Community related variables influencing sustainability of water projects in Nyando District: a case of UNICEF funded projects under UNICEF WASH Programme, Kenya
Odie, Martin S
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Development assistance is often offered on a temporary basis and projects typically have finite timeframes. Yet, the impacts of the assistance and projects are intended to be lasting. As a result, a challenge for international development is to achieve long-term sustainability of projects. One key factor is the manner in which projects are planned and executed. It is critical to the success of a project that various elements of sustainability be considered throughout each stage of the project process. This is particularly true where outside involvement is discontinued after project closure, as is the case for much international development work. The study assessed the influence of community related variables on the sustainability of water projects and specifically focused on the UNICEF funded communal water projects in Nyando district, Kisumu County. The study sought to determine the extent to which community contribution, project management committee and capacity building of project management committee influence the sustainability of the projects as well as establish the community's perception of the UNICEF funded projects and how this influences the sustainability of the projects. The study adopted descriptive survey research design. The target population constituted all the beneficiaries of UNICEF-funded projects funded in Nyando district between the years 2008-2011. Stratified, simple random sampling was used to select the study's sample size of 375. Data was collected using the questionnaire that was reviewed by peers and later the supervisor to ascertain its face and construct validity. The questionnaire was pilot-tested using a sample of 20 respondents who were not part of the actual sample. The data obtained was analyzed with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) computer programme. Descriptive data was analyzed using percentages and frequencies while inferential analysis was done using Chi-square and Pearson Product Moment Correlation. The study established that there was a significantly strong positive relationship between community contribution and sustainability of the UNICEF-funded communal water projects in Nyando District (X2=420.79; r=0.87; p<O.OI). High levels of community contribution have a significant influence on the sustainability of the water projects. Effective project management committees positively influenced project sustainability (X2=376.91; r=0.96; p<O.OI) and that capacity building of the Project management Committees translated to highly sustainable projects, with a significantly positive relationship existing between capacity building and sustainability of the water projects (x2=12.1; p<0.05). A statistically significant and strong positive relationship existed between community perception and sustainability of the projects (x2=532.2; r=0.99; p<O.OI). Positive perceptions influenced sustainability of the projects in equal measures. High levels of community contribution had a significant influence on the sustainability of the water projects while capacity building of Project Management Committee empowered the members with adequate project management skills to facilitate sound financial management and technical operation and maintenance of the projects. Community development practitioners should therefore scale up participatory approaches in their development programs and initiatives if the benefits of such initiatives are to be realized within the realm of sustainable community development. In addition, elaborate mechanisms of sharing information on community development programs/projects be designed to ensure that majority of the community members are reached and that they have equal opportunities to participate in the ensuing processes for wider support of such developmentally important undertakings.