© Victoriano Danilo

What can be done to increase integrity and stamp out corruption in water

Lessons and recommendations

Corruption thrives where transparency, accountability and participation are weak and where public sector and financial management capacity are low. Is it both a cause and consequence of poor governance.

Water integrity is the strongest counterforce to corruption in the water sector and an essential aspect of improved water governance.

Water integrity implies honesty. It is based on the three pillars of Transparency, Accountability and Participation (TAP) and aims for equity and sustainability. It can be promoted and enhanced to address all the major risks of corruption in water.


Key lessons for anti-corruption and water integrity initiatives

As highlighted in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report of 2008 focused on water, we should bear in mind that:

  1. Lesson 1: Preventing corruption in the water sector, just as cleaning up after it, is difficult and expensive
  2. Lessons 2: Understanding the local water context is essential to the success of reforms
  3. Lesson 3: Cleaning up water corruption should not be at odds with the needs of the poor
  4. Lesson 4: Pressure for water reform should be built from above and from below

Based on these lessons many tools and methodologies have been developed to increase integrity, fight corruption, reduce the risks for corruption in the water sector and as a consequence, improve effectiveness and performance of water sector developments.


Steps to enhanced integrity

The first step to increasing integrity starts with you. As a stakeholder of the water sector, show your commitment to working with integrity by signing the Water Integrity Network Code of Conduct here.

  1. Initiatives to fight corruption then depend on a pointed and relevant assessment of the risks and priorities for water integrity in specific contexts. Find out more about integrity and governance assessment frameworks and methodologies here.
  2. Strengthened regulatory oversight of water management and use is an important step in increasing integrity and can reduce the risk of regulatory capture and informal practice.
  3. Tools also exist to ensure fair competition and accountable implementation of contracts, for example by improving budgeting, procurement and monitoring processes.
  4. Transparency and participation are essential ingredients of any initiative to enhance integrity in the water sector. Social accountability tools, communication and capacity building can play a key role in supporting these pillars.

To learn how these tools have been used and adapted to specific contexts and water sub-sectors worldwide, see our cases and good practices.


What can you do?

You can take simple steps to launch an integrity change process. Here are the tools to help you.

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