This action research specificially focuses on the use of mobility technology in (community-based) monitoring of local public water points and its contribution towards learning and accountability with the final aim to improve (drinking) water service delivery and (health) outcomes. The main research questions are:
1) can ICT enhanced (community based) monitoring improve the existing M&E system in the rural water service sector? More specifically, can it improve the information flow and use for accountability and learning by different actors (water users, technical and political duty bearers at different levels), if so, why and in what way?
2) can ICT enhanced (community based) monitoring contribute to improving rural water services delivery (access, functionality, quality and use), if so, why and in what way?
3) can sharing of information between upstream and downstream water users potentially reduce conflicts among communities, if so, why and in what way?
To answer these research questions our action research will use a cross-sectional longitudinal research design. More specifically, we will compare (over time) the effect of the existing system of water monitoring (control) with two slightly different modalities of mobile water monitoring being implemented in highly similar villages of Mvomero district.
Data collection will rely upon mixed methods, including conventional survey, social network survey and qualitative data collection (observation, focus group discussions). Social network analysis will e.g. be particularly important in analyzing the (changes) in the characteristics of the information networks and the (changes) of the positions of stakeholders in the network as well as in the use of information by different actors involves (water users, technical staff, duty bearers at different levels).
As water quality might also be affected between the collection at the water point and the final consumption of drinking water at home by a variety of environmental and human-based factors, we will also test drinking water quality in a random sample of 100 households. Based on test outcomes, sensitization/prevention activities will be done on water treatment and its effects will be measured and analysed over time. In the analysis of the findings, particular attention will be given to the way in which the effects materialize, and the degree to which (influence) networks are important. Both structural features of networks (e.g. density of the network, degree of centralization, etc.) will be analysed as well as the positions of actors in the networks (and the links with their background characteristics, including gender, educational status, marital status, age, etc.). Insights into how networks might be important in spreading information might be particularly useful for future sensitization/prevention activities.