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close this bookContribution of People's Participation: Evidence from 121 Rural Water Supply Projects (World Bank, 1995)
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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 5 - Factors affecting beneficiary participation

The preceding chapter demonstrated that greater participation is strongly associated with enhanced project performance. Creating greater levels of beneficiary participation in projects is therefore an important goal, but participation cannot simply be mandated. It is the result of decisionmaking rules that affect the incentives and interactions among beneficiaries, within agencies, and between beneficiaries and agencies. Two questions are particularly important to answer:

· Which elements of the participatory process are critical to producing beneficiary participation?

· What are the project, beneficiary, and agency characteristics that influence both these elements and overall participation?

This chapter examines the statistical and case specific material on the factors that determine the level of participation. Three of those factors were found to strongly influence the participation of beneficiaries in projects:

· Demand for the services the project delivers
· Organization of beneficiaries
· Autonomy and client-orientation of the implementing agency.

Part of this chapter is a review of the evidence on the degree of participation elicited in the projects; this section examines the relationship between overall beneficiary participation and specific elements of the participation process, such as agency responsiveness and beneficiary commitment. Another section looks at those characteristics of projects, agencies, and beneficiaries that are associated with greater benefits from participation (for both beneficiaries and agencies), and thus educe higher levels of participation.

Participation in decisionmaking evolves over time, with feedback loops; it is therefore a nonlinear process. For example, if the initial interaction between agencies and beneficiaries is positive, beneficiaries are more likely to attend subsequent meetings. If a series of such interactions are positive, then trust is established among the groups. Data from purely ex post facto evaluations cannot, of course, capture the full flavor and complexity of this evolutionary process, so this chapter weaves together narrative case material and statistics to present a more comprehensive explanation than could be achieved with the data alone.

Degree and Elements of Participation

The rhetoric far outstrips the practice of participation, as analysis of 121 projects shows. Seventy-nine percent of the projects were rated low or medium in overall beneficiary participation; only 21 percent received high ratings. The situation was worse for women's participation: 83 percent of all projects had low or medium ratings in this category. Even nongovernmental organizations, often assumed to be participatory by definition, are not necessarily so. A recent in depth study of thirty NGOs in Latin America found that a majority of them scored low or medium on participation (Carroll 1992). Given the apparent difficulties in achieving high levels of participation-and given participation's critical importance in achieving project effectiveness-it is important to identify the determinants of participation.

The difficulty in modeling participation (figure 5.1) is that several events are happening simultaneously; causality is not easily disentangled. For example, achieving local control and ownership is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon. Because it changes over time and interacts with participation, it could be considered either a subset of participation or an intermediate outcome, which affects participation. Nonetheless, those who want to induce participation need to know which key intermediate steps (or elements) indicate a healthy process of participation, without implying causality.

The relationship (correlation) between intermediate elements of participation and overall participation is presented in table 5.1. All of the variables are strongly associated with participation, but the three factors that stand out are the investment cost to users, the extent control becomes local, and the responsiveness of the agency.

User Investment in the System

Willingness-to-pay studies are an important means of assessing demand, and their results are used in designing projects. What people in individual communities actually pay for up-front capital costs or operation and maintenance can be judged only when implementation begins, however. The commitment to "put your money where your mouth is" on the part of users marks an important intermediate step to achieving overall participation.

Two indicators of user costs were measured, the percentage of capital costs and the percentage of recurrent costs paid by users for water systems. The correlation between user-paid capital costs and overall participation was significant (r = 0.75). The percentage of recurrent costs was less strongly, but still significantly, related to overall participation (r = 0.58). The aphorism "you get what you pay for" has its own corollary, since paying apparently empowers users to go out and get what they bargained for.


Figure 5.1. Model of relationships between beneficiary participation and its determinants

Extent of Local Control

When outsiders induce collective action, participation can be facilitated to the extent that control and ownership of rules, regulations, and property becomes local. An inhibiting factor is the degree to which collective action is controlled and commanded by the external agency (Bromley and Cernea 1989; McCommon, Warner, and Yohalem 1990; and Donnelly-Roark, 1987). People are more likely to undertake collective action when it directly increases their access to natural resources.

The study asked three questions to address the issue of control and autonomy of the water system organization to ensure that slight semantic differences did not produce false results in the quantification process:

· To what extent did control and ownership become local, that is, to what degree did decisionmaking and financial responsibility reside in the community rather than in the external agency?

Table 5.1. Correlations of elements of participation with overall beneficiary participation

Intermediate element

Correlation

Investment cost to users

0.75d


(n=113)

Recurrent costs to users

0.58d


(n=103)

Extent control becomes local

0.79d


(n=121)

Client dissatisfaction

-0.50d


(n=111)

Client exit from system

-0.50d


(n=99)

Agency responsiveness

0.80d


(n=113)

Extent field agents listened to clients

0.72d


(n=94)

Note: Reported are the partial correlations and t-statistics. (in parentheses) on OBP from three linear regressions, with OPE as the dependent variable, including different sets of independent variables: (1) OBP alone (bivariate), (2) OBP plus seven direct determinants, and (3) OBP plus seven direct and eleven direct/indirect determinants.

Significance levels are indicated thus: a = significant at 0.05; b = significant at 0.01; c = significant at 0.001; d = significant at 0.0001. The number of projects analyzed are in parentheses.

· To what extent was the local O&M organization autonomous?
· What degree of community/agency sharing existed in management and decisionmaking?

The three measures correlated highly with one another, at about 0.88; therefore only one item-degree of local control-was included in the model.

The degree of local control and ownership was significantly correlated to overall participation (r = 0.79). Generally, then, it would appear difficult to achieve high levels of participation without local control over decisionmaking. The experience of the Rwanda Second Water Supply Project demonstrates the point (see box 5.1).

The other measurable variable related to the extent of local control is the extent to which clients simply choose to exit the project rather than to participate. And exit they do, when they are dissatisfied with the water system, and hence they cannot participate in decisionmaking. The study showed a significant negative correlation between overall participation and dissatisfaction with and exit from the system.

Agency and User Relations

The interface between the agency and users is of critical importance when collective action is induced by outsiders. It determines whether there is a fit between user demand and agency supply, which in turn helps determine project effectiveness. Realizing the importance of the interface, many centralized agencies employ a variety of intermediaries, which are better suited than are they for working directly at the community level.

But the interface cannot be one-sided. Agencies have to be responsive to clients, and clients have to want to listen to agencies. Two factors were included in the model to capture the interdependent nature of the relationship: agency responsiveness to clients and client responsiveness to agency field staff. The correlation between overall participation and agency responsiveness was highly significant (r = 0.80); the correlation between participation and the extent to which users listen to field agents was also significant (r = 0.72).

The three characteristics just discussed describe important elements of participatory projects. Beneficiary participation is nearly always associated with users paying part of the investment costs, with control of the project becoming local, and with an agency that is responsive to client needs. But although these characteristics (user investment, local control, and client-responsive agencies) describe elements of the participation process, they do not cause participation. The next section goes one step further. It addresses those characteristics of projects, agencies, and beneficiaries that are associated with these participatory elements and with particular participation outcomes. In other words, it looks for the determinants of participation.

Box 5.1. Rwanda: government control over community decisionmaking, or a losing proposition?

The experience of the Rwanda Second Water Supply Project highlights the importance of local control in decisionmaking and the difficulties in achieving it. A recent study of the project (completed in March 1993) showed that only 44 of the 144 communities covered by the project had functioning Community Water Associations (CWAs), the organizations responsible for managing and maintaining water systems.

The project was implemented by central government ministry staff, who carried out all the activities associated with community-based systems. They conducted baseline studies and surveys, developed educational materials, trained communal extension agents and other assistants, conducted meetings and elections, created Community Water Associations (CWAs), implemented user education and construction, and monitored systems. They did not, however, give up decisionmaking control.

All major decisions concerning project components were made by the World Bank, central government ministries, and other donors. Communities could not choose whether they would receive improved services; what service level they would receive; or how they might maintain their water system. Management decisions were made by the communities after construction, but within the framework established by the government.

Local management was integral to the government's strategy, yet there was no local control in the design or decisionmaking process. The guidelines and plan of action for project implementation, including dates of village visits, were developed far in advance, without community input. Committees were established despite the fact that the committee structure had been tried and had failed in earlier projects. The CWAs took a lot of work and time to establish, yet representatives received no pay and, in some cases, no supervision, support, or training.

Incentives for local government officials and committee members to cooperate were low. It was often difficult to convince the mayor and communal authorities to adopt national policies and undertake the plan of action for the establishment of user groups and associations. Communal authorities did not accept the principle that users should pay, or that they should be required to pay in advance. Local government officials did not want outsiders to interfere in communal mobilization; nor did they respect elected committee members.

In addition, the project structure was complex, with seven different funders often disagreeing over project components. Reaching consensus on an approach to community management took more time, under difficult communication conditions.

Source: World Bank (1993).

Determinants of Participation

Participation is not without costs. It requires the time and skills of beneficiaries, agency representatives, and project employees. From the agency point of view, participation increases uncertainty in project design, and it often delays physical implementation. From the client viewpoint, in addition to time, costs include not only time but outlays in cash and perhaps even social costs, such as altered conflict and changes in leadership However, as experience proves and statistics show, participation occurs because it brings benefits to clients.

Since participation is the result of decisions by individuals (members of communities, local leaders, agency employees, and government officials, for example), it is more likely to occur when the net benefits to the involved parties are perceived to be high. As a matter of arithmetic, the net benefits to potential beneficiaries of water projects are high when either the benefits are high or the costs are low. For agencies the perceived net benefits of participation depend on the internal structure and incentives of the agency, and especially on how the agency views its objectives.

The net benefits of participation to agencies and clients were assessed for each project when the evaluation reports were coded. Net benefits were strongly associated (0.78 correlation) with the observed level of participation. Indeed, it would be unsurprising to find a perfect correlation if net benefits could be perfectly observed; but for ex post evaluations to identify not only the degree of participation but also the net benefits suggests that those benefits are associated with observable characteristics of any given project, including some within the influence of policy.

Net benefits of participation should be a function of all the user and agency determinants of participation; to test that conclusion, a multivariate regression of net benefits was conducted on the determinants of participation. Strikingly, only two factors, one relating to beneficiaries and one to agencies, emerged as significant determinants of overall net benefits of participation. These factors were demand or prior commitment of clients and the extent to which beneficiary participation was an agency goal that was monitored and evaluated and for which agency staff were rewarded.

Beneficiary participation can be elicited in a wide variety of political, economic, and social contexts, then, so long as incentives exist at both the agency and the community levels, and agencies send strong signals to staff about the importance of generating and supporting beneficiary participation in decisionmaking.

The findings on net benefits and important elements of the participatory process suggest that three classes of factors will be important influencers of the level of participation. The strength of demand for the project (that is, the perceived benefits by potential clients) will determine the benefits of participation. Intensity of demand will be determined by such factors as alternative sources of water and the cost and type of proposed water improvements. The close relationship between demand and participation is evidenced by the strong association between participation and user payments, which at least to some degree must reflect underlying demand.

The second set of factors that determine participation concern the beneficiary capacity for organization, which influences the costs to a community of organizing for effective participation. The existing strength of organization and leadership, the skill and knowledge of clients, the degree of consensus on objectives, and other local factors determine whether, for a given level of potential benefits from participation, the community will mobilize. Control can become local only to the extent that clients can and do mobilize to take control.

The third set of factors that determine participation is the client-orientation of the agency, including whether the agency has sufficient autonomy to incorporate participation as well as whether agency goals are determined by client satisfaction or by some other, physical indicator, such as production targets. The responsiveness of the agency, a crucial element of participation, depends heavily on the extent to which the agency has incentives to meet client needs.

The following sections explore the interconnections among demand, capacity, and client-orientation by first presenting the evidence from cases and case studies and then by examining the empirical links uncovered in the sample of 121 projects between overall participation and its several aspects, its net benefits, and the variables hypothesized to affect it.

Demand

Felt need is an important determinant of community action, which has long been recognized, yet agencies have not systematically accepted felt need or demand as a key criterion for selecting communities for water projects. Projects varied widely in their methods of assessing demand, the degree to which they used demand as the key selection criterion, and the degree to which they linked demand to service levels. The study found three issues concerning demand to be important: (1) the method of assessing demand, (2) the extent to which projects maintain a commitment to using demand as the primary selection criterion, and (3) the differentiation of demand by service levels.

Assessing demand. Willingness to pay for services is a strong indicator of demand, which has been shown to be critical in creating sustainable water systems (Briscoe and de Ferranti 1988). Many agencies committed to serving the poor have been reluctant to adopt "willingness to pay" as the sole criterion for establishing water projects; they have instead used poverty to screen communities for eligibility. Yet evidence from around the world has shown that the poor are already paying for water, sometimes more than the rich (Whittington, Lauria, and Xinming 1989), and that the poor are willing to pay if reliability of services is assured (Altaf and others 1992).

Demand changes over time, so demand assessment itself cannot be static. Projects gauged demand during implementation by getting communities to demonstrate their interest and commitment before project construction began. For example, participants displayed commitment when they contributed local materials, signed agreements, put up a certain amount of cash, held village meetings, and reached group consensus on whether and under what conditions they would participate in a project and on how to proceed.

Most of the projects, however, simply assumed that demand was high in water-scarce areas, as judged by objective criteria such as long distances to sources, nonavailability of safe water, or high levels of morbidity, all of which came from statistics in secondary sources. Such calculations allow some assumptions, of course, but experience shows that when all project planning is based on such rough, nonuser measures, failure rates are high.

In fact, in many of the study projects that scored low in effectiveness, agencies had defined criteria of need based on poverty, health statistics, and water scarcity in agency-selected communities. For a project in Indonesia, for example, government agency staff had done painstaking survey work in villages to establish the severity of water problems, based on objective criteria such as population size and distance to and quality of water. Four villages judged to be the "most needy"-those with the most severe water problems-were selected to be served first. In order to develop project strategies within the selected villages, the executing agency, an NGO, began to collect data to assess village needs, including the perceived need for water improvements. Less than 20 percent of the populations reported water to be a high-priority problem. Furthermore, one village with, reportedly, three water sources turned out to have seventeen, most of which were small springs not considered important enough for large-scale development. Since the motivation for change is not bacteriologically clean water so much as convenience and water quantity, the incentive to participate in collective action in such a situation is weak. Indeed, all water sources in the Indonesian village, large and small, were not public property at all; instead, they had well known "ancestral owners" and therefore well established rules regarding access and use (Narayan-Parker 1986).

Demand focus in community selection. Despite espousing participation and demand as important criteria, staff in most projects did not cease efforts in those instances when communities were clearly indifferent to what the project had to offer. In general, government agencies were more reluctant to walk away than NGOs.

The proclivity to proceed even in the absence of community interest is well illustrated in a World Bank project in the Mwanza region of Tanzania, which had as a prime objective "full participation of villages in all project activities." Once the project began, demand for the wells turned out to be low; no requests had been received from villagers twelve months into the life of the project. Nevertheless, the detailed yearly targets for well construction drove the project; construction crews eventually did everything themselves so that implementation of the project would not be "handicapped" (Therkildsen 1988). Echoes of this story are heard all over the world. A recently completed review of a Nigerian government project revealed similar happenings (Boerma 1993).

An important innovation-a system of application forms-is now being used to sidestep political pressure and to help ensure a demand orientation. Procedures require communities to request and fill out application forms and to meet certain conditions before the external agency will commit itself to a partnership with the community. This system has been tried effectively in several projects in Indonesia, Paraguay, and Swaziland (see box 5.2), and it is being employed increasingly for World Bank projects (see chapter 6).

Importance of matching demand with desired service levels. Even giving more than lip service to assessing demand for water is not enough, however. It has also proven critical to provide the level of service people demand. Several examples, especially the striking evaluation of USAID assistance in Thailand, dramatically establish the importance of providing appropriate service levels (Dworkin and Pillsbury 1980). The Thailand experience revealed that over twenty years, as the service moved from handpumps to motor pumps to house connections, communities that had been apathetic, uninterested, and unwilling to foot the bill for low service levels became willing to pay higher amounts for house connections. High levels of service reliability also were finally achieved.27

If the service level does not match what people want, not even the best-trained agencies can induce participation. For instance, the Girl Guides Association of Thailand, with assistance from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Programme, undertook a water and sanitation project aimed at supporting participatory decisionmaking, especially that of women. Anthropologists from Mahidol University collected data both before and after project implementation from control and project villages. Community field workers were trained and placed in the villages; the Girl Guides project team visited the villages, as needed, to provide organizational and technical assistance. The review conducted after the project had been completed found that the low level of service (improvement of traditional wells) did not generate much enthusiasm and that, despite intense facilitation and training efforts, women's involvement in decisionmaking remained low (Tunyavitch and others 1987).

Statistical evidence on demand and participation. The strong links between the share of investment and recurrent costs borne by the users and the degree of participation have already been established. This in itself implies that client demand, as evidenced by a willingness to share costs, is a determinant of beneficiary participation. The strength of the prior commitment of beneficiaries to the project also was explored through project data. Table 5.2 shows the links between demand, participation, user payments, and a variety of factors influencing participation.

Box 5.2 Indonesia: evolution of a demand-led strategy

CARE's strategy of implementing water supply and sanitation projects in four provinces in Indonesia has changed dramatically since the start of work in the country in the mid-1970s. Initially CARE controlled and managed all stages of the projects. Over time, however, it became apparent that unless communities took control of, and responsibility for, financing and managing water systems, sustainability would not be achieved. Subsequent projects, including the current Community Self-Financing of Water and Sanitation project, focused on community demand as the key selection criterion, with control shifted to communities.

An important indicator of the success of the new approach is the shift in the source of cash contributions over an eleven-year period, 1979-90. In 1979 the combined contributions of CARE and the Indonesian government constituted approximately 80 percent of project costs. By 1990 combined CARE and government contributions had dropped to about 30 percent; community contributions had risen to cover over 70 percent of the costs. Communities had provided all cash contributions for physical construction for more than three-fourths of the projects. Most communities managed to successfully operate and maintain their systems (some for as long as the period covered by the project review, or up to ten years). In addition, many CARE-assisted communities have helped neighboring communities to develop their own systems.

A six-stage implementation strategy, summarized below, is responsible for the focus on demand and capacity building.

1. Community selection: Government and CARE jointly select potential districts, market the project, and contact local leaders. Communities apply for a project, and through surveys CARE assesses their willingness and ability to pay. Meetings are held with selected communities to explain and discuss the conditions of the project.

2. Committee formation and negotiation: The community selects a water committee at a meeting. The newly selected committee then negotiates its responsibilities with the government and CARE.

3. Planning: The water committee chooses a technology from those that CARE suggests as appropriate. It designs and prices systems and, with CARE assistance, develops resource mobilization and construction plans. These designs and plans are then presented to the community and a formal agreement between the community, government, and CARE is signed.

4. Implementation: CARE trains the water committee in bookkeeping and control systems and construction of facilities. Once control systems are in place, the committee begins to mobilize cash, human, and material resources. Costs are shared and cash contributions by members are graduated, according to ability to pay. Credit from pipe suppliers and local banks is a common method of mobilizing "outside" cash. Monitoring continues throughout this stage.

5. Operation and maintenance: The community selects an O&M committee, which draws up regulations and bylaws and presents them to the community. The O&M committee develops a budget, bookkeeping system, and training plan. CARE provides follow-up training.

6. Evaluation and monitoring: CARE continues to assist the O&M committee for approximately one year.

Source: Boase and others (1989); Jackson (1988); McGowan, Soewandi, and Aubel (1991).

The first column of table 5.2 shows the relationship between prior commitment and overall beneficiary participation (row 1), the net benefits of participation (row 2), the fraction of user investment (row 3), and the recurrent costs borne by users (row 4). The prior commitment of clients is significantly positively associated with each of these outcomes, even after applying multivariate controls for other influences (column 1).

Demand, or prior commitment made by beneficiaries, therefore determines overall participation. Demand also determines the investment beneficiaries made in capital costs and, to a lesser extent, investment in recurrent costs. It also influences the overall perceived net benefits of participation.

Beneficiary Capacity

Organization of beneficiaries is important in managing participation. Several factors affect success in organizing for collective action, including high stakes in a particular outcome; low transaction costs; and trust, loyalty, and reciprocity, from which follows elimination of free-rider problems. To manage a water supply collectively, there must be some organization for treating water as a common property good, with some degree of excludability and subtractability.

Despite the erosion of common property management regimes, rural societies generally offer more stability, social cohesion, and personal contact than do urban societies. Rural societies, however, are not necessarily homogeneous. Social divisions may be deep, although groups and social networks typically are marked by reciprocity, trust, and exchange of goods. Tapping into this social organization is critical for successful collective action.

Case analyses revealed three beneficiary characteristics that are especially important: existing social organization and cohesion, client knowledge and skills; and leadership roles.

Social organization. Every society has its own organization which influences interactions- namely, how resources are produced, allocated, and exchanged; how and with whom people interact (or do not interact); and where people live and what they learn. Acknowledged or unacknowledged, good or bad, effective or ineffective in the eyes of outsiders, the existing social organization is the framework within which projects are placed. When the social fabric of societies is ignored, projects will run into problems sooner or later; when the local social fabric is understood, strategies that are more or less congruous with the existing system can be developed (Cernea 1993).

The Small Rural Water Systems Project in Yemen, which serves approximately 70,000 people, illustrates how a project can be successfully implemented using a traditional organizational structure, with full cooperation from local leaders, sheikhs, and local development councils (see box 5.3). The caveat here is that systems must be developed to keep local leaders accountable.

Table 5.2. Relationships between demand and participation outcomes and elements


Beneficiary capacity

Participatory outcome

Prior commitment of beneficiaries (demand)

Extent clients organized

Skills, knowledge of clients

Traditional collective

Leadership among clients

Overall participation

0.19b

0.23a

0.12

0.10

-0.14


(2.5)

(2.1)

(1.7)

(1.16)

(-1.3)

Net benefits of participation

0.23a

0.05

0.02

0.04

0.01


(2.2)

(0.3)

(0 2)

(0.3)

(0.06)

Investment in capital costs

0.63d

0.28

0.01

0.04

0.01


(4.8)

(1.4)

(0.1)

(0.2)

(-0.4)

Investment in recurrent costs

0.37

0.37

0.19

-0.11

-0.11


(1.9)

(1.4)

(1.2)

(-0.6)

(-0.4)

Note: Significance levels are indicated thus: a = significant at 0.05, b = significant at 0.01, c = significant at 0.001, and d = significant at 0.0001. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.

Given the need to work with groups of people, support agencies have often mandated the formation of village groups or water committees. Unfortunately, such committees have often degenerated into form without function. Committees have been created without any understanding of the pre-existing social fabric, with standard rules imposed from the outside and with members who do not understand their functions or responsibilities and who receive no training to equip them for their tasks. It is not surprising, then, that numerous project evaluations found project-created committees to be nonfunctional, especially where such groups had no control or authority.

Projects that have proved to be effective, in contrast, have created small water-user groups or pump or tap committees, which have few members and generally consist of people who are well known to one another. These are federated upward into groups at the next higher organizational level. The system of committees in the Malawi Self-Help Piped-Water System provides one such example (see box 5.4).

Beneficiary organization can take many forms, some based on traditional organizational structures and others creating new organizations, perhaps to get around a problem inherent in the existing local organization. New organizations are particularly vulnerable to the "project mentality," however; if they are not provided capacity building support, they dwindle away.

An externally funded project in Belize, which required that participating villages form Village Water and Sanitation Committees, is instructive. Each community was run by a Village Council, but these had a history of factionalism and were extremely political. The Village Water and Sanitation Committees were designed specifically to circumvent the Village Council and thereby sidestep political infighting. Members of the committee were largely self-selected. The committee was responsible for representing the project in the community, resolving project-related problems and conflicts, maintaining the systems, and requesting technical assistance when needed. Unfortunately, the project did not provide sufficient capacity building support. After playing an important role in implementation, committees found themselves unable to fulfill their responsibilities or to help the community with new development tasks when the project ended; many committee members lost interest and stopped meeting.

Traditional collectives. When community groups are based on traditional organizations, there is an ongoing basis for cooperation, trust, reciprocity, and conflict resolution. The transaction costs of transferring these traditions to solving a new problem are much lower than they are when an artificially created group, with no shared history of working together, attempts the same thing. Nevertheless, what is critical to eliciting participation is whether forms of interaction and decisionmaking are based on local traditions, not whether the organization itself arises from an existing traditional group.

Functioning of groups. Highly participatory and effective projects were studied in depth to understand the processes used to manage local organizations effectively. Some findings were common to all of the successful projects: local groups had a clear task orientation; projects worked through traditional leaders, including religious leaders, in addition to the formal village system; and, over time, leadership shifted to those most interested in the project outcome.


Client orientation of agency

Presence of strong leaders

Use of local knowledge

Participation a goal

Autonomy of a project/agency

Physical-target driven

Flexibility

Consensus on objectives

0.2

0.2

0.2'

0.17

0.06

0.02

0.01

(0.4)

(2 5)

(1 9)

(1 8)

(0.9)

(0.2)

(0.06)

0.14

- 0.02

0.44b

0.15

- 0.15

0.12

0.11

(1.31)

(-0.2)

(2 9)

(1.2)

(-1 6)

(0.9)

(0.8)

0.09

0.19

-0.10

0.25

0.16

-0.05

0.02

(0.8)

(1 4)

(-0.5)

(1.6)

(1 3)

(-0.3)

(-0.2)

0.15

-0.01

0.26

-0.3

0.3

-0.11

0.22

(0 9)

(-0.1)

(0.9)

(-1.6)

(2.0)

(-0 5)

(0.9)

Although agency preconditions and the nature of the water resource imposed boundaries, groups evolved their own rules regarding membership, fee payment, graduated fee schedules, sanctions, and disposition of collected money. Those groups that started with standardized rules established in accord with project guidelines sooner or later changed to rules more acceptable to them. They also engaged in successful problem solving, as evidenced by the ability to solve physical problems (such as pump malfunctioning, borehole silting, pipeline breaks, and inadequate funds to buy diesel) and organizational problems (such as dealing with changing politics, resolving conflict, and enforcing rules).

In other ways, groups varied widely. For instance, some collected money monthly, and some collected money for repairs only when there was a breakdown. The same was true for written records. Successful groups in Kenya kept no written record of money collected, but everyone trusted the female treasurers, who brought all the money to the meetings when asked to do so. By contrast, communities in Azad Jammu Kashmir, Pakistan, made detailed written records available to visitors for inspection.

Whatever their form and composition, functioning groups were marked by clear allocation and acceptance of duties. Additionally, the rules and regulations regarding membership, dues, sanctions, and use of the facility were well known even if they were unwritten. As tasks were completed successfully, water committees became less active, unless they took on new development activities. This was particularly true when project technology required only simple maintenance.

Government interventions have resulted in the expectation that government will provide all services, a belief actively fostered by local politicians. It would be easy in this environment for agency assistance to breed further dependency rather than to create user groups that feel responsibility for their own water systems. Few agencies have the courage to walk away when it is clear that communities do not perceive improved water as the answer to their most pressing problem. But the story can be markedly different if communities do perceive the water system to be a key problem. Box 5.5 describes the evolutionary process that develops when communities are left to formulate their own rules and regulations and manage their own development, with limited external technical assistance.

Box 5.3. Yemen: role of local leaders in community mobilization

In Yemen's 168 districts, or nahiyas (made up of clusters of villages), the sheikh, an inherited title, is the final authority and oversees all village activities. Local Cooperative Councils for Development (LCCDs) are also an important component of the local organizational structure. In almost all public work and development activities, LCCDs are responsible for identifying village needs, discussing the needs with villagers and the sheikh, and submitting proposals to appropriate government authorities. Once government approval has been received for a public works project, the LCCD collects money from villagers to pay their agreed-upon share. Each village is represented by one LCCD member, elected by the villagers for a six year term.

Working within this system, communities are able to participate actively in almost all phases of a given water-supply project. After villagers and the LCCDs request a "subproject" from the Rural Water Systems Department (RWSD) of the central government, the RWSD assigns the subproject to the project implementers. Sheikhs often play an important role in this process, lobbying the RWSD intensely on behalf of their communities.

Sheikhs also play an extremely important role in helping project staff conduct before implementation survey. Sheikhs assist the survey team in obtaining personal data and in reviewing the proposed pipeline routes to take into account long-standing differences among landowners, tribes, or villages.

LCCDs play a crucial role in facilitating community commitments to the projects, including being a party to financial agreements for projects. In cooperation with LCCDs, villagers pay roughly one-third of the total construction cost of a project. Villagers construct and manage the distribution system throughout the villages, including individual household connections. In addition, villagers often extend the overall system, with assistance from the LCCDs.

Thus far, in one $20 million, externally financed project, every community involved has participated and agreed, before implementation, to take responsibility for O&M. Communities assumed all costs for system operation and maintenance, and successfully carried out all repairs, minor and major, hiring private mechanics when necessary. Through working closely with villagers and implementing the project through the local organizational system, the project's Phase 11 output of 100 systems was reached two and one-half years ahead of schedule.

Source: Laredo, Dawson, and Hashem (1986).

Organization for operation and maintenance was addressed specifically in the study, since poor O&M has emerged as the major problematic issue in infrastructure projects. It is important to note that the form of organizational arrangements per se did not seem to have a significant bearing on outcome. What was apparent was that effectiveness decreased on government agencies assumed control and responsibility for O&M.

Possible organizational forms include operator/repair persons, with or without village water committees; democratic cooperatives; elite-led associations; local government units; private enterprise; and the agency itself. Thus in Azad Jammu Kashmir, O&M is successfully performed by a hired mechanic selected by the Village Water Committee (VWC), which is composed of elites. In Indonesia, in Nusa Tenggara Timur, a VWC that includes women and the poor seeks a mechanic from the private sector for repairs. In some regions repair work is still carried out by local government units. In India a government-supported, two-tier system of maintenance- unlike the three-tier system described in chapter 4-works well in some states.

Local knowledge and skills. The knowledge and skills of clients have two important implications for water-system projects. First, the rich information and knowledge systems that local people already possess (indigenous knowledge) will determine how those clients evaluate and use water systems. Second, local people's technical skills and knowledge regarding water and water technologies can be put to good use. The participatory process taps the indigenous knowledge and extensive information that only local people can supply about their environment.

Box 5.4. Malawi: water committees

The cornerstone of the rural piped-water program in Malawi is its well-organized structure of construction and maintenance committees. Nearly all of the committees are composed of ten elected members, with men dominating construction and maintenance and women usually the majority of tap committee members. Local leaders, village chiefs, and party officials are crucial to success, since they determine whether committee authority will be respected.

Construction committees

The main water committee is responsible for the overall management of the program; as well as for the setup of the initial work program and the mainline digging program.

Section committees, a part of only large projects, are elected from villages located along various sections of the pipe that extend from the mainline. They draw up and supervise the daily trench-digging program.

Branch committees are responsible for organizing labor on branch lines after digging and backfilling on the mainline and section lines are completed.

Village committees are responsible for selecting stand-pipe sites, supervising the village labor, and ensuring that village attendance is maintained at committee meetings.

Once construction is completed, the maintenance committee structure is introduced. Most communities ask the main water committee elected for construction to supervise maintenance as well.

Maintenance committees

The main water committee supervises repair teams, tap committees, and caretakers; raises funds through village headmen; checks pipelines; reports problems; submits requests for additional taps; organizes self help labor; and settles disputes between tap committees and repair teams.

Repair teams are a technical arm of the main water committee. They carry out basic repairs on broken pipes, and the chairman is responsible for the tools, equipment, and spare parts required for maintenance work.

Tap committees are responsible for operation, care, and maintenance of a single tap. They organize periodic cleaning of the tap site and soakaway pit and raise funds from users for replacing taps and for repairing the apron.

Village health committees, organized by field workers in the Ministry of Health, educate villagers and promote improved health practices.

Source: Warner and others (1988).

Project reports noted several beneficial outgrowths of local knowledge and skills: local people guided outside surveyors to unplotted water sources; they helped design pipe distribution so as to take into account land ownership and potential social conflict; they were knowledgeable about water purification methods, seasonal differences, rainfall patterns, underground water flow, and presence of underground rivers (confirmed by hydrological maps); and they had their own categories of "good" and "bad" water and water sources.

The skills of clients are important in influencing how quickly or how slowly people are equipped to participate. Clients in successful projects actively negotiated rules and conditions among themselves and with agencies (especially rules regarding entry, use, and exit), determining effective management of the common property. Technical know-how among clients also was important in fashioning successful projects.

Some projects incorporate training to support capacity building at both the community and agency levels, but most programs do not give training the careful attention it deserves because it is generally considered a low-status activity. Cost estimates range from 0.5 percent to 25 percent of program budgets. Recent World Bank projects in Asia, using a demand-based approach, allocate 15-20 percent of project costs to support capacity building, including training in participatory approaches.

Role of elites and leaders. The capture of benefits by the rich has been a troubling issue in the rural water sector, and much emphasis has been placed on creating water committees that include marginal groups such as women and the poor. Experience shows, however, that without the involvement and support of the well-to-do and the powerful, water committees may be unable to effect change. The issue, then, becomes one of tapping the energy, imagination, skills, and power of the rich to serve the poor.

But experience does not provide a simple formula for tapping those assets; it just shows that projects need to take account of the interests of all the major stakeholders in a community. Successful projects have evolved three strategies for incorporating those stakeholders, including elites: first, co-opt the rich; second, widely disseminate information about the project and about its stipulated conditions; and third, create small working groups in the hierarchy below the larger village-wide groups.

Box 5.5. Indonesia: the story of Mutis

The WAS (Wanita, Air den Sanitasi) program in Indonesia over a period of two years assisted community groups in Timor to initiate and manage their own water systems with assistance from the technical government ministries. The growth of groups and their management and problem-solving skills can best be illustrated by focusing on one group.

When people in the village Silla heard of WAS in 1986, those in Cabang, a part of the village consisting of seventeen households, quickly formed a water-user group. They hoped that finally the little yellow marker placed on the road several years before would become a borehole. Pak Minggus, a WAS field worker from the Department of Community Development, told the group several times that they would not receive a borehole, they were undeterred.

Copying the other water groups that did receive government assistance, the group named itself Mutis, after the highest mountain in Timor. Every family contributed Rp 250/month and promised to increase that amount to Rp 500 once the water came. Yet, as Minggus had warned, no water came. The group finally negotiated water rights with a neighboring group in Kakaana, who agreed to share water from the borehole in return for Mutis's help with maintenance and repairs. By mid-1987, Mutis had collected stones, cement, sand, and Rp 35,000. Mutis members contributed cement and pipes to the other water group.

It was in 1987, during a second round of intensive data collection, that the group finally accepted that the drillers were not coming. They began to explore alternatives. By mid-1988 the group had built three water collection tanks, with some technical guidance from outsiders, although in 1985 they had laughed at the idea of drinking rainwater. They also commissioned a well-digger with a promise to pay Rp 100,000; the well was 10 meters deep by mid-1988. The group started holding meetings on the fifth of every month and tackled other problems. It set up an emergency food fund, and began building one household toilet per month. Eggplants, chiles, and other vegetables were flourishing in people's yards. A return visit in 1992 found the group still functioning.

Source: Narayan-Parker (1989).

Leaders and the rich are often easy to co-opt since their accustomed role is to be prominent in any project and to bring resources to the communities. If water problems affect these community members (and this is usually true), they too will have a direct stake in changing the water situation. Their stake in improved water is likely to be even higher than that of other beneficiaries, since their needs are greater: the rich own more livestock, need more water for other production activities, and use more water for domestic consumption.

Benefit capture is easy for the powerful since they usually have good access to information. Thus, in the Indonesian INPRES program, water sources regularly ended up near the homes of village leaders. Even when community participation is anticipated, as it was in the INPRES program, communities cannot be meaningfully involved, nor can they become effective watchdogs forcing public sector agencies to be accountable, if they are not informed about available resources and the rules and regulations regarding their use.

It follows that programs that incorporate the rich and disseminate information intensively and widely also stimulate transparency, accountability, and helping behavior. The open nature of participatory decisionmaking is important: few elites would wish to publicly abandon their role of magnanimity.

Leadership. Development literature is replete with references to the need for strong leaders to start a movement, especially among the poor. Yet leadership is not a quality that a program can immediately muster. It may be an important criterion for village selection, however, particularly if a project does not allow community self-selection. Fifteen years into the implementation of projects, CARE identified three factors that promoted the effectiveness and sustainability of water projects: leadership, community organization, and community financial investment in the water system (O'Brien 1992).

In the present study, a distinction was drawn between two levels of leadership, one being the presence of a strong leader who gets things started and the other being broader-based leadership qualities among the clients. Neither type of leadership turned out to be a critical determinant of participation in the presence of other factors, but, as reported later in this book, leadership strongly influenced the extent to which local control was established.

Conflict and factionalism. Leadership, traditional or "modern" (official), is important in initiating the community organization process. Under any particular leadership, however, communities are not homogenous wholes living in perfect harmony; rivalries, feuds, and factionalism can impede collective action. Follow-up visits to four villages in Indonesia, eight years after conclusion of a baseline study of project activities, found that water improvement activities had ground to a halt in the one village that had been divided by intense rivalry between the official village chief and other traditional leaders (Judd 1992). Another example comes from Panama. For a study of the Panamanian SANAA-CARE community program, an evaluation team conducted extensive interviews with community leaders and heads of the Patronato (the community committee). The team found considerable conflicts within the communities (often along lines of political allegiance), which hindered community solidarity and implementation of the water system and watershed conservation projects.

Statistical evidence on beneficiary capacity. As should be obvious from the above discussion, measuring these nuanced sociological distinctions is a Herculean task. Nevertheless, several dimensions of beneficiary capacity and costs to beneficiaries for organizing for participation are reflected in the following measured variables:

· Extent to which clients were organized before the project began
· Skills and knowledge of clients
· Extent to which traditional collectives were used
· Leadership of clients
· Presence of strong leaders.

Table 5.3 examines through multivariate regression analysis the relationship between each of these independent variables and the variables being determined-namely, overall participation, net benefits of participation, the extent to which control became local, and the extent of client exit from and dissatisfaction with the water system. Findings include the following:

Table 5.3. Relationships between beneficiary capacity and participation outcomes and elements


Beneficiary capacity

Participatory outcome

Extent clients organized

Skills, knowledge of clients

Traditional collective

Leadership among clients

Presence of strong leaders

Overall participation

0.23a

0.12

0.10

-0.14

0.20


(2.1)

(1.7)

(1.6)

(-1.3)

(0.4)

Net benefits participation

0.05

0.02

0.04

0.01

0.14


(0.3)

(0 2)

(0.3)

(0.1)

(1.3)

Extent of local control

0.48b

0.48

0.32a

-0.58

-0.04


(2.6)

(4.2)

(2.2)

(-3.4)

(-0 3)

Client exit

0.20

0.06

-0.12

0.05

0.28


(0 6)

(0.3)

(-0.4)

(0.2)

(1.4)

Client dissatisfaction

0.09

0.03

-0.25

0.17

0.13


(0.4)

(0.3)

(-1 6)

(0.9)

(0.9)

Note: Significance levels are indicated thus: a = significant at 0.05; b = significant at 0.01;
c = significant at 0.001; d = significant at 0.0001. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.

· Extent to which clients were organized was significantly associated with both participation and local control.

· Skills and knowledge of clients was only modestly significant (at the 10 percent significance level) for overall participation, but was strongly important for local control.

· Use of traditional collectives also had only a modest association with overall participation; the variable was more strongly related to the degree of local control.

· Leadership of clients was strongly associated with the degree of local control, but less so with overall participation.

· Presence of strong leaders was unimportant. This variable is not associated with either greater participation or greater local control, and in fact is positively, although not strongly, associated with client exit from the system.

To summarize, in spite of the difficulties of measuring the client characteristics that relate to the capacity for participation, certain factors (that is, the extent of prior organization, skill and knowledge of clients, the use of traditional collectives, and leadership qualities among clients) were found to bear a strong relationship to the extent to which control of projects became local and, to a lesser degree, to overall participation.

Client-Orientation of Agencies

Agencies must adopt strategies to respond to community needs and preferences and to support local capacity building. In the rural water sector, broadening objectives beyond construction to include sustainability, targeting the poor, empowerment, equity, and cost sharing means realigning inputs, rules, structures, and procedures. Accompanying new objectives, however, are new problems which have arisen out of lack of agreement on objectives, on needed changes, and on the consequent restructuring of sector policies and institutions.

Project experiences reveal five major project/ agency strategies designed to realign structures, procedures, and incentives to build an agency environment that can support client demand, initiative, and capacity building:

· Agency autonomy
· Adaptive planning approaches
· Use of local knowledge
· Changed objectives
· Responsive implementation and intermediation.

Agency autonomy. It is easier for agencies to be responsive to communities and support local capacity building when they have the mandate, resources, and authority to carry out planned action independent of other agencies. One of the problems that has plagued the sector has been fragmentation of responsibilities within several different government agencies. For example, project hardware, expertise, and resources typically reside with the public works ministry, whereas the responsibility for community extension systems lies with the ministry of social welfare and department of community development, each with different work programs and lines of authority.

Demand

Client orientation of agency

Prior commitment

Use of local knowledge

Participation a goal

Autonomy of a project/agency

Physical-target driven

Flexibility

Consensus on objectives

0.19b

0.20

0.20a

0.17

0.06

0.02

0.01

(1.9)

(2.5)

(1 9)

(1 8)

(0.9)

(0.2)

(0.06)

0.23a

{).01

0.44b

0.15

-0.15

0.12

0.11

(2.2)

(-0.1)

(2 9)

(1.2)

(-1 6)

(0.9)

(0.8)

0.18

0.10

0.20

0.38b

0.01

{).15

-0.31a

(1.5)

(0.8)

(1.2)

(2.6)

(0.1)

(-1.0)

(2 0)

-0.17

0.22

-0.50

0.17

-0.31

-0.03

-0.37

(-0 8)

(1.0)

(-1.7)

(0.6)

(-1.5)

(-1.3)

(-1 3)

-0.26

0.10

(-0.30)

0.12

-0.17

-0.30a

-0.30

(-2.0)

(0.8)

(-1 6)

(0.7)

(-1.3)

(-2.1)

(-1.8)

The RUSAFIYA project in Nigeria illustrates what happens when a project lacks autonomy and when responsibilities are fragmented at different levels among government agencies (Boerma 1993). The project attempted to actively involve communities in all stages of implementation, and it met with success in some regions. In other regions, however, despite the dedication of staff, the project encountered a range of problems, which demonstrates how difficult it is to create the right incentives environment when responsibilities for implementing a participatory process are fragmented (see box 5.6). Stronger "project units" are not the answer; instead, one or two local agencies should be given the resources and authority to implement projects, with accountability induced through high visibility, external pressure, and incremental funding based on performance.

Autonomy in managing tariffs is particularly important. Local councils and divisions of public health engineering departments in various parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America collect substantial revenues. Those revenues are turned over to general treasury accounts, however, which serves in the long run as a major disincentive to local collection.

Adaptive planning approaches. The blueprint, or masterplan, approach to planning projects assumes that everything is known, and hence can be planned, costed, and even procured in advance. Developing projects to match client demand, however, calls for a different planning approach. (The Tanzanian experience summarized in box 5.7 is illustrative.) What is needed instead is a demand-based approach, which responds to decisions made by hundreds of different communities-at their own pace, in their own time-after implementation begins.

In demand-led planning, management adopts a learning-process approach, has clear goals and objectives, expects and tolerates relatively high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity, plans for short time horizons, and operates with indicative costs and budgets rather than within detailed, inflexible budget lines. (See appendix 3 for a summary of differences between the blueprint and learning-process approaches).

Use of local knowledge. One of the important benefits of participation is the opportunity to take advantage of local knowledge and information about the local context. The more the decisions are made by local people themselves, the less the need for outsiders to be informed about every detail of community life and preferences. It is now quite common for projects to undertake sociocultural studies in preparation for rural water-supply projects, yet such studies are of little value if they do not yield information relevant to policy choices, or if the information is not used in management decisionmaking.

Sociologists and anthropologists both inside and outside the World Bank have long argued for the inclusion of local knowledge in the design and implementation of development projects (Cernea 1993; Salmen 1987,1992; Warren 1991). The extent to which local knowledge is used is important to supporting beneficiary participation. Local knowledge can be harnessed directly, by involving local people at different levels (especially in the planning and design stages); and indirectly, through data gathering on technical, social, cultural, political, organizational, and environmental issues in the local context. Beneficiary assessments and other, more traditional social science methods are common ways to indirectly gather data. Projects in the study sample used all of these methods. Box 5.8, which describes the evolution of water-user groups in Tunisia, highlights the importance of sociological knowledge in developing appropriate local organizations.

Changed objectives: participation and capacity building. Project experiences show that when agencies possessed commitment and a mandate, local participation and capacity building were achieved in a wide variety of cultural, political, environmental and technological contexts. This raises the broader issues of planning, priority, clarity, specificity, and consensus on objectives: if local participation and capacity building are associated with effective projects-and they are-then shouldn't they be project objectives? Project objectives of the twenty most effective projects are reviewed in appendix 1. The range of stated objectives for those projects was wide, but, while many projects mentioned participation, capacity building, and empowerment as specific objectives, many did not. Many of the less effective projects had no clearly stated objectives.

Box 5.6. Nigeria: difficulties in managing incentives

The RUSAFIYA project comprised five key actors: the community, the extension agents, the water and sanitation units (WASUs), the local government authorities (LGAs), and the project authorities. Many of the project's difficulties arose because these actors lacked, in large part, control over their participation in the projects, appropriate incentives, and accountability for their actions.

Lack of control. Rather than allowing communities control over their participation, project authorities often preselected communities for inclusion in the project. In some cases, communities that did not want to participate were persuaded or coerced into doing so by extension agents.

LGAs also had little control over their participation in the project and little input into project design; LGA staff therefore had very little stake in the project's outcome. When problems occurred, LGA staff blamed project authorities.

Project authorities, for their part, also encountered "control" problems in perceived conflicts over participation and deadlines. Decisions made by project authorities (for example, to await community commitment) were overshadowed by donor insistence on quick construction results. Donor insistence also succeeded in lowering the required community contribution from N 5,000 to N 1,800.

In Ningi, where the project met with more success, communities were allowed and encouraged to pay pump suppliers directly. In other regions, however, communities were expected to make payments to extension agents, which created considerable anxiety.

Lack of appropriate incentives. Since construction often proceeded regardless of whether communities paid their contribution, there was no real community investment in the system. Community interest was also affected by the fact that other government-funded projects were available to the community at no cost.

The project provided intensive training in participatory methods for the extension agents, but the pressure for quick implementation sometimes led extension agents to coerce uninterested communities to participate. This may have occurred because extension agents appeared to be judged on how quickly they could get communities to agree to participate and collect the necessary funds.

Finally, during implementation it became clear that the cooperation of the LGA chairmen was important for project success. However, the project presented few incentives to influence these officials to participate effectively. It was politically difficult for local government officials to actively support a project that helped communities become less reliant on the patronage of local government.

Lack of clear accountability. The lines of accountability that were put in practice proved to be complex and difficult to follow. WASU management decisions were overseen by both the LGA and the project authorities, but the WASU made financial reports only to the project authorities. Since LGAs, the higher level, lacked authority over project funds, they had little interest in the project and obviously could not be accountable for fund mismanagement.

While the WASU was financially accountable to the project authorities, the head of WASU, who had chief responsibility for implementation, was ultimately accountable to the LGA chairman who appointed him, leaving project authorities with few ways to deal with poor performance. In addition, despite a signed agreement, community water committees had no recourse if the WASU failed to deliver on its commitments. Similarly, there were no sanctions that could be applied to the communities when they failed to comply with agreed terms.

Source: Boerma (1993).

Box 5.7. Tanzania: master plan incompatibility with demand orientation

To ensure that villages with the greatest need for water systems were helped first, the Government of Tanzania implemented a series of lengthy and extensive studies to develop Water Master Plans (WMPs) for its rural water-supply program. From 1980 to 1983, project teams conducted water resources studies, water supply studies, and socioeconomic studies, and undertook pilot projects in three regions. Research for the socioeconomic studies alone included circulating a 300-question survey in all villages; preparing a detailed study of water use, sanitation, and health in 66 villages; developing a village participation program; and conducting substudies on such issues as water contamination, health education, and women's involvement. Results of these socioeconomic studies were not available in time to be included in the master plan.

A priority list of "high need" villages was developed in accordance with the WMP data that were available. High-need status was assigned to 644 of the 1,509 villages with the poorest accessibility to water, the lowest source capacity, and/or the highest health risks. Ironically, the master plan process was so extensive and time-consuming that conditions within project communities had changed drastically by the time the implementation phase began, making much of the data irrelevant.

Project implementers discovered that many of the communities on the priority list did not have a high "felt need." Demand for water systems was low in many of these villages, as was community interest in meeting project conditions. For example, villagers in one community were satisfied with their traditional water source; they had much greater interest in constructing a road and establishing bus service to a nearby town. Another community felt its need for a milling machine took precedence over its need for a water system. Clearly, the agency-defined criteria had been ineffective in assessing demand within the communities.

As a result, project implementers eventually set aside much of the WMP "priority list," arguing, among other things, that the information collected during the village survey in the WMP was insufficient or inaccurate; that the water supply conditions and needs had changed because of population growth or hydrological circumstances; or that political pressures had forced inappropriate inclusion of some villages on the list.

Source: DANIDA (1987).

Box 5.8. Tunisia: combining local knowledge with Geographic Information Systems

The development of over 2,000 Tunisian water-user associations through the Potable Water User project demonstrates the importance of joining local knowledge and modern information tools.a Together with the Central Tunisia Development Authority, the Government of Tunisia, and Tunisian geographers and sociologists (who assisted with spatial and socioeconomic analyses), the Institute for Development Anthropology composed a methodology based on geographic information systems for the siting of thirty new boreholes in the Kasserine and Gafsa governorates; the Institute introduced the notion of water-user associations at each new site. The methodology used socioeconomic, demographic, political, and environmental criteria, as well as conventional financial and hydrologic yardsticks, to propose sites.

Over time, as strategies evolved, the project produced three unanticipated results:

1. The Government of Tunisia became an enthusiastic supporter of the concept of water-user associations and encouraged the expansion of these associations from the 30 envisioned in the original project to more than 2,000 today.

2. The water-user associations became instruments for rural democratization as they confronted, one after another, the Ministry of Finance to demand control over their own finances. In general, the Ministry of Finance either accorded such autonomy de jure or acquiesced by withdrawing objections. Many of the water-user associations now have their own bank accounts.

3. Almost all of the water-user associations became entrepreneurial. The most common activity is recharging of automobile batteries, using step-down transformers driven by well pumps. Other new economic activities include women's handicrafts and weaving, as well as bathhouse and greenhouse operation where wells tap a thermally heated aquifer.

a. This project was not part of the 121-case sample.

Source: Personal communication (1994); International Development Association (1992).

Goal of beneficiary participation. Local knowledge is unlikely to be used, despite its proven value, unless managers care about sustainable results and local participation. Did agency staff in fact have an incentive, either monetary or non monetary, to facilitate participation? They did in those instances where achieving beneficiary participation in decisionmaking was a clear goal or objective that was monitored and evaluated. Other incentives for encouraging participation come when local participation is a criterion in personnel evaluations and a measure of project success (see appendix 2). Myriad innovative ways were found to monitor and evaluate participation of beneficiaries in decisionmaking.

Participation is often viewed as a messy business that inherently defies specificity. Tasks that lack specificity are difficult to undertake and impossible to monitor and evaluate (Israel 1987). Hence, one challenge is to make participation itself more definable and specific and less monolithic. It is also true that there are many ways to reach the same goal. Tracking participation throughout the stages of a project can help establish accountability for achieving participation goals along the way, without forcing premature standardization of the means of getting there. Participatory Evaluation: Tools for Managing Change in Water and Sanitation (Narayan 1993) details several ways that participation can be monitored and evaluated.28

Increasingly, programs are monitoring participation and capacity building at the community level and using results to refine strategies. For example, the Karonga Lakeshore Integrated Rural Groundwater Supply Project in Malawi complements technical monitoring with sociological monitoring (see appendix 4). Several important insights gleaned from the sociological monitoring led to changes in program strategies. The village water and health committees, which were meant to be the main implementing organizations, were found to be less effective than the pump committees. Surveys revealed that 77 percent of the user groups were not even aware of the village committees, but all of the user groups knew about the pump committees. The program subsequently focused its training efforts on the pump committees. Making participation an indicator of success and establishing criteria to monitor and evaluate participation obviously cannot make participation occur. Documents for the World Bank-assisted project of 1977 in Tanzania stated that the Bank and the government of Tanzania "should refrain from equating success with quantitative criteria. Genuine achievement of the participatory objectives should be the principal criterion of success, even if in practice, this required a substantial reduction of the program" (quoted in Therkildsen 1988). Yet the participatory objective, as well as the cost-sharing objective, was abandoned in favor of speedier physical construction.

If projects are participatory-and if they make achieving participation a goal to which they are committed-they do whatever is necessary to achieve it. This includes adopting a learning process approach to management.

Goal of building local capacity. Local participation occurred when it was supported by a focus on local capacity building and on strengthening the local social organization to manage the physical infrastructure. Clarity and prioritization of objectives is essential for those projects that are based on demand and participation and that use a learning-process approach, for two reasons. First, the objective of speedy, efficient physical construction often conflicts with the objectives of capacity building and sustainability. In the classic dilemma, the desire to maximize the productivity of drilling rigs must vie with the desire to wait for community readiness. Most projects in the study sample that were highly effective and participatory dealt with such dilemmas by making community organization and capacity a specific, high-priority goal to which they invested substantial money and time. The Togo Rural Water Supply project is one example. According to project estimates, 25 percent of the project budget was spent in supporting local capacity (see box 5.9).

The second reason for clarity and prioritization of objectives is that an adaptive learning process approach by definition means that there is no implementation blueprint to follow. When dealing with uncertainty, it is important not only to be clear on objectives-and to establish benchmarks and intermediate steps, or to specify outputs-but also to allow, and indeed encourage, local solutions to be developed, even though no two communities or field offices may come up with exactly the same process. If new objectives are not spelled out and emphasized, project staff will most likely seek the security of the familiar procedures of the past. Even worse, agencies may standardize methods too early and develop guidelines on how the community should participate, which amounts to the kiss of death for exercising voice and choice. When detailed rules rather than broad principles are promulgated, participation and sustainability flounder.

The temptation to standardize all procedures early, even before implementation starts, is especially great in large projects. Staff for large projects are scattered over wide geographic areas, come from different disciplines, and may have to deal with more than one organization. In such a situation, a common vision, and autonomy (supported by financial resources) to pursue whatever works in a particular context, is critical to project success. Accountability is established through the monitoring and evaluation-with communities playing active roles-of process indicators and intermediate outcomes.

In the Zimbabwean study mentioned earlier, Cleaver concluded that national guidelines, when painstakingly and unswervingly followed, were counterproductive to community responsibility and involvement. Examples abound. For one, the implementation policy that states that the community should dig the first three meters of a well was often misinterpreted to mean that the community should dig up only three meters. Similarly, guidelines for committees suggest the posts of chairman, treasurer, and secretary; these officers are dutifully elected, but often they have no duties and thus do nothing. Informal user groups were frequently found to be more effective than the official committees. In contrast, successful water committees in Côte d'Ivoire stepped outside the official guidelines to sell water, which gave incentives for careful monitoring to water mincers and furnished finances for repairs.

Project experiences indicate that when local capacity building and decisionmaking are high-priority goals, effective managers allow time for participation to take root. Typically, a lead time of one to three months is needed so that people can express demand and organize themselves and the project can begin to establish a "trust partnership" and dialogue with community groups. This initial period may extend to a year, depending on the degree of community autonomy being sought. For example, CARE projects in Indonesia, which aim for total community self-financing (including capital costs), have found that initial organizational work takes about a year. Preparatory work also takes longer if demand must first be further generated through educational and awareness raising activities.

To summarize, participation is strongly supported if the design of the project has evolved based on local knowledge systems, if community capacity building is supported, and if participation is made a goal that is valued, monitored, and rewarded and linked to project evaluation criteria. The management challenge therefore is to create a framework in which the overriding objective is clear, higher levels of ambiguity and uncertainty are tolerated (since not all is known), and mechanisms and incentives are included to foster client decisionmaking, responsibility, and capacity.

Box 5.9. Togo: investing in capacity building

In the $16.7 million water supply project in Togo (1980-87), one of the main project objectives was to form, or strengthen, every village development committee (VDC). Project managers hoped that training communities to organize themselves would equip communities for solving not only water-related problems but other development problems that might arise.

Initial organization of the VDC took at least six to twelve months, with Social Affairs and Sanitation field agents providing follow-up support to each village. VDCs were created through a series of four village-level meetings between the field agents and the villagers, of which VDC members were selected to represent the community and project activities, objectives, and mutual responsibilities were discussed. The seven to thirteen people chosen for each committee were introduced to the village at an initiation ceremony.

VDC officers; village pump mechanics; women volunteers responsible for pump maintenance and oral rehydration therapy; and latrine and cistern maintenance volunteers received extensive training. VDC officer training included how to open a bank account, responsibilities of each office, how to obtain spare parts, and how to run community meetings.

In total, 864 VDCs were established and training provided to each. Besides participating fully in the construction and maintenance of the water system, village people, under the direction of their VDCs, went on to construct roads, market centers, pharmacies, and schools for their communities.

Source. Roark and others (1988).

Responsive implementation. Project design elements can increase the ease with which participation can be induced. A key characteristic of a successful demand-based approach is that the agency is responsive to beneficiaries, adjusts and adapts to client demand, and enhances beneficiary capacity. Responsiveness implies that solutions and strategies are tailor-made for each situation, which in turn implies endless variability in detail. In this scenario, consensus on overall objectives and means becomes particularly important, although solutions are open-ended rather than predefined.

Engineering agencies have typically had primary responsibility for delivering rural water services, yet experience establishes that their technical blueprints-the pride of most engineers-and a "build-and-transfer" approach to projects do not foster dialogues and partnerships with communities before construction begins. Changing the focus of the engineering departments, however, would cause most engineers to lose professional interest and pride in their jobs. A young engineer in Pakistan in the Public Health Engineering Department summed up the sentiment thus: "I went to engineering school and learned how to design water systems; if I am now told to go spend the day talking to villagers who do not know what I know, I feel very frustrated. I would rather spend my time in front of my drawing board; otherwise what use is my engineering degree?"

Others have adapted to working in collaboration with extension workers from different ministries, but the underlying tension between the efficiency orientation of engineers and the stress on community readiness remains. As an engineer in Kenya put it: "From working with extension workers for three years I have finally learned how to hurry the people slowly."

Of the twenty projects with the highest ratings (summarized in appendix 2), almost 90 percent were implemented by NGOs and government ministries other than the public engineering departments. The governmental lead agencies included local government offices for community development, health, social welfare, and women's affairs. NGOs are not necessarily more participatory than government agencies, but their staff and method of operation are generally more community-focused and hence adaptive to varying community situations.

An example of the success that can be achieved when agencies are responsive to the desires and pace of communities, and respect community autonomy, comes from the story of community-managed water utilities in Meru in eastern Kenya and Ngorika in central Kenya (Bess 1990). Box 5.10 highlights the process that led to sustainable outputs through timely technical, financial, and management assistance to a community water society. The society evolved through the federation of a number of small, self-help groups that could not have developed further on their own.

Research for this study indicates that projects that were high in responsiveness were also flexible in implementation, allowing time for community organization. This study cannot definitively say whether projects achieved effectiveness through taking the time to involve beneficiaries or whether some other method produced the involvement. Regardless, since participation is positively correlated to effectiveness and ultimate efficiency, trade-offs between the time needed to organize participation and the amount of time required for implementation are likely to be positive. Inducing participation may be time-consuming upstream but may save time downstream.

Clients' listening to agency staff. Agency flexibility and autonomy are preconditions for adapting programs to the conditions of a particular environment, but several routes are open to agencies for responding to the requirements of differing contexts. Without some system of outreach and connection to clients, either direct or indirect, it is impossible for an agency to be responsive and adaptive.

Outreach can be interpersonal or it can be channeled through the mass media, or both. Gathered information can be brought to the agency office for planning purposes, or it can be put to service directly in the field after consultation with local groups. Either way, effective outreach would be difficult, if not impossible, in the absence of agency staff with the requisite skills, technology, and mandate.

Many projects used extension workers as their contact point with clients, yet, in general, clients listened more to members of village-based organizations than to extension agents, intermediary NGOs, or local government units (data were scored separately for each type of organization). Nevertheless, the degree to which clients listened to the extension workers was highly correlated to overall participation (r = 0.72), which is not surprising because beneficiaries who care about the product being sold (the water system) are the ones who are more likely both to listen and to participate. The only factor that was significantly related to client listening was the prior commitment of clients. The form of the outreach also was analyzed, but because projects used a variety of outreach efforts, the effectiveness of different combinations of extension workers and agencies was not examined.

Overall, village-based organizations played a major role in 20 percent of the projects, extension workers in 22 percent, intermediary NGOs in 15 percent, and local government units in 3 percent. Conversely, 75 percent of all projects had practically no involvement with local government; 57 percent had no involvement with village organizations, 48 percent saw no extension workers, and 73 percent did not use intermediary NGOs. The study comprised a wide range of projects, including many that had little interest in supporting participation.

Box 5.10. Kenya: community-managed water utilities

The communities of Murugi-Mugumango and Ngorika in Kenya stand out as examples of successful community-owned water utilities run along commercial lines.a Both utilities started out as small, self-help water groups in the mid-1970s and evolved into sophisticated water societies with over 1,000 members each. The monthly revenues for the Murugi-Mugumango Water Society are approximately Ksh 35,000-40,000,b sufficient to cover their monthly expenditures of Ksh 30,000 35,000. While the Ngorika Water Society is smaller and less well established than Murugi-Mugumango, its monthly revenues of Ksh 8,000-10,000 are also sufficient to cover monthly expenditures (Ksh 7,000-8,000). In addition, both communities have consistently expanded the systems and operations over time, building offices, employing staff, and widening distribution.

Two factors contribute to the success of these communities' operations. First, both water societies received timely management training from NGOs and technical assistance (for construction design and supervision) from the Ministry of Water Development. Second, these organizations worked with the water societies to develop a commercial framework (based on paying for water) and a full set of rules, by-laws, and guidelines. Members defined the objectives of the society and delineated the rights and responsibilities of each member of the water cooperative and the penalties for noncompliance.

These member-created rules foster ownership and responsibility to the water system. For example, both water societies require that each member contribute a certain amount of labor as partial payment of fees. Cash payment in lieu of labor is actively discouraged by financially penalizing those who pay in cash. In Ngorika, for example, an individual would need to pay Ksh 100 in cash to satisfy a day of labor valued at Ksh 25.

Other penalties play a role in keeping the systems commercially viable. Both communities have stringent rules regarding nonpayment of fees or illegal connection to the water system. In Ngorika a member who bypasses a meter may be expelled from the society for life, be forced to pay a large fine, or have to plead her or his case before the general members to be reconnected. Nonmembers are taken to court. Ngorika has had no cases of illegal connection since the society's development, as compared with the earlier illegal connection rate of 20 percent.

Both water societies use disconnection as the penalty for nonpayment of fees, but they try to be flexible on this issue. They will accept partial payments on outstanding balances, and they refrain from disconnecting if a member explains his or her difficulties before defaulting. Reconnection fees are high, which discourages members from taking advantage of leniency.

Both water societies are flourishing. In 1985, when Technoserve's (an NGO) management assistance contract with Murugi-Mugumango ended, the water society had Ksh 500,000 in the bank and about 20 km of main and distribution pipeline with over fifty individual connections. Since then, 60 km of main piping have been laid and 1,160 members have obtained metered connections to the system. The society has built an office complex, employs 18 permanent staff, and has total liquid and property assets of almost Ksh 800,000. Ngorika is a younger organization, but in 1990 it had almost 60 km of main and distribution pipe, as well as 36 km of connecting pipe. It had 320 individual connections serving some 2,500 people, as compared to 48 connections serving 456 people before the society's formation in 1988.

a. This project was not part of the 121-case sample.
b. US$1.00 = Ksh 54 in 1994.
Source: Bess (1990).

Statistical evidence on agency characteristics. Table 5.4 presents the relationships between four outcome variables and the factors discussed above. The statistical findings generally support the lessons learned from in-depth analyses of individual cases. The outcome variables are participation, net benefits of participation, and two intermediate elements or measures of participation, namely, agency responsiveness to clients and client responsiveness to the agency. The table shows the following:

· Use of local knowledge contributes to both greater agency responsiveness and greater overall participation.

· Achieving participation, when defined as a goal of the project, has a net positive influence on actual participation. It has an even stronger effect on the perceived benefits of participation, as well as on increased agency responsiveness to clients and client interest in agency field agents.

· Autonomy of the project within the agency is associated, although weakly, with greater participation.29 However, there is no evidence to suggest that project autonomy will increase agency responsiveness in the absence of additional incentives. The estimated impact of greater autonomy, controlling for other determinants of agency responsiveness, is negative.

· Projects that are physical target-driven are not more (or less) likely to be participatory or to have better responsiveness from the agency. Moreover, there is weak evidence that physical targets reduce the perceived benefits of participation and (even weaker) evidence that clients are unresponsive in target-driven projects.

· Greater flexibility is strongly associated with greater agency responsiveness. The reasonable conclusion is that an agency cannot be responsive to client demands unless it has some degree of flexibility.

· The extent of prior consensus on objectives had a modest influence on agency and client responsiveness.

Policy Lessons

The key findings presented in this chapter offer important policy lessons. To recap, beneficiary participation contributes to project effectiveness and can be induced in a variety of contexts. Five factors affect beneficiary participation:

· High demand and financial commitment made by clients before implementation

· Degree to which beneficiaries are organized

· Degree to which agencies incorporate local knowledge into project design and implementation and invest in capacity building

· Degree to which agencies make participation a goal, the achievement of which is rewarded, monitored, and evaluated

· Degree to which agencies are relatively autonomous and able to function without external interference.

Since participation is a long-term, iterative, nonlinear process that is difficult to standardize or capture within a predecided time framework, it is useful to identify important elements, or intermediate benchmarks, of the participatory process. Three of those elements were found to be the extent to which communities were achieving control and ownership of the projects, the amount of capital and recurrent costs that clients assumed, and the responsiveness of agencies to clients. Local control and ownership was more likely to come to pass when clients were organized, when their organization was based on local collectives, and when they were skilled and displayed leadership qualities.

Table 5.4. Relationships between client orientation and participation outcomes and elements


Client orientation of agency

Participatory outcome

Use of local knowledge

Participation a goal

Autonomy of a project/agency

Physical-target driven

Flexibility

Consensus on objectives

Overall participation

0.20b

0.20

0.17

0.06

-0.02

0.00


(2 5)

(1 9)

(1.8)

(0.9)

(-0.2)

(0.06)

Net benefits participation

-0.02

0.44b

0.15

-0.15

0.12

0.11


(-0.2)

(2.9)

(1.2)

(-1 6)

(0.9)

(0.8)

Agency responsiveness

0.29b

0.29a

-0.13

0.07

0.36b

0.34b


(2 7)

(2.0)

(-1.2)

(0.8)

(3.2)

(2.7)

Clients listen to field agents

0.01

0.30

-0.08

-0.07

0.22

0.23


(0.1)

(1.8)

(-0 6)

(-0.7)

(1.5)

(1.6)

Note: Significance levels are indicated thus: a = significant at 0.05; b = significant at 0.01; c = significant at 0.001; d = significant at 0.0001. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.

Furthermore, beneficiary participation is likely to occur when both agencies and clients see high benefits from such participation. The two determinants of high net benefits are client demand and agency commitment as signified by making participation an agency goal.

The foregoing summary of findings intimates that the key issues in achieving sustainable rural water services are institutional rather than technological (although appropriateness of technology obviously plays a part in effective projects). The policy lessons are several:

· Beneficiary demand and agency client orientation are central to achieving sustainable services. Willingness-to-pay studies may be useful for setting policy parameters at the macropolicy level, but instituting a community self-selection process based on "hard choices" (a substantial cash contribution by the community, for example) is essential at the subproject level.

· Roles and functions of different actors at different levels must be clear and yet avoid overspecification of the details of implementation. Roles and functions should dovetail resources, responsibility, authority, and capacity. Implementation details and rules should be worked out with each community.

· Local capacity building is essential to maintaining physical infrastructure. The degree of investment needed in local organization varies, however, depending on objectives, preexisting local capacity, and functions to be performed.

· Blueprint master planning, budgeting, and procurement approaches cannot be used in demand-based national programs that support community initiatives. The course and timing of community efforts to organize and the appropriateness of a particular technology at a particular time are not predictable, and thus are not amenable to a master plan approach.

· Because many engineering agencies have trouble accommodating a community centered approach, it makes sense for agencies that are already community-focused to be the key implementing agencies for projects. The still significant role of engineering agencies would then be to offer technical assistance and support to the implementing agencies.

Demand

Beneficiary capacity

Prior commitment

Extent clients organized

Skills, knowledge of clients

Traditional collective

Leadership among clients

Presence of strong leaders

0.19b

0.23a

0.12

0.10

- 0.14

0.02

(2.5)

(2.1)

(1.7)

(1.6)

(-1 3)

(0.3)

0.23a

0.05

0.02

0.04

0.01

0.14

(2.2)

(0.3)

(0 2)

(0.3)

(0.06)

(1.3)

0.07

-0.01

0.10

-0.06

-0.10

0.00

(0 7)

(-0.1)

(1.1)

(-0.6)

(-0 8)

(0.0)

0.30b

-0.02

0.14

- 0.19

- 0.17

0.15

(2.6)

(-0.1)

(1.1)

(-1.3)

(-0.9)

(1.3)