Loughborough University
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The development of the rural water supply and sanitation sector in Zimbabwe between 1974 and 1987: the design and impact of donor supported projects

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posted on 2010-11-02, 13:58 authored by Robert Arthur Boydell
Although the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade has generated great interest from foreign aid donors, its impact. in terms of increased service levels has been poor. These disappointing results have been explained by the UN and other donors in terms of inadequate funding and lack of cost recovery, poor operations and maintenance, lack of personnel, unacceptable technology, poor logistics and non involvement of the beneficiaries. However, an alternative explanation revolves around factors contributing to poor project design. These include the lack of understanding of the development process, donor bias and self interest, and poor coordination and commitment by the recipient government. A review of the development and trends of contemporary aid philosophy and its translation in to rural development and water and sanitation projects, which led to the launch of the IDWSSD, provides a number of lessons that can be used to formulate a hybrid model for project design and the sector development process, that defines the relative roles of donors, recipient governments and people themselves. The model is based on coordinated development, community participation, and sector growth from pilot projects to large scale programmes. The developments in the rural water and sanitation sector that took place in Zimbabwe from 1974 to 1987, provide a unique opportunity to test this model using a systems analysis approach. After gaining Independence in 1980, Zimbabwe's development assistance funding grew tenfold with the influx of foreign donors, and major commitments were made by the new Government to rural development and the goals of the IDWSSD. However, the large investments in water and sanitation which included the preparation of a national master plan with external technical assistance, had both positive and negative impacts on the continuing development of the sector, the start of which can be traced back, well before Independence, to small pilot projects sponsored by non government organizations that used appropriate technology developed by the Rhodesian Government. This development process and the changing approach to project design is illustrated by a series of case studies of projects supported by multilateral and bilateral donors, and non government organizations, that were milestones during this period. Finally the project and sector development model is modified based on the practical lessons from Zimbabwe and recommendations for future practice are made together with suggestions for areas of further research.



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  • Geography and Environment


© Robert Arthur Boydell

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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