Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Please provide an overview of governmental and private sector control mechanisms that exist in water management to prevent corruption. In addition, we would like to have more information and data on corruption in the water sector in Latin America.

Summary

Water is a complex sector, characterised by large infrastructure projects with big information asymmetries, making it vulnerable to corruption. Although more specialised research on the topic in Latin America is needed, various studies and reports by investigative journalists have identified instances of corruption in the sector. The water value chain from policymaking and sectoral regulation through to procurement processes and operations to the point of service delivery is exposed to numerous corruption risks.

Main points

  • Although access to drinking water in the region has improved significantly since the 1990s, there are notable differences between countries in the region and a great gap between urban and rural water access.
  • Corruption in the water sector affects the most vulnerable, who can end up paying more for water than the wealthier segments of society.
  • Big infrastructure water projects entail several corruption risks because of their complexity and the size of the investment.

Contents

  1. The water sector in Latin America
    • Background context
    • The impact of corruption on the water sector
    • Scale of corruption
  2. Key players in the sector
  3. Overview of corruption risks in the water sector
    • Policymaking/regulatory level and organisational resources
    • Procurement
    • Operational level
    • Point of service delivery
  4. Anti-corruption approaches
    • Enhancing accountability in the water sector
    • Public sector
    • Service providers and utilities
    • CSOs and citizen initiatives
    • Holistic sectoral approaches
  5. References

Authors

Gabriela Camacho, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewers:

Matthew Jenkins, Transparency International and Daniela Patiño Piñeros, Water Integrity Network

Date

07/10/2021

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