas

We have carried out a year-long applied research project on gender indicators in natural resource governance, with the input and support of frontline land rights organizations and local communities and researchers from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia as well as the Feminist Open Government Initiative. We see that gender indicators, and not only the numbers but especially the process of developing them, can:

  • make visible what has been invisible for many up until now;
  • assign value to what is taken for granted; and, finally
  • serve as guideposts for designing much more inclusive and impactful natural resource government strategies which respect human rights.

Gender indicators can be incorporated from the start and in implementation of OGP commitments.

We don’t have to wait for sweeping reforms or for the next national action plan to start using gender indicators.

 

The hidden human rights impacts of natural resource governance:

The differential impact of natural resource governance decisions is connected to the human rights impacts of the extractive industries, for example the rights to food, to a healthy environment, and to water and sanitation.

Using gender indicators and undertaking the commitment co-creation process with a feminist approach brings to the forefront these issues and more that are rarely talked about.

One of these hidden issues is violence. which appears to be ubiquitous when there is resource extraction, and includes forced displacement, forced labor, domestic violence, sexual violence, sextortion, human trafficking, and attacks on community leaders. Natural resource governance strategies need to start dealing with this reality head-on.

 

Chain reactions of impacts:

From our research, we saw that impacts highlighted by gender indicators can lead to a dangerous chain reaction, also in the water and sanitation sector. For example, a mining project has a dramatic effect on a community’s ability to exercise its right to water – both due to pollution and scarcity. This has cross-cutting consequences on the health of the entire community, which disproportionately burdens women due to traditional roles as caregivers. This leads to a drop in their ability to participate in the labor market, and later to a reduction in livelihood and further deterioration in access to health. And meanwhile the reduction and unavailability of clean water sources increases the amount of time dedicated to household chores and agricultural work, further decreasing time available for rest, education, and remunerated work.

In conclusion, gender indicators, from the moment of co-creation, can help ensure that what we’re trying to achieve and the path we’re taking to get there fully takes into account gender and gender minorities.

 

The webinar “Water & Sanitation through a Gender Lens: Reinforcing Commitments in OGP Action Plans” is one of a series organized by the four lead organizations of the Water and Open Government Community of Practice: Fundación Avina, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Water Integrity Network (WIN), and World Resources Institute. Founded in 2017, the community has grown to 75 member organizations worldwide. For more information, write to wateropengovernment@siwi.org.

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A novel method to measure corruption in urban water and sanitation

18 November 2020 at 15:08

Is corruption a real threat for water and sanitation services in our city? Is the situation improving or getting worse? How does our city compare with others? Can we even do something about it, and how do we start?

These questions are often asked but are actually difficult to answer with objective and reliable evidence.

 

Can you improve what you can’t measure?

Corruption is a concealed act by definition. It doesn’t easily lend itself to measurement. It’s nonetheless costly and dangerous, as it skews planning, diverts resources, and protects incompetence. In the water sector, corruption can be deadly.

Existing measures of corruption tend to focus on country-level reports of perception of corruption, provided by sources such as the Political Risk Service, International Country Risk Guide, and Transparency International’s Global Corruption Index. These are important tools to raise awareness and guide research but they are less useful when trying to examine and improve integrity in a given sector.

To ensure sustainable and resilient water and sanitation services across cities, local governments and sector decision-makers need a better understanding of the corruption risks that undermine their efforts. They need reliable measures that can guide practical action.

We couldn’t find this, so we’re building it.

 

Leveraging increasing data availability and advances in analytics to develop new measures for integrity

Big Data and advances in analytics are making new kinds of measurements of corruption and integrity risks possible. WIN is collaborating with the Government Transparency Institute to take advantage of these innovations and develop a Water and Sanitation Sector Integrity Risk Index (WIRI) for urban areas.

The Government Transparency Institute has a proven track record in applying innovative quantitative and qualitative methods to researching and advocating good governance. They recently won the IMF Anti-corruption Challenge with an intelligence tool which uses big data to spot corruption risks in public procurement processes. WIRI partly draws on the methodology applied in this award–winning project.

WIRI is a composite index, which is constructed by applying Big Data analytics to administrative data and survey datasets. WIRI offers insight across the three main integrity hotspots in the water and sanitation sectors:

  1. Public investment projects
  2. Recurrent spending supporting ongoing operations
  3. Client-utility interactions

In developing WIRI, we benefitted from continuous feedback from an advisory panel of experts, including Cetina Camilo (CAF – Development Bank of Latin America), John Dini (South African Water Research Commission), Kasenga Hara (ESAWAS), Ricard Gine (SIWI), Sanjeev Narrainen (GCF), and Vincent Lazatin (CoST).

Our new working paper explains the building blocks of the Water Integrity Risk Index and presents results for selected cities..

First results are very promising. The working paper shows that corruption risks in a particular city tend to change over time. WIRI enables us to capture even small variations in risk levels, thanks to the precision achieved by measuring corruption at the transaction level (such as contracts, customer interactions, etc.). In contrast, the measures of corruption perception widely employed in other indices tend to be persistent over time. The results in the working paper also show that corruption risks can differ significantly across different cities within the same country. This makes us cautiously optimistic about the prospects of selectively preventing corruption at the local level through carefully designed interventions.

 

Water Integrity Risk Index
The index captures even small changes in risk levels over time

WIRI preliminary results – from GTI-WIN Working Paper

 

An actionable index focusing on sector-specific corruption risks

What makes WIRI a useful tool? Firstly, we have aimed to capture a comprehensive list of sector-specific corruption risks. Moreover, unlike other existing measures of corruption that predominantly focus on perceptions, WIRI relies on direct measurement of corruption risks. Finally, WIRI results are comparable across time and space, which enables policy-makers to track progress and benchmark different cities.

These properties of WIRI make it a useful tool for:

  • monitoring, auditing, and investigations of corruption risks;
  • informing sector-wide policy decisions, for example on regulation and oversight; and
  • supporting civil society and other stakeholders to hold governments accountable and advocate for better services

 

Building integrity in cities: WIRI for your city?

In 2021, we aim to support a number of cities in applying WIRI. The aim is to support decision-makers get insight on how to improve integrity in the water sector and enable better service provision. We’re always seeking out new partnerships.

Want to know more? Interested in applying WIRI in your city? Contact us with your questions – uallakulov(at)win-s(dot)org.

 

Downloads:

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More transparency in Brazil’s water sector national information system

14 November 2020 at 10:53

In Brazil’s 4th Open Government Action Plan, the development and implementation of Open Government Commitment 10 on Water Resources, have been an opportunity to build participation and bring new actors to the table -including civil society and basin committees- to improve and increase the availability of information on water resources in Brazil. 

In April 2020, the #WaterOpenGov Community of Practice spoke with Marcus Fuckner, Coordinator of Planning Area Situation and Information Management at Brazil’s National Water Agency (ANA), on the open government commitments for water included in Brazil’s 4th Open Government Action Plan. This is an edited transcript of the conversation.

 

Understanding Brazil’s Water Governance

The National Policy of Water Resources (PNRH), defined in 1997 by the law Nº 9.433, also called the “Law of Waters”, is the cornerstone of water governance legislation in Brazil. The PNRH structured, oriented and modernized the administration of Brazil’s water resources. In 2000, Law No 9.984 established the National Water Agency (ANA) as the responsible entity to implement the national policy and to coordinate the National Management System of Water Resources (SINGREH).

ANA implements the PNRH in Brazil through water allocation terms and the regulatory framework, in addition to five official policy instruments: water resource plans, water permits, water quality objectives, water charges, and information systems.

 

 

Water management in Brazil is decentralized and managed at different levels by different entities. States and Federal Districts work with additional instruments to manage the water bodies under their control.

The National Management System of Water Resources (SINGREH) is a cooperative mechanism for water management which brings together entities from different levels.

 

 

Currently, the sanitation portfolio (which covers drinking water supply services, sanitary sewerage, urban cleaning and solid waste management, and drainage and rainwater management) is shared between the Ministry of Regional Development’s (MDR) National Secretariat of Sanitation and the regulatory bodies of the States and municipalities, with occasional service outsourcing to private companies in certain municipalities. At the time of this publication, a bill is under debate at the National Congress that would modify the regulatory framework for sanitation in the country, giving regulatory powers to the ANA, which would make it the National Agency for Water and Basic Sanitation.

 

Developing Brazil’s 4th Open Government National Action Plan

Brazil’s 4th Open Government Action Plan contains 11 commitments, which were discussed and designed with the participation of 105 individuals (representatives of 88 institutions, including 39 civil society organizations, 39 Federal Public Administration bodies and 10 State and Municipal Public Administration bodies). The Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), which coordinates the Alliance for Open Government in Brazil led the process of developing the Action Plan.

The methodology included the discussion of challenges and then the definition of commitments through co-creation workshops, i.e. meetings with equal participation of government specialists and civil society on the prioritized issues. The process was meant as democratic and designed to open the floor to issues beyond those prioritized by government bodies.

Several topics were thus addressed:

  • Structural issues, which their very nature, have the potential to improve Open Government policies in Brazil;
  • Issues prioritized by the government,which have been identified and proposed by government bodies as being of strategic importance for the Federal Government to move forward on matters of open government;
  • Issues prioritized by civil society and selected through a public consultation on thematic proposals.

The topic of water resources was brought in via civil society participation, as the third most-voted for during the online consultation phase.

Two co-creation workshops were held in May and August of 2018 to define Open Government Commitment 10 on Water Resources. One workshop sought to identify the problems and their respective potential solutions, and the other was designed to formulate the commitment. Commitment 10 is linked to target 6.5 of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water. It focuses on improving the National Information System of Water Resources (SNIRH) portal, first published in 2016, with the aim of providing more transparency on the water situation in the country, to address challenges in improving its availability in terms of quality and quantity.

 

ANA’s involvement in the Open Government Commitment on water

As the process of developing the OGP Action Plan was ongoing, the CGU contacted the Board of Directors of the ANA and the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), to which ANA reported until December 2018, to highlight the government’s work with transparency in water issues.

During the process of co-creating Commitment 10, it was recognized that ANA is responsible for a) systematic monitoring of the water resources b) the preparation of annual reports of the Brazilian Water Resources Overview and c) the coordination and management of SNIRH. The CGU then proposed that ANA coordinate the water commitment included in the OGP Action Plan.

The full process has helped to deepen ANA’s work on access to water resources information and data. Currently, ANA has its own open data portal, in addition to making data available on the Brazilian Open Data Portal platform

ANA has defined priority databases to make available in open formats, based on the most frequent information requests made through Citizen Information Services (SIC) of public administrations (established through Brazil’s Access to Information Law (Law No. 12,527 of 2011).

 

Implementing Open Government Commitment 10 on Water Resources

Launched in August 2018, the implementation process of Commitment 10 on Water Resources comprised a set of eight compliance milestones.

Public institutions such as ANA, the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) and CGU were some of the actors involved in implementation along withcivil society organozations such as Artigo 19, Fundación Esquel, Water Governance Observatory, World Resources Institute (WRI), and the University of São Paulo. CGU held six meetings with stakeholders throughout the process, to work towards the milestones and to address common challenges, including for example the required changes in the administrative structure.

Critical river basins were identified to carry out improvements. A pilot training workshop was held for a specific river basin committee (Paranapanema river basin, in the State of São Paulo and Paraná) and another extended workshop was held at the Annual National Meeting of River Basin Committees (ENCOB), in October 2019.

Moreover, civil society organizations Artigo 19 and Fundación Esquel organized an online consultation to propose further improvements to the SNIRH.

Improvements to the SNIRH carried out in the implementation of Commitment 10 now have important benefits.

 

Lessons learned from implementing Commitment 10 on Water Resources: the need to plan a sustainable process

An important lesson learned from implementing Commitment 10 on Water Resources came to the fore from the uneven level of participation between institutions throughout the implementation process. The change of government in Brazil (2018/2019) and the changes that occurred in the institutional matrix of SINGREH influenced the actions of some participating partner institutions, making it difficult to implement some actions previously planned in the commitment. In particular, it affected the participation of the National Water Resources Council (CNRH) and the availability of resources for the participation of representatives of basin committees and civil society in the workshops. To mitigate this, an online workshop was planned.

As a suggestion for future action plans and for other member countries of the OGP, the duration and timing of the Action Plan commitments should be carefully considered to limit the impact of changes in the administrative structure when implementation extends over two administrations.

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Water integrity is a woman’s issue

2 November 2020 at 10:55
By: Ivanna

Despite the prominent role of women in managing household water and their specific water and sanitation needs, women  are rarely consulted about the provision and delivery of water services, and women’s needs for water for families or for irrigation are often given a low priority by water managers and decision-makers. This is a failure of integrity. Corruption in water and sanitation further increases the burden on women and girl children fetching and managing water, and puts their health and safety at risk.

How does this play out and what can we do about it? How are women specifically affected by water sector corruption, including sextortion?

Let’s find out…

 








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