Community Engagement and Water Program Sustainability

A Focus on the Kitui Rural Sub-County in Kenya

Master's Thesis, 2018
83 Pages







1.1 Study Background
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Research Objectives
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Assumptions of the Study
1.6 Justification of the Study
1.7 Significance of the Study
1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
1.9 Limitations of the Study
1.10 Conceptual framework
1.11Operational Definition of Terms

2.1 Critical Review of Relevant Theories
2.1.1 Empowerment Theory
2.1.2 Sustainability Theory
2.2 Review of Empirical Studies
2.2.1 Communication on Program Sustainability
2.2.2 Role of Community on Water Program Sustainability
2.2.3 Role of Program Implementers on Program Sustainability
2.2.4 Role of Infrastructure on Program Sustainability
2.3 Chapter Summary

3.1 Research Design
3.2 Site description, Study population and Target population
3.3 Sampling and Sampling Techniques
3.4 Methods and Instrument of Data Collection
3.5 Reliability and Validity
3.6 Data Analysis Procedures
3.7 Ethical Consideration of the Study

4.1 Response Rate
4.2 Presentation of Findings
4.3 Demographic Details of Participants
4.3.1 Gender Distribution
4.3.2 Age Distribution of Respondents
4.3.3 Categorization of Respondents
4.4 The Influence of Communication on Water Program Sustainability
4.5 The Role of Community on Water Program Sustainability
4.7 The role of Infrastructure on Water Program Sustainability
4.8 Chapter Summary

5.1 Summary of the findings
5.2 Recommendations



Figure 1.1: Conceptual Framework.

Figure 1: Categorization of Respondents

Figure 2: Mode of Communication

Figure 4: Community Contribution to Water Projects

Figure 5: Leadership Roles of Implementers

Figure 6: Leadership Styles

Figure 7: Infrastructure Breakdown

Figure 8: A cross tabulation of gender and Infrastructure


Table 1: Gender Distribution of Participants

Table 2: Age Distribution of Respondents

Table 3: Effectiveness of Oral Communication


Community engagement plays a vital role in ensuring sustainability of outcome and has become a buzz terminology in the global sustainability discourse. When communities are effectively engaged on a particular initiative, the outcome leads to mutual benefits and durability. With the growing interest in engagement strategies for sustainable outcomes the researcher has focused his attention on community engagement in relation to water program sustainability. The study adopted a mixed research approach and collected data from participants through random sampling method using questionnaires administered by the help of enumerators and in-depth interview with key informants. A sample size of 100 was applied and data was analyzed and presented using statistical tools and the findings and recommendations documented.


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In this chapter, the focus is to unpack the critical foundational sections to the study. This specifically refers to the background of the study, the statement of the problem as well as the aim and objectives of the study. The objectives are presented under two sections - the general and the specific sections. This chapter also looks at the research questions, the significance and the justification of the study. It also elucidates the conceptual framework, the scope, limitation and delimitation of this study. Finally, it covers the operational definitions of key terms in the study.

1.1 Study Background

Community Engagement (CE) is a multi-disciplinary subject which can mean different things to different people. This boils down to the context and field of study. In the Forestry industry, Dare, Schirmer, and Vanclay (2008) give their insight to the concept where they describe community engagement as “A wide range of activities in which stakeholders exchange information and negotiate mutually acceptable actions. These actions range from providing simple information signs on plantation boundaries to establishing multi-stakeholder dialogues that lead to joint action on issues such as game management or road funding”. In this context, the concept of community engagement takes on a rather reciprocal approach which purposed to give rise and support favorable outcomes for all involved.

Some scholars share their perspectives on the concept where they define it in the context of planning and decision making. Alternatively, there are others who find it fit to place greater emphasis on two-way processes and the role of community engagement in areas that are totally devoid of planning and decision making. Carson (2008) for example, premises his understanding of community engagement that aims to lay emphasis on interaction that is not tokenistic in nature. He further noted that community engagement cannot be simplified to merely revolve around the sharing of information, or listening to opinions via a survey or focus group discussions. It is more about a partnership whereby there is an overt call to communities to engage in brainstorming and joint decision making processes. This, according to him, inevitably leads to empowerment which is something that cannot be simply handed to a community, but one that can only emerge when ambient conditions are conducive for to it to flourish. The study adopted the definition of community engagement by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) which is; “The process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the wellbeing of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices” - Centre for Disease Control (CDC)(1997).

Countries and communities alike, including indigenous peoples, international institutions, national, state and local governments, academic institutions, business and civil society organizations from across the world, took part in the International Conference on Engaging Communities, held in Brisbane, Australia, from 15th to 17th August, 2005. The conference affirmed that community engagement plays a pivotal role to effective, transparent and accountable governance in the public, community and private sectors. The Brisbane conference further recognized that community engagement is a two-way process which involved on the one hand, ensuring that the aspirations, concerns, needs and values of citizens and communities are incorporated at all levels and in all sectors in policy development, planning, decision-making, service delivery and assessment. While on the other, it sought to play the role of advocacy whereby governments and other business and civil society organizations involved citizens, clients, communities and other stakeholders in these processes. This is to be done with the view that effective engagement generates better decisions, delivering sustainable economic outcomes, sustainable use of the environment as well as related social and cultural benefits (Brisbane Declaration, 2005). A human development report of 1993 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) underscored that “People's participation is becoming the central issue of our time". This therefore goes to point out that for a society to ensure that the benefits of community engagement projects are impactful, there is need to embrace social inclusion.

An account put forth by Rupesinghe (2016) on Strengthening Community Engagement in United Nations Peace Operations highlighted that engagement with communities has become a major concern and an important determinant for high level review of the organizations’ work. Rupesinghe further pointed out that a number of key reports such as the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, all lay emphasis on the need to develop approaches that are bottom-up and people-centered in nature. According to the author, the revivified zest by the supranational body to “put people first” comes against the backdrop of criticism of the United Nation’s state-centric approaches and its implementation of predefined peace building solutions that are viewed by the critics to often negate contextual particularities.

In India, institutions of higher learning have come up with a policy on community engagement best practices which are still, at best, modest in scale and often not a formal component of academic training of students. Nevertheless, this gives a rather concrete shape to partnerships between institutions and their host communities. This is particularly in view of the fact that both higher education and community play important roles in the modernization of a country’s human resource, and their interests are considered to have a natural affinity. This is according to the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (2006).

Experiences from other parts of the world have been used to justify calls for the above mentioned approach in Africa. For instance, the Caribbean, East Asia and East European countries have embraced decentralization as an important component of the development agenda and have fared better than Africa (Burki, 1991).

In Ghana, a report on community engagement on policy formulation revealed that, the National Water Policy and the National Environmental Sanitation Policy encouraged cooperation with communities. This therefore involved further spelling out of the principles that guide citizens’ involvement in the service delivery of Water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) (United States Agency for International Development, USAID, 2013).

The situation in Tanzania which historically is a socialist republic (Ujamaa) tends to corroborate the same. A research carried out by the World Bank (2014) on Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in World Bank Group Operations showed that, citizen engagement in service delivery, in particular health, education and water, can substantively impact the development project outcomes in a positive way. This eventually leading to better results. The same study which was also carried out in Uganda revealed that community monitoring of health clinics reportedly led to a significant reduction in infant mortality, increased in the use of outpatient services and further in-births attended by a skilled health professionals.

In the year 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution that targeted to bring development to the people as enshrined in Chapter 11 Article 174 (d). This specific section clearly recognizes the right of communities to take charge or manage their own affairs and to further promote the spirit of driving their development agenda (Constitution of Kenya COK, 2010). Kenya as a nation state has attempted two forms of decentralization. These are namely devolution and de-concentration. Under devolution, there is the delegation of authority to formally constituted government bodies to discharge specified /residual functions. These include healthcare, early childhood education (ECD), agriculture and extension among others. Under de-concentration however, there is the commitment to the actual delegation of authority to staff of central government ministries away from the direct control of the headquarters. These were previously located in the capital city (Nairobi) (Barkan and Chege, 1989). According to Maina (2005), decentralization attempts have mostly dealt with de-concentration of central government functions by bringing them to lower levels of governance and closer to the control of the common citizen.

A study carried out by Githinji (2013) on factors affecting sustainability of community based projects in Kitui County revealed that community engagement for sustainability were carried out through communities in a bid to ensure that the safeguarding the projects, provision of human resource, part financing, and most interestingly, program design. These are considered as being the central pillars to the achievement of program’s sustainability. In addition, they take into consideration the obvious fact that non-involvement of beneficiaries during the design stage of most intervention precipitates failure.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Effective community engagement which places beneficiaries at the heart of the decision making processes intended to make their lives better remains a major challenge to accelerating development. The very aspect of community engagement was equally viewed as a crucial element in the sustainability discourse which was expected to undergo a partial review in July of 2018. It is worth noting that the inability of most underserved communities to meaningfully maximize the benefits of well-meaning interventions due to partial engagement strategies, simply whitewashes the opinions of communities during stage managed community meeting sessions for the rolling-out of predefined programs. This has become an issue of concern and has caught the attention of many community engagement practitioners across sub-Sahara Africa. The current trend can be likened to a step forward and two backwards scenario. This thereby results in the waste of resources, thus rendering communities even more dependent than they were prior to such interventions. In the recent past, the Kitui County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) of 2017 pointed out that the lack of effective public mobilization and participation was one of the major challenges which have had a direct bearing on social service delivery, particularly water resources. This has been viewed as a major challenge for the Kitui County government and for intervening partners alike.

The County’s Human Development Index of 0.53, which falls below the national average of 0.56, shed light on a telling situation which requires attention. Notably, most residents tend to attribute this poor showing to difficulties in accessing water which in their view, when tackled, could serve to significantly boost local productivity beyond the currently reported levels. It is the view of the researcher that perhaps there is need for a study which aims at analyzing community engagement within the context of water program sustainability. This with a specific focus on the communication, infrastructure, the role of the community and program proponents and/or implementers. This may go a long way in providing solutions to this societal issue which continues to negatively impact the quality of life of the locals in the study hindering any progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number six, which is premised upon the provision of clean water and sanitation.

1.3 Research Objectives

The main objective of this study was to examine the role of community engagement in relation to water program sustainability in Kitui Rural sub-County, Kenya. The study specifically focused on the following objectives:

i. To establish the influence of communication on water program sustainability.
ii. To investigate the role of the community on water program sustainability.
iii. To determine the influence of program implementers on water program sustainability.
iv. To examine the role of infrastructure on water program sustainability.

1.4 Research Questions

i. How communication influences the sustainability of water programs in Kitui Rural Sub-County?
ii. How the role of the community impacts the sustainability of water programs in Kitui Rural Sub-County?
iii. How program implementers influence the sustainability of water programs in Kitui Rural Sub-County?
iv. How infrastructure affects the sustainability of water programs in Kitui Rural Sub-County?

1.5 Assumptions of the Study

The study assumed that there was limited involvement of beneficiaries during the planning and design stages of most well-meaning interventions. The resultant effect was that there was an increase the rate at which projects and programs became unsustainable. Another assumption of the study was based on the point that the host population in the study area would be receptive in providing truthful and important information that would be relevant in demystifying the relationship between community engagement and water program sustainability in Kitui Rural-Sub County. Thirdly the study worked within the assumption that there was genuine and comprehensive information collected from local administrators in charge of political sub divisions, relevant line ministries employees and heads of NGOs implementing water projects in the study area.

1.6 Justification of the Study

The study serves to bring out a number of important issues under the discourse of community engagement. First, this study is key to informing policy debates on matters or issues of sustainability linkages as well as contributes to the present literature on the discourse around community engagement and program sustainability in Kenya. Secondly, of keen interest to the study was that it also sought to explore and shed light on a myriad of areas that development actors on the continent could seize in a bid to improve the social-economic conditions of under-served and disadvantaged communities. This is in line with international obligations on effective community engagement for program sustainability.

1.7 Significance of the Study

According to the Kitui County Integrated Development Plan 2013/17 entitled “Planning for Sustainable Socio-Economic Growth and Development” the County is beset by a myriad development challenges that include: ineffective public mobilization and participation, insufficient human resource capacity, inequitable development and marginalization; among others. According to Population Action International (2014), the county is faced with “serious water scarcity challenges and recurring droughts have diminished water supply, rendering many rivers seasonal, and drying them completely.” The report also asserts that the County scores a dismal 0.53 on the Human Development Index (HDI) which falls below the national average of 0.56.

The significance of this study is that it will help bring out the salient issues as well as demonstrate the extent to which community engagement could actually influence water program sustainability and thus result to improved delivery of outcomes. The findings of the study may have exposed key attributes that could go a long way in improving the sustainability of funded initiatives, geared towards permanently improving the lives of people at the community levels. Work in this area has received less attention hence, the study will provide enormous benefits to policymakers, program managers, project coordinators, community members and any other practitioners engaged in development initiatives at the grassroots. This is because it would provide them with a broadened and enhanced perspective of the on-goings in terms of community engagement, the bottlenecks faced as well as solutions to surmount the above-mentioned.

1.8 Scope and Delimitation of the Study

Community engagement is more than just bring people together with the aim of soliciting their buy-in into an already pre-planned development initiative supposedly intended to improve their existing condition. It entails working collaboratively with and through groups of people to addressed issues affecting their well-being, building partnerships, systems and change relationships among partners - Centre for Disease Control (CDC)(1997).The study focused on how community engagement can be used in ensuring program sustenance. To this end, the study sought to analyzed various community engagement strategies with specific focus on water project initiatives, whose objectives are to ensure sustainability of efforts for the rural poor in Kitui Rural Sub-county and no place else. The research work focused its attention on specific variables of communication, infrastructure, role of the community as well as the role of program proponents in guaranteeing sustainability of efforts. This study focused mainly on water projects in Kitui Rural Sub-county in Kenya. The Sub-County has an estimated population of around 104,443 ( Respondents for sampling purposes were drawn from a cross section of the community and comprised of women, youth, community elders, members of water management committees and professionals who served as key informants. These provided in-depth views and opinions on the phenomenon. Those selected to for contribution to this study, were individuals drawn from Kitui Rural Sub-County only and no other. Data was collect during the months of June to July ending 2018. The criteria for participating in the study were limited to the community members who had lived in the Sub-county for two years and over.

1.9 Limitations of the Study

This study is limited in a number of ways ranging from its focus area, the problem it intends to address, location, sample size and methodology. With reference to the focus area, this study was limited to only community engagement in relation to water program sustainability. It was fixated on examining effective community engagement as a panacea to accelerating development which is not only resilient, but one that can serve the best interest of its beneficiaries. Kitui Rural Sub-County was the location of the study which comprised of four political sub-wards to include Kisasi, Mbutini, Yatta/Kwavonza ,Kayangi and no place else. The study data sets were collected between the period of June 15 and July 30th2018 and covered a targeted population of 104,443. The sample size of this study was one hundred (100) respondents based on the Glen Israel’s sampling table (1992). Respondents were sub-divided into ninety-two (92) community members and eight (8) key informants who were exclusively drawn from the identified communities. The study used a cross-sectional research design which provides only a snapshot of the population at a given time and was limited in terms of size of the population sampled.

1.10 Conceptual framework

The overall conceptualization of the study as depicted in the figure below, captures the relationship between the independent variables on the one-hand (Which comprised of communication, role of the communities, role program implementers and infrastructure), as well as the dependent variable on the other which is program sustainability. The figure illustrates how communication, role of the community, infrastructure as well as the role of program implementers influences program sustainability. The solid arrows denote a direct relationship between the independent and dependent variables. The dotted arrow shows a causal relationship between the independent and dependent variables. The intervening or mediating variable which captures perceptional factors such as the peculiar way of life of the people (beliefs, cultural and religion) as well as the prevailing political and economic conditions in the study area is hypothetical in nature. However, they could also have a positive or negative impact on the study outcome. In view of this, they are connected to the two main quantities of this study- the independent and dependent variables- by a dotted arrow which denotes a causal relationship.

Figure 1.1 Conceptual Framework

Independent Variable

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Source: Own Conceptualization 2018

1.11 Operational Definition of Terms

Community –This study defines community as an ear-homogeneous group of people with similar culture and ethnicity who live within close geographical proximity called wards.

Community Engagement CE) – CE in this study takes into account, how people are brought onboard and/or mobilized around water project initiatives in their locale for prolong serviceability.

Sustainability – This study defines sustainability as the processes which feed into ensuring communities can stand independently following a lapse in funds for water funded initiatives.

Communication – This study looks at the cycle of information is exchange between the program implementer and beneficiaries at various points in time.

Infrastructure –The study broadly defines infrastructure to encompass roads, communications, institutional framework and energy (solar, electric, wind, etc.)

Program managers/Implementers - These are visionary leader for the overall program. They articulate the goals and objectives of the program and how it will impact communities.

Common Mwananchi – A borrowed Swahili terminology which refers to the common man or individuals at the grassroots.

Barraza – A Swahili word meaning community meetings.




This chapter will examine the theoretical foundation of this study by highlighting the justification, strengths and weaknesses of the selected theories, as well as present relevant arguments based on empirical findings from reviewed literature and chapter summary.

2.1 Critical Review of Relevant Theories

The foundation of this study is rooted in the theory of empowerment associated with social scientists Douglas Perkins of the University of Utah and Marc Zimmerman of the University of Michigan in the USA. The second, is the theory of sustainabiliy linked with former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland- former head of the Brundtland Commission. Both theories fully anchor this study by complementing each other on the basis of empowering local communities, while at the same time ensuring that such efforts are sustained over time.

2.1.1 Empowerment Theory

Simon (1994), as quoted by Calvès (2009), claimed that the term “Empowerment” has been in use since the 1970s and was popularized by the account of Barbar Solomon on Black Empowerment. “Empowerment refers to principles, such as the ability of individuals and groups to act in order to ensure their own well-being, or their right to participate in decision-making that concerns them, that have guided research on and social intervention among poor and marginalized populations for several decades in the United States” (Simon 1994).

The concept of empowerment can be viewed from a two dimensional perspective. It involves either familiarizing oneself with the norms and culture for working in a community, or a theoritherical construct to understanding the different procedures which feed into decision making that affects the overall quality of life for that community. (Perkins & Zimmerman, 1995; Rappaport, 1981; Zimmerman & Warschausky, 1998).The main proponents of empowerment as a theory are Douglas Perkins of the University of Utah and Marc Zimmerman of the University of Michigan in the USA.The theory links individual well-being with the larger social and political environment and puts forward the argument that people need opportunities to become active participants in their community’s decision-making processes for the betterment of their conditions. Swift and Levin ( as cited in Hassett, 2006), suggests that the theory essentially merges processes and outcomes together and puts forward the argument that actions, activities and structures are empowering and the outcomes of such interactions may lead to a level of being empowered regardless.

The construct of empowerment at the community level of analysis posts that collective action is necessary in improving the standards of living for all. It contends that an empowered community is one in which people take upon themselves to improving standards within their community and encourages involvement in such actions. Perkins et, al. (1998) further argued that empowerment at the community level of analysis also takes into account the interconnectedness of various structures at the community level, the extent to which they collaborate in solving issues ranging from health care, communal security, access to resources - regardless of status and participatory leadership style that takes citizens view, concerns and contribution into account. The theory is an important concept in community thinking but cannot be an end in itself.

Critics argued that in certain instances, it could be used as an escape strategy for institutions responsible for providing key sevices to shift the liabilities onto to communities themselves as the ones responsible for their own situation. They also dismiss the usefulness of the concept on the basis of its unquantifiable nature noting that, “empowerment is only of intrest to the extent that it results in some other outcome” (Zimmerman, 2015). Calvès (2009) in citing (Oxaal and Baden1997; Bebbington, Lewis, Batterbury, Olson, and Siddiqi 2007) noted that the term empowerment is “Without any clear definition, empowerment has become a vague goal, a fashionable term that is impossible to implement in the field.” The author further claimed that “for many authors, especially feminists, the word “empowerment” has been “taken hostage” by development agencies – whether multilateral, bilateral, or private – and stripped of its original emphasis on the notion of power.”The context and level of analysis in which empowerment takes place at the community level seamlessly anchors this study. Particularly in terms of its collectiveness in achieving successful ends as well as its ability to allow individuals and groups the space to ensure their own well-being. However, tenets of this theory fell short of suggesting ways of sustaining such outcomes. Hence, the need for a complimentary theory.

2.1.2 Sustainability Theory

According to (Paul, 2008), the history of the sustainable development theory can be traced from more than two hundred years ago when questions were raised regarding the impact of the evolution of our civilization on the resources of our planet and the environment. Thomas Robert Malthus in 1978 predicted that the world’s population would, at some point, out pace its capacity to produce food simply because production levels could not keep up with the increasing population. Malthus wrote that “population, when unchecked, increased in a geometrical ratio with subsistence for man in an arithmetical ratio (Rogers, 2008, p. 20)”. His argument was however been disproved with the advancement in technology.

According to Jenkins (2008), the term sustainability in the literal sense of the word refers to the capacity to maintain something, an outcome or a process over time. The argument put forward by the scholar suggests that in its contemporary use, sustainability is defined in terms of environmental considerations and its impact on healthy economic, ecological and social systems. The theory of sustainability seeks to bring into harmony our desire to meet our current needs on the one hand and the consideration for future needs on the other.

It can be subdivided into which include economic, ecological, political and/or social models. The economic model is concerned with fostering natural and financial capital while the ecological model looks at issues pertaining to biodiversity. The political model takes into account the social systems necessary for the realization of human dignity - Willy (2008). It is important to note, that religion is also converging on the issue and is becoming a critical part of the debate - by illuminating change by linking respect for the environment and respect for its inhabitants. The all-encompassing nature of the concept of sustainability which brings into focus society’s economic, political and ecological dependency into moral consciousness reinforces this point.

The term, in the writing of the scholar, can be used to proffer arguments in favor of and against climate change, social spending and environmental protection. Hence, “finding a standard definition seems elusive”. The scholar remarked that in view of this contention, critics tend to rebuff the concept of sustainability as vague, conceptually meaningless, and prone to several interpretations to be of value, Jenkins (2008).

Paul (2008), in his literature review on the history of sustainability claimed that, “some critics argue that the Brundtland Commission Report’s discussion of sustainability is both optimistic and vague.” Paul (2008) noted that “ Others are even more critical: “Mrs. Brundtland provided a slogan behind which first world politicians with green electorates to appease, and third world politicians with economic deprivation to tackle, could unite. The formula was of course vague, but the details could be left for later (Benton, 1994)” (p. 129). However, it is clear that discussions around sustainable development was necessary and needed to be initiated. The all-inclusiveness of the sustainability theory couple with its capacity to maintain outcomes and processes over time fully anchors this study.

2.2 Review of Empirical Studies

In this research, review of empirical literature is done thematically and systematically from global, continental, regional, national and local levels identifying gaps after every review. The thematic subject areas will cover communication, infrastructure, and the role of Community and program implementers on water Program Sustainability in the study area.

2.2.1 Communication on Program Sustainability

Panos London (2007), on the case of communication in sustainable development, contends that effective communication in program communication is hindered by the situation of simply vocalizing what needs to be done verses achieving the same which can be an uphill task to accomplish. He noted that for leaders to ensure the establishment of the rule of law and sound responsive political systems, the governing process must not only improve sustainable and equitable economic growth, but must also become a hallmark. The civil society must be allowed to operate in a supported environment.

Although this writer highlighted the significance of not simply stating but actually doing what is required to ensure effective communication in programs, he did not explain how effective communication influences programs in a devolved system like Kitui County. This study will examine the role of effective communication in program sustainability.

In Malaysia, a study conducted by Lee and Chuan (2012) on communicating environmental sustainability revealed that, employees of a certain company demonstrated increased awareness on environmental sustainability issues and cited email as their preferred channel for receiving information about environmental sustainability. This was due to its convenience, environmental-friendliness and ease of access. However, the context in which the above study was carried out is far removed from the proposed study area which is not versed in technology and therefore a communication as well as a technological lacuna.

A study by Owusu (2014) on the role of communication in sustaining development projects: The Case of Ejura Sekyedumase Municipality in Ghana revealed that “the absence of participatory communication in some of the projects did not help implementers understand the challenges the community goes through in maintaining such developmental projects thus come together to find solutions to them.” The researchers were therefore of a very strong opinion, that the argument advanced in the writings of Mefalopolus, (2004) as cited by Owusu (2014) that, by ensuring communities and implementers have a common understanding of set goals and objectives while at the same time building trust amongst each other, communication can become an important channel in ensuring community participation and entrenching tenets of program sustenance and durability. Although the setting of this research finding is different from the proposed study area, the position of the author on participatory communication in the Ghanaian context brings to light ways in which communication can lead to program sustainability. The current study sought to bring out details of the relationship between communication and program sustainability in Kitui Rural Sub-County, Kenya.

Benita (2014) on the impact of communication skills on sustainable and green project management in South Africa, using a Likert scale, ranked the skill of leadership first above all else and that a project manager must have to enhance and ensure communication. The research ranked decision-making and problem solving skills set second with listening and motivation third. Communication and reflecting was ranked fairly important.

Although respondents in this study viewed leadership as the most important, it is also worth noting that project managers need to be leaders, who are able to communicate effectively for the success of a given initiative. Additionally, the above study, reported a response rate of 32% which is less than adequate for a social science research as recommended by Mugenda and Mugenda (2003). The co-authors (Mugenda & Mugenda, 2003) were of the opinion that a response rate of fifty, sixty and seventy and over were adequate, good and very good respectively.

USAID (2014) exposed that in spite of efforts made by both the public and private sectors in Liberia to improve its telecommunication infrastructure. Communication remains a challenge in terms of capacity and spread. The report highlighted that with just about 25 kilometers of fiber optic cabling for high speed internet, compounded by the influx of technology-enabled emergency responders into the country, the system may not be able to cope. Relief operations are fraught by discontinuous network coverage, late delivery of text messages as well as interruptions in the movement of cash via mobile platforms. The case presented by the author is analogous, in more ways than one, to the study area which has limited fiber penetration in place and interrupted network coverage due to topographical impediments.

In the Ugandan context, information and communication technology awareness and connectivity turbulence remains a challenge. The absence of governments’ commitment across Africa coupled with honest political will to address such limitations, which could reverse this appalling trend, continues to impede development and the achievement of major goals on the continent.(Okaka, 2008). Although the researcher’s work is tilted entirely towards environmental policy awareness and environmental related projects, the difficulties highlighted are comparable to Kitui. This current study will examine different types of projects and will not be limited to environmental related project. It will also cover the subsequent contribution of communication in ensuring the sustainability of development programs.

Mlage (2014) in her unpublished work on sustainability of donor-funded community development projects in Tanzania: case of farmer group investment sub-project in Morogoro district, found out that, more that 50% of her respondents agree on the need for projects to have development indicators to measure success. From the study, however, it is not clear what indicators were in place for those specific projects.


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Community Engagement and Water Program Sustainability
A Focus on the Kitui Rural Sub-County in Kenya
Catholic University of Eastern Africa  (Arts and Social Sciences)
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community, engagement, water, program, sustainability, focus, kitui, rural, sub-county, kenya
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Michael Sitawa (Author)Ransford Moore (Author)Dr Johnson Mavole (Author), 2018, Community Engagement and Water Program Sustainability, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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