Quantifying the Impact of Community Social Capital on Sustainable Development in Uganda: The influence of water user committees in mitigating deterioration of household access to safe water
Abstract: Background: while access to safe water in Uganda increased between the early 1990s and 2010, current studies are showing that many safe water sources are not being properly maintained and so end up being abandoned. Since the maintenance of safe water sources is under the jurisdiction of water user committees (WUCs), this study seeks to measure the ability of water user committees in mitigating a deterioration in access to safe water. The overall aim is to explore the impact of social capital (represented by the WUCs) on sustainable development (represented by changes in access to safe water). Methodology: Household level data was obtained from the most recent Uganda National Panel Survey (2013/2014). The survey collected information on 3,123 households, and this paper’s data was taken from section 9 of the survey- Housing Conditions, Water and sanitation, which has 3119 cases. The types of analysis conducted were descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, mood’s median test and ordinal logistic regression. Findings: ten and 35 percent of households reported a deterioration and improvement, respectively, and 54.7 reported no changes in access to safe water. Households in communities with WUCs were found to be 52 percent less likely (OR=0.48, p-value <0.05, 95% CI from 0.42 to 1.03) to report a deterioration in access to safe water. However, the added advantage of having a WUC does not change the probability of reporting a deterioration in a major way since the estimated probability of reporting a deterioration when there is a WUC is just below 10 percent, and without a WUC is just above 10 percent. Discussion and Conclusions: local water management through WUCs is a weak contributor to sustainability of safe water access in the context of Uganda. The results indicate that the influence of a WUC seems to be limited. The government and NGOs need to play a more prominent role in helping communities maintain their water sources through more innovative approaches, such as copayments.
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