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29 Aug, 2008

Water Corruption in South Africa

Posted by: Skylar In: water

I’ve always been interested in civil engineering throughout the world, and how location changes the requirements and the challenges in engineering practice.  Unfortunately, it’s not always just challenges caused by the natural environment  that a civil engineer encounters.  Lately, I’ve been learning that a large portion of civil engineering involves business relationships with the public sector, and coordinating the requirements of various parties.  As it turns out, this is no different in other countries – except that it has caused corruption in many parts of the industry.

Here in Canada, the government has enough accountability to ensure that money is properly allocated to infrastructure projects.  However in countries with less accountability, the needs of common people (and often the very poor) are exploited to create higher profits.  According to an article by the Matter Network:

Water corruption ranges from petty bribes to corporate manipulation of public water services. When added up, corruption raises the price for water services between 10 and 30 percent worldwide each year, the report said. These additional costs pose grave threats for countries’ chances of meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. Based on the worst-case scenario, corruption could raise the cost of achieving the goal by $48 billion.

[Read the full article here.]

Figures of this nature make me think that there is a vast potential for honest and resourceful engineers to make a big difference in struggling countries.

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