The role of community participation and partnerships in rural development : A case of rural water supply projects in Matiliku Division Makueni District
Matiliku Division is one of the I6 divisions in Makueni District, which is an Arid and Semi Arid Land (ASAL). The region suffers from water scarcity. Rainfall is low and unreliable. The region has experienced the presence of many Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other External Support Agencies (ESAs) that have engaged in funding of rural water supply projects. The planning process leading to the implementation of the water projects in Matiliku Division involved several actors each with its own role as indicated in the study. The actors included the local community, the ESAsand/or NGOs and the Government Even though each actor (partner) played specific role, there was lack of coordination. Waterbeing a basic necessity for (illY community, the local community had to be coerced to provide labour during the implementation of the projects. The local administrators wereinstrumental during the coercion process. The study .entailed the collection of-two types of data namely, primary and secondary data. It made use of descriptive survey method and blended it with focused synthesis based upon available literature. Data collected from the field was analyzed using the .'.' Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS). The methods of analysis involved both descriptive and inferential techniques as well as measures of association (correlationregression analysis). The study tumid out that the collaboration of the ESAs with the Government was .not obvious unless where it was absolutely necessary. Such collaboration was evident in casesoftechnical expertise where one party had knowledge at its disposal while the other lacked it. Issues of finances were major causes of conflicts between them especially in procurement of materials. There was no level playing ground fur the various actors hence conflicts always arose between them. The study found out that the water supplies had adequate yields that could meet the present, future and the ultimate water demands up to the years 2009 and 2019. However water was usually not available. Unreliability of the water supplies was the critical problem facing the population in the supply area This had led to the populations in the projects' catchment area to depend on water from other sources that were at fur distances beyond the stated Government limit. Operation and maintenance problems were major problems leading to water wastage hence unreliability of the water supplies. Another revelation from the study is that the future sustainabiiity of the water projects implemented through the combined efforts of various actors was at stake. The water projects were not functioning to their capacity, vandalism and wastage were a common phenomenon. The benefits accrued from the projects were minimum. The projects had not been extended beyond their first phases. All the above problems are related to the way the water projects were planned and implemented . ... ~ The study recommends that tne role of the Government and ESAs should no longer be that of providing but enablers of other actors to succeed. This calls for collaborative efforts,initiatives and participation of all stakeholders at all the levels in the planning and implementation process. But of importance is the aspect of having a (common) shared vision,which should be guided by the legal and policy framework. The study unveils that the planning process should be continuous and interactive, each step informing and reinforcing the other and vice versa. For instance though the plan implementation comes at the end it should be thought of at initial stage and move along the design stage. Also of importance is that institutional arrangements and procedures among the ail actors involved in the planning and implementation process of rural water projects must be well understood and appreciated by all if it is to lead to sustainable projects.