‘The right to the city’ for marginalised communities through water and sanitation service projects
The introduction of water service programmes has significantly improved the delivery of Water and Sanitation Services to marginalised communities in Kenya. Since the implementation of the Kenya Water Act of 2002, enacted policies have resulted in communal ablution blocks and water kiosks in some of the more densely populated settlements. In the development of service provision programmes to improve access to water and sanitation, the social and cultural implications have yet to be addressed. To better understand the partnerships between the marginalised community and the political agencies that ensure improved allocation of resources, community participation should be addressed in the emerging water governance. The right to water is a key clause in the new constitution of Kenya and although this is a laudable recognition of citizens’ rights to basic services, this constitutional clause is yet to be fully implemented. The exclusion of social practices followed by marginalised communities results in limits in the promotion and implemention water and sanitation projects. The resulting lack of water and sanitation services decreases the internal capacities of community members and inhibits development. A natural and finite resource such as water, often taken for granted by most, is the foundation to improved places in a community. These places reflect social relations within the given society and provide a platform for interaction. When this engagement occurs, meaning in both physical and social boundaries between different communities that emerge, can help assert agency to marginalised groups. While a programme is used to define a space by regulating through building codes and standards, a community’s role is validated by the inclusiveness of the design process. Therefore the resultant project allows for a sense of agency to be built, while boosting interaction through learning programmes, to improve civic duties in the society. These aspects are crucial for development and can be achieved using allocation of basic services like water and sanitation. Grounded Theory is used to analyse the interviews from the respondents and it concerns itself with the meanings attributed to steps within processes. This approach is applicable when meanings attributed to macro-level explanations and micro-level activities need to be uncovered. The interviews conducted for this study are analysed line-by-line coding and memo writing. The data is used as a narrative of distinct processes in both marginalised communities and political agencies. Using the model of an agent the study illustrates the process of agency that highlights the role of marginalised communities in participatory approches toward equitable access to water and sanitaion services. The cases approached in this study further articulate the processes used by political agencies to engage in community participatory approaches. Though these participatory approaches were seen to be more inclusive than previous service delivery approaches, gaps emerged in the study that are addressed in the relationship matrix. This model distinguishes the differences in the production of space through Water and Sanitation Service programs, and the creation of place in implemented projects. By aligning these two aspects of the production of space when applied to marginalised settings helps in understanding the context prior to the implementation of WSS development programmes. This recognition of the role that marginalised communities play in socioeconomic development can improve programmes and projects aimed at providing water and sanitation services. This access is important to marginalised groups which are disadvantaged, because of a difference in their practices. By understanding the social practices around the use, management and safeguarding of water and sanitation projects, community members can begin to attach cultural value to their water resources. This has implications for the sustainability of the projects and their replicability. Therefore social practices, and by extension culture, influence the concept and design of programmes to enable access to water and sanitation resources, especially to marginalised groups in society.