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Keeping water clean: First sector-initiated coalition forms to fight corruption

The pervasiveness of corruption in the water sector, a natural resource vital for basic existence, spurred the world’s leading anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), and five leading water organisations to join forces and fight corruption through the Water Integrity Network (WIN), launched today.

Greater global access to clean water and safe sanitation for the poor, better quality of service to citizen-consumers, and increased confidence by tax-paying publics are among the broad goals set out by WIN.

"The World Water Week in Stockholm is an ideal platform to highlight the importance of tackling corruption in all areas of the water sector internationally,” said Dr. Donal O'Leary, Senior Advisor at Transparency International, which hosts the WIN Secretariat. “The Water Integrity Network hopes to help plug a leak which effectively serves as a barrier to improving the lives of poor people around the world.”

The WIN will address the need to raise awareness and facilitate effective anti-corruption actions on the ground, from influencing national policy through to community-level initiatives involving the private and public sector.

“The Millennium Development Goal target to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015 cannot be met if corruption is not reduced,” said Dr. Håkan Tropp of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), and Chair of the WIN Steering Committee. We call on leaders and citizens throughout society to stop the leakage of corruption now.”

The urgency of the corruption challenge is echoed in the recently issued United Nations World Water Development Report 2: Water, A Shared Responsibility. It states: “In the water sector, as worldwide, corruption is pervasive, though shortage of information about its extent in the water sector prevents a full picture from being obtained. It has had little attention to date in the water sector and much remains to be done.”

Something must be done when clean drinking water remains unobtainable for 1.1 billion people and when according to the UN up to 40 percent of water or more goes unaccounted for due to water leakages in pipes, canals and illegal tapping. WIN is a response.

Corruption hurts

Corruption hurts, and it hits the poorest the hardest by forcing them to pay bribes to connect to water pipes or tankers. It helps to inflate the cost of creating and maintaining water infrastructure and diverts irrigated water away from poor villages. As in other areas where corruption is present, it leads to biased decisions on the allocation and location of water supplies, wastewater treatment facilities, service points and pipe systems.

Falsified meter readings by paid-off readers, ill-advised procurement of expensive but poorly constructed facilities and bought directorships are some further examples of corrupt behavior.

As a result, citizens and especially the poor, suffer from increased water expenses, limited or denied access to services, lost dignity, poor health and eroded democracy and social equity.

WIN works on solutions

The Water Integrity Network promotes solutions-oriented action and coalition-building between civil society, the public and private sectors, media and governments. More specifically, WIN will help to influence national and international policy by providing information and anti-corruption tool kits to governments, companies, regulators and non-governmental groups. The network’s core work will include diagnosing the problems, proposing solutions, building capacity and monitoring progress. A fund for civil society activities in developing countries is also envisioned to help develop effective local anti-corruption coalitions.

The Water Integrity Network was founded by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Swedish Water House (SWH), Transparency International (TI), and Water and Sanitation Program-Africa (WSP-Africa). The Network welcomes its newest member AquaFed, the International Federation of Private Water Operators, and remains open to new members from the public and private sector and civil society who want to rid the water sector of corruption.

For any press enquiries please contact

Gypsy Guillén Kaiser
Sarah Tyler

T: +49-30-3438 20662
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912

WIN Secretariat
Dr. Donal O’Leary
T: +49-30-3438 2061/19

SIWI / World Water Week in Stockholm
David Trouba
T: +46-8-522 139 89
Fax: +46-8-522 139 61
Mobile +46-73-914 3989