$75 billion of water investments lost

Photo credit: IWMI

A leaking pipe. Photo: Francois Molle / IWMI – http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/leaking-pipe-egypt.jpg



$75 billion of water investments lost to corruption annually

Mismanagement threatens SDGs, says new report

International agencies, governments, private companies, local authorities and communities spend hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure and water services. However, ten per cent of those investments, equating to in excess of $US75 billion, is lost to corruption each year. This is the finding of a new reportWater Integrity Global Outlook (WIGO), the first publication to focus solely on corruption within the water sector. It concludes that corruption must be reduced or eliminated to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ‘availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ will be achievable.

“There’s recognition that to achieve the SDGs we need to work on developing democratic institutions and increasing accountability,” explains Floriane Clement, a researcher in institutional policy and analysis at IWMI who contributed to the report. “It’s really a question of governance. From the agriculture point of view, if you look at large-scale water irrigation systems, for example in Asia, there have been several studies on how corruption and unethical practices have affected the performance of these systems, especially when managed by bureaucracies.

Whereas corruption reports often portray bureaucrats as the villains, corruption practices might also be prevalent among farmer managers and water user groups especially when these groups are dominated by rural elites, not accountable to farmers.”

The report finds that no part of the financing system, public or private, is immune from corruption or integrity failures. Often, corruption can be ‘built in’ to projects from the outset. “My research in Indonesia illustrates how corruption rules are embedded in project management procedures, with projects highly dependent on donor funding,” explains Diana Suhardiman, Senior researcher and Sub-theme leader in Governance and Political Economy at IWMI. “It highlights the existence of systemic corruption and the importance of social relationships and organizational culture in shaping institutionalized corruption. When corruption rules are perceived as social norms embedded in the broader political structures, there is a need to shape a more politically and culturally grounded anti-corruption strategy.”

Read the full article: IWMI



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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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