The influence of community participation on water provision: a case study of Chazanga settlement in Lusaka
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Water provision is currently a global issue in the light of current and potential future shortages in both industrialized and developing countries. Presently, water provision is a top agenda item in any national developmental program. The United Nations General Assembly, in December 2003, proclaimed the years 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’. This will also involve the reduction by half, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015 whilst stopping unsustainable exploitation of water resources (ZNCU 2008). The ‘Water for Life’ decade is therefore expected to enhance efforts in fulfilling international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015. Water and sanitation is a part of goal seven of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and addresses environmental sustainability. Despite the fact that water provision is still a challenge in developing countries especially in the sub-Saharan-African region, ironically, a number of these countries are naturally endowed with vast resources of water. These water sources emanate mainly from lakes, rivers and streams which have not been appropriately exploited.To optimize water provision and water utilization, historically, different developmental approaches have been developed and debated. Amongst these is community participation, which enables people at the grassroots to determine the pace and nature of the development required. The thrust of community participation is that the citizenry should be involved in immediate choices and decisions that affect their lives. This is also the heart of sustainable development. In the context of water provision, community participation would therefore entail the people articulating their water needs and participating in the identification and implementation of water provision interventions. In the case of Chazanga however, community participation is a developmental initiative that is recognized and is expected to be embraced at the different levels of decision making at the grassroots in this particular case referring to water projects.The study through its objectives basically endeavours to: provide a critical review of the theoretical framework of Participatory Approaches for the topic under study; explore the effect or influence of community participation on water provision in peri-urban settlements such as Chazanga; assess the level of community participation in the WSUP water project in Chazanga community and; present the main findings, recommendations and conclusions of the study. In terms of research design, the investigation will use a case study that will be implemented through the qualitative method by collecting data through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and observations.In order to investigate the influence of community participation, the study has on the one hand provided an in-depth analysis of the water condition in the case study area. The findings show that water problems in Chazanga have been a source of concern before WSUP arrived in the settlement. On the other hand, the study provided evidence showing that the government of Zambia recognizes community participation as an important tool to address community problems from the social level. In this regard, the study discovered that there are strong structures of community participation at grassroots within Chazanga that converge frequently to discuss developments. However, there is interestingly a lack of appropriate feedback from the grassroots as community members representing the community on the Water Trust board have not informed government representatives of the development and presence of WSUP. This is as a result of the limited presence of government representatives at the grassroots level as their representation instead remains at higher levels in the community participation decentralized process.Recommendations of the study therefore suggest that the feedback process should be improved upon as well as taken advantage of, in order that government is better informed. This would as a result enhance more initiatives at community level, particularly in water provision. In addition, the study recommends an improvement on not only water supply but on sanitation issues which were discovered to be a critical issue. There is also a need to improve land allocation to make sure that boreholes are not too close to the water points. Other recommendations include the addressing of ethical issues in Chazanga which are a hindrance to community participation, as well as the immediate intervention in the improvement of livelihoods of the locals.