TUTCRIS - Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto


Access to Water? Dynamic Capacity Change for Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Services for All



KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-15-3718-9
ISBN (painettu)978-952-15-3707-3
TilaJulkaistu - 18 maaliskuuta 2016
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja


NimiTampere University of Technology. Publication
KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISSN (painettu)1459-2045


The lack of adequate safe drinking-water together with poor sanitation and hygiene imposes an extremely high disease burden on millions of children and adults. This compromises well-being and productivity, and aggravates the cycle of poverty. Cultivating capacity for change is an important element of practically every policy reform, development programme, and country strategy aiming to improve well-being of its citizens, and with it also, e.g., water services and sanitation. The purpose of this dissertation was to recommend ways for rural water and sanitation sector specific programmes and projects to inspire capacity change for continued learning, adaptation, and innovation in the face of ever-new challenges in a volatile and unpredictable local and global environment, while the system in itself was assumed to be complex and wicked already at the present time.

The specific objective was to develop futures-oriented frame of reference that can be applied for policy, programme, and project purposes. It draws from a wide range of action research the author has been involved with in Nepal, Guyana, Tanzania, and Bangladesh. It consists of six international peer-reviewed scientific articles and three case studies. The approach is constructivist and actororiented, it pays attention to agency and institutions, is plural rather than singular, differentiating rather than generalizing. The frame of reference is based on three analytical levels: 1) individual, 2) organizational/institutional, and 3) enabling environment.

Rural water sector must pay attention to rural livelihoods and cross-sectoral issues to truly benefit rural development and well-being. This can be done through the multiple-use water services paradigm, adding ecological sanitation. Two of the articles studied a bi-lateral water project in Nepal that combined water supply, sanitation, irrigation, and hydro-energy with livelihoods, small cottage industries and micro-finance (cooperatives) within one project operating through local government.Conceptually and policy-wise complex system translated into tangible benefits and positive impacts in the poorest and remotest corners of Nepal once the enabling environment was conducive to allow this. It proved out to be a useful instrument for making change happen, empowering communities and encouraging continuous learning, innovation, and adaptation. Empowerment is here defined as group’s or individuals’ capacity to make effective choices and then transform these choices into desired actions and outcomes and with these, into services and benefits.

Capacity related interventions need to have a vision that goes further than just the present state of affairs. Appreciating the complexity and dynamic nature of the rural water sector, the system should not be split into individual components or activities, such as individual training courses or narrow mandates that do not consider the broader framework within which they must operate and change.
The ‘capacity cube’ in this dissertation represents the ‘present’ that moves across its different dimensions simultaneously and is in constant change in time. Framing the ’cube’ allows the project or programme planners to establish the external layers of reference to give shape for the time dimension, the expected results (‘services’), the external and internal drivers and barriers to change in terms of enabling environment, and the institutions and humans therein. Among others, it recommended to further study scale application of multiple use water services with ecological sanitation in the livelihoods context and the rural water service delivery paradigm.


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