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Adopting a resilience lens in managing decentralized water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Climate change and increased pressure on water resources through urban and peri-urban population growth present some major uncertainties to the sustainable provision of good quality water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, particularly to small-scale decentralized systems which are considered more vulnerable compared to centralized systems. The concept of “resilience” could be useful when dealing with such uncertainties. It deals with planning for shocks and stressors which could help address long-term water security and sanitation challenges. The aim of this research is to explore the relevance of the concept of resilience in dealing with uncertainties for decentralized WASH systems. Through literature review, interviews (n=22) and group discussions (n=18), the relevance of the 7 resilience principles, developed by SRC, to WASH planning for decentralized systems was explored. WHO community water and sanitation planning guidelines were reviewed to determine how resilience could add useful aspects to management of decentralised WASH systems. 

Results showed that the resilience concept is important in planning and management of decentralized WASH systems, since, with the resilience principles as a basis, there is potential to involve different stakeholders to share knowledge, skills and resources across multiple scales. The three resilience principles considered most important from the 7 SRC resilience principles for decentralized WASH were identified as: 1) Broadening participation, 2) Maintenance of diversity and redundancy, and 3) Management of slow changing variables and feedbacks. Other important WASH aspects missing from the resilience principles were: 1) Contextuality, 2) Accountability, 3) Equity and human rights, 4) Monitoring and maintenance, 5) Resource capacity.

Two case studies served as examples of how decentralized WASH systems are managed in a high-income country (Värmdö, Sweden) and  a low/middle income country (MSETO, Kenya). In both cases, applied resilience principles were identified together with areas of improvement. With reference to resilience, Värmdö municipality showed strength in the flow of information (connectivity) between actors but lacked integrated WASH planning guidelines and diversity of water supplies. The MSETO project exhibited strength in overlapping responsibilities (polycentric governance) but lacked management of slow changing variables and feedbacks, linked to the lack of adequate re-sources.

The analysis of WHO Water Safety Plans and sanitation safety planning guidelines through the resilience framework revealed that the WHO guidelines have a heavy focus on technical aspects and lack an integrated approach involving polycentric governance and complex adaptive system thinking. There is need for the revision of the guide-lines to incorporate community social aspects, strategies of improving water availability and consideration of complex adaptive systems thinking. Municipalities and practitioners are recommended to consider resilience principles as well as the identified missing aspects in WASH planning and interventions. Further research is needed investigating necessary conditions for the application of resilience principles and important trade-offs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 85
Series
TRITA-ABE-MBT ; 18472
Keywords [en]
resilience, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), decentralized systems, small-scale, WASH planning
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-236974OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-236974DiVA, id: diva2:1257853
Educational program
Degree of Master - Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Infrastructure
Presentation
2018-06-08, Sahara, Teknikringen 10B, E-100 44, Stockholm, Sweden, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-01-07 Created: 2018-10-22 Last updated: 2019-01-07Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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