The first step in addressing corruption is a diagnosis of the scale and nature of the problem. (González de Asís)

The water sector needs reliable monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure transparent decision-making and to hold institutions and individuals accountable. Being able to monitor drinking water, sanitation or irrigation is necessary to achieve performance targets, and to combat corruption and build integrity. Financial indicators, unaccounted-for-water, value-for-money studies, public expenditure tracking and user engagement are all relevant for integrity monitoring. Monitoring tools are available to monitor:

  • Perceived corruption levels
  • Transparency in corporate reporting and water management agencies
  • Service quality
  • Integrity in procurement
  • Budget transparency
  • Integrity in hydropower planning, implementation and operation
Peru –public works transparency

INFObras Peru began in 2012 with the aim of increasing the transparency of public works. It combines information from three national information systems with information from implementing agencies about physical progress. The database is publicly available online and citizens are encouraged to participate with comments, suggestions and photographs.

The OECD Principles on Water Governance call on countries to promote regular monitoring and evaluation of water policy and governance and share the results with the public. It suggests a legal framework to define who does what and to ensure that monitoring is aligned with policy objectives.

Monitoring requires independent checks and balances to protect individuals and institutions like auditor general, prosecutor general, anti-corruption agencies or ombudsman from external pressure.

Data gaps

There are significant data gaps in the water sector, especially for service quality, reliability, frequency and sustainability.

Missing corrective actions

The 2014 GLAAS report on Africa found that sanitation services in fewer than one in four countries report monitoring results in such a way that can trigger corrective action.

The Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in India in 2011 reported sanitation levels of 68 per cent, while the 2011 census indicated sanitation coverage less than half that level. Analysis showed that the TSC monitoring system had monitoring outputs rather than what happened on the ground.

The 2015 World Water Development Report says that monitoring water availability, use and related impacts, represents a massive and persistent challenge, especially as information on surface and groundwater quality and quantity is incomplete and there is no comprehensive information on wastewater generation and treatment. ‘Reliable and objective information about the state of water resources, their use and management is often poor, lacking or otherwise unavailable.’

Using multiple indicators in Peru and Spain

In Peru, the regulator annually monitors 30 water and sanitation utilities, using a composite governance indicator assessing transparency, social and institutional management, consumer care, financial sustainability, and institutional capacity.

The Spanish Water Management Transparency Index uses 80 indicators to assess the transparency of river basin agencies by analysing their web pages. A number of water agencies are sharing information on their websites based on these indicators.

I-Watch in the Philippines

The I-Watch anti-corruption group in Sibagat in the Philippines began monitoring WASH services after a survey found that 20 per cent water project money was lost to corruption. Volunteers trained in participatory financial management track procurements by the water utility. They conduct corruption vulnerability surveys and produce maps of corruption hotspots. They mobilize community support with the slogan: ‘I-Watch – now it’s your turn.’

International, national and local levels

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) and UN-Water’s GLAAS compare country performances. A final indicator framework to monitor the water- and sanitation-related targets for the Sustainable Development Goals, was due in March 2016. The World Bank has developed a toolkit for monitoring and evaluating agricultural water management projects.

At national level, monitoring can bring transparency to the impenetrable ‘black box’ of water governance; identifying for example if an increased funding is effectively converted into services.

Zambia: company licence suspended

In 2013, the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) in Zambia suspended the operating licence of a water and sewerage company covering Northern and Muchinga provinces. Monitoring showed that the company failed to meet service-levels and water quality guidelines and breached procurement rules. The Ministry of Local Government and Housing appointed a statutory manager until levels of service improved and the suspension was lifted in February 2015.

At local level, citizens can make their voices heard through water users’ associations, water watch groups and participatory assessments.

Evaluation and integrity

While monitoring is the process of measuring progress towards achieving goals, evaluation is the systematic and objective determining of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of activities towards their objectives. Monitoring is a continuous process, while evaluation takes place at critical points in the process.

Evaluation of water integrity is challenging, but of paramount importance to transform principles of transparency and accountability into effective reforms.

However, few evaluations in the water sector focus on the integrity of projects and programmes. In dam construction, evaluations are more likely to look at the soundness of the structure than at the integrity of procurement and construction processes.

Ethiopia evaluates gender issues

Few evaluations examine gender issues. However, a monitoring and evaluation programme for WASH in Ethiopia provides gender-disaggregated indicators, including the percentage of women trained in scheme management, the percentage of women beneficiaries, and male and female toilets in schools.When CARE USA conducted a study in Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique, it found the functionality of water points was related to governance factors such as the existence of functioning water committees, the participation of women and the existence of by-laws and guidelines.

The AquaRating agency (created by the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Water Association) has established an international standard for evaluating drinking water and wastewater utilities. It includes a requirement for a written code of ethics that includes measures to prevent and detect corruption and is signed by all directors and staff.

The biggest challenge for evaluation is to have a feedback loop that fosters behaviour change. Evaluation reports need to present a strong evidence base, contain actionable recommendations and communicate their findings effectively.


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Key messages

  • Monitoring aspects of the water sector such as access to sanitation, the allocation of budgets and the quality of water resources is of vital importance to achieving targets and for building integrity.
  • Monitoring and evaluation can assess integrity issues at all stages of the water and sanitation chains.
  • Any monitoring and evaluation framework should have independent checks and quality control measures in place – including the active involvement of communities.


  • Monitor and evaluate the quality and sustainability of water services in order to assess the impact of projects and enhance service accountability. Projects and services should be assessed as to how far they meet their aims. In addition to standard performance metrics, stakeholders should assess managerial and integrity indicators that lie at the core of sector performance challenges.
  • Enable and encourage independent monitoring of activities by the media, nongovernmental institutions and civil society. Independent monitoring will expose biased information and help sector actors to reduce bad practices and unethical decisions. Monitoring should involve stakeholders at the most appropriate levels (local, national, basin, regional, etc.).

Recommended websites/initiatives