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‘Transparency in the Water Sector’ Live Broadcast Review

This morning, I was energized to listen to a live broadcast of the “Transparency in the Water Sector” panel discussion hosted by Water for People. This talk featured a variety of professional development practitioners, and viewers were tweeting about the event at #waterhonesty. I’m not an expert on water-project transparency, and this talk was a good opportunity to learn more.

First, a primer on transparency in the water sector.

Before the broadcast, I tried to find a good definition of “transparency in the water sector” online. Transparency International indicates transparency leads to accountability which leads to integrity which leads to less corruption. Corruption is defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain “. IRC says integrity and honesty lead to less corruption in the water sector. Transparency is defined as “sharing information and acting in an open manner”. SIWI states “Transparency, accountability and integrity are critical governance components without which corruption issues cannot be successfully addressed.” So in lay terms – transparency in the water sector leads to accountability, honesty, and integrity which leads to less corruption. This is good because corruption has been identified as the major barrier in meeting the Millennium Development Goals including MDGs focused on water and sanitation.

Now, the goods of the talk.

Much of the talk centered around defining water-project transparency in practice. The talk broached several subject areas, and I attempted to compile a few main points on water-project transparency below. If you have any updates to this review, send me a message. Water for People will host another live broadcast in the future, and – with Portland PHLUSH – one idea for a topic is emergency sanitation. Nonetheless, what a great way to open up global dialogue on water and sanitation issues. Hats off to Water for People and all presenters today!

Water-project transparency components:
Transparency in funding essential. USAID dashboard good example.
Other project components need transparency: design, construction, and long-term use.

Water-project transparency challenges:
Indicators for success not working. Indicators for Millennium Development Goals not applicable.
Many tools for evaluating transparency, but no streamlined system.
Lack of long-term monitoring for water and sanitation systems. Many donors not supporting longevity of WASH systems.
[Lack of analysis of project failure to promote learning and adaptation for future project success.] – See comment by Paige.

Water-project transparency solutions:
Indicators of project success developed unique to location. Cultural systems incorporated.
Low-cost monitoring tools, like Akvo Flow, used.
Transparency tools and frameworks compiled and streamlined. WIN site to compile tools.
Different responsible roles created for monitoring, evaluating, and learning.
Long-term monitoring and evaluation emphasized to donors. Sustainable funding source ensured for project, monitoring, and evaluation.
[Analyze project failure in detailed methodological way to be accountable to funders and incorporate lessons for future improvement.] – See comment by Paige.