Helping vulnerable communities

Most countries have decent water policies and laws that prioritise the basic needs of people and the environment. Legal rights and duties are set out to protect users against degradation by pollution, depletion through unsustainable abstraction, damage from floods and droughts and conflict.

What we’ve achieved
Water Equity Reporting, Tanzania
In 2009 we pioneered the use of social accountability monitoring of water management with partners in Tanzania. Our research flagged how water use by the poor was unrecognized in the eyes of the law, and was impacted by pollution and conflict. We traced these problems to poor performance of basin authorities, in turn related to late or partial receipt of budgets and skewed, unrepresentative composition of decision-making boards.  

On reporting these findings to the review of the USD$ 600 million Water Sector Development Programme, the World Bank labelled our work ‘a vital oversight mechanism’, the Ministry of Water said it was a ‘welcome wakeup call’ and formal commitments were made to address the problems we identified.

Fair Water Futures, East and Southern Africa
Our Fair Water Futures programme scales up our social accountability monitoring work and will improve water security for over half a million vulnerable people in Tanzania and Zambia. Supported by UK Aid and the Scottish Government, we are on track to deliver at a cost of less than £1 per beneficiary.  As well as activating and auditing implementation of water resource law, Fair Water Futures also innovates the tracking of sector budgets and human resource availability to drive improvements in performance, aid effectiveness and to combat corruption.  To embed the impact of the work we have involved our regional partners from the outset.  Our transferable methodology is being shared globally

What our stakeholders say:

The project is a very good idea. It looks out for the rights of the citizens and farmers. We now know we need a water permit and are in the process of getting one. Without the permit our water could be snatched away. This will help us avoid conflict as water demand is increasing.
— Hamisi Mtunga, Chair of Mkula Irrigation Scheme, Kilombero Valley
Water Witness has given us new skills and information about how to activate the law and responsible authorities to address issues of pollution and flooding. This will help us to protect the health of this community.
— Ms. Mariam Mbaruku, Chairperson Kigogo Ward
For the first time people are demanding their rights on water. This is powerful and will help things change.
— Mrs Praxeda Paul, Wami Ruvu Basin Water Officer
Water Witness International’s support has been instrumental in our fight for fair water use and we are looking forward to more cooperation to extend the very positive impact, especially for vulnerable communities where water is everything.
— Liginiku Millinga, Trustee, Shahidi wa Maji

Our future plans

Over the next five years we will help 10 million vulnerable people to improve their water security and tenure through direct implementation of social accountability monitoring. To scale the approach we will:

·         Initiate and support social accountability monitoring initiatives on water with partners in Africa, Asia and South America

·         Produce accessible guidance and provide training on the social accountability approach

·         Evaluate and share knowledge on the value of social accountability monitoring including through peer reviewed journals

·         Innovate through partnering with schools and hospitals as community hubs for accountability on water  

·         In collaboration with ICT providers create accessible technology platforms to further the approach

·         Work with partners to secure a long-term financing facility or ‘shared water risk action fund’ for social accountability monitoring

·         In the most serious cases of water injustice, facilitate legal action by the communities affected.