Integrity in the water sector requires a change in power relations to hold to account those who control knowledge, resources and decision-making. Advocacy, capacity development and a range of tools all have a role to play in strengthening transparency, accountability and participation.

Marches against corruption in Brazil

Since 2008, annual village marches have been held in Piauí, a dry region in north-east Brazil, to raise awareness about water rights and highlight corruption in the sector. A partnership of local organizations and community leaders organized the first march to a village where work on a water supply system had stalled. People in that village now have water in their homes, but marches continue in other communities facing problems.


Advocacy influences attitudes and behaviour and builds momentum for social or policy change in the water sector at local, national or international levels. It is used to convince sector decision-makers that change is needed and to educate the public to resist corruption. Guidelines for water integrity advocacy recommend:

  • Defining objectives with actionable indicators.
  • Targeting specific audiences with their own approaches
  • Conveying evidence-based and realistic messages
  • Building partnerships
  • Documenting impact, and publishing results
Right to information –protect whistleblowers

The right to information is crucial in preventing the misuse of power. More than 85 countries have a Freedom of Information Act and most have an ombudsman to investigate complaints. TI advocates for the legal protection for whistleblowers who reveal corrupt or unethical practices, and supports country level Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs). The OECD has published a study of best practices and guiding principles for whistleblower protection.

Media can shine a light on corruption

Local and global media can highlight corruption and take integrity messages to the public. Media give a voice to social groups whose perspectives are not usually captured. Media effectiveness in exposing corruption requires independence (questions of ownership) freedom to operate (press freedom), capacity (good journalists) and the ability to reach people. Water sector specialists can provide journalists with information and facilitate visits to areas of concern.

Radio raises awareness

A network of 105 rural community radio stations in Nepal have broadcast programmes on water integrity, and information about the WASH investment plan, following a national training day for journalists. The dissemination of WASH-related information through newspapers and radio has contributed to making users more aware of their rights.

Capacity development

Capacity is not only about skills and procedures; it is also about incentives and governance. (OECD)

WIN promotes capacity development as a continuous process during which institutions, water groups and professional associations become better equipped to prevent corruption. It is important to strengthen institutions and organizations, not just the knowledge and skills of individuals.

One approach that has proved successful in sub-Saharan Africa, MENA and Latin America, is to bring water stakeholders from a region together to share experiences and assess integrity risks and capacity development needs.

Support from top levels of management is paramount to create a safe climate for training in which participants can share dilemmas, pressures and challenges. Staff must feel empowered and supported to challenge bad practice and to develop a zero-tolerance approach to corruption. Women are under-represented in capacity development initiatives. Training should include content on the gendered nature of water use and power disparities.

Training Manual on Water Integrity

The Training Manual on Water Integrity was developed in 2009 by the UNDP Water Facility at SIWI, WIN, Cap-Net and Waternet to strengthen water integrity at policy and operational levels in governments, the private sector and civil society. In 2013 a water integrity training manual was also developed for Latin America and the Caribbean (Boehm, 2013).

Tools to build integrity

Integrity tools can be used as an aid to prevent corruption and mismanagement to impose sanctions for breaches of integrity. Enforcement is mainly the task of specialized institutions, such as an anti-corruption commission, public prosecutor or water sector regulator.

The Integrity Management Toolbox supports organizations to build integrity into strategic plans and business models, with a step-by-step methodology for change. The Toolbox was developed by the cewas, WIN and GIZ, with local partners in Kenya and support from BMZ.


Table 5.2: Water integrity strategies & tools
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Download Chapter 5: Approaches & Tools
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Download WIGO 2016 (full)

Key messages

  • Advocacy on water integrity has to target political and institutional leadership as well as the grass roots. The media can help to highlight and root out corruption.
  • Capacity building for water integrity needs to incorporate anti-corruption tools and trainings.
  • Tools are most effective when they work in combination, focus on what matters locally, have political and institutional support and are evaluated.


  • Develop targeted water integrity advocacy at multiple levels. Advocacy on water integrity has to target political leadership as well as involve the grass roots in order to create the momentum and legitimacy to drive institutional reforms and to build a sustainable base of support for change. The media can also provide substantial support to integrity in the water sector.
  • Develop capacity-building initiatives within comprehensive frameworks for action. Water governance and management capacity-building programmes must include water integrity tools and build synergies between water sector and anti-corruption bodies. Capacity building should be part of an overall programme of reform, with established targets and goals.
  • Adapt tools to local contexts and combine them in broader strategies. Tools are most effective when they focus on what matters locally, when they have political and institutional support and when they link the local level to the national level. Above all, they need to be embedded in a broader strategy with clear objectives.

Recommended websites/initiatives