Assessing community participation for sustainable development : the Galanefhi water supply project

Haile Gebremedhin, Solomon (2004-04)

Thesis (MPA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the past, development projects were not successful, because development was guided by top-down strategy that excluded the main beneficiaries from the process of development. The creative initiative, local knowledge, and inputs of communities were not considered as a development resource. Hence, development programmes were not participatory, and could not solve social problems, rather they contributed to poverty and dependency. This condition gave rise to new thinking that unless communities participate in development efforts, no social transformation can be achieved. Moreover, the scarcity of resources in developing countries called for the mobilization of all stakeholders' resources in the cause of development action. As a result, community participation emerged as a new paradigm of development. Development has become a humanizing process; projects are people-driven; and communities are the subjects of development projects. Nevertheless, in order for community participation to meet the challenges of development, this has to be a multidimensional approach that integrates the building blocks of development. Against this background, in the context of water supply, the experience of developing countries indicates that the effectiveness of water supply projects is improved when communities participate in all phases of water supply projects. Moreover, community owned and managed water supply projects are better constructed, cost effective, and successful than government subsidized projects. Nevertheless, the role of government in enabling and supporting is essential. The study is an evaluation research, which aims to assess whether community participation is in place, and whether the delivery of water supply is enhanced as a result of community participation. The study area is in Galanefhi, a sub-region in Eritrea. At eleven villages in the sub-region, water supply projects that were constructed in the past twelve years are assessed to evaluate if community participation is in place and its effect on the water supply system. During the course of this study, interviews were conducted with 221 respondents of both sexes from the age of 28 years using open and closed-ended questionnaires. In addition, discussions were conducted with community representatives and government officials on issues of community participation and safe water delivery. Findings of the study indicate that the level of community participation differs within the villages and from one phase of the project to another. There is more community participation in implementation and less in planning. Decision-making is dominated by the water committees and local officials. The major missing ingredient is the level of capacity building. Communities' capacity to manage and operate the water supply system is limited. The institutional and administrative frameworks of the villages regarding water supply is weak. The regional and sub-region authorities' capacity that implements and oversees water supply projects is not strong. Communication between the grassroots and central authorities is not good. This is aggravated by natural conditions like climate and environment, and by the lack of skilled human resources, financial drawbacks, and lack of coordination. Nevertheless, overall assessment shows that water supply projects that enjoy more community participation are more successful and sustainable and more capable of meeting communities' expectations. Therefore, sustainable clean and adequate water delivery can be achieved through community participation in collaboration with all stakeholders. The recommendations which are provided give some insights on how to implement community participation as a strategy on the ground.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die verlede was ontwikkelingsprojekte dikwels onsuksesvolomdat ontwikkeling oorheers is deur die bo-na-onder ("top-down") strategie wat die hoof voordeeltrekkers uitgesluit het uit die proses van ontwikkeling. Die skeppende inisiatief, plaaslike kennis en die insette van die gemeenskappe is nie as 'n hulpbron beskou nie. Dus was die ontwikkelingsprogramme nie deelhebbend van aard nie en kon hulle nie sosiale probleme oplos nie. Dit het eerder bygedra tot armoede en afhanklikheid. Hierdie toestand het gelei tot 'n nuwe denkrigting, naamlik dat, tensy gemeenskappe deelneem aan ontwikkelingspogings, geen sosiale transformasie sal plaasvind nie. Weens die skaarsheid van hulpbronne in ontwikkelende lande is die mobilisasaie van al die deelhebbers se hulpbronne nodig vir ontwikkelingsaksie. Gevolglik het gemeenskapsdeelname te vore getree as die nuwe paradigma van ontwikkeling. Ontwikkeling is meer op die mens gerig; projekte word deur die mens gedryf; en gemeenskappe IS die onderwerp van die ontwikkelingsprojekte. Nietemin, as gemeenskapsdeelname die uitdagings van ontwikkeling te bowe wil kom, moet daar 'n multidimensionele benadering wees wat die boustene van ontwikkeling integreer. Teen hierdie agtergrond, en in die konteks van watervoorsiening, het die ondervindings in ontwikkelende lande aangedui dat die effektiwiteit van watervoorsieningsprojekte verbeter as die gemeenskap deelneem aan al die fases van die projek. Ook is watervoorsieningsprojekte wat deur die gemeenskap besit en bestuur word, beter gebou, meer koste-effektief, en meer suksesvol as projekte wat deur die regering subsideer is. Nietemin is die rol van die regering onontbeerlik waar dit die projekte moontlik maak en ondersteun. Hierdie studie is evaluasie-navorsing wat ten doel het om vas te stel tot watter mate gemeenskapdeelname bestaan en of die voorsiening van water verbeter het as gevolg van die deelname. Die studiegebied is in Galanefhi, 'n substeek van Eritrea. Daar is by elf dorpies in hierdie streek tydens die laaste twaalf jaar watervoorsieningspunte opgerig. Hierdie projekte is evalueer om vas te stel hoeveel gemeenskapdeelname daar was en die effek daarvan op die watervoorsiening. Tydens die studie is onderhoude gevoer met 221 respondente, mans en vrouens, bo 28. Daar is gebruik gemaak van vraelyste. Ook is daar besprekings gevoer met verteenwoordigers van gemeenskappe en regeringsamptenare oor kwessies soos gemeenskapsdeelname en die voorsiening van veilige drinkwater. Daar is gevind dat die vlak van deelname verskil van dorpie tot dorpie en van een fase van die projek tot die volgende. Daar is meer gemeenskapsdeelname in implementasie en minder in beplanning. Besluitneming word oorheers deur waterkomitees en plaaslike amptenare. Daar is me 'n hoë vlak van vermoë-bou me. Die vermoë van die gemeenskap om die watervoorsieningsisteem te bestuur is beperk en die administratiewe raamwerk van die dorpies betreffende watervoorsiening is swak. Die vermoë van die owerhede op streek- en substreekvlak, asook die kommunikasie tussen die sentrale owerhede en die gewone inwoners is nie na wense nie. Hierdie toestande word vererger deur die klimaat en die omgewingsfaktore, die gebrek aan geskoolde werkers, finansiële probleme en die gebrek aan koërdinasie, Nietemin is daar in die algemeen vasgestel dat die watervoorsieningsprojekte waar daar meer gemeenskapsdeelname was, meer suksesvol is, en beter aan die gemeenskap se verwagtinge voldoen. Die waterpunte word ook langer in 'n goeie werkende toestand gehou. Dus kan die voorsiening van genoeg skoon water bereik word deur die deelname van die gemeenskap en die samewerking van al diegene wat belang het by die projek. Aan die einde van die studie word daar aanbeveel hoe om gemeenskapsdeelname op grondvlak te implementeer.

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