Picture a parliamentarian, representatives of the ministry responsible for water, a consultant that developed an anti-corruption strategy for the water sector, experts from national and international NGOs, different donor representatives and a number of other stakeholders at the rear end of a long conference room. They all gathered to discuss integrity risks in water sector planning and budgeting. At the other end of the same room imagine a group of officials from provincial government in a lively discussion on the same topic. Now leave this room and picture a round table just outside the conference room, with a group of officials and technical water professionals from the district level. And guess what, they are engaged in the same discussion.
This was the set-up that absorbed participants during an afternoon session of a three day workshop on water integrity that was jointly organised by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, IRC, WaterLex and WIN, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Mozambique. The Director of Water of the Ministry of Planning and Housing opened the workshop and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, Catarina Albuquerque, contributed a video message on the link between water integrity and the human rights.
Interestingly, representatives from all three levels identified similar problems associated to water integrity. One of the key risks was associated to delays in the disbursement of funds. In consequence, procurement and contracting processes are implemented under time pressure, which increases the likelihood of corruption and illicit practices to spend the available funds before the end of the year. This results in low value for money and poor quality services.The minimum human rights obligation of Mozambique to take steps to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the progressive realization of the human rights to water and sanitation are undermined by lacking integrity.
Bilateral projects between NGOs or donors and provincial or district governments, which are not aligned with the official planning system, also affect the transparency in the planning, budgeting and investment monitoring cycle. This increases risks of double accounting (e.g. the same boreholes may be accounted for under several projects). Bilateral projects also alter the extent to which local governments hold responsibility for service provision, because third parties impose conditionality.
These are two examples of the different risks that were identified and discussed. Furthermore a toolkit to integrate human rights considerations into project planning was presented by WaterLex. IRC facilitated the presentation of six good practices during the third day of the workshop to provide the participants with concrete examples how integrity is already being promoted in the Mozambique water sector. One element of the HELVETAS water integrity programme, which is being implemented in cooperation with WIN, aims at providing a platform for water sector stakeholders to share experiences. Additional workshops and water integrity trainings are planned for 2014.