DECENTRALISATION EQUALS PARTICIPATION? A CASE STUDY OF VILLAGE RESIDENTS´ CAPABILITIES TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF DRINKING WATER IN MAHOBA DISTRICT, UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA
Abstract: This study examined to what extent the decentralised drinking water management system in Mahoba district, Uttar Pradesh, India, is participatory. The central questions focused on how participation is taking place, what socio-political factors affect participation, and how the community members explain their capability to participate. Methodologically the study was interpretivist in nature and based on data gathered during independent qualitative field research that was carried out by the author from October to December 2011. A total of 33 semi-structured group and individual interviews were carried out. The research findings revealed that the current drinking water management system does not allow for proper participation for the majority of the stakeholders. This was due in part to ineffective formal institutions, a dysfunctional democratic system, corruption and unequal power-relations. The perception of the rural inhabitants was that proper participation was hindered by factors such as income inequality, gender, education and caste. The study concludes that to increase levels of participation it is imperative that the socio-political obstacles are recognised and that they are considered when designing policy.
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