Participatory Rural Appraisal

CASE STUDY – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Gender and social dynamics of water management committees in Budikadidi: A qualitative participatory rapid appraisal

Data Analysis

Thematic Analysis


To support the governance of newly constructed water points, Budikadidi has formed and supported seven-member water management committees (WMCs) who oversee springs and boreholes in the communities of focus. These committees are responsible for the governance of the water points including fee collection, maintenance, and creating rules for their use. 

This study was a partnership between Budikadidi and PRO-WASH using tools found in the online qualKit – an online toolkit of qualitative assessment tools for projects exploring gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in WASH interventions. 

This study is one of six collaborative coaching partnerships between USAID funded activities and the PRO-WASH focused on assessments of GESI and WASH in programs and strengthening confidence in conducting qualitative assessments.

Assessment Objective

  • To understand the gender dynamics of the water user committee
  • To clarify what can be done to support the committees going forward.

Theoretical Framework

The study drew on a three-part framework of inclusive and effective water user committees: functionality, participation and engagement (Agarwal 2001,van Wijk-Sijbesma 1985).

Data Collection

This study used a form of a participatory rapid appraisal included in the qualKit. The qualKit is an online toolkit to support the exploration of gender and social inclusion outcomes in WASH programs.

The rapid appraisal utilised participatory and interactive focus groups conducted in October 2022. The study instruments explored each aspect of the functionalityparticipationengagement framework through a series of group discussion questions and pocket voting. Pocket voting allowed each participant to express their personal views and perspectives. Participants were given 10 stones and could vote on how well different aspects of the committee worked for them – 10 being perfectly, 1 being poorly.

Focus groups were conducted in french by two WASH Promoters working with the focus zones of the study. The promoters took notes during the focus groups and recorded pocket voting responses. Upon return to their duty-stations promoters then filled in a summary document with responses for each discussion topic, pocket voting results and key quotations. Responses were then translated using automatic translation software from English to French for analysis.

Data Analysis

Content analysis (on the discussion responses) and descriptive statistics (on the pocket voting responses) were completed on the translated results. Responses were compared between the male and female groups for each committee. Results and insights were then compiled into the aspects of the functionalityparticipationengagement framework and reviewed by the Budikadidi team. Lastly, the team classified the participation and engagement of women in each of the four water user committees.

Utilising Results

In the next phase of the program, the team wants to: 

  • Identify opportunities to better communicate the value of the committee and fee system to communities and to new-community joiners. 
  • Identify ways to build confidence for women in leadership positions – such as networks, capacity strengthening and individual coaching. 
  • Support committees in structuring committee meetings to ensure timing is managed.
  • Consider rebranding the committee’s organisational structure to give each member a substantive role and rotate meeting chair positions. 
  • Document and promote the staged inclusion approach (supporting women with less reproductive household roles) that Budikadidi has successfully adopted. 
  • Future research could explore the incentive for being a committee member.

Key Findings

Committee Functionality

  • All committees described significant challenges with community members in the collection of fees and management of the water points. 
  • Women were less likely than men to agree that the committee is well functioning.
  • There is a need for improved community trust on fund management. The current process of reporting on financial status during the general assembly seems not enough to gain the community’s trust. This could be because corruption and funds mismanagement is pervasive in DRC.

Participation and Engagement 

  • In these committees, Budikadidi has done a good job of engaging women who are in a life-stage (without small children at home) to best support the committees. None of the committees had nominal or passive engagement of women. 
  • Women in leadership roles were less likely to agree that women could do these roles well, indicating a potential lack of confidence and/or capacity.
  • Gender differences were seen in engagement aspects such as communication, meeting time, location, and seating arrangements; however in some cases these were worse for men than women.

Outputs (coming soon)

  • Learning Brief in English and French