Notes to broadcasters
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Rwanda is called “the Land of a Thousand Hills,” and is one of the countries of the Great Lakes region. Even though Rwanda has an abundance of water resources, access to drinkable water is only 54% in urban areas and 44% in rural zones. The government has recently doubled its efforts to ensure access to drinkable water and the use of water in activities such as agriculture and livestock breeding.
However, some governmental projects are slowing down, and others fail. Perhaps this is because of corruption?
In this script, two radio broadcasters talk about corruption in the water sector. They explore some of the issues and some of the concepts that are involved with this corruption.
This script is a two-host conversation based on actual interviews and on documents that focus on corruption in the water sector. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the discussion.
Hello, dear Radio Salus listeners. As usual, it is time to discuss a variety of topics related to everyday life here in our country. As you know, Rwanda fights against any type of corruption. However, corruption persists in the country. It is for this reason that today, in our program, we are going to discuss the topic of corruption in the water sector.
(Short pause) As you all know, water is life. Water is everything to humankind. However, water has become a sector of exploitation, a “business” like any other. It is for this reason that we are talking about corruption in the water sector. You are in the company of Jean Paul Ntezimana and Carine Umutoni. Hello, Carine!
Hello, Jean Paul, hello dear Radio Salus listeners, and welcome to our show.
After introducing Carine, I would like to remind you that we are going to talk about corruption in the water sector. But, before we start, we can ask ourselves some questions. What is corruption in the water sector? Is it drinking a lot of water? Is it limiting access to water? What is it? This is what we are going to discuss during today’s program. Welcome to our show.
Thematic music on water for 5-10 seconds
As you have just said, Jean Paul, we are going to talk about corruption in the water sector. We use water to wash, to cook food, for maritime transportation, for agriculture and raising cattle, and many other things. Tell me, what part of the water sector are we going to focus on? I think that with you, the “agronomist” as they call you, we are going to talk about water usage in agriculture and raising cattle. But may I ask you a question, Jean Paul? Does water for agriculture and livestock represent a topic for debate in Rwanda?
Carine, I believe that water can serve as a topic for debate since it is very important in everything we do. It is life, as we just said. So, if we are talking about agriculture and livestock, these are two inseparable activities that are based on water. The population of Rwanda is 90% farmers and livestock breeders. Water, like the other sectors in our country, is subject to corruption. In order to better introduce our topic, I will let you listen to a livestock breeder whom I visited in the northeastern part of the country. He is talking about a water capture project in that region.
Clip of livestock breeder from northeastern Rwanda:
There are water projects that the government initiates in the countryside to increase development. We don’t know if they are corrupted or not. For example, there is a development project here in our area. It included an activity to provide us with water for domestic use and for raising livestock. But the implementation was very slow. We didn’t know how long the project would last, what its activities were … we are only passive “beneficiaries.” We heard rumours that the project coordinators changed often. The project seems to be corrupted. We know that the government is against corruption. But we heard that there was corruption in the call for proposals for the execution of works in this project long ago. Today, the project helps some livestock breeders.
Dear listeners, this was one of the breeders from the northeastern part of the country. Carine, did you understand what this livestock breeder said? I understood that the water capture project might have faced corruption. Although he declares that now the situation has improved, he says the beginning was difficult. The water capture market for livestock breeders’ wells has faced corruption.
I was thinking that corruption was about money, about bribes. In other words, one gives a bribe so that an individual or a particular family can receive a lot of water. But this is about corruption in situations where the government invites companies to bid on contracts to build public water works!
Not just that, Carine! There is also the corruption of the markets, where nepotism can play a big role. Nepotism means that you give someone you know – perhaps someone from your family – an opportunity for work, even though the person may not know what to do or doesn’t have the means to do the work! There can also be bribes involved. Then, when the work is being done, the person who paid the bribe to receive the contract may not be able to successfully complete the work. There is not enough water, and not all the beneficiaries of the project are served. Perhaps this is why the breeder said “today the project helps some breeders”!
But this is terrible! Imagine if such an event happened to rice farmers. If rice doesn’t get enough water, it will die. The rice cannot resist! This kind of corruption is a big handicap for farmers! But, Jean Paul, why didn’t the breeder reveal the name of the project? One must condemn and punish wrongdoers who abuse our farmers and breeders!
But don’t you know that corruption is a taboo in our country? People talk about it, but not openly. Plus, small farmers tend to fear words that accuse in a direct way. However, wrongdoers still must be brought to justice. In this case, we must continue investigating in order to know what happened and to punish the people who were involved.
As you just mentioned the rice farmers, I spoke to Rutayisire, a former rice farmer from Butare. He told me that in the past years, corruption was a problem for them.
Clip from a rice farmer:
In the past, when water became scarce, we had to buy bottles of local banana beer or ururwagwa
for leaders and those who had fields upstream so that we could irrigate our rice fields. When we didn’t buy these bottles, the rice became yellow, and the harvest was poor. But the government intervened. Today, we have a person in charge of water. In other words, this person is in charge of sharing water amongst all the farming lots. These lots receive water in rotation, so there are no worries about corruption among farmers today.
So you see, Carine, the rice farmers from Butare solved the corruption problem in their area.
But one thing, Jean Paul – the government intervened. Perhaps this is the reason why Rwanda is number one in the region in the fight against corruption.
Thanks, Carine, for bringing this up. It might be useful for our listeners if we gave them some other examples of corruption in agriculture and irrigation. Sometimes, the corruption is just between farmers. For example, individual farmers who are upstream of other farmers could divert streams to irrigate only their farms, which would hurt downstream farmers. They might also pollute upstream rivers by allowing large numbers of cattle to deposit manure upstream or damage stream banks. So that would be unfair or corrupt practices by individual farmers.
Another type of corruption would be when rich or politically powerful persons in an area lobby governments to install irrigation projects that benefit only themselves rather than all those who are in need of water. These people might also cooperate with businesses who are involved with constructing dams so that they benefit mostly the rich and powerful. Many irrigation schemes have flexibility in opening or closing dams to allow water through. Those who control the dams can be bribed to open them to benefit those who pay them.
Yes, Jean Paul, I can see that there are many kinds of corruption possible in agriculture and irrigation.
These are just fictional examples. But can corruption really be a problem in the water sector? It is the question that I asked Mr. Mupiganyi Apollinaire, the Executive Secretary of Transparency Rwanda
, an international non-governmental organization that fights corruption. Here is what he replied:
Water is a basic element that everyone needs. When water isn’t well-managed, corruption comes in the form of bribes, coercion, nepotism, and in other ways. We haven’t yet conducted research to see if there is corruption in the water sector in Rwanda. But it is certain to exist in Rwanda, because it exists in other countries. We are not isolated from other countries. It’s possible that there is corruption here, especially when there is scarcity of water.
It is important that everybody combats corruption in the water sector. This is important whether they are water distributors or beneficiaries of a water project. Water is a basic element, as I said. So corruption in water is comparable to corruption in medical care services. It can cause death when dirty water is distributed! Also, death can be caused when water is diverted from farmers and no food is produced. Distributing water unequally violates fundamental human rights. We all have a right to water. This inequality can cause people to feel angry with those in power. Thus, when corruption is uncovered, it is very important to fight it seriously. We at Transparency Rwanda are going to conduct research to find solutions where we discover that there is corruption in the water sector in Rwanda.
Carine, did you understand why those wrongdoers are not punished?
There have not been enough investigations yet on the corruption problem in the water sector in Rwanda to identify the corrupt persons.
Yes, that’s true. (Pause
) It might be useful for our listeners to hear about some of the different types of corruption. For example, Carine, do you know what “petty corruption” is?
I think it might be corruption that doesn’t involve a lot of money. Is that correct?
You have the main idea, Carine. For example, “petty corruption” occurs when low or mid-level public officials receive money from people to make illegal connections to a water system.
So there must be a name for the kind of corruption that involves higher-level officials and more money. Right?
Yes. When government leaders or other high officials change rules or policies or arrangements for their own private benefit, this is called “grand corruption.” This can involve a lot of money.I’ll give you an example of “grand corruption” from the southern African country of Lesotho. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project was an $8 billion U.S. project to provide water to South Africa and electricity to Lesotho. More than $6 million dollars in bribes were exchanged in an effort to win contracts and secure tenders in the bidding process. The government of Lesotho brought the case to court and won a conviction against both local and international companies and consultants.
It is wonderful that the government of Lesotho had the courage and initiative to bring the case to court.
Yes, it is. To close our show, we can suggest that investigations be conducted in Rwanda on corruption in the water sector, and that …
) … And that farmers and breeders be informed on all the details of the water projects they are beneficiaries of. In this way, they will be able to control them and condemn cases of corruption when they occur. However, we cannot finish this show without reminding you, dear farmers, that Transparency Kenya recently published a report on the state of corruption in East African countries. This report places Rwanda as the least corrupt country in the region.
A thematic song under Jean Paul’s voice, increasing in volume towards the end
I believe you’re right and thanks for this piece of information. Thank you, Carine, and thank you dear Radio Salus listeners. I believe that you understand that it is likely that there is corruption in the water sector. If you find that a project on drinking water or on water capture for livestock or agriculture is not progressing, try to see if there is corruption that could be harming your farming activities.
This is where we close our show. Thank you for your kind attention. You were in the company of Carine Umutoni and Jean Paul Ntezimana. See you next time!
Contributed by: Senior writer Jean Paul Ntezimana, Radio Salus, Butare, Rwanda, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
Reviewed by: Erik Nielsen, national programs manager, Water Integrity Network (WIN), and Alexandra Malmqvist, deputy communications coordinator, Water Integrity Network (WIN).
A cattle breeder from Umutara, 13 May 2010
Mupiganyi Apollinaire, Transparency Rwanda, June 2010
Rutayisire, a rice farmer, 10 August 2010Documents:
République du Rwanda. Ministère des Terres, de L’environnent, des Forêts, de L’eau et des Mines, 2004. Politique sectorielle de l’eau et de l’assainissement.
Transparency International Kenya, 2010. East Africa Bribery Index 2010. http://www.tikenya.org/documents/EABI-2010.pdf