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Utrecht University (2021)

Beyond the buzzwords : Sustainability and gender dynamics of a rural town water supply system in Lemi, Ethiopia

Neuhaus, H.T.

Titre : Beyond the buzzwords : Sustainability and gender dynamics of a rural town water supply system in Lemi, Ethiopia

Auteur : Neuhaus, H.T.

Université de soutenance : Utrecht University

Grade : Master thesis International Development Studies 2021

Résumé
In the past 30 years NGOs in Africa transformed themselves from idealism-driven philanthropic organizations into globally acting international development agencies. Today, humanitarian organizations receive increased funding from institutionalized donors such as governments and international organizations. Despite the constant use of buzzwords for longterm goals like „sustainability“ and „empowerment“ in their communication, these organizations are under immense pressure to deliver quick results and satisfy their donors needs in order to exist. The upward accountability towards donor institutions is contradictory to the NGOs self-proclaimed closeness to „the poor“. This thesis examines how an NGO seek ensure sustainability of a water project funded by the German government. As a practical example a field research in the rural town Lemi in Amhara Region, Ethiopia was conducted where the German NGO „Menschen für Menschen“ (MfM) constructed in 2018 a rural town water supply system. The data for this research was collected through the review of policy documents and qualitative research among beneficiaries, WASH committee members and NGO staff. The research has identified discrepancies between NGOs assumptions of sustainability as well as female empowerment and the reality in the field. MfM is using participatory approaches (i.e. involvement of the community, trainings etc.) to create a sense of responsibility and ownership among the community in Lemi. However, the technocracy and usage of blueprint approaches in order to complete the project in the given time and financial frame doesn’t ensure a longterm operation of the water supply system. Furthermore the NGO assumes that the improved access to water and the involvement of women in the resource management will strengthen their standing in the community. The approach of MfM to involve women in water supply related duties has not had a significant empowering effect (in the Freirean sense) because for them this was seen as a necessary service for the community. However, the technical failure of the water project and the setback for the women, triggered unexpected forms of social transformation

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