Corruption in WSS service delivery in Kerala - Need inputs on increasing accountability and minimise corruption

Original Query: V. Kurian Baby, Socio-Economic Unit Foundation (SEUF) Thrissur, Kerala
Posted: 31 March 2006

I work as Senior Advisor in the Socio Economic Unit Foundation (SEUF) and it has been my observation that investment projections and individual projects/programmes in general are prepared and benefit streams estimated with out reckoning, corruption, wastage and inefficiency.

Although substantial investments by national/state governments over the years have succeeded in creating infrastructure, they have become unsustainable as evidenced by the slippages of Water and Sanitation Sector (WSS) coverage, access to pipe - access to water - access to safe water and the, mismatch between investments and outcomes. One of the major reasons is the weak WSS governance; apparently the leading causative force is corruption, including calculated and incentivised wastage and inefficiency. In this regard, we have been working out various design elements to minimize corruption, like clarity of roles and responsibilities, decentralization, participation and community ownership, direct accountability, transparency, social audit, public expenditure tracking, client power and so on and so forth. Here we face a project design and development dilemma. If the design were rigid, the chances of the project failing is so high, as it does not offer adequate scope for insidious incentives.

Given this, I would be grateful, if members could share their views and experiences on

  • Designing elements that could increase accountability and hence minimize (if not eliminate) corruption, including wastage and inefficiency triggered by corruption
  • How to insulate/ring fence the projects/programmes to generate positive incentives for success
  • Whether there is any quantitative effort in estimating burden of corruption and WSS and if so the methodology followed.

Look forward to responses

Please see attachment below for the responses.