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The role of formal institutions in delivering equitable drinking-water access across seasons and extreme weather events: a case study of Zomba District, Malawi

The role of formal institutions in delivering equitable drinking-water access across seasons and extreme weather events: a case study of Zomba District, Malawi
The role of formal institutions in delivering equitable drinking-water access across seasons and extreme weather events: a case study of Zomba District, Malawi
Access to drinking-water is central to poverty eradication and food security, yet it remains a critical challenge for marginalised households. While water access is considered as a governance issue, gaps remain in the scholarship of how formal water governance institutions affect access to drinking-water among marginalised households in developing countries across seasons. The extent to which seasonality and extreme weather events affect the design and implementation of formal water institutions to ensure equitable and continuous drinking water access is largely unknown. Drawing on drinking-water and institutions literature, the aim of this thesis is therefore, to assess how local formal institutions in rural Malawi address equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households across seasons and extreme weather events. To deliver this aim, the study has three objectives: (i) determine the extent to which national water policy and institutional design incorporate equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households across seasons and extreme weather events; (ii) establish how well local formal water institutions implement policy and deliver equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households and; (iii) explore how seasonality and extreme weather events affect the ability of local formal water institutions to deliver equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households. Marginalised households refer to rural poor households, those lacking education and women. Using a case study of a rural watershed in Zomba District, guided by Ostrom’s Socio-Ecological Systems framework, the study uses mixed methods, including policy document analysis (n=41); key informant interviews with water officials and water executive committee members (n=17); analysis of secondary data from a household survey (n=306, dry season and n=311, wet season); focus group discussions (n=13) and participant observation in four villages. Zomba District was selected because it has low improved water access and is prone to floods and water disasters.

In relation to the three objectives, there are five key findings. In relation to the design of local formal water institutions: National Water Policy is not written to allow consideration of marginalisation and seasonality of drinking-water. In relation to local equitable access to water, the study reveals spatial inequalities and inequalities by socioeconomic characteristics at the local level (between villages and within the village). Surprisingly, some households experience access challenges during the rainy season, resulting in widespread use of unimproved water sources. Criteria for executive committee membership explicitly exclude vulnerable groups (i.e. illiterate people, who are mostly poor), inhibiting service delivery in marginalised areas. The national water policy emphasises community-based management of water that partly gives community water committees mandate to oversee borehole installation. However, water committees have inadequate technical knowledge and district level support to oversee installation of boreholes and other supply systems. Hence, water source failures are common leading to reduced access to drinking-water especially during the dry season and following extreme events.

The study concludes that a demand-responsive system for drinking-water provision does not serve those who are marginalised by geography and/or socio-economic status. Furthermore, it highlights that seasonality assessments are critical in monitoring service delivery outcomes in marginalised communities because they help to understand when marginalised groups face access challenges and to identify which subgroup is affected.
University of Southampton
Joshua, Miriam Dalitso Kalanda
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Joshua, Miriam Dalitso Kalanda
45bb3394-4ab4-4b30-8037-f1aeb9a54af4
Tompkins, Emma
a6116704-7140-4e37-bea1-2cbf39b138c3
Wright, James
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Suckall, Natalie R.
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Schreckenberg, Kate
307aecda-fa85-410b-a7ab-4a091afa25a4

Joshua, Miriam Dalitso Kalanda (2020) The role of formal institutions in delivering equitable drinking-water access across seasons and extreme weather events: a case study of Zomba District, Malawi. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 391pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Access to drinking-water is central to poverty eradication and food security, yet it remains a critical challenge for marginalised households. While water access is considered as a governance issue, gaps remain in the scholarship of how formal water governance institutions affect access to drinking-water among marginalised households in developing countries across seasons. The extent to which seasonality and extreme weather events affect the design and implementation of formal water institutions to ensure equitable and continuous drinking water access is largely unknown. Drawing on drinking-water and institutions literature, the aim of this thesis is therefore, to assess how local formal institutions in rural Malawi address equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households across seasons and extreme weather events. To deliver this aim, the study has three objectives: (i) determine the extent to which national water policy and institutional design incorporate equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households across seasons and extreme weather events; (ii) establish how well local formal water institutions implement policy and deliver equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households and; (iii) explore how seasonality and extreme weather events affect the ability of local formal water institutions to deliver equitable access to drinking-water for marginalised households. Marginalised households refer to rural poor households, those lacking education and women. Using a case study of a rural watershed in Zomba District, guided by Ostrom’s Socio-Ecological Systems framework, the study uses mixed methods, including policy document analysis (n=41); key informant interviews with water officials and water executive committee members (n=17); analysis of secondary data from a household survey (n=306, dry season and n=311, wet season); focus group discussions (n=13) and participant observation in four villages. Zomba District was selected because it has low improved water access and is prone to floods and water disasters.

In relation to the three objectives, there are five key findings. In relation to the design of local formal water institutions: National Water Policy is not written to allow consideration of marginalisation and seasonality of drinking-water. In relation to local equitable access to water, the study reveals spatial inequalities and inequalities by socioeconomic characteristics at the local level (between villages and within the village). Surprisingly, some households experience access challenges during the rainy season, resulting in widespread use of unimproved water sources. Criteria for executive committee membership explicitly exclude vulnerable groups (i.e. illiterate people, who are mostly poor), inhibiting service delivery in marginalised areas. The national water policy emphasises community-based management of water that partly gives community water committees mandate to oversee borehole installation. However, water committees have inadequate technical knowledge and district level support to oversee installation of boreholes and other supply systems. Hence, water source failures are common leading to reduced access to drinking-water especially during the dry season and following extreme events.

The study concludes that a demand-responsive system for drinking-water provision does not serve those who are marginalised by geography and/or socio-economic status. Furthermore, it highlights that seasonality assessments are critical in monitoring service delivery outcomes in marginalised communities because they help to understand when marginalised groups face access challenges and to identify which subgroup is affected.

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The role of formal institutions in delivering equitable drinking-water access across seasons and extreme weather events: a case study of Zomba District, Malawi - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Published date: 20 February 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442096
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442096
PURE UUID: 23cbedd3-df6a-4ec7-aa61-27c9b6dce1e2
ORCID for James Wright: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8842-2181

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Jul 2020 16:49
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:03

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: Emma Tompkins
Thesis advisor: James Wright ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Natalie R. Suckall
Thesis advisor: Kate Schreckenberg

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