TI links water corruption to politicians
Saturday, 28 June 2008


Transparency International in a report published Thursday blamed corruption in Bangladesh's water sector partly on politicians.

"Influential persons with political links with the help of engineers and other officials get involved in corruption in irrigation, river dredging and flood prevention projects," the TI said in its Global Corruption Report 2008: Corruption in the Water Sector.

Encroachment on lakes and rivers flowing through urban areas, especially in Dhaka, was common, it said.

"Officials in Rajuk often allegedly collude with land grabbers, which is the main reason for the failure to demarcate, develop and conserve water bodies crucial for Dhaka's environment, water supply and drainage."

The report was simultaneously launched in Dhaka, Berlin and London.

The TI report said fighting corruption in the water sector was urgent to deal with climate change and increasing stress on water supply around the world.

Nearly 1.2 billion people in the world do not have guaranteed access to water and more than 2.6 billion are without adequate sanitation.

In developing countries, about 80 percent of health problems can be linked back to inadequate water and sanitation.

At the report launch ceremony in CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka, Professor Muzaffer Ahmad, chairman of the TIB's board of trustees, said local government, public works, land, shipping, industry, agriculture and water resources ministries were involved in corruption relating to water.

Up to 50 percent of the money allocated for the water sector goes in systems losses, he said.

Ahmad said there were 1,300 rivers in the country, but only 107 rivers are available in dry season. "Rivers are dying due to mismanagement."

Bangladesh has 54 cross-border rivers, but there is only one river agreement on Padma waters.

Ahmad said the government policy over the cross-border rivers was not clear. He suggested an agreement be signed with India, Nepal, Bhutan and China over river management.

TI Global Corruption Report 2008 argues that the crisis of water is a crisis of water governance, with corruption as one of the root causes.

According to the report, the need to adapt to climate change made the water sector more vulnerable to corruption.

"In developing countries, corruption is estimated to raise prices for connecting a household to a water network by as much as 30 percent. This inflates the overall costs for achieving the MDGs for water and sanitation by ore than $48 billion," the report said.

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