Money Down the Drain: Corruption and Access to Water in Africa

24 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2021 Last revised: 18 Nov 2021

See all articles by Michael Breen

Michael Breen

Dublin City University - School of Law and Government

Robert Gillanders

Dublin City University Business School

Date Written: June 14, 2021

Abstract

Previous studies have documented evidence of endemic corruption in the water and sanitation sector but only a few studies have examined the link between corruption and access to water. Drawing on data from the Afrobarometer surveys, which record 45,000 households’ access to water across Africa, we find that corruption is associated with a lower likelihood of access to water for household purposes. We show that corruption in the utilities sector is driving this result and that corruption in other contexts is not associated with access to water. While an individual who has paid a bribe for utilities is more likely to have a water access point, the local incidence of utilities corruption strongly predicts that the household will not have enough clean water for home use. Individual acts of bribery, while associated with increased nominal connectivity to a water network, are not associated with greater access in reality. We conclude that corruption distorts decision making and resource allocation in the water sector, leaving households worse off. Our findings underline the importance of targeted efforts to control corruption in public utilities, in order to guarantee access to clean water for all.

Keywords: water, corruption, bribery, public utilities, governance, Sustainable Development Goals

Suggested Citation

Breen, Michael and Gillanders, Robert, Money Down the Drain: Corruption and Access to Water in Africa (June 14, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3866657 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3866657

Michael Breen

Dublin City University - School of Law and Government ( email )

Ireland

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/mhbreen/

Robert Gillanders (Contact Author)

Dublin City University Business School ( email )

Dublin 9
Ireland
Dublin 9 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/robgillanders/

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