Gujarat and Kerala, India

In Gujarat, the Netherlands Government assisted a water and sanitation project to bring clean water to villages and increase sanitation within these settlements. In Phase I of the project, there was little to no community involvement which led to poor use of the constructed facilities and the continuation of past defecation habits.  Due to this lack of awareness, community involvement was introduced six years later during the second phase of the project through village committees called Pani Panchayats (PPs).  However, the initial absence of the PPs caused the group to have trouble defining their role, a struggle which served to demonstrated their lack of effectiveness to the community and Water Board that planned, constructed, and maintained facilities.  Since the PPs did not effectively build awareness only 50% of the community used the newly installed latrines.

Similar to the efforts in Gujarat, the state Kerala in India also implemented a water and sanitation system to improve both accessibility to water and sanitation standards. The Kerala project approach differed from Gujarat in that the state integrated community participation from the beginning by hosting village meetings before the project began.  Community involvement continued as the villagers actively participated in location decisions, health training, and building further awareness. The continuation of involvement improved the villagers’ understanding of the project, allowing them to propose suggestions tailoring the solution to fit community needs.  Unlike Gujarat, the community members of Kerala were very enthusiastic and had a strong understanding for the project by completion.  The early participation from the community and decision to let the villages choose the location of latrines lead to 80% utilization of the sanitation systems.

These two examples demonstrate that building awareness allows community members to better understand project initiatives.  The two case studies also demonstrate that community participation leads to a further understanding of what the community needs are, and the options for providing the best possible solution. Involvement practices raise basic understanding of the project, its importance, and what the outcome the project has to offer.



Manikutty, S. (1998). Community Participation: Lessons from Experiences in Five Water and Sanitation Projects in India. Development Policy Review, 16(4), 373-404