Session FT 1.07
How to overcome corruption in water resources and service management
- Stockholm International Water Institute
- Inter-American Association on Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
- International Initiative on Corruption and Governance
- Swedish Water House
Researchers and policy makers alike increasingly agree on the importance of abating corruption and to promote transparency and honesty to achieve sustainable development. Uncorrupt institutions for public governance and economic transaction seem to be an important, if not the most important, asset for countries and local governments to achieve sustainable development.
It is only recently that corruption and anti-corruption have started to receive attention as crucial for sustainable development. Until the mid-1990s, it was common to think of corruption as either a minor problem or, in some cases, as serving to “grease” the market and thus increase economic growth and development. Today the research and policy community is strongly emphasizing the negative impacts of corruption on economic, social and political development. For instance, the World Bank Research Institute identifies levels of corruption as one of the major obstacles for economic development. Furthermore, corruption undermines the democratic quality of political systems and increase social injustice. With increased awareness of the detrimental effects of corruption strategies to fight, corruption has become more important in policy circles around the world. Many states have some sort of anti-corruption strategy, although there are great differences in terms of scope, impact and political will. More or less all large donor agencies are involved in the fight against corruption as they realize that corruption seriously impedes on development and the prospects to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
The purpose of the session is to increase awareness of the magnitude and dynamics of corruption in water resources management in the struggle for a universal access to water resources and services. The focus is to identify and support effective anti-corruption mechanism at all levels (from the local to the global) and within all relevant relations (such as public-private, pubic-public, public-consumer) and to promote transparency.
Civil society organizations can spur, mediate and monitor private sector anti-corruption agreements
Building trust among leading private companies to agree on non-bribery standards
Citizens’ monitoring of local civil servants and politicians is proven to be an effective way to reduce corruption.
Identify common goals and tasks among relevant actors, that is, seek cooperation and inclusiveness instead of blame and finger-pointing
Involve the media: Reporting on malpractices can improve accountability
Without strong political back-up it will be very difficult to fight corruption effectively
- Corruption stunts social and economic development and makes it more difficult to reach the MDGs. It is especially poor people who are hardest hit by corrupt practices.
- Corruption permeates all societies and at all levels. It is thus important to build broad local, national and international alliances that include governments, civil society, private sector and media.
- Setting up alliances to build trust and implement on the ground anti-corruption measures
- Recognizing that working under transparency principles can not only increase business opportunities and profits but also improve the quality of the service or delivered product.
Orientations for action
- Continue to build strong alliances across society and mobilize political support
Empower bottom-up cititzen voice and accountability approaches, specifically incorporate CSOs/CBOs management and members in design and implementation of water schemes.
Apply monitoring tools to any kind of water scheme and related actors (corruption mapping, corruption participatory assessments and surveys, project cycle corruption assessments, expenditure tracking etc.)
Institutional reform to improve access to participation, information and justice
Local Action presented
Private sector integrity initiative in water and sanitation transport systems in Colombia
Jorge Enrique Ángel Gómez, Colombian Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Colombia
Given the evidence of corrupt practices in the pipeline manufacture industry in Colombia, which had increased the prices of the products, reduced the quality and durability of the pipelines and above all, impacted directly on the credibility of the sector, ACODAL and Transparency International signed a memorandum of understanding on November 2003, in order to motivate the involved companies to elaborate an Anticorruption Agreement. This first step set the ground for an integrity initiative between most of the pipeline producers in the country who, despite initial resistance and uncertainties, signed the agreement on April 2005.
This document represents the result of the combined efforts from the pipeline sector and comprises binding decisions for the underwriting companies not to engage in bribery activities. It defines measures to prevent and manage such risks, agrees upon a set of sanctions for those who fail to comply with the agreement, and establishes an independent body to monitor compliance. In this sense, companies have acquired the commitment to implement in their organizations and distributors the measures and actions that avoid this type of practices.
Although there is still much to do, the results of this auto-regulation initiative has created an atmosphere of trustworthy and has managed to reduce prices up to 30% in some cases.
Support in social control of public management: agreement of interinstitutional cooperation between EMAAP-Q and AEISA
Feliciano Fortunato, Ecuadorian Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, Ecuador
When civil society and NGOs in Quito, Ecuador, spotted evidence of corruption in the management activities of the water-service institution, action was taken with support of AIESA, Transparency Ecuador and private companies of the water sector. They succeeded to underwrite an agreement with EMAAP-Q (Quito’s metropolitan drinking water and sewage management company) about transparency and honesty in tender and procurement processes to water and sewage related infrastructure.
The agreement sets clear commitments for EMAAP-Q, with special attention on the access to information and the observance of the Ecuadorian Law and Ethic Code. It also points AEISA as a mediator to solve possible conflicts, to evaluate technical proposals and to implement the existing tools to accomplish the goals of project.
The expected impacts of the agreement are to reduce social conflicts around water issues and the costs of public transactions, to enhance the quality of the service and by this means, increase the perception of good management practices of the company and its directors.
An other impact that is already having results is the influence that this initiative is having on motivating similar actions to reduce corruption in the country, increasing the access to international funding and improving the life quality of the citizens.
Campaigning for peoples governance in water resources and services
Arnold Padilla, IBON Foundation, Inc. and the Water for the People Network, Philippines
The Magdalena Water Project, the World Bank’s showcase in the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto, is a US$1.4 M project that promised the availability of clean and potable water for the community. The bidding process itself was highly questionable, and worst, the people had to pay higher prices for water that experts declared unfit for drinking. The residents and some local officials organized and set up the “People’s Watch for Potable Water” and launched protest actions that resulted to them being allowed to source water from their old system, and graft & corruption charges filed against the town mayor.
The Leyte Water District (LWD) is an example of anti-corruption work being a risky endeavor. The local labor union filed graft and corruption charges against the general manager of the Leyte Water District after questionable transactions were discovered, and which resulted to an almost 300% increase in water prices in this poor Southern Philippine province. Two labor union officials have been shot dead, seen as moves to silence the union. Despite this, the labor union pursued the case, and the water district official now faces murder and frustrated murder charges. The LWD’s books are also under investigation by the Commission on Audit.
Presentation of an initiative to form a network to combat corruption in the water sector
Donal T. O’ Leary, Transparency International
The purpose of the network WIN is to initiate and support pro-poor actions to combat corruption in the water sector. The network will operate worldwide, will establish an appropriate balance between advocacy work and concrete action and will cover all aspects of water including water supply and sanitation and water resources management. Members shall coming from governments, utilities, regulators, private sector, donor community, Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), Policy Advice Organizations, universities and research organizations and civil society organizations.
A strategic framework for anti-corruption activity in the WSS sector in Africa
Ede Ijjasz, Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank
WSP identified typologies of corruption within the public–public, public–private and public– consumer sector and its effects on the poor. Since corruption is heavily affecting the poor there is a great need to collect empirical evidence on the scope of corruption, such as the worst components/types of corruption, the costs of “corrupt” water, the affect on the poor and key “pressure” points that can lead to most effective interventions. WSP anti-corruption activities will comprise regional advocacy, local actions and the development of information/ and diagnosis tools.