Corruption in the water sector happens everyday, anywhere
Corruption is in many places of the world part of daily life. The first time I experienced corruption was whilst working in Madagascar in 1983. I also experienced extortion by traffic police in Nicaragua and elsewhere. During my stay in Tanzania around 1993 I experienced first hand how corruption in the water sector works in practice. Service providers took out pipes and cut off our poorly functioning house connection because they were bribed to ensure high pressure and enough water for spraying gardens in the same neighbourhood. . We had to pay to get some cut off water and also telephone services back. It can also be a professional issue. No matter what organisation or institution, anyone working in the water sector has most likely witnessed suspected corruption or wilful malpractice, or at least heard about it. There are many cases where wrong investments are made or where the same infrastructure is paid for several times from different sources.
How my experience with corruption urged me to take action
I realised that the issue can be addressed in a constructive and professional way by working with multiple stakeholders when I participated in a one day workshop in 2007. I joined WIN in 2008. WIN was only in its early stage of establishing itself as an international NGO, after having been founded in 2006. Since then I have witnessed a growing interest in the issue, from across society. Talking about corruption has become less of a taboo than before. We at WIN are particularly happy that our collective voice has been heard and that the water sector is now engaging more seriously in enhancing good governance through transparency, integrity, accountability and anti-corruption identification.
Promoting integrity to fight corruption
Without enhancing water integrity and good governance with a clear anti-corruption perspective, success will not be achieved despite good concepts and technological innovations. It is of great importance for WIN and its partners to find solutions to reduce the detrimental effects of corruption in the future through corruption prevention and a pro-poor approach.
Working together to make change happen
WIN therefore stands for strong partnerships and alliances throughout the water sector and beyond. It is these partnerships and alliances which allows speaking with a collective strong voice against corruption and for change in the water sector. However, real changes need to happen at local level but this also requires change in national institutions, policies and in attitudes and behaviour. We are gradually seeing a certain momentum towards these changes in countries where WIN works with other stakeholders.
Future opportunities and challenges ahead
In the coming year, we would like to build capacities of people and organisations to use water integrity and anti-corruption tools in a professional and solution oriented way through partnerships with other organisations and networks. We see however upcoming challenges in conditions of water, energy and food scarcities. The future will see an evermore increasing competing demand on our scarce natural resources. Those who currently control the access to resources may not be keen on initiatives which improve governance and address corruption.
Make change happen
My final message is short and concise: stay clean!