Governance is crucial in achieving efficient, sustainable and fair water distribution and delivering adequate sanitation services. However, there is no blueprint formula for good governance in the water sector. The complexity of institutional and governmental structures calls for a diverse approach to good governance creation.
The thematic process of the 6th World Water Forum reflects this understanding of the importance of good governance: The UNDP Water Governance Facility at SIWI (WGF) and WIN, with support from Transparency International, joined efforts to place the crucial issue of integrity and transparency on the agenda at the World Water Forum. Two targets related to the topic of good governance were subsequently developed aiming at achieving wider use of corruption risk assessments and diagnostic studies and clear mechanisms for transparent information sharing, including budget transparency.
On the morning of March 15, visitors of the World Water Forum were invited to attend the joint WGF and WIN session on integrity and transparency in the water sector, to listen to various partners and network members sharing their experiences in promoting water integrity and good governance. It was a lively session with a diverse and interesting selection of case studies from Africa, Europe and Asia, which inspired as well as incited water stakeholders to take action to improve integrity and transparency, with a view to reduce corruption, in the water sector.
The presenters shed light on what can be done to reach our targets. One of the presenters, Babatope Babalobi from the West Africa WASH Journalists Network reminded the audience of the critical role of journalists as watchdogs for accountable behaviour in the WASH sector. Despite the highly sensitive issue and the dangerous working environment, Babatope and his network continue to improve the quality and accessibility of public information in the sector.
A high-level panel of mayors, bilateral donor representatives, public utility and an inter-governmental organisation discussed how political commitment to good governance and integrity in the water sector can be achieved. The audience had the opportunity to learn what concrete steps have already been taken to move forward.
The initiatives taking place at the grass-roots level need to be complemented and directed by adequate policies. It is not so much about a lack of tools and methodologies to reduce corruption and improve accountability in the water sector – the challenge is to scale up the implementation of these tools and methodologies.
The activities taken in the context of the World Water Forum present an important step in a long-term process which will require continuously raising awareness and joining efforts for improved water governance and integrity.