Mapping of integrity and accountability in water activities and relevant capacities in the SADC region

Mapping of integrity and accountability in water activities and relevant capacities in the SADC region

Assessing governance capacity in water management in SADC region

Enhancing governance in the water sector through improved integrity, accountability, and the application of anti-corruption measures constitute important tools for achieving poverty reduction and improving sustainable management of water resources. These form fundamental elements of the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have all adopted these IWRM principles as the overall guiding framework for their respective water sectors. This paper maps integrity and accountability in water activities in the region. It focuses on the region as a whole and looks specifically at six countries, all in various stages of reform in their respective water sectors.The main objectives of this paper are to:

  • map, identify and analyse existing processes/activities and relevant actors involved in promoting integrity and countering corruption
  • perform an assessment of on-going water reform processes, in the context of the anti-corruption initiatives and how they impact the implementation of IWRM policies
  • recommend entry points on how to further strengthen work on integrity, accountability and anti-corruption in water in the region.
The study finds that:
  • in accordance with the principles of IWRM, there has been a shift in decision-making powers to those who use the resource or depend on the service
  • decentralisation has played out differently in the various countries, but has had the effect of providing a “window of opportunity” for the introduction of various accountability and transparency measures
  • however, the process of decentralisation threatens accountability and integrity in the water sector, where civil society is weak as there is the risk of local water management structures being dominated by powerful local interests
  • each case study country has enacted anti-corruption legislation, but the challenge lies in the implementation of these directives
  • human resources are often dedicated to service delivery and natural resource protection rather than the promotion of integrity and accountability
  • both water and non-water sector actors do not seem to be implementing joint programmes that promote transparency, integrity and corruption prevention - governance and anti-corruption civil society groups in the region have not yet developed advocacy programmes in the water sector.
The paper recommends the need for:
  • political commitment to anti-corruption at the upper levels of the water management structure in the region.
  • awareness-raising and capacity building at the level of communities, water users and local organisations involved in water management of their rights and responsibilities under the law
  • existing water management institutions in the region to own the process and make it responsive to their development and governance priorities
  • a SADC standard manual for promoting transparency and integrity and preventing corruption in the water sector, which can be used as an advocacy tool and training manual for both water sector and non-water sector actors
  • integration of water-sector reforms with broader non-water sector anti-corruption initiatives
  • creation of a forum to share best practices on promoting transparency, integrity and corruption prevention
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