Water kiosk in Mathare Valley © Daniel Nordmann

Setting the Right Tone for Dialogue on Water Integrity

Using AWIS to Constructively and Sensitively Discuss Corruption in Kenya

The AWIS methodology as a means to initiate discussion and assessments of integrity in water

Shortly before the end of 2011, I travelled to Kenya with the intention to put the Annotated Water Integrity Scan (AWIS) to use together with some of our partners. We frequently talk about AWIS, a tool developed by WIN, as a diagnostic tool that helps to explore the status of integrity as well as to determine corruption risks but it is also can serve other purposes.

In Nairobi, we organised a training of facilitators as well as an AWIS on urban water supply together with TI-Kenya. Particularly during the scan on urban water supply it became apparent that AWIS can generate a detailed snapshot of the mechanisms that are in place in the water sector. What also became apparent is that the AWIS approach helped to set a constructive atmosphere for dialogue about sensitive issues.

The tool has specifically defined indicators for different water sector specific risk areas allowing for structured dialogue among experts. In the workshop itself participants are put into a situation in which they jointly have to think of arguments others may have to evaluate these indicators more positive or negative than they themselves.

In this way AWIS helps to structure information that is already available. At the same time, it creates acceptance for the results and allows the participants to develop an understanding of the perspectives of others.

This is in line with the perception of the participants of the AWIS that took place some days later in Mombasa, who felt that “the [water] sector needs to benefit from this tool”. Participants concluded that AWIS can contribute to overcoming a lot of the constraints the Kenyan water sector is facing, of which many are linked to governance.

 

Conclusions from the AWIS application in Kenya

Participants scored an annotated the levels of transparency, accountability and participation in 6 risk areas:

  • Policy & legislation
  • Regulation
  • Investment projects & programmes
  • Service provision
  • Anti-corruption legislation and application

Overall scores for Transparency tended to be higher, indicating that on average transparency is perceived as being less problematic in all risk areas.

The annotations provide more nuance to the scores and describe both the opportunities and weaknesses of urban water governance. These provide useful input for the definition of priorities and the implementation of practical measures to improve water integrity as a means to assure the Human Right to Water in urban areas.

 

See the final report for AWIS in Kenya and the Transparency, Accountability and Participation score annotations: