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Understanding integrity in informal settlements, as a water service provider or decision-maker (new course)

New free short course on the human rights to water and sanitation in informal settlements, and a new way of looking at Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in WASH

Access to clean water and sanitation are fundamental human rights, yet for many living in informal settlements (sometimes referred to as slums, or low-income areas), these essential services remain out of reach. Vulnerable groups, particularly women, face significant barriers due to discrimination and corruption. In informal settlements, prejudice, technical challenges, climate change, and unclear mandates often compound the issues. This can open the door to water cartels or mafias. It is a source of water insecurity for many cities. 

The new online course, Integrity in Informal Settlements: Securing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, addresses these critical issues and promotes integrity as a means to change the situation in informal settlements. It aims to help understand risks driving inadequate service and to find new ways to provide decent services to all, including in informal and low-income areas. It draws on good practices from Peru, South Africa, Kenya and more.

The high impact of poor integrity and corruption in informal settlements, including sextortion

Vulnerable people bear the brunt of integrity failures and corruption in the water sector. People living in informal settlements often pay significantly more for water than neighbours in wealthier areas. Their water is often of dubious quality as no checks or standards are in place for their (often informal) service providers. Residents of low-income areas also face high risks of extortion and petty corruption – for help with access, a better meter reading, or other favours.

There are also issues of poor bad planning, poor data, conflict of interest and predatory behaviour. Sextortion, where a sexual act is extorted as a bribe instead of money, is not uncommon. Poverty, water insecurity, low literacy, prejudice and difficult relationships with law enforcement, all drive risk for sextortion. In informal settlements, risks are therefore high.

What this means overall is that ordinary people lose out, with their health, time, and livelihoods.

A water integrity approach focuses on understanding these specific risks and tackling them directly instead of ignoring them. It is a crucial element of good governance and an important component of service delivery programmes and of policy to achieve the SDGs.

About the course

Integrity in Informal Settlements: Securing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation focuses on the intersection of corruption, integrity, and service delivery in informal settlements. The course covers:

  • Manifestations of integrity failures: Analyse factors influencing water and sanitation services in informal settlements. Examine the impact of poor integrity in informal settlements and test your knowledge on service provision dynamics.

  • Equal rights and clear responsibilities: Explore equity in service delivery, focusing on ensuring equal access to water and sanitation.

  • Strengthening integrity: Explore strategies to enhance integrity and address corruption, promoting the human rights to water and sanitation. Learn about the TAPA framework (Transparency, Accountability, Participation, and Anti-corruption) and its role in addressing corruption.

What you'll gain

This comprehensive course blends readings, case studies, videos, discussions, and quizzes. Participants, including policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and students, will gain:

  • Insights into diverse perspectives and potential solutions.

  • Practical skills for combating corruption and promoting integrity.

Join us

By addressing discrimination and corruption in water and sanitation service delivery, and promoting gender equality and social inclusion, we pave the way for fair access and the realisation of human rights to water and sanitation obligations.

Join us in building a future where water and sanitation are truly accessible to everyone.

The short course is online for free in English and Spanish.

It is offered in partnership with Cap-Net and SIWI.


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