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23.03.2019 Feature Article

The Impact Of Corruption On Water Supply In Africa

Africa faces a water crisis in many countriesAfrica faces a water crisis in many countries

The African continent loses about a quarter of its GDP each year, or $ 148 billion, due to corruption. Bribery among government officials worth 20 to 40 billion dollars in African states. This was one of the issues raised at the West African Regional Anti-Corruption Workshop.

The event, designed to promote greater financial responsibility and transparency in the region, was organized to discuss local legislation against corruption and bribery and measures to strengthen the rule of law.

The countries which participated in the seminar were Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Tanzania, yet corruption in Ghana is far from over. In the political history of Ghana, the former Gold Coast has never prosecuted anyone committed of financial fraud.

The regional workshop, as part of a broader US program to combat corruption and other crimes in West Africa, is part of the “West African Initiative for Collective Security,” a joint project of the United States and its West African partners, aimed at neutralizing the threat from transnational criminal communities and drug traffickers operating in this region.

Due to corruption, millions of people still suffer from water shortages on the continent of Africa. The high level of corruption leads to the fact that 343 million people in Africa are deprived of access to water supply in an acceptable volume for human existence, according to an analytical report prepared by the information service of the United Nations Agency for the Coordination of Humanitarian Efforts (IRIN).

The system of distribution of water resources used in different African countries is based on bribery and is permeated with corruption, the report says. In the context of widespread bribes, people have to pay an exorbitant price to ensure the most basic needs.

The 2008 Transparency International report highlights the tragic consequences of corruption in water distribution. Estimates in the report suggest that, due to corruption, over a billion people are left without access to clean drinking water, and more than 2.8 billion are deprived of proper sanitary conditions.

Corruption also eats away international financial assistance that is so necessary for the African continent. Thus, according to various estimates, the costs of achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by the international community, including, inter alia, the fight against poverty and hunger and HIV / AIDS, in terms of water supply and sanitation exceed the actual required amount by $ 48 billion reports IRIN.

According to IRIN, there are three factors that fuel corruption in the distribution of water resources, namely, “limited participation of the population in addressing topical issues, as well as insufficient transparency and accountability”.

Those people who suffer most from water shortages are rarely involved in the decision-making process, the principles of financing relevant programs are often unclear, and checks and balances to counter corruption do not exist at all.

Infrastructure projects in the field of water resources have a significant corruption component, for example, the choice of location for water abstraction points is often due to backstage political influence or direct pressure from above.

The lack of formal requirements for organizations engaged in this area further limit the ability to provide African people with clean water. So, in Kenya, there is no requirement to invest the income received from the sale of water supply services in the development, maintenance and repair of specialized infrastructure facilities.

As a result, within many urban areas and in many rural areas of Africa, one often has to see current and damaged pipes and water pumps,” said IRIN Barack Luceno, an analyst in the Kenyan water sector.

The humanitarian consequences of corruption in the distribution of water resources cannot be measured in financial categories. According to data published in the February 2013 report an international non-governmental organization, WaterAid, annually 400,000 children on the African continent die from diarrhea caused by poor sanitation.

Also in the report, it is stated that at the current speed of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals related to providing the population with water and necessary sanitary conditions for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa will be realized not earlier than the beginning of the next century.

In this regard, greater transparency of power decisions, as well as a focus on measures to combat corruption and prevent water losses in the provision of water resources, are vital, the report concludes.

Joel Savage
Joel Savage, © 2019

Joel Savage is a Ghanaian-Belgian journalist and author. The accredited press-card holder of the Flemish Journalists Association once contributed regularly to the features column of the Daily Graphic, The Mirror, Ghanaian Times and the Weekly Spectator. The writer currently lives in Belgium., Author column: JoelSavage

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