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Community involvement is key in the development of water and sanitation services in rural Ethiopia

MSc (Tech) Beshah Behailu conducted field research on rural water and sanitation services in Ethiopia and explored possible means to enhance their sustainability. His study revealed that community involvement is key when developing rural water and sanitation services.

Water is a natural need and basic requirement of humankind. Moreover, the majority of developmental activities are linked to the presence of water. However, the availability of freshwater resources is gradually becoming more challenged due to the climate change, for example, and the output capacity of water services due to population growth and dysfunctional systems.

“Giving everyone access to potable water is an uncompromisable goal when aiming to promote education, health, living conditions and both social and financial well-being. Sanitation, in turn, is mandatory for maintaining clean and potable water supply sources,” TUT’s doctoral candidate Beshah Behailu explains.

In his dissertation, Behailu studied the sustainability and development of water and sanitation services in rural Ethiopia. The concept of service delivery extends beyond investment in the initial system implementation. It also covers the sound operation and maintenance of the facilities for ensuring availability throughout the life cycle of the systems built. The study revealed problems related to the sustainability of water and sanitation services in rural areas. The causes may be social, institutional or financial. When it comes to seeking more sustainable water services in rural areas, the attained results bear importance for decision-making, the involved development cooperation parties and researchers.

Approach applied in Finnish–Ethiopian development cooperation project welcomes involvement

Behailu’s research is linked to the Finnish-supported ‘Community Managed Project’ (CMP) approach applied in a development cooperation project initiated in 1994 and targeted at water and sanitation services in rural Ethiopia. The approach has been developed for two decades. Behailu explored the functionality of the approach and the shift from the conventional approach to CMP, comparing its performance with the other implementation approaches applied in Ethiopia.

“In order to develop water and sanitation services, it is important to find ways to account for service failures and indigenous practices,” Behailu says.

For his research, Beshah Behailu employed various methods, including household surveys, focus group discussions, field observations and personal interviews with government officials at the district, regional and federal levels. One of the outcomes was that community involvement is a recommended means of expanding water services in rural areas.

“The CMP approach has proven highly functional when it comes to involving user communities. Proper participation from them should be welcomed so that genuine involvement finally leads to a sense of ownership. Involvement in all its forms is not always possible, however. In some circumstances, misuse may occur and result in forced participation,” Behailu notes.

“Stakeholders and the user communities, in particular, should be included in project implementation across all stages to promote citizen ownership and active participation during operation.”

Public defence of a doctoral dissertation on Wednesday, 30 November 2016

MSc (Tech) Beshah Behailu will publicly defend his doctoral thesis ‘Rural Water and Sanitation: Community Managed Project Approach for Sustainability in Ethiopia’ at the Faculty of Business and Built Environment of Tampere University of Technology (TUT) in room RG202 in the Rakennustalo building (address: Korkeakoulunkatu 1, Tampere, Finland) at 12 noon on Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

The opponent will be Adjunct Professor Henry Nygård from Åbo Academy University, Finland. Adjunct Professor Tapio S. Katko from the Department of Civil Engineering of TUT will act as Chairman.

The dissertation is available online at: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-15-3867-4

Further information: Beshah M. Behailu, Tele. +358 41 367 1153, firstname.lastname@tut.fi

 

News submitted by: Sanna Kähkönen
Keywords: science and research