Examining the role of community-based water management programs for rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa



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Community-based water management (CBWM) is a highly emphasised form of water management based on decentralised, devolution of management to local communities for natural resource management. Although it is questioned to what extent community-level decision-making and building of local institutions can positively influence lasting change in the management of resources, CBWM continues to be a highly-used directive for water management. Institutional bricolage is a theory which seeks to address some of the nuanced challenges of providing socially-equitable resource management by exploring the construction of institutions. This research evaluated how CBWM programmes are addressing the needs of rural livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa through institutions within CBWM arrangements by utilising data from online surveys and interviews of various institutional actors to understand how they influence management and use of water for communities. Through addressing the research questions, it was found that using an institutional bricolage perspective provides a lens for inspecting the multiple and interlinking structures of institutions. By investigating how CBWM is managed by institutions to meet the needs of rural livelihoods; the overlapping nature and various scales of organisations, governments and local players emerged. Although organisations emphasise a strong focus on both water supply and capacity building; management is often based on frameworks that have been criticised for their failure to examine underlying processes in the community. This research showed that although the approaches and frameworks being used suggest that the community is choosing the water source technology; often the institutions that are coordinating the projects have a significant influence on the type of technology. Although organisations appear to be striving for a strong ‘community-led’ approach; the ideas which the organisation brings to the table inherently influence the direction of the water project. In some cases, this may lead to the implantation of a system that cannot meet the full livelihood need for local people.

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Community-Based Water Management, Institutional Bricolage