Lake victoria basin where water integrity and sustainable development are close siblings

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Corruption continues to undermine investments in various sectors. The water sector in East Africa is no exception.

The Global Corruption Report 2008 points to the fact that when it comes to drinking water and sanitation services, corruption can be found at every point along the delivery chain: at the policy design stage; during budget allocations to operations; and in billing systems, to mention just three. The same report suggests that in developing countries, corruption is estimated to escalate the price for connecting a household to a water network by as much as 30 per cent. In East Africa, the urgent need to strengthen Water Integrity across a spectrum of influential actors is progressively gaining currency. It is against this reality that the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) commenced a Water Integrity Training process in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2012. Ultimately, at least 175 stakeholders in the water sector from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda who have roles and responsibilities in the regulation, controlling, planning, policy development and decision-making will benefit from the training.

The Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) is an institution of the East African Community with broad functions of promoting, facilitating and coordinating activities among different actors towards sustainable development and poverty eradication in the Lake Victoria Basin. Several important transboundary projects and programmes meant to foster conservation and sustainable utilisation of the natural resources of the Basin are currently anchored at LVBC.

The East African Community Partner States have been working tirelessly over the last decade to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In particu- lar, substantial investments have been committed to the MDG on Environmental Sustainability in the endeavour to halve the proportion of the population living without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Investment in water supply and sanitation has, therefore, kept an important place on the sustainable development agenda of the Lake Victoria Basin.

One LVBC transboundary programme stands out as a potential beneficiary of Water Integrity training in East Africa. The Lake Victoria Water Supply and Sanitation Programme Phase II (LVWATSAN II) is a USD 120 million ongoing arrangement that is meant to deliver a combination of hardware (physical interventions) required to provide effective water supply and sanitation systems in tandem with appropriate software (capacity building programmes) to ensure efficient and sustainable operation of the physical infrastructure. This groundbreaking programme in terms of joint transboundary water and sanitation investments in East Africa is under implementation in 15 towns: Ngozi, Muyinga and Kayanza in Burundi; Kericho, Keroka and Isebania in Kenya; Nyanza, Nyagatare and Kanyonza in Rwanda; Sengerema, Geita and Nansio in Tanzania; as well as Mayuge, Ntungamo and the cluster of Bukakata, Buwama and Kayabwe in Uganda.

Under LVWATSAN II, Water Integrity is brought to life by the composition of the core components of the programme: water supply; environmental sanitation; storm water drainage; capacity building; and programme management. The implementation, completion and sustainable utilisation of the results from the investments under these components highlight the relevance of integrity amongst the East Africans entrusted to get the job done, across the spectrum.

Similarly, lessons from a recent pilot programme supported by LVBC to supply water to lakeshore communities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – through the provision of seed financing (i.e. USD15,000 or less) – revealed that all the three projects in question were operating in a transparent and sustainable manner. Beneficiaries attributed the success of the water supply projects for the communities of Abala in Kenya, Mbarika in Tanzania and Kiyindi in Uganda to appointment of members with impeccable credentials to lead the roll-out of these projects.

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