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Corruption threatens to derail climate action. A preventive integrity approach must be built in from project start

11 November 2021 at 09:40

“There is strengthened evidence that the global water cycle will continue to intensify as global temperatures rise, with precipitation and surface water flows projected to become more variable over most land regions within seasons”
IPCC 6th Assessment Report Climate Change 2021

The climate crisis is already significantly impacting the health, social and environmental dynamics of millions of people. The most vulnerable communities, and coastal and rural populations in developing countries as well as those affected by conflict, are unjustly bearing the harshest burden. Without significant investment in adaptation, the consequences will be dire. This means we must ensure new climate funds go where they are intended and most needed. In turn, this means integrity is essential.

The water and sanitation sectors are currently the primary beneficiaries of climate funds for adaptation. However , these sectors are already fragmented and complex in terms of governance. The influx of funds from new sources and stakeholders creates new opportunities for corruption and important integrity risks. Over 40 percent of all climate-related overseas development assistance is received by initiatives in countries among the riskiest places in the world for corruption (U4 Brief 2020:14).

An integrity approach is key to ensure adaptation processes stay on track. An integrity approach is also essential to limit maladaptation, an emerging concern largely driven by corruption and integrity failures in climate adaptation.

Maladaptation heightens expected climate-related risks instead of lowering them, or creates new sets of risks.

This new brief, developed with the Green Climate Fund – Independent Integrity Unit,

  • Examines how corruption and integrity failures may heighten the risk of maladaptation.
  • Highlights the importance of adopting preventive integrity measures to reduce the risks of maladaptation.
  • Encourages further research and discussion on the relationship between maladaptation and corruption.

Download and read here:


See more, including a video here on what maladaptation is and what the links are with integrity

The post Corruption threatens to derail climate action. A preventive integrity approach must be built in from project start appeared first on WIN - Water Integrity Network.

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

20 October 2021 at 11:03
By: Ivanna

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tools for integrity: understanding and mitigating common integrity risks

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

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

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

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

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


Priorities for integrity action for sanitation and water providers

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

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

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

Participation: Engage with the people affected by your decisions.

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

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



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

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

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

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


Water Operator: SEDAPAL

Location: Lima, Peru

Population served: 11.512. 594

Representative: María del Pilar Acha, General Secretary

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

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


Water Operator: CEA

Location: Queretaro, Mexico

Population served: 1.920.539

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

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

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


Water Operator: AySA

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population served: 14.441.422

Representative: Marcelo Rogora, Director of Integrity and Best Practices

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

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



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



Want to learn more?

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

Water Integrity Global Outlook 2021: Urban Water and Sanitation

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


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

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

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

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


Integrity Champions around the world are strengthening water and sanitation systems

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

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

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

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


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


See more from WIGO2021

Download summary:

Download full report:


View in browser



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

Sex for Water: WIN in conversation with ANEW

18 August 2021 at 12:27
By: Ivanna

Sareen Malik is Executive Secretary of the African Civil Society Network for Water and Sanitation (ANEW) and vice chair of the steering committee of SWA. Based in Nairobi, ANEW is the umbrella organisation of water and sanitation CSOs across Africa, present in over 50 countries.

Bringing over 15 years of experience in the field of water governance and restructuring WASH NGOs, Malik helps organisations to meaningfully engage in the water and anti-corruption sectors, and to recognise good water governance as key to improved sector performance. Malik is a lawyer by profession and has widely published on water sector governance tools, policies, and practices for state and non-state actors.

This article was derived from a recorded interview between Sareen Malik of the African Civil Society Network for Water and Sanitation (ANEW) and Tasneem Balasinorwala of the Water Integrity Network (WIN), held on May 20, 2021. It has been edited for clarity.


How does access to water and sanitation facilities contribute to a sense of dignity for women, children, and people with physical disabilities?

Let’s look at it from two points of view: the urban setting and the rural setting.

Within urban settings, distances to water and sanitation are often shorter, but the facilities are usually inadequate. There’s already quite a bit in the documentation on this, including harrowing pictures of rundown facilities. To use facilities with some level of cleanliness, you have to have cash with you.

These facilities are not safe for many women and girls. It involves waking up at ungodly hours to get water or to go to the bathroom. In Nairobi, we know of so-called “flying toilets”.  Basically, when the men of the family are away for work over the week, women and girls who are too afraid to access the sanitation facilities, defecate in plastic or paper bags and throw them out. When the men are back on the weekends, there are fewer incidents of these flying toilets.

And let’s not even get into the issues of menstrual hygiene management, which is another nightmare. You don’t have the sanitary space or sanitary pads, and your water use tends to increase. You are not in a position to look after yourself the way you should. And this causes girls to stay at home, missing out on school. We see this, really, pretty much everywhere.

The facilities are also not designed for people with disabilities. So, people with disabilities have to rely heavily on community or family members to support them. And this assistance is usually not very forthcoming.

Within rural settings, all this is exacerbated by the distance. In 2011, we were testing a programme, so visited a small settlement by a river.  We saw people with disabilities and the elderly at the river, and women fetching water from the river. There is domestic use, defecating, and showering that is equally taking place at literally the same point. And let us not forget the animals. This was not a very long stream-type of river.

People with disabilities were using that particular river because it was the most accessible. During the day, when nobody was around, they were left to their own devices. So, the programme asked the service provider to bring facilities closer – to set up water kiosks or some sort of piping system. It was actually a success – one of the cases where the service provider went in and actually tried to set up some sort of WASH facilities for these people.

Let us come back to the issue of dignity.

Toilet facilities are mired in low maintenance and overuse. A couple of years ago in a school in Kajiado [a county in Kenya], we had three-generation toilets. That is, some organisation came in and pitched a toilet. Then it broke down. Then somebody else came in and set up a different facility. Then another one came in and set one up when that broke. And it was pretty much that way every time one set of facilities broke down. The issue there was really an issue of maintenance.

Ownership of these facilities is also an issue we see in these communities. The toilets were messy, backed up, and disused. Even where WASH facilities had been set up in certain communities, you’d still have people defecating in the open. There were cases where men did not want to use the same facilities as the women. So, it had not solved the problem, per se.

We did see some ODF [open defecation free] and CLTS [community-led total sanitation] initiatives training communities but also remaining on the backend to make sure that these facilities were actually maintained. That’s how you come closer to the real issues are. There’s the crack in the door of the WASH facility that allows for the Peeping Tom to look in, for example. And there’s the poor lighting and the well-documented assaults taking place in these facilities.

But these are also areas of gathering as well. In one informal settlement in Eldoret, the pastor of the church discouraged his flock from using the WASH facilities, because he felt there was too much going on over there. A lot of people would go there to shower at the local waterfalls – men and women together. Of course, this raised a lot of issues regarding exposure, unwanted pregnancies, and just this mingling. It was a kind of hypersexualised environment. This pastor put a stop to it. So, we went with him to the service provider to see if a proper facility could be set up.


Kewasnet and ANEW have recently done some groundbreaking research on sextortion in two informal settlements in Kenya. What should people know about this issue?

In 2015, we were in two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya to do a human-rights-based analysis of power dynamics around water. This [sextortion] issue came up. Unfortunately, legitimising the issue has been really difficult. The sense I am getting from it is that because an NGO or a big research centre has not yet produced results on this, it is not credible. We proceeded to collect stories to understand the issue – there was never any doubt that these women had stories to tell. We then brought the issue to the global level in 2018, working in partnership with SIWI [Stockholm International Water Institute], which had already done some research on the matter. We then received support from the Danish government to go ahead with a bigger baseline survey.

Of the violence that women and girls experienced, we found that 8–10 percent was sextortion – sex for water. We heard from local leaders who had been themselves victims. The results of this violence are, of course, disastrous: sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and death in certain cases. All this, really, because of trying to access water and sanitation services.

We’re trying to focus on the issue of sextortion, but it touches on other issues of SGBV [sexual and gender-based violence], in terms of making WASH facilities safer and more accessible to women and girls, so that they are not filled with dread and anxiety when they actually go to and use these facilities.

We have started a campaign – Sex for Water –  with a number of activities, including a little bit more research on some of the issues, because these are new dimensions. One of the dimensions is to really understand perceptions of sexual behaviour within certain communities and the power element. Even if the woman does have the money to get the water, the proposal still comes to her, you see. It is a power game – I have to have power over you.

This speaks to much bigger issues – and of gender equality – that we have within our society. We have been sensitising communities to this, as part of our capacity building. We are mentoring young boys and girls on SGBV. It has been really good to see youth taking an active role within their communities, addressing these issues in the heart of informal settlements. We’ve also found that where there was action taken against sextortion or against SGBV, mothers were behind that action. Where you had mothers go to the police, the mothers also followed up on the case. (And the first time we heard about sextortion was actually from a mother.) But one of the most important elements of the advocacy campaign is pushing for the acceptance and legitimising of sextortion within our legal and policy frameworks.


How has the Kenyan water sector reacted to this research?

Kenya organised a big gender and youth conference in July 2021, and the Sex for Water programme was added to sessions and the report. WASH practitioners are shocked, but some still question whether this is really a thing. The response from policymakers remains to be seen. They’ve been hearing about it. I’ve gotten informal calls. Is this really a thing? Did you just invent a new problem? Did you manipulate them to say this? The struggle is real.

Many are not ready to accept that it’s a one-party thing. Even at one of our workshops, there was the concept of “willing buyer, willing seller” – that this is “a currency by women to avoid paying bills.” It doesn’t matter if it’s used, the officer on duty is not supposed to accept it. It’s important that we write about consent and power. We have to push back and say that, if the conditions were right, she’d probably never think about such a trade in the first place. We also have to push the authorities to make more water points free for women, like they drilled borewells for COVID. It’s possible.


What can global water sector organizations do?

They can accept, legitimize, and mainstream work on addressing sextortion in their programmes. They know that there is gender-based violence, but they have not accepted sextortion. They feel that they need to conduct the research themselves. But what about the voices of the people telling you that these things have happened. Shouldn’t that be evidence enough? If not, at least accept the results of those that have done the research. The data is being presented to you – build on the data.


How are the focus and funds for gender in water and sanitation translating into improving the situation in Kenya?

Gender equality is recognised within the Kenyan constitution. And Kenya has made a lot of strides in addressing gender issues, passing laws like the Sexual Offences Act 2006 for eg. But a lot more needs to be done in terms of changes in conservative attitudes towards women and girls. This is a very long process.

We are seeing the emancipation of Kenyan women[1]. The public space is open to women in Kenya. Women are taking up more leadership positions.  For example, Martha Koome was recently appointed chief justice.  We saw reforms on inheritance laws. We saw certain marital practices being outlawed, like wife inheritance. Kenya may not be where Rwanda is, in terms of its [majority-female] parliament, but I still feel that East Africa is quite active in pushing women.

That said, at the kick-off meeting of Sex for Water, the local leader said that when men see her walking into a room – and this is verbatim – “It’s like my vagina is on my forehead. They see a vagina working.” It says a lot that, in spite of her position, she was still not getting the respect that she deserved, because she is a woman.

We’ve been in meetings to which women were invited but remained silent the entire meeting – silent, even as their issues were being discussed. NGOs try to get a bit smarter on that front, for example, by just having meetings with women. But as soon as the man walks in, nobody says anything. This is more in the remote areas; within urban settings, we are seeing more assertiveness – even aggression – coming from women.

Practitioners often see a water point with a massive queue of women and girls and think it’s just a technical problem. But if we’re going to talk about water governance, we know that governance means power. So, approaching it from that governance perspective means understanding the power dynamics in this queue and conducting some sort of power analysis within these communities. Practitioners need to open their eyes, to look closely, and to ask the questions that will lead to a much bigger conversation.


[1]  A recent study – developed by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in partnership with the State Department for Gender, UN Women and UNICEF using a first-of-its-kind measure of women’s empowerment, the Kenya Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI),   –  shows that only 29 percent of Kenyan women can participate equally and effectively in political, economic, and cultural life — and that their involvement is largely dependent on household circumstances.  The Index provides the first comprehensive and systematic measure for women and girl’s empowerment in Kenya.

The post Sex for Water: WIN in conversation with ANEW appeared first on WIN - Water 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

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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.

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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

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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.

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“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!


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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.

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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.

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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



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



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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