Photo: Mohammed Shajahan - winner - WIN photo competition 2020

Integrity and urban water and sanitation: photo competition winners

Winning images of the 2020 water integrity photo and design competition

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 WIN photo competition on integrity and corruption in urban water and sanitation!

Thank you to all who participated and reflected on the impact of corruption and the ways integrity can support water and sanitation services in cities and urban settings. Special thanks also to the judges for their support, time, and contributions. We received over 200 stunning photos to judge and the selection was very difficult.


The impact of corruption and the role of integrity in urban water and sanitation

With COVID-19 bearing down, these are very trying times all over the world. The pandemic has made it painfully evident how essential strong WASH systems and practices are for the health and livelihood of millions. We are also seeing how inequitable systems are and who bears the brunt of poor planning and poor service when crisis hits. Water and sanitation infrastructure and services have been chronically underfunded for decades. Almost three-quarters of the population of Least Developed Countries lack handwashing facilities with soap and water. We are poorly prepared.

The top images of this year’s competition on corruption and integrity in urban water and sanitation emphasize these concerns. They mostly show the impact of poor integrity, poor planning, and laissez-faire. They show inequality and the vulnerability of many to crises, runaway pollution, and climate change, especially in dense urban areas and informal settlements. Nearly 7 out of 10 people will live in urban areas by 2050. As the urban population booms, it is a major, and urgent, challenge to ensure provision of sustainable water and sanitation services and to realise the human rights to water and sanitation for all.

Strong WASH systems are the first line of defence and the path to resilience to crises, pandemics and climate change included. Corruption in the water and sanitation sector undermines these systems and our human rights to water and sanitation. The sector must be protected from such practices and become an island of integrity, starting today:

  1. Be transparent, share reliable information.
  2. Act sustainably and with accountability. Emergency action can’t be an excuse for poorly planned or problematic practices that violate people’s basic rights.
  3. Leave no one behind, set inclusive targets.



Best Artist – First Place: Mohammed Shajahan

Water Vendor.
A water vendor is collecting water from the deep tube wells on the other side of the river for sale to people with low incomes living on the Karnaphuli river in Chittagong.Bangladesh.


Best Artist – Second Place: Mahbubur Rahman

Since decades, people are languishing in 116 ‘Bihari settlements (Pakistani Refugee)’, located largely in urban Bangladesh. The settlements are generally overcrowded, have inadequate water and sanitation, and poor or non-functioning waste and sewage disposal systems. Women and children are the main victims of this crisis. Here at Mirpur Settlement, they are sharing a well with men for bathing and fetching water. Sometimes, they need to fight for a little amount of potable water.


Best Artist – Third Place: Supratim Bhattacharjee

Toxic Environment.
School child and other locals walking through Hazaribagh tannery area of Dhaka. Dhaka, currently home to 20 million people, is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia. Repeated electrical blackouts, insufficient clean water supply, poor sanitation and hygiene, poor governance, air pollution, unreal traffic jams, etc. are looming large. Every year, a huge portion of the population, including many children, succumbs to deadly waterborne diseases. By 2030, it is estimated the population will reach 30 million, making Dhaka the fifth largest city of the world. Water supply and sewerage must be improved, especially in informal settlements.


Special Prize – Best Young Artist: Vu Thi Thanh Thu

Money Controls Clean Water. The uneven supply of clean water at different locations in the city. In poor household areas, people are waiting for clean water supply as if waiting for rain in the desert, while some water supply managers direct services to specific groups for more money.




Sudipto Das. Street Saloon

A customer gets a quick shave at a street-side makeshift saloon in waterlogged Amherst Street area in Kolkata, India. During the monsoon, after heavy rain, the area will become waterlogged for the next three days. This is a common problem suffered by the local residents. Lots of money is spent to rebuild sewerage lines in that particular stretch known for waterlogging but due to lack of planning and corruption, the problem persists. A recent article in the ‘India Water Review’ mentioned that due to high corruption and despite the huge amount of money spent on various water and sanitation programmes by the state government, conditions are still the same.


Azim Khan Ronnie. Brick Factory.

The breathtaking scale of Bangladesh’s brick-making industry is captured in this photo which shows the piling-up of bricks in thousands as manufacturing processes wreak havoc on the surrounding environment. It is estimated that one million people churn out a staggering tens of billions of bricks each year across 7,000 separate kilns. In the capital of Dhaka, pollution from brick factories and dyeing plants increasingly turn water in the River Turag green with algae. Brick kilns are also the top air polluter in the country.


Pranab Basak. Water and Life.

Prolonged monsoon brings floods and chaos to many parts of India such as the city of Kolkata. The reasons are complex but experts cite unplanned urban development that has destroyed the wetlands around the city as a prominent reason. Flooded cities like Kolkata are also affected by shortages of drinking water during heavy monsoon.


Mac Mullengz.  Untitled

Four Nigerian children collectively trying to fix a broken water pipe on their return from school after having a drink from it. This shows they know the value of water and the importance of clean water in a clean environment.


Nafis Ameen. Untitled.

Dhaka is the second least liveable city in the world because of pollution. People in the city’s informal settlements are living surrounded by waste and polluted water.


Guillermo Gutierrez. The Inequality in Distribution of Water.

A young boy stands at the summit of the hills in San Juan de Miraflores, a precarious settlement in Lima, Peru. He is watching how a tanker truck with a long pipe is taking water to a top reservoir behind him. The Peruvian coastal area has the largest population concentration and an increasing water deficit. In the capital city, more than one million people lack drinking water. By 2040, it is predicted this deficit could affect 70% of the population. Corruption, demographic expansion, inefficient management and distribution, and climate change result in inequity in the distribution of water. Families in the periphery of the city end up paying six times more than those with access to this resource in the rest of the city.

What can you do?

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

Stay informed

Sign up for our newsletter for bimonthly updates on the activities of the network worldwide.

Tell us your story

Are you promoting water integrity in your organization or in your region? Tell us how and help the network learn from your achievements.

Learn from experience

See how people and organizations are changing the water sector with integrity.