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New report shows how the water sector can save billions

Published on: 22/03/2016

Improved governance, integrity and anti-corruption measures can win back US$ 75 billion every year.

Each year US$ 770-1,760 billion are needed to develop water resources and services worldwide. Yet the number of people without "safe" drinking water could be as large as those who lack access to basic sanitation: around 32 per cent of the world's population in 2015. Pervasive and systemic corruption, representing 10 per cent of water sector investment, remains a significant barrier to achieving universal and equitable access to drinking water and sanitation.

Grand corruption

In Benin, € 4 million of Dutch funding vanished from the Ministry of Water in 2015. In the "Cashgate" scandal in Malawi, a reformed public financial management (PFM) system was misused to divert US$ 55 million from public funds to the private accounts of officials. In California, a member of the State Senate in 2015 declared a system of permits that allowed oil companies to discharge wastewater into underground aquifers to be corrupt.

These are some of the examples of grand corruption described in the Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016 or WIGO, released by the Water Integrity Network (WIN) on World Water Day. The report also shows the degree to which poor water governance negatively affects the world's most vulnerable populations – specifically women, children, and the landless. It shows too how communities, private sector, civil society, and governments can all contribute to win back an estimated US$ 75 billion for global investment in water services and infrastructure annually.

In Indonesia, the Jasa Tirta I Public Corporation, a state-owned but legally independent river basin organization, became a model for anti-corruption initiatives by adopting international financial accounting standards, quality management systems, and integrity tools for employees.

In Sierra Leone, the Guama Valley Water Company's tough anti-corruption reforms brought almost all illegal tampering of customer billing to an end. By 2015, gains in company revenue were enough to cover operations and maintenance.

Building "integrity walls"

Malawi's "Cashgate" scandal, mentioned above, was exposed by a whistleblower. Encouraging and protecting whistleblowers is one of the "bricks" in the "integrity wall" proposed in WIGO. The "integrity wall" is constructed from building blocks of transparency, accountability, participation and anti-corruption measures. 

.Water integity wall

Dutch launch of the Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016

The official launch of the Water Integrity Global Outlook took place in Berlin on 22 March, World Water Day. This will be followed up by a series of in-country launch events all over the world.

On 15 April, WIN and IRC will organise a special launch event for the Netherlands in The Hague. For more information and to register go to the IRC events page.

Das, B. et al., 2016. Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016, Berlin, Germany: Water Integrity Network (WIN). 261 p. : 88 boxes, 16 fig., 5 tab. ISBN 978-3-00-051295-7. Available at: