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close this bookContribution of People's Participation: Evidence from 121 Rural Water Supply Projects (World Bank, 1995)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEnvironmentally sustainable development series
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentExecutive summary
View the documentChapter 1 - Introduction
View the documentChapter 2 - The concept of participation
View the documentChapter 3 - Research methodology and project descriptions
View the documentChapter 4 - Role of beneficiary participation in project effectiveness
View the documentChapter 5 - Factors affecting beneficiary participation
View the documentChapter 6 - Translating lessons into design features
View the documentChapter 7 - Conclusions and recommendations
Open this folder and view contentsAppendixes
View the documentNotes
View the documentBibliography

Chapter 1 - Introduction

People's participation in decisionmaking and local ownership results in effective and sustainable rural water systems. This belief has played a central part in the shift in institutional strategies from supply-driven to demand-driven approaches, which respond to the felt needs and aspirations of users, especially the poor. However, quantitative evidence of the efficacy of participation in determining project effectiveness, relative to other factors, has been missing. The present study is a step toward filling this gap. It is based on multivariate analyses of data derived from evaluation reports of 121 rural water supply projects implemented by different agencies around the world. Project reports were supplemented by in-depth anthropological and sociological studies and by other project reports received after data analyses had been completed.

In most developing countries, public sector agencies provide rural infrastructure. Poor public sector performance has led to a widespread search for institutional alternatives and means to increase the accountability of the public sector. In the rural water subsector, the search has been for strategies to increase users' "exit" and "voice" options and to restructure the sector so that suppliers have incentives to match the demand of users.

The problematic issue therefore is not technology and construction but rules and regulations-institutions-and organization. The first challenge for agencies is to create an incentive for staff to work in partnership with hundreds of communities. The second task for agency staff is to enable communities to make informed choices, organize themselves, initiate collective action, and manage and choose from a menu of water supply options (technology and management) that the agency offers.

Although the agency task has changed dramatically over the years, that fact has seldom been recognized or acknowledged by the agencies themselves. Hence, the agencies and their competency, organization, structure, and management-by-blueprint style have remained largely the same. The mismatch between the task and the mandate, ability, and competence of the agency has resulted in many unsuccessful government attempts to induce participation. The key question, then, is: How can organizations change to induce participation in collective action?

This study examines efforts to induce participation as a means to create effective rural water systems and to build the local capacity to manage them. Beneficiary participation can be brought about in several ways: directly, through participation in decisionmaking; indirectly, through leaders; or through representation on committees or boards. Participation of beneficiaries can be facilitated through extension workers, local government units, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector. Many factors influence beneficiary participation, including the immediate and broader policy context; client characteristics (including felt need); and agency characteristics, such as flexibility, responsiveness to clients, and willingness to invest in the sound organization of communities.) This study specifically addresses the following questions:

· Does people's participation contribute to project effectiveness?
· How important is this contribution, relative to other factors?
· What factors and strategies influence participation in collective action?
· What are the lessons for the design of large scale water projects?
· What are the implications for policy reform?

Chapter 2 focuses on the conceptual framework and defines terminology, including participation; it also outlines the model used in the study. Chapter 3 reports on the research methodology, describes the coding process and methodological limitations, and lists the variables included in the study. Chapter 4 addresses the contribution of participation to project outcomes, using multivariate analyses. It examines the contribution of participation to project outcomes and studies the robustness of the relationship by controlling for other determinants of project success.

After establishing the importance of beneficiary participation, chapter 5 examines the determinants of participation itself, both project characteristics and beneficiary characteristics, and describes intermediate steps toward participation. Chapter 6 discusses the implications of the findings for the design of future World Bank projects and presents examples of some strategies now being used in recently designed projects. Chapter 7 highlights conclusions and policy recommendations. The appendixes include a matrix of findings from analysis of the twenty projects in the study that received the highest ratings for overall effectiveness.