The Water Integrity Network (WIN): Promoting Transparency, Accountability, Participation and Anti-Corruption in the Water Sector

by | Oct 4, 2017 | Blogs

WIN supports a network of individuals, organisations, and governments working to improve water integrity. We research the impact of corruption and poor integrity in the water sector. WIN develops and promotes tools, capacity and prevents risks in country programmes worldwide, to improve water sector performance and equity to benefit all.

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, corruption and bad governance in the water sector must be eliminated. Urgent action is required to ensure clean governance is at the top of our agenda and to make the human right to water and sanitation a reality.

We know that the water sector is twice as capital-intensive as other utilities and that the estimated investment required to upgrade water and sanitation infrastructure by 2050 is in the trillions of US Dollars. Every 10% of investment in the water sector lost due to corruption translates to more than $75 billion of annual loss in the sector (WIGO, 2016). Potential losses are likely to be much higher. Considering the financing gap and enormous needs of the sector: every cent counts, every drop counts. Water integrity must be at the heart of efforts to improve sector performance.

Building Integrity Walls

Water integrity is based on the pillars of Transparency, Accountability, Participation and Anti-Corruption (TAPA) and aims for equity and sustainability. It can be promoted to improve governance and address all major risks of corruption in water.

WIN’s goal is for water integrity to become a common principle and practice in the water sector. WIN’s ‘Integrity Wall’ offers a guiding framework for strengthening integrity in the water sector. It shows examples of how to promote TAPA. For example, by encouraging media investigations, implementing effective disclosure policies and monitoring for budgets, plans and procurement policies, supporting social accountability measures, protecting whistle-blowers, etc.

Engaging with Partners for Change

Since its establishment in 2006, WIN has been effective in raising awareness of and attention for water integrity through advocacy in international processes, events and capacity building programmes. Water integrity has been included by some leading organisations in their policies, programmes and in international frameworks such as the OECD principles on water governance.

Together with its partners, WIN has been successful in releasing various types of publications on water integrity, culminating in the production of the flagship Water Integrity Global Outlook (WIGO 2016). The collaborative development and testing of tools as well as methodologies for water integrity is another successful element of WIN’s work. These efforts have resulted in a well-documented portfolio of experiences, publications, tools and methodologies, which are accessible through the WIN website.

WIN works both on an international level, by engaging with strategic partners, and in countries, by executing water integrity promotion programmes with implementing partners in focus countries, specifically Bangladesh, Benin, and Kenya. WIN works towards the following three main objectives:

  1. Within the international water sector, effective action is undertaken to increase integrity and reduce corruption.
  2. Within countries, integrity is measurably increased and corruption reduced in the water sector.
  3. Necessary information, knowledge and expertise to advance and measure water integrity action is available and used.

Strengthening Integrity in Country

Launch of the CSO report in Kenya
Launch of the CSO report in Kenya

WIN has worked in a number of countries in Asia, Latin-America and Africa to increase integrity and reduce corruption:

Bangladesh: Khulna Water and Sewerage Authority reduced its water connection time by 30% after launching the implementation of its integrity roadmap using the Integrity Management toolbox.

Mr. Mohammed Abdullah, Managing Director of KWASA at the Stockholm World Water Week 2016
Mr. Mohammed Abdullah, Managing Director of KWASA at the Stockholm World Water Week 2016

Benin: Water sector stakeholders endorsed the Water Governance Charter for the Promotion of Water Integrity at the annual joint water sector review, along with stakeholder specific action plans to make the Charter effective for the sector.

Ethiopia: WIN supported high-level working groups on water integrity and convened the Water Integrity Forum which had more than 150 participants

Kenya: water sector CSOs are engaged in a continuous improvement process for project management: they monitor integrity, quality, and compliance of their work in a yearly evaluation process and implement measures to improve integrity, government engagement, and project follow-up.

Nepal: The Nepal WASH sector policy published in 2016 strongly emphasizes integrity and accountability, as a result of continued advocacy work by WIN’s implementing partners.

Guatemala: Implementing partners are conducting a baseline study on water and sanitation services at municipal level and are providing legal and practical training to improve capacity for water integrity in municipal and district level water and government agencies.

Indonesia: The Integrity Management toolbox was adapted for use in multi-stakeholder initiatives active in river basin management.

WIN is also dedicated to ensure knowledge and data on integrity and corruption is generated and shared amongst relevant stakeholders. WIN has led capacity development programmes for integrity online and across the African continent, and regularly organises international high-level forums for knowledge sharing and action planning on water integrity. Most recently, WIN also hosted a photo competition on ‘Wastewater and Integrity’, receiving over 200 high quality images. The competition and subsequent photo exhibition organised in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GIZ helped raise the profile of the issues linked to corruption and lack of integrity in the wastewater sector. Stay tuned for the next edition of the WIN photo competition!

Want to find out more about how WIN works on integrity in the water sector? Visit the WIN website: or get in touch at [email protected]