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Mbui Josphat Njogu - Master of Arts in Project Planning and Management, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Dr. Wanjohi John M. - Senior Lecturer, School of Physical Sciences, University of Nairobi, Kenya


Nearly 16% of the global population has no access to adequate, clean and safe water. Kenya, like numerous other Sub-Saharan African countries, is water scarce. Community water projects exists to supplement or complement government efforts to avail water to rural citizens. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of community participation in the performance of community water projects in Ruiri Area, Meru County, Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to establish the influence of community participation in financial management, project governance, operations and maintenance and monitoring and evaluation on performance of Ruiri-Thau Water Project. The study adopted a descriptive survey research design. The target population was 413 respondents comprising 400 heads of household that were benefitting from Ruiri-Thau Water Project, 11 project committee members and two project donors (Catholic Diocese of Meru and Meru County Government). Proportionate stratified sampling was used to derive a sample of 211 respondents – 196 household leaders, 11 project committee members and two donors. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire (for household heads and project committee members) and an interview schedule (for project donors). Data analysis and presentation was conducted using descriptive statistics with the help of IBM Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS), Version 20. The study established that community participation in financial planning had a moderate positive influence on project performance; community participation in project governance had a moderate positive influence on project performance; community participation in project operations and management had a weak positive influence on project performance, and community participation in monitoring and evaluation had a moderate positive influence on project performance. The study concluded that Ruiri-Thau Water Project community members were not participating actively in scrutinizing and approving financial transactions. Moreover, elections were mere formalities to maintain the status quo; community members rarely attended project governance meetings and were not involved in decision-making for the project. In addition, the community and project donors were contributing materials, labour, finances and security to the project towards enhancement of project performance. The study also concluded that community members were indifferent to the project by not visiting project sites, failing to attend meetings to discuss overall performance of the project and not requesting to scrutinize performance and progress reports. The study recommended that the project team and donors should create a clear system of accounting for project finances. Further, a new governance structure should be established with emphasis on new elections. Moreover, a new system for receiving project materials and fees and reporting water distribution problems should be put in place. In addition, meetings and site visits should be organized regularly to inculcate accountability and transparency in project management.

Full Length Research (PDF Format)