© Water for food

Tackling Corruption in the Water Sector

© Water for food

In most countries water crises are not due to resource scarcity, but primarily because of governance failures. The Multi Country Water Integrity Programme (MCWIP) aims to fight corruption and mismanagement in the water and sanitation sector through interventions that promote transparent and accountable decision-making, which includes the most vulnerable and socially excluded groups of society.

  • Project Name
    Multi-Country Water Integrity Programme (MCWIP)
  • Project Phase
    2015 to 2019
  • Funding
    This mandate is funded by Water Integrity Network e.V.
  • Thematic focus
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    WASH & Water Governance

Transparent, accountable and inclusive decision-making

Corruption can be found at every point along the water value chain - from policy design and budget allocations to operations and billing systems. This incurs huge cost for societies in terms of lost lives, stalling development, wasted talent and degraded natural resources.

With country programs in Guatemala, Mozambique and Nepal, the Multi-Country Water Integrity Programme is about the adherence of water stakeholders and institutions to good governance principles based on core values of honesty, equity and professionalism.

The program to date has implemented capacity-building initiatives to transform relationships between communities, governments and service providers ensuring that municipal decision-making in the water sector is transparent and inclusive with strong downwards accountability mechanisms in place.

© Simon B. Opladen
Water pump, Mozambique © Simon B. Opladen
© Helvetas
Rain water tank, Nepal © Helvetas
© Flurina Rothenberger
Well in Gabo Delgado, Mozambique © Flurina Rothenberger
© Helvetas
© Helvetas
© Helvetas
© Helvetas

Guatemala: fostering integrity in water service management at the local level

In the municipality of Tacana in San Marcos, a municipal employee hands out a receipt following the payment of the tariff by a water user.

The Altiplano region in Guatemala has high levels of poverty, child malnutrition and little access to drinking water. The duty bearers focus was to strengthen municipal management capacities. Water service governance was improved through the development of instruments such as regulations and service manuals. In parallel, good integrity practices such as ensuring availability and access to information were promoted through the municipal offices.

Drafting and applying regulations clarifies the different rights and responsibilities for the community and the authorities. The regulations stipulate that the authorities need to provide clean, safe and continuous drinking water. The obligations of the water users are also stipulated in the regulations, including making timely and corresponding water service payments by way of tariffs.

At the local community level, tariff setting is done in a participatory manner. One element is to understand that sustainable tariffs reflect different cost types (administrative, operating, treatment, maintenance expenses as well as reserves, expansion and environmental service costs). Thus, establishment requires a considerable amount of information from various technical processes. The tariffs are jointly discussed and approved in the municipal assembly. The service provider annually reviews the tariffs and proposes adjustments to the assembly.

Mozambique: civil society monitoring of budget allocation

To improve the overall WASH situation in Mozambique, developing capacities to monitor budget allocations and executions in the water supply and sanitation sector was priority. The country’s recent ‘hidden debt’ crisis also highlighted the importance of the need for more transparency in the planning and use of resources.

The Budget Monitoring Forum (BMF) is a coalition of civil society organizations working on public finance transparency and accountability. The forum focuses on strengthening the collective capacity of CSOs to monitor and influence fiscal and financial policies, based on the State Budget, for the benefit of disadvantaged groups.

In the water sector, the BMF was able to influence various areas of policy change such as introduction of a specific functional classification for water and sanitation in the State Budget. The collaboration of the BMF with national oversight institutions such as the Parliamentary Budget and Audit Committee to safeguard budget allocations to the WASH sector, despite major national budget cuts caused by the debt crisis, has been a success. BMF continues to advocate for the confirmation of the debts as illegal to ensure the cancellation of loan repayments from public funds.

Nepal: structural adaptations after fundamental changes in the overall governance structure

Governance structures in Nepal were fundamentally changed with the adoption of a new constitution in 2015. Nepal shifted to a federal democratic republic system granting considerable powers and responsibilities to the local level. To fill the newly created public functions, the country ran a series of elections in 2016 and 2017 with over 35,000 representatives taking office at 753 local levels, 850 representatives in seven newly formed provincial parliaments and 344 members in the federal parliament. In February 2018, an important milestone in this transitional process was achieved when governments at all levels were formed.

MCWIP has taken advantage of this adapting framework to build capacities of newly elected government officials on integrity in the water sector along with members of the Federation of Drinking Water and Sanitation Users (FEDWASUN), the national umbrella organization advocating for water and sanitation rights. Prior to the federalization process, FEDWASUN largely operated at the district level. The new constitution has shifted powers to the local level, requiring FEDWASUN to also follow this process by establishing local chapters to ensure representation at this level.

In this case, Nepal provides important learnings for the consequences of profound systemic changes. When advocating for effective decentralization, such changes are inevitable and continuous adaptive management is an essential part of the response.

Inclusive actions

In this project, Helvetas pursues the following main objectives:

  • Developing and implementing of water regulations and policies.
  • Encouraging the participation of women to voice their views on water issues.
  • Strengthening the capacities of local municipalities on transparency and participation in the local decision-making.
  • Enabling spaces for dialogue on water management at local, regional and national levels.
  • Developing budget tracking and monitoring mechanisms of funds allocated for the water sector.
  • Producing knowledge products for further dissemination.

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© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen

WASH & Water Governance

The most vulnerable communities of the world suffer from dirty water. Every year, we support up to 500,000 people in getting access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities.

How Helvetas Supports People in Mozambique

Helvetas has been active in Mozambique since 1979, supporting local communities in building wells and other potable water facilities as well as latrines.

Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.