All posts tagged Water

Fighting corruption with community management of water systems

Mommy, (also president of the female rice farmers’ group)
Group of female rice farmers
Presenter: Pacôme Tomètissi

Sounds of oxen mooing, water flowing, birds shrieking, car horns, sound of footsteps on the soil, and clapping.

A local song on water, sanitation or corruption

Signature tune for 30 seconds

Pacôme Tomètissi: Hello everyone and thank you for joining us on your favourite radio program. This is Pacôme Tomètissi on the mic. Today’s show is about water and corruption. Yes, you heard me right: water and corruption.

Water is life. It is indispensable for drinking as well as for growing crops and raising cattle. But when corruption gets into the picture, hello trouble! In the story you will hear in a moment, a rich man from the Djidja region of Benin manufactured a few thousand water bottles with his picture on it. He planned to give the bottles to a village whose rice fields and cattle suffer from lack of water. Listen up.

Morning sounds: roosters, etc. The village is awakening. Sound of voices here and there.

Mommy: Fifonsi, get up! Quick, the jar needs to be filled with water. And you know that you have to go back and forth to the river three times to fill it up. (Sarcastically) But take your time if you want to get to school two hours late like yesterday.

Silence, then sound of footsteps running away.

Fifonsi: (Talking to herself) Eight kilometres every day before school. It is really not easy to be the youngest kid.

Bird shrieking, sound of river water.

Fifonsi: (Talking to herself) I hope that the crocodile will not show up like last week.

Sound of footsteps going away. Fifonsi returns to the house.
Sound of bowl then sound of water being poured into a jar. Sound of steps coming on mic.
Fifonsi is startled. She cries out and drops the bowl heavily in the basin of water.

Mommy: (Angrily) Fifonsi, this is the third time that you have drunk water in a very short time. Every time you do not go to school, that is what you put us through. You drink like a camel when there is not enough water.

Daddy: (On mic) It is Fifonsi again, always her. Yesterday, with the excuse that you had exams, you went to school at seven o’clock without drawing water, leaving your mother alone at home. Instead of going to obstetrical care as recommended by the midwife, she had to go draw water. You have already drunk three times today. Go to the pond for water now … or else I’ll have you stay on your knees under the sun (Editor’s note: this is meant as a punishment by her father)!

Sound of footsteps

Daddy: Fifonsi, before going to the river again, bring me my radio.

Noise of radio being turned on. The radio is tuned to a news station.

Radio: Welcome to the news. A sum of 10 billion CFA Francs (Editor’s note: about 15 million Euros or 19 million US dollars) has been embezzled. We received this information from the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Daddy turns off the radio and sighs.

Mommy: I hope I heard that wrong. Ten billion CFA francs embezzled! We need only five million to build dams to irrigate our rice fields and get a watering trough for the cattle. That is what they call a financial scandal.

Daddy: We must absolutely do something. They say that Awalé, our businessman brother, will be in our region next week. Let him not set foot here to make electoral promises again. I am going to see the Chief. We must boycott his visit.

Three second pause, then sound of footsteps.

Daddy: (Coming on mic) May peace be on this house. Hello, Chief. I came to see you about the visit of our brother, Awalé.

Chief: Yes. We must all prepare to welcome him. As the town crier, you are in charge of spreading the news throughout the village. And you must motivate all those who are hesitating to come and welcome him.

Daddy: Chief, I respect you … but I also have a piece of news and a proposal. This morning, the radio announced a ten billion franc embezzlement. I was very angry. Besides, I am wondering why we must continue to welcome people who are not worth it. Awalé has become a master at not keeping his promises.

Chief: I understand your resistance to welcoming him. The money that is embezzled every year could build a good irrigation system for our rice fields, and a watering trough for our cattle. I remember Awalé’s promises before the elections. He promised to build both an irrigation system and a watering trough. As soon as he got elected, bang! He forgot us! Oh, this was not fair!

Daddy: That is why we should boycott his arrival.

Chief: One cannot refuse a call; it is the content that one can refuse. Let’s welcome him. Otherwise we won’t even have an opportunity to remind him that he made false promises.

Local music on water. Fade under sounds of car.

Sound of vehicle horns. Sound of car engine. Car comes to a stop. Sound of car door opening.

Awalé: Hello, dear people of Djidja.

Women’s group: The women’s group welcomes brother Awalé.

Awalé: Thank you, dear mamas, for welcoming me. I greet the council of the rice farmers and the breeders of the village! You came in numbers. I am delighted.

Sound of clapping then silence.

Chief: Mama Fifonsi, bring some water to our brother.

Sound of footsteps coming towards the mic.

Mommy: Here is some water. Once again, welcome among us.

Noise of people talking to each other in the crowd.

Awalé: Thank you for giving me water. By the way, there is a car in my convoy that is coming. It is filled with bottles of mineral water especially designed with my picture on the bottle. The water is for you! You can drink it as you wish.

Chief: Mr. Awalé?

Awalé: Yes, Chief.

Chief: I thank you for your visit. It is a great joy to welcome you among us. I also want to thank you for the bottled mineral water. Nevertheless, I pray you to take it to people who really need it.

Awalé: But there are two thousand bottles! I made them in my company at five thousand francs a piece. It is a big loss if you refuse.

Chief: Do not insist. Neighbouring villages need bottles of mineral water with your picture. Not us. I know you know why. Nonetheless, the president of the women’s group is going to remind you of the reasons for this refusal in front of everyone. Dear people, I refused this water they want to offer us as a gift. What do you think about this?

A voice in the crowd: This decision is fair and good!

President of the female rice farmers’ group: Thank you, my Chief. We women have a serious grievance against Awalé. Three years ago, he promised us he would build an irrigation system for our rice fields. If we had an irrigation system, the rising waters would not destroy our fields. And they would be watered even when there is little rain. He also promised to build a watering trough for the cattle. But after the elections, he forgot about us. And here he comes with bottled mineral water. That water cost millions of francs. But we could finish drinking it all in one day! Do not count on us too much in the next elections.

Awalé: I thank you for opening up your heart. I can assure you that it is not my fault that you don’t have access to drinking water. There are so many things to do that we are often limited by time and finances.

Daddy: How could you have ten million francs worth of mineral water made by your company? Where does all this money come from?

Awalé: Let us not talk about what we have already talked about. Let us talk about our problems. This is my region. I always keep my promises. And you will see that – yes! … I will have the irrigation system built for the rice fields and the drinking system for the cattle in no time.

President of the female rice farmers’ group: If it is not done before the election, we don’t believe this!

Awalé: It will be before the elections. Give me one week. But before that, I pray you to accept the bottles of mineral water, in the name of the love you have for me, your son.

Chief: We will accept this bottled water. But we will store it in the agricultural cooperative until you keep your promises. If you don’t keep your promises before the elections, we will give you back your water.

Local music on water, sanitation or corruption.
Fade out. Sound of footsteps coming on mic.
Sound and horn of a car. A short silence, then sound of footsteps coming on mic. Murmuring voices then, suddenly, silence.

Chief: Thank you for, once again, coming to meet our brother Awalé. He promised to be back after a week, and he kept his promise. (Short pause) He just whispered something in my ear. It is the best news ever. Awalé came with people to build the irrigation system for the rice fields, including dams and a water drainage system.

Shouts of joy, then a round of applause.

Chief: We must get involved in the process, from implementation through management. We will set up a village committee to manage the rice fields. I would like to let the female rice farmers’ group say something.

Group of female rice farmers: Thank you, Mr. Awalé, for this happiness you are offering us. The end of our problems is near. Now we are opening up a new chapter. While we’re at it, we must condemn corruption. But the best way to fight against this scourge in the water sector is to be a role model of transparency and integrity. I propose that the rice fields’ management committee be formed in a participatory way. The members should rotate responsibilities, and involve all levels of society, including youth, women, pastors, farmers, fishermen, and others.

Daddy: Let’s discuss how we are going to manage this. I believe that we must set up a system where everyone pays monthly or yearly fees. We will all contribute a small amount of money to maintain the wells. Financial reports will need to be presented publicly and regularly.

Chief: Dear people … enough talk! The technicians have to start working. All our brave youth can help them with that. Women will cook during the three days they are working. I ask you to accept with me the bottles of mineral water from Awalé. We thank him for that. They are worth millions of CFA francs. Come on! Let’s all get to work!

Sound of pickaxes. Fade out under the voice of the Chief. Sound of footsteps coming and going.

Chief: Quick, we must finish this work rapidly. We must build the ridges around each property, as well as drainage systems to drain away excess water.

Music on water, sanitation or corruption. Fade out under applause.

Chief: My people, our troubles are behind us. Some time ago, our cattle would drown in the river when trying to drink. When the waters rose, we all had insomnia from staying up all night to keep watch. Some time ago, the floods would cause huge damages. But today, we can divert water from the river to irrigate the rice fields. Livestock breeders will be able have their beasts drink on site.

I have some words for the management committee that will be created to manage the rice fields and its irrigation system: management must be as clear and as healthy as the water. And a word to the people: paying your contributory fees is a citizen’s act.

Cheering and applause. Fade out under Pacôme’s voice.

Pacôme Tomètissi: This is the end of our show. Thank you for listening. Enjoy the rest of the programs on your radio. Bye bye!

Signature tune for 30 seconds

No water no life: Corruption in a Zambian prison

Presenter: Good day to all listeners. Today we look at corruption in the water sector. In particular, we look at the effects of not having access to water due to corruption in one of the prisons in the Copperbelt of Zambia.

Corruption involves the misuse or abuse of power for private gain. It can happen in both the public and the private sector. Corruption undermines development, contributes to poverty and inequality and threatens the stability of the nation. Even though water is a natural resource that every living thing needs, corruption has not left it untouched.

Water is Life. So goes the saying. And without water, death looms. Because water is so important, managing water calls for integrity and honesty for those serving communities and the nation at large.
Today, we focus on Kamfinsa prison. The prison is in the city of Kitwe in the Copperbelt province of Zambia. The Japanese International Cooperating Agency or JICA is a part of the Japanese government which provides funds to enhance development in developing countries. This agency donated funds to buy and sink a bore hole at Kamfinsa prison. The prison had been without water for 10 years because of dilapidated and vandalized water pipes and taps. When the prison received funding to sink the bore hole in 2005, the commissioner of the prison manipulated the whole arrangement. He found a way to convince the engineers who were supposed to sink the bore hole to install it at his farm. This illegal act resulted in a lot of problems, including the loss of lives.

Seven people are here to speak about and explain this situation. We will hear from the chief accountant of the prison, three prisoners – two male and one female – two women from a nearby community, and a Director of Health. They will tell us what they went through during the time when there was no water at the prison. We begin with Chambo Chipasha, who is one of the oldest prisoners at Kamfinsa.

Chambo: I have been in this prison for 28 years now. I came to Kamfinsa when the prison was just newly built. Everything was running normally with the water and sanitation in this place. We used to have a cold shower every morning. Our toilets were flushable and we had a hectare of land where we would farm. We grew vegetables and other crops for our own consumption. We also sold them to the community nearby. In turn, the prison would purchase other basic needs like meat, chickens and groceries from the community. But the moment the water stopped running, everything came to a standstill and we could not grow anything. So a lot of things changed. For instance, because we could not produce anything from the prison farm to sell to the nearby community, our diet changed drastically. We started surviving on beans alone. The groceries we used to receive stopped coming. Life became tough.

Presenter: Chambo, what did you do about the situation?

Chambo: Personally, I wrote a letter to the Human Rights Commission because I realized we were being kept like animals. Unfortunately, no-one replied to the letter. The food was pathetic. The surroundings became like rubbish pits. Worse still, we failed to maintain the toilets. Later on, we were told to dig pit latrines because the toilets became a health hazard for all of us at the prison. The latrines helped a bit, but the situation was still bad.

Presenter: We now bring on board a marketer from Mulenga compound, about one kilometre from the prison. Mrs. Emelder Mumba tells us how she was affected as a marketer.

Emelder: My business was affected. I would usually buy farm produce from the prison worth 200, 000 kwachas (Editor’s note: approximately 40 US dollars or 30 Euros). I bought all these products in one day and I would make a profit of 100,000 kwachas or more. This money helped me pay for my children’s school fees. I am a widow and I raise my children single-handedly. But the moment the water situation changed, my business went downwards. I had to start thinking about venturing into another business for us to survive.

Presenter: Well listeners, let’s now listen to Mary Chanda, who was also at the prison. She will tell us from a woman’s point of view her side of the story.

Mary: Thank you. That time was the most miserable, uncomfortable and rough time of my life. As women, we took a bath only once in three or four days, even when one was menstruating. We began to live and stink like animals. We would even eat from the same dirty plates over and over without having them washed. The most unfortunate part for the women was that there’s a prison warden’s compound within the prison. We were sent by the wardens to go and fetch water from the stream and take it to their homes like maids. But while there, most of us ended up getting sexually abused by the prison wardens.

Presenter: Did you report this matter, Mary?

Mary: Several times. Even when we reported this to the authorities, the cases didn’t seem to get anywhere. I remember we even spoke to a journalist who later wrote a story which came out in the paper. But to our surprise, nothing happened to the wardens. They got off scot-free. That incident made me feel like I was less human. I felt like no one valued us at all because we were prisoners.

Presenter: Here is Situmbeko Sitwala. She is a mother of nine, also from Mulenga compound. She used to buy soya beans and groundnuts from the prisoners. She took them to the miller to have them made into powder for her baby’s porridge. This helped her child receive a balanced diet.

Sitwala: My fifth-born daughter almost died during the time that the prisoners stopped bringing their products to the market. Most nursing mothers in this community had nowhere else to go to buy soya beans and groundnuts for their children’s porridge. They could only be bought from the city, which is about 25 kilometres from our compound. The road was extremely bad, and it was expensive for us to travel. So we made plain maize meal porridge.

My daughter started suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting. Then her legs started swelling up. Later on when I took my child to the clinic, I was told she was suffering from malnutrition. At that time, many children in Mulenga compound died due to the lack of nutritious foods.

Presenter: We also hear from Doctor Vernon Mwape, a Director of Health at the time. He reveals to us that Kitwe Central Hospital was affected as well during the time the prison stopped producing fresh fruits and vegetables due to the water shortage.

Dr. Mwape: Kitwe Central Hospital is the central hospital for the whole town. And half of our tomatoes, cabbages, and leguminous products were supplied by Kamfinsa prison. The majority of our patients suffer from diseases that can be easily cured if they have enough good food. A balanced diet helps patients to recover quickly. The hospital used to buy products from the prison and give them to our patients. This helped a lot of the patients to recover and go home faster and healthier than they came. But the moment the prison stopped supplying us with all those fresh products, it became difficult for us and we lost many lives. We later engaged a local agriculture college to supply us with those products. But the college could not meet all our needs and they were not as reliable as the prison.
Presenter: In case you’ve just tuned in, you are listening to a program in which we look at the effects of corruption in the water sector. As you may know, innocent people can suffer when one person decides to be selfish. We are featuring the stories of some prisoners and others who lived near Kamfinsa prison at a time when the prison had no running water. We hear what the prisoners went through and of course how this whole problem was solved. Next we have Kangwa Mulenga.

Kangwa: I arrived at the prison when the water had just stopped flowing. The day I arrived, I was shown my cell and given a 20-liter container. I was supposed to go and fetch water together with other inmates from a nearby stream so that I could clean my cell. At the time, I thought it was part of my punishment. But as days went by, I realized it was a way of life at this prison. We were told to wake up as early as 4:30 to fetch water to clean the toilets, fill the reserve tank, and clean the surroundings. Some of us who had the chance to go to the stream and fetch water bathed in the stream before going back to the prison. Little did we know that the water in the stream was contaminated. And so, all of us who bathed in that stream got different diseases. I contracted bilharzia, others had dysentery, and others cholera. All of us had to be hospitalized for at least two weeks. At that time, I thought I would die.

Presenter: Well listeners, we move on with this program on corruption in the water sector.

We now have Mr. Sylvester Mubukwa, the chief accountant at Kamfinsa prison. He tells us how the funds for the bore hole were misappropriated, and how the bore hole was sunk on a private farm and not in the intended place.

Sylvester: Thank you, Alice. At that time, I was just a senior accountant and I was running the office alone because my assistant was on leave. We were informed by the commissioner in a meeting that JICA had sent money to our prison. The money was to sink a bore hole, as the lack of water was getting out of hand. The inmates were getting sick one after the other from different water-borne diseases, and the place was dry as a desert. The prison couldn’t grow anything, and so we were lacking a lot of things.

Before the money was released, we had several staff meetings concerning the situation at the prison. In those meetings, we also discussed a tender to be posted in the newspaper. The tender would call for drilling companies to bid for the job of digging a bore hole at the prison. However, when the funds were finally deposited into the prison’s bank account, and before the tender was even advertised in the papers, at one of the committee meetings, the commissioner brought forward a name of an organization that deals in bore hole drilling. After suggesting the name, he then made everyone believe that that organization was the best organization in town and would do a good job for the prison. So everyone was convinced and we didn’t even question him further.

Presenter: Sorry to cut you short Sylvester, but don’t you think everyone in that meeting was wrong to keep quiet about giving a tender to an organization that had never applied for it? Why didn’t you advise the commissioner to follow the right procedure? Was this the first time your administration purchased something without following the correct procedure?

Sylvester: No! There are a lot of things the prison bought without following the correct procedure. For instance, the government gave us some money to buy blankets for all the inmates. The correct number of blankets was bought, but I know the purchase price was low because the quality of the blankets was very low. When we asked the commissioner about it, we didn’t get a concrete answer. As time went by, we just brushed it aside for fear of being victimized by him if anyone seemed to question him.

Most of the groceries we bought didn’t have proper receipts. In some cases, the number of things bought did not match with the prices he would mention. However, we remained mute; we could not say anything. We used to fear him because some of our workmates who questioned him were transferred to other prisons in faraway places. Others suffered directly at his hands.So, for fear of all that, we chose to keep quiet. We let him make all the decisions even when some of us sensed that the man was corrupt.

Presenter: How did the commissioner get the money for the bore hole? Was he the only signatory to the prison account?

Sylvester: No! He was not even one of the signatories. But he just gave orders and instructions to do this and that concerning the bore hole. After the staff endorsed the proposed organization to go ahead and sink the bore hole, the commissioner instructed me to immediately pay the organization so that the whole process could be started and everything done in the shortest possible time.

Presenter: So what happened after you made the payment to that organization?

Sylvester: Well, we all expected that in no time at all we would see the company come to the prison to drill the bore hole. But after we had waited for a month, we realized it was taking longer than necessary. However, when I asked him about it, he just answered jokingly that I should be patient as patience is a virtue. And so I brushed it aside and believed his words. He was my boss. I had to be loyal to him.

Presenter: How did the prisoners respond to the news of JICA funding the sinking of a bore hole at the prison? And how did they react when there were delays?

Sylvester: At first the prisoners were excited, because it was difficult for them to go fetch the water from the stream. For the women, it was a heavy load lifted off their shoulders. Even the wardens were excited because they were worried the prisoners might escape when they went to draw water from the stream. So it was good news for all of us.

But when the news leaked to the prisoners that the bore hole that was supposed to be at the prison was in fact at the commissioner’s farm, everything went haywire. We had to order a lockdown at the prison. To cut a long story short, three wardens and five prisoners died in the whole conflict.

Presenter: Sylvester, tell us how the truth was unveiled.

Sylvester: As days went by, a representative from JICA came to visit the prison to check how the bore hole had brought development to the prison. When he realized the bore hole was not there and knew that the money was already released, he made his own investigation. He found out the name of the organization that had been paid to sink the bore hole, and followed up with the organization. He found that the bore hole was dug and was working properly, except that it was in a different place and not the prison, and that the place was none other than the commissioner’s farm. The issue was later reported to the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission. The commissioner was prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment for five years with hard labour.

Presenter: Where is the bore hole now – still at the commissioner’s farm?

Sylvester: No, Alice! According to the laws of Zambia, any person who commits a corrupt offence, in addition to any other penalty, will forfeit to the state any resource, property or advantage received in the act of corruption. So the bore hole and everything that was supposed to go with it like the tank and the pipes were removed from his farm and are now installed at the prison. The prison is back to its normal state. We are even growing and selling different crops.

Presenter: Well listeners, we now come to the end of the program. I believe you learned one or two things from today’s program. We focused on how corruption in the water sector caused many innocent people to suffer and even die because of one selfish act by a person who did not consider others. The onus remains on all Zambians to fight corruption with all their might in order to save this country from the pangs of corruption.

Water is life. Share it.

German: Wise and good-hearted man in the village
Village headman: Wise but sometimes weak
Eda: Old woman, widow; looking after orphans left by her son who died from hunger
Bimphi: A drunkard, always drunk. Hardworking, but spends much of his money on beer
James:  Nephew of the village headman, hard-hearted and selfish
Jacob: Good friend of Bimphi, hardworking but does not drink beer

Narrator: Tiopaizi village in the area of Chief Msakambewa lost five people to hunger in 2001. After that, they realized that they had a hidden treasure which was not being used: there was a perennial river in the village. They met with the encouragement of their beloved field assistant. They agreed to start an irrigation scheme to supplement the rainfed harvest.

But the problem was that the best place for the irrigation scheme was part of a government-protected forest reserve. They needed permission from the department of forests through their District Commissioner, the DC. The village headman decided to approach the DC. Will the DC grant them permission to use the land they need?

FX: Crowd of people at the village headman’s court

Bimphi: (Speaking in low voice under the noise) Jacob, see how sad the village headman looks…. I told you, the DC cannot accept this.

Jacob: Bimphi, let’s just listen and hear what he wants to tell us….

Bimphi: But this was our chance to have enough money for beer.

Jacob: You are always thinking of beer. Your friends are thinking about food.

Bimphi: One person’s poison is another’s food. I am talking about my food….  Didn’t people die of hunger, leaving me – a drunkard – alive?

Jacob: Hey, stop that! That is not a good joke.

Village headman: Quiet please! Quiet!I have called you together to tell you the results of my discussion with the DC.

Bimphi: (Drunken voice) Headman, just tell us what you want to tell us.

James: (Shouting at Bimphi) Keep quiet, you! We want to hear what the village headman is saying.

Bimphi: So who does not want to hear …? You always think you are intelligent, James.

Everyone: (Noise) Aaaa you!

Voice: Bimphi is always drunk – where does he get his money?

Another voice: It’s true. What fattens pigs is not known, is it?

Village headman: Sit down, Bimphi, and keep quiet…. The District Commissioner has … accepted our request.

All: Yes, yes.

The villagers sing a song praising the courage of the village headman

One: Tiopaizi is a lion … yeeees.

All: He is a lion.

One: He is a lion.

All: He is a lion ye … ye … yes, he is a lion ye …e … yes. He is a lion.
Village headman: Thank you, thank you. Sit down…. The district commissioner will send the surveyors to mark a new boundary tomorrow.

All: Yes, village headman. (Some whistling)

Village headman: He is happy that we have never encroached into the forest. This is our reward.

Eda: (Cries, sobs) Oh village headman, look. This is happening when I have already lost my beloved son to hunger. Thank you, village headman!

Bimphi: Grandma Eda, this is not a funeral day, woman … we are rejoicing here. Do not spoil our party. We will have enough money for beer now.

Eda: (Speaking slower like an old person) Bimphi, it is very sad that this irrigation scheme comes after I lost a child of twenty five years old to hunger…. Look at the orphans and their mother he left me with.

Village headman: It is indeed sad that we lost five people to hunger last year…. May their sorrows rest in peace.

Bimphi: Yes, village headman, their sorrows should rest in peace indeed.

Village headman: I have one announcement to make. The person from the lands office will come tomorrow morning to shift the boundary of the reserve and leave the valley to us…. Let us meet there and work hard to clear the land.

All: Yes.

James: This will be the end of hunger in our village.

Scene transition

Narrator: The people of Tiopaizi village worked very hard to clear the land which they were given. They managed to divert a river into this land with the help of their field assistant. People planted maize to supplement their food. The maize germinated. But something unexpected happened. What was it? Will hunger be a thing of the past in the village?

FX: Cock crowing. Knock on the door

James: Who is there?

German: Open the door, James. It’s me.

James: (Sleepy) Who?

German: German…. Wake up. Let’s go to water our crops before anyone else wakes up.

James: What is the time now?

German: It is 4am…. I thought we agreed to wake up at this time?

FX: Door opens and James yawns

James:The sleep was sweet. You know when it is cool in the morning, the sleep is sweet.

German: Our gardens are far from the water source, so we are disadvantaged. That’s why we have to get up so early.

James: Yes, I know. We should start with my garden because it is further. Then water yours afterwards.

German: No problem, my friend.

Scene transition

FX: Water flowing and splashing softly

James: German, look! The water is overflowing that bed. Close that canal …

German: Can’t you see that I am trying to close it? But the water is pouring over …

James:Okay, open the canal where you want the water to go first to reduce the pressure. Then close where you do not want it to go.

They both laugh

German: It worked … yes …

FX: The splashing of water stops

German: What is wrong? Look, only a little water is coming. What has happened? … Are we going to be able to finish watering today with this little water reaching us? Ten minutes to finish watering one bed – it’s too much!

James:I think something has blocked the main canal.

German: I think you are right. That could be the cause.… So what are we going to do?

James:Let me go and check what is happening…. Keep watering – I will come back.

German: Let me join you. If it’s a big stone blocking the canal, it may need two people to move it.

Scene transition

FX: Splashing water 

German: There is nothing blocking this river. Everything is normal.

James: Ok, now I know. I can see that Bimphi, Jacob and Grandma Eda are all watering, and their gardens are close to the source of water.

German: You are right. So what are we going to do?

Bimphi: (Drunk already) Good morning, German and James. Why do you look worried? What is wrong?

James: Bimphi, when did you all start watering?

Jacob: James, what sort of question is that? You mean you cannot see that we have just started?

Bimphi: Jacob, I do not answer foolish questions. Would my answer to that question make any difference?

James:Bimphi, you already know me. Jacob, let’s not fight. We were the first to come here.  You found us here and you can water when we have finished.

Bimphi: Why should we wait for you to finish first? This irrigation project is for us all.

German: The problem is the water has stopped going into our gardens because you are using it. Very little is reaching us.

Jacob: Does that concern us? Do what you want, but we will not stop watering our crops.

James: This is how the scheme works: First come first serve. I order you to stop. If you do not stop, I will hit you.

Bimphi: Ok! Ok, Jacob, let’s stop. The village headman’s nephew should water first … a person who can beat anyone at will.

James: Do not talk, just stop. Go home and come back later, because we do not want you to interfere with us again.

Bimphi: Yes, Chief.

James: Old woman, stop watering and go home.

German: She can water. Let her water.

James: What’s the difference? (To Eda) Stop, go home and come again later.

Scene transition

Narrator: The scramble for water has started. Will this problem come to an end? Will the villagers achieve their goal?

FX: Natural bush sounds of night

James:Look at the beauty of the maize which we have this year. It is not starving for water like these other maize fields.

German: Yes, it is indeed very good maize. But is it because we wake up early to water our crops?

James: Of course! Don’t you know that the early bird catches the worm?

German: I know. But people are complaining that we are not giving them a chance to water their crops.

James: Do you agree with them? German, do you?

German: I have been thinking of the best solution for this. I cannot think of any better idea yet. However, I do not like the idea of first come first serve when we have children and elderly people among the members.

James:Do not think like a pastor. We are all just doing the right thing. Do we stop those we find in the garden…? Look, the water has stopped reaching us. Is this fair? They have come again. Do you want this, German?

German: What are you going to do? It’s the old woman, Bimphi and Jacob again. What should we do?

James:I will stop them. They did not hear us clearly yesterday when we stopped them.

German: No, leave the old woman to water. But the gentlemen can stop.

James:What are you doing again today, Bimphi, Jacob, and you, the old woman?

Bimphi: Why are you asking us such a question when you can see that we are watering? And why are you asking when we’re watering? You did not ask us such questions when we were making canals and clearing the land.

FX: Sound of slap

Bimphi: (Angry) You slapped me! You slapped me … why? Why? … I will not leave!
James: (Angry) Why are you always rude? That is why I slapped you…. Now leave the garden.

Jacob: James, no, don’t beat us – we will leave immediately. We know you know how to fight.

Bimphi: I will not leave.

FX: Sound of several more slaps.

Bimphi: Stop it! Stop it! We are leaving.

James:You can report this to the village headman – I don’t care. If we are the first to come here, and you find us watering, never again start watering. Or I will teach you another lesson.

German: What is wrong, James?

James: German, quiet … I might forget that you are my friend. (To Eda) Eda, go! (Pause) You think I am joking? Go and come again later. Do you want a slap?

Eda: Please allow me to water my maize only today. Look, it is withering.

James: We told you yesterday that it’s first come first serve. Where were you? Did you oversleep because you are a witch?

Eda: (Cries) Do not talk like that, my children.

James:I am not your child.

Eda: You are not the same age as me. You should respect me. You are the age of my grandchild.

James:I am not saying don’t come again. I am saying, wait for me to finish. I have rights too.

Eda: (Sobs) Yesterday you stopped me, and today the same. You even slapped Bimphi today. Oh, my child, do not do that.

German: James, let her water. We will continue later.

Eda: Yes, my son. Please, German, talk to your friend. You know I wake up late because my body hurts; you know I am old.

James:No, I have other things to do, German …. So Eda, you know when I say stop, I mean stop! I do not want any violence here.

Eda: (Sobs) My child, why did you die so early, leaving me behind? Why did you give me food and die yourself, instead of leaving me, the old, to die with hunger?

German: Granny, go. I will water your garden after finishing mine.
Eda: Thank you, my son.

Scene transition

FX: Eda sobs

Village headman: Why are you crying, Eda?

Eda: Chief, your nephew James stopped me from watering my crops, both yesterday and today. He even slapped Bimphi.

Village headman: James? Why?

Eda: He says he came first. When we water our garden together with him, the water doesn’t reach his garden.

Village headman: Do not worry. My nephew is crazy. Just go again later to water your crops…. Didn’t German help you?

Eda: He has helped already. He will water my garden.

Chief: I see.

Scene transition

Bimphi: Village headman, why are the very same people watering their crops every day, yet we all participated in digging the canals and clearing the land?

Village headman: Tell me the whole story. What happened?

Bimphi: James says he wakes up early and he is always the first to go to the garden every day. That is why he always wants us to wait for him before we water.

Village headman: I see. If that is the case, he is right. Why can’t you wake up early enough, even before him?

Bimphi: I can manage, but what about Eda, an old woman who is being stopped from watering because of the same reason of first come first serve?

Village headman: What can I do if they wake up early every morning?

Bimphi: Why do they need to water their maize every day anyway? Can’t they give us a chance to water sometimes?

Village headman: Why don’t you ask him?

Bimphi: Why can’t you ask him for us? We have already been slapped and you say … (very upset and unable to speak clearly) a…a…sss…kkk him? Remember, we all participated in digging that canal and clearing the land. When did the first come first serve issue start?

Village headman: I do not answer silly questions.

Bimphi: (Angry) If this is not sorted out by the weekend, I will do something. I will damage the canal and you will have to start all over again. I was a participant in the whole project. First come, first come what?

Village headman: Do not damage the canal! If you do, I will chase you away from my village.

Bimphi: You will not. I will report you to the same District Commissioner who gave us the land.

Village headman: No, don’t go that far. What do you think I can do to stop James from monopolizing the water when he wakes up earlier than anybody?

Bimphi: Call for a meeting of the whole village. You called on us to establish the irrigation project. Why not call on everyone again now? The DC will certainly hear about this.

Scene transition song

Narrator: The village headman knows that the DC may fire him from his position as village head. What will the village headman do to stop Bimphi from destroying the canals and reporting him to the DC?

FX: Sound of a bell

Boy: (Shouting) The village headman is calling you all. Let us meet at the irrigation scheme tomorrow morning. Be patient.

Sound of the bell

Scene transition song

Narrator: What will the village headman tell the people? How will he do it?Is there an easy solution here?

FX: Crowd of people talking

German: Silence please! Silence! Let’s listen to the village headman Tiopaizi, our hero.

Village headman: Hey, my people. I want the chairman of this irrigation scheme to come to stand with me here.

Bimphi: We thought you were the chairman.
Village headman: Me! Did I say that?

All: No, no.

Village headman: So I want the leader of this irrigation scheme. German, who is the chair?

German: No one, sir.

Village headman: How can a thing without a head move? I will be the presiding officer. Let’s select a chairperson today. Give me four names, please, for the chair.

All: German. German Banda, please.

Village headman: Do you all agree?

All: Yes.

Village headman: German, you are now the leader of this irrigation scheme. Before we select other office bearers, tell me how you will share the water fairly to all, including children and the elderly.

German: I am going to make suggestions, but you can advise me otherwise. If you are not comfortable with my suggestions, tell me.

All: Yes.

Bimphi: German, we know you love us all and you can’t do us harm. What do you think?

German: First, let me say I am sorry to all whom I may have offended.

Bimphi: Just tell us what you think is a solution.

German: The issue of our grandmother, Miss Eda, bothers me…. But I think we should divide ourselves into groups and we can use the water on alternate days.

All: Yes! German! German!

Village headman: That is my boy. Now, let’s select the other office bearers to help you implement that plan.

Scene transition

Narrator:  Do you think the problems of greed in using water continued? No, the problem of water sharing ended there. Everyone benefited and became food secure. Divided we fall, but united we stand. Do not wait for the drunkards to put sense in you to act and share water equitably. Water is life.

Can corruption attack the water sector?

Jean Paul: 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!

Carine: Hello, Jean Paul, hello dear Radio Salus listeners, and welcome to our show.

Jean Paul: 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

Carine: 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?

Jean Paul: 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.


Jean Paul: 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.

Carine: 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!

Jean Paul: 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”!

Carine: 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!

Jean Paul: 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.

Jean Paul: So you see, Carine, the rice farmers from Butare solved the corruption problem in their area.

Carine: 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.

Jean Paul: 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.

Carine: Yes, Jean Paul, I can see that there are many kinds of corruption possible in agriculture and irrigation.

Jean-Paul: 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:

Clip Mupiganyi: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.


Mr. Mupiganyi: 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.

Jean Paul: Carine, did you understand why those wrongdoers are not punished?

Carine: There have not been enough investigations yet on the corruption problem in the water sector in Rwanda to identify the corrupt persons.

Jean Paul: 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?

Carine: I think it might be corruption that doesn’t involve a lot of money. Is that correct?

Jean Paul: 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.

Carine: So there must be a name for the kind of corruption that involves higher-level officials and more money. Right?

Jean Paul: 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.

Carine: It is wonderful that the government of Lesotho had the courage and initiative to bring the case to court.

Jean Paul: Yes, it is. To close our show, we can suggest that investigations be conducted in Rwanda on corruption in the water sector, and that …

Carine: (Interrupting) … 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

Jean Paul: 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!

Carine: Bye bye!

Closing tune

Commercial farm activities can hurt local livelihoods: The case of Western Farms

Host:  Hello everyone. Today you will hear part 1 of our programme on events at Odaba Swamp where an American company called Western Farms has started rice and fish farming. Stay tuned. I am your host and presenter, Rhoda Adala.
Short musical break

Host: We travelled to Western Farms and introduced ourselves to a superintendent as university students conducting research. We did this because Western Farms has a policy not to talk to any journalists. The superintendent greeted us coldly, then proceeded ahead of us. Then we went to a section of the farm. After driving for one kilometre, we walked towards a group of male workers supervised by a woman.

Interviewer: How are you?

Supervisor: We are fine, thank you.

Interviewer: We would like to visit with you briefly.

Supervisor: Have you passed through the office?

Interviewer: No, we have not passed through the office. Are you the supervisor in charge of this section of the farm?

Supervisor: Yes.

Interviewer: We would like to talk to you.

Supervisor: Privately or here?

Interviewer: We don’t have any problem with talking here. We are university students and we are conducting research on human rights. And therefore we are in the field collecting data.

Supervisor: That is O.K.

Voices of male workers and the sound of a passing motorbike in the background

Interviewer: First, we would like to know what activities are taking place on this farm.

Supervisor: Basically, Western Farms was started in order to reclaim this land. This was a swamp. One major way of reclaiming swampland is by farming. We began with maize farming, but that did not do well because of floods that stunted the growth of the maize. This was stopped and the major project of rice farming began.

Apart from that, we have a venture in aquaculture, which is commercial fish farming. If you walk ahead, you will see ponds for intensive fish farming. On the other side, we are breeding fish. We are able to supply the whole country with fingerlings.

We don’t do banana farming as you might think from seeing these bananas. In between the banana rows, you can see water. The main activity is growing fish food in these waters, and that is duckweed. The bananas are here because duckweed is affected by high temperatures. The bananas provide shade for the duckweed.

We also do poultry farming. We are in need of phosphorus even for the bananas, and we find that chicken manure is very rich in phosphorus. So instead of buying DAP fertilizer, we use manure from poultry. We also sell chickens and eggs. But the key products at Western Farms are rice and aquaculture.

Interviewer: Can the farm products be purchased directly by the local community? Or are transported elsewhere for processing, and then returned to the community to be sold?

Supervisor: We have a rice mill on the farm and we also process our fish on the farm. It is directly beneficial to the community because they can get the produce from the farm before it is channelled to other people. We simply take them to the office to obtain receipts for their purchases.

But our prices are higher to the local community than in other regions. For example, if you go to the city, you will see that a two or five-kilo bag of our rice is much cheaper there compared to our local sales.

Interviewer: So the high prices mean that the locals are finding it difficult to buy locally?

Supervisor: Yes. Even the fish is sold per kilo and not by the piece as is the case at the lake. This makes it expensive even though it can be easily accessed.

Interviewer: Thank you for speaking with us today.

Host: That is the end of part one of our series on Odaba Swamp. Stay tuned for part two.

Musical break

Host: Good morning, dear listeners. Welcome to the second and final part of our series on Odaba Swamp. Today’s theme is the impact of Western Farms on the local community around Odaba Swamp. We are going to hear farmers’ views on the project. Stay tuned!

Ten second musical tune that fades under the voice of the interviewer

Interviewer: I am in the Odaba Swamp area where the Western Farms project is based. I am talking to one of the community members. (To community member) What are your views concerning the impact of Odaba Swamp and the Western Farms project on the local community?

Interviewee 1: Thank you. I must say that we are not privileged by living near the project. We are now like slaves without any say on what formerly used to be our land, and even on the land that we currently have.

Interviewer: Can you briefly tell us what you mean?

Interviewee 1: We used to farm in this area. We could get a harvest even during the short rains, because the crops got enough water. But now we can’t grow crops during the short rains because we were moved to dry farms that need rain for a good harvest.

Interviewer: What is the possibility of you and other farmers irrigating your farms with water from the swamp so you can get good yields again?

Interviewee 1: It would be very difficult because you are not allowed to tap water from the swamp for your farm. If we cannot even take our cows to drink the water, do you think we will be allowed to use the same water for irrigation? Our cows are not even allowed to step in the undeveloped parts of the swamp to graze or drink water.

Interviewer: What about irrigating your farms by diverting water from the river?

Interviewee 1: This is too complicated and very expensive. We cannot afford it. It is easier using water from the swamp than the river. Crossing the raised river banks with water to the farm requires technology. But in the swamp, it only requires a little energy and it is done. Even if you manage to irrigate your farm, you may be offered very little money the following month to move elsewhere because they are expanding the project. If you fail to move, they block the river near your home or farm, then water floods your land. This forces you to move out, and then you are paid for settling where you don’t want to live.

A neighbour draws close and joins the discussion

Interviewee 2: I am also a farmer from this area. As much as we can try working on our farms, things are out of our control. Sometimes water from the river is blocked and our farms and homes are flooded, including our kitchen gardens that we rely on so much. With the flooding comes the challenge of water-borne diseases, and the stunted growth of our crops. This is done without our consent or knowledge. They don’t consider blocking the river after we have harvested. All this leads to low yields from our farms and the death of our cattle.

Interviewer:  Have you raised your concerns as a community with one voice?

Interviewee 1: We have done this several times through our leaders. They start with a lot of focus, but they are silenced somehow by being given some money. Then they go quiet.

Interviewee 2: A leader whose name I do not want to mention refused to take the bribe. But we hear he was threatened with dismissal from his work as a civil servant if he didn’t toe the line. I feel it is difficult to fight the odds at Western Farms because the owner seems to be politically powerful. I mean he has pocketed the politicians who are supposed to look into our issues.

Interviewee 1: Recently an area councillor took up the matter seriously and we expected good results. But by the end he also went silent. Now we do not know whether he was offered a package or whether he was threatened or intimidated. Despite being near the swamp and the river, we lack clean water for drinking and domestic use, and for farming and watering our animals.

Host: Dear listeners, we hope that you have listened to the farmers around Odaba Swamp. Thanks to the farmers for speaking with us today. Thank you, dear listeners, for your attention. Until next time, bye.

Raise the volume of the signature tune to end the program

Zamana, or ‘The confession’

Madou: farmer
Mouta: expert in civil engineering
Bassi: opinion leader
Satou: farmer
Abou: president of the farmers’ group
Belou: general secretary of the farmers’ group
Fama: chief of the delegation
Bira: villager
Laré: entrepreneur
Monda: town crier

Presenter: Zamana is an imaginary village located in the Sahel, in the country of Manibu. The swamps that covered three quarters of its area made farming difficult. But one day, a government representative came to announce the good news: “People of Zamana, the government has charged me to announce that work will be done in your village swamp zone to allow you to diversify your production. From now on, in addition to cereals, you will be able to grow rice, maize and many other crops. Your government, that works for the peoples’ well-being, has granted your wishes.”

The people of Zamana gave a huge round of applause. A new era was about to start. Several months later, reclaimed farmland was made available to them. The swamp had been drained, a dam built, and flat farming land made available for farming. Most households received pieces of land. They immediately sowed their new fields.

You could see the hope animating the small-scale farmers with new farming land in Zamana. Everyone had a smile on their face. One farmer expressed the opinion of all the farmers: “Oh God, I thank you for all you are doing for me. This year, I thank you even more for giving me a piece of land. I will finally be able to afford a couple of oxen after I sell my rice.”

But the people of Zamana did not stay happy for long. There was a big disappointment, as if a disaster had hit the village. After a rain which was no heavier than usual, the dam broke. Water flooded the reclaimed land, harvests were lost and hopes died.

But now, let me take you back to the happy time after the swamp was drained, the reclaimed land created, and before the dam broke. On one of those happy days, a farmer is visited by his cousin, an expert engineer. He can’t wait to show the cousin his rice field. They go together to the reclaimed land.

Madou (farmer): (Happily)You see, my field is half a hectare. I expect a harvest of about two tons of rice. I am very optimistic now. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. My ambitions are big.

Mouta (expert in civil engineering): (Calmly) Your rice field looks good and gives hope. I encourage you to persevere. As far as my sack of rice is concerned, I think it’s a given. You guys have some good land, but I’m telling you this: the work is not complete. There is still more work to do.

Madou (farmer): (Surprised) Oh yeah? Why do you say that? Why did they distribute land if the work was not completed? What are you trying to tell me?

Mouta (expert in civil engineering): You will have the answer soon. I bet that the dam is not strong enough. It will not survive if there is a bit more water.

Presenter: Madou the farmer goes to the opinion leader. He wants to better understand what his cousin told him.

Madou (farmer): (Sounding eager) So, you who know everything, tell me if the swamp reclamation works are complete.

Bassi (opinion leader): (A bit dazed) How do you want me to answer this? Why do you ask? What do you know about this development anyway? If you are asking this question, you must think that there is something wrong. I don’t understand what you want to tell me.

Madou (farmer): (Disappointed) It’s fine if you don’t understand. In any case, there’s no rush. My cousin simply told me that there is still work to do.

Bassi (opinion leader): Oh yeah? What are you hiding from me? Your cousin is announcing no good news. But since you don’t want to tell me anything, let’s wait and see.

Presenter: On the reclaimed land, the rice is ripening. The farmers are busy placing scarecrows in the fields to drive birds away. They discuss how they will sell their harvest…. (Short pause) That night, rain falls on Zamana. In the morning, the people of Zamana are very bitter when they see the damage caused by the rain.

Satou (farmer): (Panicked) The dam broke and water invaded the reclaimed land. It drowned all the plants. But the rain should not have caused such damage. It was not as heavy as other rains. All my hopes are gone. Lord, have mercy on us!

Presenter: The president of the farmers’ group summons an emergency meeting of the board of directors to examine the situation on the reclaimed land.

Abou (president of the farmers’ group): (In a serious tone) Greetings to all. I thank you for responding to my invitation. As you know, the situation is very alarming. It is true that it rained. But the amount of rain was not enough to cause such a disaster. It is our responsibility to find out why it happened. And if need be, to determine who is responsible. The dam broke before the water had even reached its highest level. We are going to meet with the chief of the government delegation to report this situation.

Belou (general secretary of the farmers’ group): As general secretary, I say that we agree with you, president. We support your plan. It won’t be easy, but we must do it. The situation is difficult to explain. I heard someone say that the development works were not completed. Would this explain the dam breaking?

Presenter: The next morning, the farmers’ group president, general secretary and treasurer go to the capital to meet with the chief of the government delegation. Meanwhile, Bassi, the opinion leader, meets with Madou the farmer, who is heading to the village chief’s compound.

Bassi (opinion leader): (Calling Madou) Hey, hey, hello! Where are you going, so early in the morning? You seem to be in a hurry.

Madou (farmer): (Very impatient) I’m going to the Chief’s. He asked me to see him. I don’t know what he is going to talk about.

Bassi (opinion leader): It’s always good to be solicited by the Chief. At least you feel useful. I believe we now have understood what your cousin wanted to tell you. That rain was nothing extraordinary. It should not have broken the dam so easily. Tell me, did your cousin visit the reclaimed land? If he did, then he knew what he was talking about. He’s an expert in civil engineering. He knows these things. This would mean that the works were not executed “by the book.” This is exactly what he wanted to make us understand. (A short silence) But we shouldn’t jump to quick conclusions. Let’s wait and see.

Madou (farmer): (Very emotional) My cousin warned me that there would be problems. But what could I have done?

Presenter: The farmers’ group president and his followers arrive at the house of Mr. Fama, the delegation chief.

Abou (president of the farmers’ group): (Knocks at door and walks in)Good morning, Mr. chief of delegation.

Fama (chief of the delegation): (Merry) Mr. President, what happy occasion brings you to Zaboudou? Please, have a seat. I hope everything is well in Zamana. I am listening to you, Mr. President.

Abou (president of the farmers’ group): (Sounding embarrassed) Mr. Chief of delegation, to tell you the truth, nothing is well in Zamana. The reclaimed land is flooded. There is no hope of harvesting any rice. The farmers have become desperate. Anger is growing.

Fama (chief of the delegation): (Startled) What happened? Did the rain that fell two days ago cause damage?

Abou (president of the farmers’ group): I don’t know how to explain what happened. The dam broke following that rain. A rain like any other, not a big rain! We simply don’t understand.

Fama (chief of the delegation): (A bit nervous) No, anything but the dam! That’s not possible. The dam cannot break so easily. What amount of water could make the dam break? Mr. President, we are going to send a team to Zamana as soon as we can. We must know exactly what happened. Thank you for informing me of the situation. Go home and wait for us; we will come. Take courage, President!

Abou (president of the farmers’ group): (Somewhat comforted) Thank you for understanding. We count on you to give hope back to the people of Zamana.

Presenter: Three days later, the governmental delegation is welcomed in Zamana.

Noise of crowd

Fama (chief of the delegation): (In a calm tone) People of Zamana, some time ago, in this very place, I announced good news to you. Today, I come to express the government’s sympathy for what has happened. The government promises to take all necessary measures to repair the dam as fast as possible, and to provide assistance to you. The investigation team reported a problem with the dam. The quantity of cement and the quality of the iron framework are the cause of the dam break. The company will resume the work and respect all quality standards.

Abou (president of the farmers’ group): (In a worried tone) We know that the government will help us. But exactly what will the government do?

Fama (chief of the delegation): We will proceed rapidly with an estimate of your needs and see how the government can help you. As of now, it is decided that the re-payment for the inputs you were granted for this season will be postponed to next season. In other words, you don’t have to pay back the loans this season. Be courageous, everything is going to be all right. I thank you.

Presenter: One week later, the construction company is back in Zamana to fix the dam. A villager approaches the entrepreneur in charge of the work. A conversation starts between the two men.

Bira (villager): You must not like our village. You must wish us bad luck. Otherwise, how can such a dam be swept away by a rain that was not very strong?

Laré (entrepreneur): (A bit annoyed) Oh, you people from villages. When are you going to understand? You don’t know what pain we endure to work for you.

Bira (villager): (Calmly) I believe that you are being disrespectful to those who don’t live in the city. Do you really suffer for us? We too, we suffer for you. It is because of our sweat that you enjoy cereals, tubers, and other food. We take our work seriously. When have you eaten cereals that were not ready to eat? But with you, we are used to school roofs being swept away or fence walls that collapse with the weakest wind. So why are you here today?

Laré (entrepreneur): Do you really want to know? Is it worth explaining this to you? You should simply know that as long as life is as it is, construction will be done this way.

Bira (villager): You see … I told you that people from the city look down on us people from the countryside. Do we deserve to have badly built things just because we live in villages?

Laré (entrepreneur): Who told you that the work was badly done? No, you didn’t understand me. I didn’t say that. Listen to me. In order to get this contract, I had to spend a lot of money. First I had to buy the call for applications dossier for the construction of the dam. Then I submitted an application along with others who wanted this contract. It is as the proverb says: It is better to know somebody than know the village.

Bira (villager): So if you don’t know somebody, you can’t get contracts? Isn’t the person who selects the winning candidate paid a salary to do that job? If you don’t give him anything, what will happen?

Laré (entrepreneur): Who gives nothing receives nothing. You know that well! It would be as if you didn’t submit an application for the contract. You would get no contracts. It’s as simple as that.

Bira (villager): (Nervously) In what world do you live? We do not know this way of life here. What am I hearing? No, no, I will leave you to your work. But this time, do a good job even if I have nothing to give you.

Laré (entrepreneur): (Begging) Don’t go. My story is not over. I want to simply share with you what kind of pains and difficulties we experience as entrepreneurs.

Bira (villager): I don’t like your story. It is full of things that violate ethics and morals.

Laré (entrepreneur): Do you mean I don’t have good morals? No, I am not a bad guy. I will tell you the story of most entrepreneurs.

Bira (villager): (Conciliatory) Okay, tell me.

Laré (entrepreneur): As I was saying, it is better to know somebody than know the village. So, I gave some money to the people who examine applications so that my submission would be considered. I won’t say how much, but it was a lot of money. Other entrepreneurs also wanted to get this contract. They did the same thing as me. But I was luckier. My application was accepted.

Bira (villager): What you’re telling me doesn’t explain the poor quality of the work the government says you’re responsible for.

Laré (entrepreneur): You’re right. The story goes on. When you are successful and get the contract, then starts the obstacle course. In order to get an advance on the payment, you need to spend money again. Once the work is finished, you wait until those who gave you the job tell you that it is well done. It’s very difficult to ensure that the people who sponsored the work are taken to the site to confirm that the works were executed in conformity with specified criteria. This also costs money.

Bira (villager): (A bit agitated) Money. Always money. Definitely, it is money that controls human relationships in the city.

Laré (entrepreneur): You could say so. The work is completed and the work has been OKed by the government agency. What is left is to obtain the remaining funds. I tell you that you will wear out your shoes if you forget to give money away.

Bira (villager): I don’t know what to say. Your world is so different from ours!

Laré (entrepreneur): You understand that, in these conditions, we cannot deliver quality work to you. As we satisfy people’s greed, the quality of the work is sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity. And life goes on. As proof, I am here to repair the dam.

Bira (villager): (With assurance) Who is going to pay you this time? Don’t forget that you are re-doing a job that you did the wrong way. In principle, you should not be paid. That’s the truth, isn’t it?

Laré (entrepreneur): You are really ignorant. The officials who granted me the contract know what they have done and I know it too. So, who is going to accuse whom? Before I came back here, we talked to each other and we understood each other. Everybody wins.

Bira (villager): (Pointing finger) So you are accomplices within a system that you are maintaining rather than fighting. I think that entrepreneurs should fight against this system for their own benefit and for ours too. Don’t you have an association? You could win a big fight if you were united. You people from the city know that well.

Laré (entrepreneur): (Very surprised) You are scaring me! You are not as ignorant as I thought. Don’t get me into trouble. In any case, I told you nothing. Everything I said was just a story.

Bira (villager): (Mocking him) Just a story? But an instructive one. I will talk about it at the next meeting of the farmers’ group. We may be useful to you some day. You never know.

Laré (entrepreneur): How can this story be of interest to the farmers group? Where do you get such an idea? I am telling you – it was just a story.

Bira (villager): A story that will leave no-one indifferent, nonetheless. I listened to you carefully and I know what you are talking about. I would like to share this story with the other farmers. We are the unintended victims of your system. This story needs to be told and be known by all.

Laré (entrepreneur): Are you serious?

Bira (villager): I did not beg you to tell me what I just heard. Right?

Laré (entrepreneur): (Pause, speaking slowly)I will talk to my colleagues about this. Maybe we can expose this corruption. I am glad that I did not waste my time with you. I admit that this was a good meeting.

Presenter: It is several days later. One evening, the town crier mounts his bike and rides through the village.

Monda (town crier): (Loud and clear voice)People of Zamana, men, women, elders and youth, I greet you. Through my voice and with the authorization of the chief, the farmers’ group president invites you to a big meeting tomorrow morning at nine o’clock, under the big tree. The president would like to discuss with you what happening on the reclaimed land. Everyone is invited under the big tree, tomorrow morning at nine o’clock, to get information. I thank you in advance.

People of Zamana, men, women, elders and youth, I greet you. Through my voice … (voice repeats and fades).

Issue Pack: Water Integrity

1. Introduction – a true story about corruption in the water sector

The squatter area of Kibera in Nairobi is not served by the city water utility. Small private providers buy water from the utility and sell it to Kibera’s half million residents, who queue in front of the water providers kiosks. The price is fixed, but it is many times more expensive than the price that the utility pays for water. Also, the price varies from season to season and depending on the availability of water.

The utility company charges the private providers erratically and inconsistently, and delivers bulk water irregularly. This uncertainty gives utility officials power over the providers, who regularly “tip” officials to receive their water or to revise their bills to something approximating the true charges. Those who buy water in Kibera are the losers. They pay a higher price for water each time this “surcharge” is added.

But things are changing. The small private providers have formed an association and developed a code of ethics to ensure that they all follow a set of agreed-on rules. Their association gives them more leverage in their interactions with the utility, and helps them deal with the petty corruption from utility officials. With this better leverage, the citizens of Kibera will also benefit.

2. A guide to the scripts in the package

The water sector includes individuals, companies, organizations and public agencies that manage water resources and deliver water to users such as consumers and businesses. It includes large infrastructure projects such as dams and larger irrigation systems, as well as smaller projects to bring drinking or irrigation water to small communities.

“Water integrity” means that individuals and groups in the water sector behave in accordance with moral principles and standards. The principles, standards and the behaviours consistent with them create a preventive barrier to corruption.

This script package is sponsored by the Water Integrity Network (WIN). WIN is a Germany-based non-profit organization that promotes anti-corruption solutions in water, sanitation and water resources management worldwide. WIN worked closely with Farm Radio International staff to shape this script package, as well as four Farm Radio Weekly articles which deal with water integrity.

The scripts in this package use a variety of formats. Script 1 is a fictionalized case study of a gravity flow water scheme in a rural community. It is based on extensive interviews with users and project personnel. In this scheme, conflicts emerge from some common but unfair practices. The script shows how users and project workers try to change the way the system is governed in order to ensure that everyone’s water needs are equitably met. Script 2 is a fictional mini-drama, which focuses on the kinds of corruption that are common when independent companies are contracted by governments to build the infrastructure for community water systems. The corrupt “rules of the game” are exposed in a conversation between an entrepreneur and a shrewd villager.

Script 3 is a is a fictionalized account of how the creation of a commercial farm established on swampland in the Great Lakes area of Africa has affected the local farming community. It is alleged by local farmers that these activities are detrimental to their livelihoods. Script 4 is a two-host conversation. The script explains some of the central concepts in water integrity, and provides examples to clarify these explanations. Script 5 is a mini-drama that dramatizes the kinds of petty corruption that can occur when individual farmers take advantage of water systems, and how these kinds of situations can be addressed. Script 6 is a case study of corruption in the Zambian prison system. This corruption not only harms the prison inmates but, because the prison can no longer grow and sell food to neighbouring communities, nearby villagers also suffer. Script 7 is a mini-drama that shows how a community can stand up for its rights and take the first steps towards creating an effective, open, fair and transparent system for managing their own water resources.

3. Background information on water integrity

This section is divided into several sections. First, there is a general introduction to corruption in the water sector. Next, we present definitions of key concepts. Then, we provide several classification schemes, which talk about different types of corruption. Most of this section uses examples to help make these concepts clearer. Finally, we present a short summary of the media’s role in reporting on corruption.

Corruption is a serious problem in the water sector. One study estimates that, if African water utilities functioned in an environment free of corruption, their costs would be reduced by almost two thirds.

A wide range of people and organizations are involved in corruption in the water sector. Some are international, such as donor representatives and private companies. Others who may engage in corrupt behaviour include national or local construction companies, equipment suppliers, middlemen, consumers, civil society organizations, politicians, civil servants, and staff at water utilities.
Corruption thrives in situations which provide a large enough incentive to make it profitable. Regardless of who is involved, people engage in corrupt behaviour because of need, greed, or opportunity. For poor water consumers, corrupt behaviour may be driven simply by the need for water. Poorly paid workers may seek ways to supplement their income. Middle managers may take advantage of the many opportunities available to them to profit from corrupt behavior. Politicians, senior managers and directors may be driven by greed.

Some definitions

To make it easier to talk about corruption, here are definitions of some key concepts. The definitions and examples are taken from Transparency International’s Anti-Corruption Plain Language Guide (resource document #2 in section 5 below).

  • Corruption

The abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.
Example in practice
According to a national survey in India, more than 70 percent of families that live below the poverty line have reportedly paid a bribe to law enforcement and local housing authorities.

  • Conflict of interest

Situation where an individual or the entity for which they work, whether a government, business, media outlet or civil society organization, is confronted with choosing between the duties and demands of their position and their own private interests.
Example in practice
The Law on Conflict of Interest in the European country of Bosnia-Herzegovina restricts elected officials, executives and advisors in government institutions from certain activities if they result in private or material gain. These include acts related to the promising of employment, granting of privileges based on party affiliation, giving of gifts, and provision of privileged information on state activities.

  • Collusion

A secret agreement between parties in the public and/or private sector to conspire to commit actions aimed to deceive or commit fraud with the objective of illicit financial gain. The parties involved often are referred to as “cartels.”
Example in practice
The Ghanaian government has been accused of allegedly colluding with logging companies to allow them to operate without the proper licensing and certification standards, resulting in estimates by civil society organizations that only 5 of the 600 logging concessions in the country are legal.


  • Embezzlement

When a person holding office in an institution, organization or company dishonestly and illegally appropriates, uses or traffics the funds and goods they have been entrusted with for personal enrichment or other activities.
Example in practice
Chung Mong Koo, former chairman of Hyundai Motors Co., was convicted in 2007 of embezzling US$ 110 million from company funds, a portion of which was allegedly used to pay off politicians and government officials.

  • Facilitation payments

A small bribe, also called a “facilitating,” “speed,” or “grease” payment. Made to secure or expedite the performance of a routine or necessary action to which the payer has legal or other entitlement.
Example in practice
Saudi Arabia’s Control and Investigation Board charged eight health officials in 2008 with taking bribes to facilitate the granting of licences to open new pharmacies. Investors claimed the licensing department purposely delayed the work and forced them to make facilitation payments in order to advance the approval procedure.

  • Governance

A concept that goes beyond the traditional notion of government to focus on the relationships between leaders, public institutions and citizens, including the processes by which they make and implement decisions. The term can also be applied to companies and NGOs. “Good” governance is characterized as being participatory, accountable, transparent, efficient, responsive and inclusive, respecting the rule of law, and minimizing opportunities for corruption.
Example in practice
To strengthen Nepal’s governance system, its parliament passed four bills in 2002 aimed at constructing an anti-corruption legal framework, and established a unit under the prime minister’s office to monitor and advocate for anti-corruption initiatives. The changes also required that all public officials submit documented statements of their wealth and property.

  • Integrity

Behaviours and actions consistent with a set of moral or ethical principles and standards, embraced by individuals as well as institutions, that create a barrier to corruption.
Example in practice
According to the constitution, the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago is to ensure that all public officials comply with relevant national laws. The Commission is also mandated to review the practices and procedures of public bodies and monitor the receipt of officials’ declarations (income, assets and liabilities).
The Transparency International national chapter in Bangladesh has been successful at substantially improving the quality and integrity of the public services delivered at the local level after introducing the concept of “Islands of Integrity,” community-based oversight mechanisms that cover sectors such as health, education and land administration.

  • Nepotism

Form of favouritism based on acquaintances and familiar relationships whereby someone in an official position exploits his or her power and authority to provide a job or favour to a family member or friend, even though he or she may not be qualified or deserving.
Example in practice
In the European Commission, one of the most sensational cases of corruption involved allegations that the Commissioner of Research and Education from 1995-1999, Edith Cresson, a former French prime minister, used nepotism in hiring her dentist to produce reports on AIDS research, although he lacked any background or qualifications for the position.

  • Political corruption

Manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources and financing by political decision makers, who abuse their position to sustain their power, status and wealth.
Example in practice
In 2000, Daniel Ortega and Arnoldo Alemán, the two leaders of Nicaragua’s principal opposition parties, reached an informal pact to push through a constitutional change that enhanced their control of government institutions and constitutional leverage, including life-long immunity from prosecution.

  • State capture

A situation where powerful individuals, institutions, companies or groups within or outside a country use corruption to shape a nation’s policies, legal environment and economy to benefit their own private interests.
Example in practice
Since the 1990s, multinational corporations have allegedly pressured and bribed key politicians in the Solomon Islands to create a favourable operating environment for logging and to weaken national-level timber management, successfully gaining advantages such as decreasing export taxes, postponing the logging export ban and preventing moves to strengthen government oversight of foreign-controlled operations.

  • Transparency

Characteristic of governments, companies, organizations and individuals of being open in the clear disclosure of information, rules, plans, processes and actions. As a principle, public officials, civil servants, the managers and directors of companies and organizations, and board trustees have a duty to act visibly, predictably and understandably to promote participation and accountability.
Example in practice
In Romania, all high-level government officials must disclose on a public website their financial and property holdings, as well as positions they hold in associations and businesses, any paid professional activities, and their investments in companies.

  • Whistle blowing

The sounding of an alarm by an employee, director, or external person, in an attempt to reveal neglect or abuses within the activities of an organization, government body or company (or one of its business partners) that threaten public interest, its integrity and reputation.
The term in English is largely positive, although many languages lack a similar concept with the same connotation.
Example in practice
In 2006, advocate Jeanetha Brink blew the whistle on fraud occurring in the South African province of Guateng. According to her claims, the local anti-corruption hot line was not investigating tip-offs and was derailing investigations of cases against senior government officials. As a result of her charges, she was relieved of her duties and forced to resign. In 2008, a court declared her resignation was coerced and she was awarded compensation.

The effects of corruption

There are at least three kinds of negative impact caused by corruption in the water sector.

  • Financial impacts: Water is involved in many kinds of economic activities, including agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, transportation, and tourism. Corruption inflates the cost of supplying or treating water for all these activities. Increased costs hurt the financial viability of the business activities, and may be passed on to consumers.
  • Social impacts: Those who control the allocation of water have a great deal of power. This power can be used to favour specific ethnic groups or particular businesses, with negative impacts on other groups, and on social equality and political stability.
  • Environmental and health impacts: Overuse and pollution of water directly harms human and animal health. It also contributes to degradation of wetlands and other ecosystems, with consequences for human livelihoods and wildlife habitat.

Corruption in the water sector

Is the water sector particularly vulnerable to corruption? There are several characteristics of the sector which suggest that the answer to this question is yes.

  • Managing water has political, environmental, and social dimensions. But it is often approached as largely an engineering issue, especially when it involves large-scale projects such as dams and large irrigation projects. The technical expertise required to design and construct infrastructure largely excludes non-technical stakeholders from monitoring progress or requiring institutions, agencies and companies to be responsible for their actions.


  • The water sector is complex and involves many different kinds of groups. Governance is often shared across political boundaries and various agencies. This makes effective regulation and oversight difficult. Often, agencies which distribute and manage water are monopolies and have enormous discretion in the planning and design of projects, awarding of contracts, and monitoring of water services. Legal requirements are often non-existent. There is little tradition in Africa of water users holding service providers accountable.
  • The water sector is highly capital-intensive because of the investments needed for large and complex infrastructure. This makes it easier (and more lucrative) to manipulate procurement and contract activities.


  • Because of climate change, population growth and other factors, water is becoming increasingly scarce. The less water is available, the higher the tendency for corrupt behaviour in fighting for control over the water supply.

Classifying different types of corruption

Here is a useful classification system for better understanding corruption:

  • Petty or bureaucratic corruption occurs when officials use their public positions to accept small bribes and favours.
  • Grand corruption occurs when larger amounts of public money are misused by the smaller number of highly-ranked officials.
  • State capture involvescollusion between public officials and private actors for private benefit.

Another classification scheme

Another way to understand and research the different kinds of corrupt practices is to separate them into interactions which are public/public, public/private sector, and public/consumers or civil society.

In these three areas, corruption can occur at a number of points along the chain of conceiving of, regulating, financing, managing, contracting, building, maintaining and using water systems:

  • Policy making and regulation
  • Planning and budgeting
  • Donor financing
  • Financial transfers
  • Management and program design
  • Tendering and procurement
  • Construction
  • Operation and maintenance
  • Payment for services

Corrupt actions in the public/public sphere include:

  • Agreements between national ministries to follow policies that create monopolies and exclude competition (policy making and regulation);
  • Agreements between national and district government officials that influence the location and type of projects invested in (planning and budgeting);
  • Collusion between donors and governments which results in poor quality work or time over-runs (donor financing);
  • Kickbacks between water sector ministries and other ministries, e.g., finance (financial transfers);
  • Corruption in local government design of projects (management and program design), and
  • Administrative corruption, such as falsification of documents, fraud, and silence payments (tendering and procurement).

Corrupt actions in the public/private sector area include:

  • Officials waiving legal restrictions in exchange for funds from companies (policy making and regulation);
  • Private companies bribing officials to influence budgeting decisions (planning and budgeting), or to construct expensive surface water projects rather than more affordable groundwater water schemes;
  • Donors and private companies colluding to funnel contracts and financial gains to individual companies or officials (donor financing);
  • Companies bribing officials to distort the bidding process, falsify documents, or inflate expenses (tendering and procurement);
  • Officials designing contract specifications to suit their favourite suppliers (tendering and procurement);
  • Companies bribing officials to ignore cases in which structures are not built to standard (construction), and
  • Ignoring health and safety standards (operation and maintenance).

Finally, corrupt actions in the public/consumers or civil society sphere may include:

  • Local elites bribing officials in exchange for preferential treatment, for example by locating pumps and tanks in locations that benefit elites (management and program design),
  • Local people influencing officials to ignore health and safety considerations in exchange for private gain (operation and maintenance),
  • Those with local influence trading political favours for the installation of illegal connections or to avoid disconnection (operation and maintenance), and
  • Local people benefiting from overbilling and fraudulent meter readings (payment for services).

Types of corruption in irrigation services

Because irrigation systems are very important for smallholder farmers, it’s useful to look at the four types of corruption that are typical of irrigation projects or schemes:

1. Subsidy capture: Government subsidies for public irrigation projects are usually justified because they are thought to strengthen national food security and benefit farmers who can’t afford to buy water at market prices. Farmers can benefit from these projects when the increased income they enjoy from receiving water outweighs the (subsidized) costs of the water. However, groups or individuals may lobby governments to pay for projects that do not provide benefits to rural communities at large, but instead provide subsidies to landowners. By overestimating the benefits and underestimating the costs of such projects, these groups or individuals try to influence government decisions which increase private benefits. Also, businesses that design, build and operate irrigation systems may be tempted to bribe system officials.
2. Corruption in construction: Irrigation projects are prone to corruption in the procurement and tendering processes. Dams are unique projects; each one is different than the next. Contractors’ estimates may vary widely, and can include bribes with little risk of detection. Favoured contractors may routinely win contracts, and not be held accountable for poor performance and inferior work. Contractors may also collude to overcharge. (See script #2 in package 92 for a story on these themes.)
3. Corruption in maintenance: Maintenance of irrigation systems is not often carefully monitored, and poor performance can be difficult to detect.  Because maintenance funds are included in an agency’s annual budget and subject to the discretion of maintenance engineers, budgets can be inflated to incorporate opportunities for corruption rather than actual needs for maintenance.
4. Corruption in operation: Irrigation designers often recommend irrigation systems with a certain amount of flexibility. Such flexibility ensures that water can be distributed exactly where it is most needed. But this flexibility can mean greater opportunities for corruption. Officials and those who operate irrigation gates can be bribed to open them further or keep them open longer than intended. Farmers can bribe officials to increase their water allocation. But farmers are also vulnerable to extortion by officials. Water shortages caused by drought and other factors can tempt irrigation officials to extract side payments from farmers.

Lessons from Indonesia on addressing corruption (adapted from resource document 4 in section 5)

The following case study summarizes how an Indonesian development project addressed the challenge of preventing corruption in project activities. It offers some important real-world lessons on how to best ensure transparency and fairness.

The Kecamatan Development Program (KDP) is a $1.2 billion World Bank-financed development project in Indonesia, begun in 1998. It funds infrastructure development and provides small loans to villages. The program serves more than 20,000 villages.

The approach to combating corruption in the KDP is two-pronged. First, it tries to change the conditions that breed corruption in villages by splitting up monopolies over information, resources, and access to justice. Second, it aims to prevent corruption in the project itself by changing the project structure so there are no incentives for corruption. The KDP experience can help us understand what actions can prevent or limit corruption in large, rural development projects in countries with widespread corruption, weak legal systems, and a history of top-down political control by a powerful state bureaucracy.

At the heart of the KDP’s anti-corruption approach is the principle that villagers themselves should have decision-making power over planning, procurement, and management of funds. Some of the actions taken include:
• simplifying financial formats so villagers can easily understand them
• transferring project funds directly into collective village bank accounts
• requiring that all financial transactions have at least three signatures, and that at least three quotations are received for the procurement of goods, to be shared publicly at village meetings
• insisting that details of all financial transactions are posted on village notice boards
• requiring that project funds be accounted for at regular village meetings, at which villagers have the right to suspend further disbursements of funds if irregularities are found
• providing village-level sources of information and channels for complaints independent of local government
• providing intensive field-level supervision by elected village facilitators and sub-district project facilitators
• providing independent monitoring of the project by NGOs and local journalists.

There has been some success with this approach, though corruption persists in the form of budget mark-ups, collusion, bribes, and kickbacks to local officials. The activities which are most effective in limiting corruption are transparency, community participation, and providing independent channels for resolving complaints. Information and local control are key to preventing and fighting corruption. The most successful strategies for fighting corruption have centred on publicizing anti-corruption activities, gathering wide local support, and using sanctions credibly. Project facilitators provide a channel of information to villagers that is independent of local government and, because facilitators are backed by the central KDP structure, they have more protection from threats and intimidation than ordinary villagers.

The media’s role in tackling corruption and advocating for integrity

Lack of awareness is a key factor that prevents anti-corruption action in Africa. Politicians, high-level officials, the media, and the general public all need to be more aware of the causes and consequences of corruption. Radio broadcasters can help raise this awareness, and shape public opinion about corruption and the need for reform. Radio can help develop a common language for listeners to discuss corruption issues, and a deeper understanding of corruption – its causes and its impact.

But radio – and the media in general – can also confuse the issues and divert attention from the changes that are really needed. Often, the media sensationalizes individual cases rather than concentrating on understanding the different forms of corruption and how root causes breed corruption. Reporting tends to be fragmented. It may not link similar cases together to show how particular forms of corruption have become systemic. If radio does not make these links visible, it is difficult for listeners to address corruption and develop strategies to prevent similar cases in the future.

The media is valuable because it can help structure the framework and the nature of debates on corruption. But media campaigns do not always work in the way they are intended. For example, publicizing corruption cases may alienate decision-makers from cooperating to address the issues at hand. Debates in the “court of public opinion” may cause governments to become more defensive and resist changing policies, especially if discussions are confrontational. While radio and other media can help create change by spotlighting corrupt behaviour, the risk of targeting particular individuals or groups is that it can divert attention away from the larger task at hand. For example, “lifestyle checks” of public officials create a lot of “heat,” but often shed little light on the serious anti-corruption reforms that are necessary.

Lastly, radio in Africa is the best way to communicate information quickly to the greatest number of people. But, especially when one is dealing with issues of corruption, it can destroy a station’s reputation, especially if claims are made on faulty, weak or improperly researched evidence.

4. Production ideas

There are many ways to create radio programming on corruption in the water sector. Here are a few:

  • Interview an expert on corruption in the water sector froma national or international organization that works on corruption issues (a list of organizations can be found in section 5). Questions to ask include:
    • Can you provide any examples of corruption in the water sector in this country/region?
    • What are some of the ways that corruption in the water sector can be prevented?
    • What can users of water systems do when they believe they are being cheated, or when they believe more generally that there is corruption or unfairness in the water system?


  • Produce a call-in or text-in program. Invite an expert from a national or international organization that works on corruption issues, and invite callers to call or text questions about corruption in water systems.
  • Produce 4-6 radio spots which explain the costs of corruption and some of the ways in which it can be prevented. Each spot could start with the same “punchy” lead line and discuss one important element.


  • Host or chair a roundtable discussion on corruption problems in the water sector in your community. Invite representatives from various groups: civic and traditional leaders, leaders of women’s groups, water users, utility officials, government spokespersons, NGO representatives, and concerned citizens.
  • Interview members of nearby (or distant) communities that have successfully addressed corruption issues in the water sector. Follow up with a call-in or text-in program which considers whether these solutions would work for your community.


  • Adapt the scripts in this package to your local situation by conducting local research. Follow up broadcasts of the scripts with call-in programs or roundtable discussions.

5. Further resources on water integrity

Resource organizations


Resource programs and documents

Radio programs (Note: these radio programs are not necessarily on corruption in the water sector, but on corruption issues in general.):


Internet / print documents: