Influence of community development factors on performance of water projects in Maara sub-county, Tharaka-nithi county, Kenya
The success of community development projects is profoundly influenced by both external factors, such as political and administrative interference; and internal factors, such as poor planning, poor governance and mismanagement of project resources, especially funds. This study investigated the community development factors that influence the performance of water projects in Maara Sub County, Tharaka-Nithi County. For the purpose of the study, two public water development projects, Kamwene and Gatua-Karimba, were selected because they offered an opportunity to compare projects with contrasting levels of success. The research sought to answer the question of why Kamwene water project was succeeding while Gatua-Karimba had lagged behind in terms of their development targets. The specific objectives were to determine the influence of community participation on the performance of water projects, to examine the influence of use of participative leadership on the performance of water projects and to assess the influence of community empowerment on the performance of water projects in Maara Sub County. The research was conducted through a survey and administration of pre-prepared questionnaires and interview schedules to target the community group members, leaders, local administrators and extension officers working in water sector. Target population was 1120 members, including members of the management teams of the two water projects. A random sample of 112 members, including interviewing all 30 committee members of the management teams of the two projects was taken. All the responses received were analyzed for patterns and trends and the results indicated that participation of members of the project influenced performance in water project as indicated by results of awareness of the rules governing the project, attendance of meetings and active participation in the those meetings. This Influence of community participation was reported in 88.4% of the total respondents in both water projects. On participative leadership of the project officials, 70.5% showed there is influence of use of participative leadership on performance. This is indicated by how leaders were elected and open forums where members can freely express their ideas. Concerning community empowerment, 92% of members from both projects agreed there was influence of community empowerment on performance as indicated by understanding their needs as community, members mobilizing other members in project initiatives and the responses to such mobilization. In conclusion the study looked at how community members are involvement, consultation and empowerment in project management influenced the performance of those projects. The information gathered will enable communities understand their own weaknesses in management of water projects to achieve targets. It will also help the government and the donors to know how they approach different projects.