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International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 60, Issue 8, pp 977–986 | Cite as

Governance and functionality of community water schemes in rural Ethiopia

  • Kelly T. AlexanderEmail author
  • Yihenew Tesfaye
  • Robert Dreibelbis
  • Bekele Abaire
  • Matthew C. Freeman
Original Article

Abstract

Objectives

A key challenge for achieving universal water access in Sub-Saharan Africa is poor sustainability of water schemes. Previous studies have posited factors that may lead to failed schemes; however, empirical data are lacking.

Methods

We conducted direct observations of water sources and interviewed water committee members about governance in two regions of Ethiopia. Based on direct observation at each water point, and harmonizing previous research in the sector, we developed an ordinal measure of functionality. Among functional systems, linear regression models were used to assess changes in score or level of functionality against governance characteristics.

Results

Of 89 water schemes over 5 years old, 82 had sufficient data to receive a score. Higher functionality scores were associated with having good records, meeting regularly, financial audits, higher monthly fees, a paid caretaker and water committees with capacity to perform minor repairs.

Conclusions

Our continuous measure of functionality was simple to derive, objective and may be widely applicable for further studies assessing key indicators of sustainability.

Keywords

Water Governance Sustainability Functionality 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Girma Aboma of WaterAid, Ethiopia and Carlos Sanchez of Catholic Relief Services, Ethiopia for their contributions to this research. Roza Abesha Feyisa supported the fieldwork in SNNPR. The project was conducted in collaboration with the Millennium Water Alliance with the financial support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Susan Dundon of The Millennium Water Alliance provided comments to earlier versions of this manuscript. Thanks especially to Rachel P. Chase who lent us her statistical expertise.

Supplementary material

38_2015_675_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (186 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 185 kb)

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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly T. Alexander
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yihenew Tesfaye
    • 2
  • Robert Dreibelbis
    • 3
  • Bekele Abaire
    • 4
  • Matthew C. Freeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Department of AnthropologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  4. 4.Catholic Relief ServicesAddis AbabaEthiopia

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