An Institutional Account of Public Service Reforms: A Case Study of Civic Engagement in Water and Sanitation in Tanzania#

This brief snapshot key findings from an explanatory qualitative case study that examined the role of civic engagement (CE) in the evolving systems for providing water and sanitation (WATSAN) services in Tanzania. This issue is timely because after more than a decade of implementing civic engagement reforms little is known of how: One, the public participates in the formulation of the reforms and in implementation processes, and Two, the influence, if any, of the community on service provision. The study adopted a case study of water and sanitation of Kawe ward, a local authority area in Kinondoni, Tanzania. It drew on the literature on public service reforms, civic engagement and historical institutionalism to provide an in-depth, qualitative, rich description of public service reforms, civic engagement and the interactions between civic and organisational actors in defining the provision of water and sanitation services in the case study area. Fieldwork for the study was conducted between March and July 2014. Overall, the study established the following two key findings: ■ Policy prescriptions for civic engagement in water and sanitation are less than clear. Profound rule ambiguities define the institutional frameworks and processes that produce mixed effects in how civic engagement influences service provision in water and sanitation. ■ Reform design in water and sanitation in Tanzania suggests that not enough collective attention has been paid to the conditions required to make civic engagement and other wider reforms more effective.