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Governmentality, participation and the promise of empowerment: a case study of WaterAid’s Community WASH Management (CWM) programmes in Nigeria

Yusuf, T. S. (2018) Governmentality, participation and the promise of empowerment: a case study of WaterAid’s Community WASH Management (CWM) programmes in Nigeria. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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With the advent of the participatory development era, Community Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) management (CWM) has been lauded as a viable way of ensuring the sustainability of development projects through the participation of communities in the provision of WASH services. CWM is in theory a programme of empowerment which in keeping with liberal rationalities of government seeks to promote the active participation of beneficiaries in WASH management (Dean, 2010). There is a growing number of literature that studies participation through the analytical lens of governmentality reflecting a need to look at the micro-physics of power as manifested in the processes of governing participation in specific contexts. However, a large number of these studies are Eurocentric. Drawing from extant scholarship on the governmentality of participation, the thesis examines the extent to which the strategies, procedures and technologies adopted by WaterAid in promoting Community WASH Management (CWM) are based on advanced liberal programmes of empowerment which aim to shape the conduct of aid recipients to create active subjects of participation towards neoliberal objectives. This study examines the rationality as well as the governmental technologies deployed by WaterAid in eliciting local participation and empowerment in two of its CWM projects in Nigeria. The case study projects are the Sustainable Total Sanitation Project (STS) partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the HSBC Water Programme (HWP) funded by the HSBC Bank. The expected combined coverage of the two projects are about six states, twenty two local governments, 105 communities and 800,000 rural inhabitants. The study employed a realist governmentality approach by combining a text based analysis with a grounded ethnographic research of governmental practices (Rosol, 2014). Participant interview, key informant and focused group discussions was used to collect data for the study. The thesis found that WaterAid is influenced unintentionally by a neoliberal governance regime which looks to shift responsibility away from states, looks to actors independent of the state to provide services normally associated with the state, such as the operation and maintenance of water infrastructure, and also to attempt to get village residents to bear some of these responsibilities. The governmentality of participation and empowerment in Nigeria represents less of state’s governing from a distance but more of a unique case of INGOs attempting to govern through the state. WaterAid is attempting to enact WASH governance through the state. But as the empirical data shows, this just doesn't really happen, there is no teleological unfolding of neoliberal governmentality, because the WASH units within the LGAs do not manage fully to capture or control government-related functions and capacities related to provision of WASH services. Empowerment is not happening in the way that WaterAid would envisage. Neither are local people becoming subjects in processes of neoliberal governmentality. While the thesis describes the various frustrations with doing development through the state detailed in the absence of resources, the limited capacity of LGA staff, their complacency and poor attitude to work, the inability of state institutions to make funds available for WASH services and the failure of LGAs and communities to provide counterpart funds, INGOs are still no substitute for a state with both capacity and resources. Under resourced NGOS like WaterAid in combination with very rural poorly resourced villages with rural dwellers riddled with various socioeconomic challenges cannot afford to build the kind of WASH infrastructure that the Nigerian government finds itself unable to build. Despite the challenges of implementing partnership with the state, such partnerships still remain the only way to have a larger impact in the provision of WASH infrastructure in Nigeria. This entails a shift from donor project structures to working within state systems (Mosse, 2005). This thesis shows that governmentality has expanded purchase when it comes to understanding the behaviours and strategies of NGO actors like WaterAid. It is also a valuable resource for understanding the relationship between states and non-state actors and for studying multi actor networks. The complexities, predicaments and contestations associated with real life situations are however not taken into account by studies of NGOs and governmentality. Scholars of governmentality working on NGOs need to be giving more nuanced accounts of the conditions required for processes and power relations entailed by governmentality to get a purchase in the ways people come to organise their lives, and the internalised norms on which they base such organisation. Governmentality theory can add considerable value to the study of CWM and other policies related to WASH as demonstrated in this study. To provide more nuanced accounts, it should be combined with other analytical approaches like institutionalism and constructivism (Merlingen, 2011)

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Okereke, C. and Boyd, E.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:78787
Date on Title Page:2016


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