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Tajikistan: Integrating Integrity and Evidence for a Better Water Policy
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Tajikistan is one of the most water-wealthy states in the world, yet only 59% of its population has access to safe drinking water (15% in rural areas).
While infrastructural and institutional capacities play a significant role in this dynamic, governance in the water sector is also in need of significant improvement. Poor quality of strategic planning, lack of an agency responsible for implementing unified policy, as well as shortcomings and in the decentralization of water supply services and facilities, have all further stressed the country’s water vulnerability. One of the most worrisome concerns in this area is corruption, which is driven by distorted institutional incentives, lack of accountability mechanisms and inadequate public information and transparency.
With assistance from the UNDP Global Programme on Governance Assessments, a project was approved in March 2010 to support the management of integrity in the water sector. One of its key priorities is to facilitate the Government’s development of a Sector Integrity Vulnerability Mitigation Plan for the Water Sector, based on a participatory assessment of the same.
The methodology for this assessment was developed in collaboration with key national counterparts such as the Ministry of Water Resources and Land Reclamation, the Tajik Anticorruption Agency, the Tajik Consumer’s Union, the National Statistics Agency, the Academy of Sciences, the Strategic Research Centre and Human Rights NGOs. The methodology focuses on collecting data on the causes of corruption through participatory methodologies (mainly focus group discussions & surveys of various water stakeholders).
Evidence on how water consumers and water providers experience corruption risks in the urban and rural sectors was collected through expert interviews with government, civil society, private sector, end service users and international agencies. This consultative process supported a shared understanding of key issues to be addressed, and established an information-base for scaling up integrity –focused coordination and strategic action within the sector.
The report was validated on February 14-15 at a multi-stakeholder workshop where participants prioritized recommendations and identified responsible parties and timelines for implementation. The event initiated a process whereby UNDP will facilitate the Government’s development of the integrity vulnerability mitigation plan, for integration into national policy. The detailed plan will be prepared by the relevant water authorities and shared with all relevant stakeholders and groups for input, before being jointly launched by Government and Civil Society.
UNDP’s strategic decision to bring water sanitation, supply and integrated resource management under an overarching project promises to integrate integrity issues in a cross-cutting way. The project will also complement other projects focused on policy dialogue, as well as the promotion of pro-integrity work and policy within water-related Ministries. The project will also support other projects through the implementation of expert recommendations, and by working closely with GoAL-WASH project on citizen awareness-raising on the right to water.
 Post-soviet economic transition and civil war have taken a toll on the country’s water supply infrastructure. Most of the 669 publicly-owned water supply schemes in Tajikistan are in a state of disrepair. Low levels of official budget allocations and difficulties in collecting user fees have severely limited domestic financing, and as a result, large capital investment needs remain unmet.