Community-based innovation dynamics in the water supply and sanitation (wss)sector
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For most of the one billion people living in extreme poverty worldwide, access to an adequate water supply and basic sanitation (WSS) is limited, resulting in substantial health, economic and social burdens. Although the international community has actively explored solutions to this crisis, primarily focusing on bottom-up approaches in which the beneficiaries participate in the design and implementation of their own WSS solutions, significant problems remain. Innovation presents an important source of feasible solutions in this sector for those in need, but insufficient study exists to allow scholars to determine the dynamics that trigger WSS innovation. In light of the recent emphasis on a bottom-up approach to water issues and the dearth of analysis with regard to the role WSS innovation plays in seeking solutions, the present dissertation sets out to explore innovation dynamics in relation to the establishment of rural Water Supply and Sanitation Community-Based (WSS-CB). The answer comes through an application of a qualitative methodology that focuses on the implementation of two publicly-run and sustainability-oriented programs - the Blue Flag Ecological Program (BFEP) and the Sanitarian Quality Seal Program (SQSP) - in three rural communities in Costa Rica. A theoretical model based on the conceptual frameworks of Systems of Innovation (SI), Community Based/Community Management (CB/CM), and the Institutional Analysis Development (IAD) theory is proposed, including two set of hypotheses addressing the contribution of two independent variables, the participation of the community and the capacity of the community, to local sustainability and local learning. The results show that the dynamics relating to leadership and a sense of ownership do, in fact, affect both dependent variables and further identify participation and interaction at decision-making and social venues as innovation drivers.