Informal social accountability mechanisms for water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in childcare centres in Nairobi City County’s informal settlements
Social accountability for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is a critical component to realising child rights to WASH services by the urban poor, more so in childcare centres. Despite the existence of discrete social accountability mechanisms (SAMs) in informal settlements, informal SAMs rarely form part of strategic approaches to addressing social accountability challenges in access to WASH services in childcare centres.
The main objective of the study was to explore informal social accountability mechanisms for WASH in childcare centres in Korogocho and Viwandani informal settlements in Nairobi City County, Kenya. This qualitative study was an ethnography, where we administered governance diaries to 24 participants (parents and childcare managers) for 4 months. Data generated were analysed using a framework analysis derived from a principal-stewardship framework. Parents and centre managers, who are key actors for WASH services in childcare centres in informal settlements, relied on using informal SAMs. We identified three SAMs; (i) discretionary behaviours (rewards and sanctions, interpretation of rules and guidelines and peer mentorship); (ii) norms and values; and (iii) facilitative behaviours. The SAMs were interrelated and operated in synergy for access to WASH service by children in childcare centres. The SAMs for WASH used by parents and childcare owners in childcare centres encountered the following challenges; unrealistic expectations, negligence, conflicting expectations, conflicting agenda and administrative cultures, and tensions over performance standards and monitoring. Identified strategies for strengthening the SAMs included consistency in adhering to rules and guidelines for WASH service provision, and collaboration with strong WASH actors.
Data from this study suggest it is valuable to examine and understand SAMs as this then offers clear pathways to mitigate problems and enact change in the WASH service delivery for improved global agenda of SDG 4 and SDG 6. Further, there is potential for joint advocacy for improved WASH services throughout the informal settlement. While SAMs are often conceptualised as a formal process or an intervention, this study shows that existing daily informal SAMs play an important role in promoting or maintaining WASH service delivery. Therefore, WASH stakeholders need to revisit, co-develop and evaluate informal SAMs for WASH service delivery.
Ivy Chumo, Caroline Kabaria, Kanyiva Muindi, Helen Elsey, Penelope A Phillips-Howard, Blessing Mberu, Informal social accountability mechanisms for water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in childcare centres in Nairobi City County’s informal settlements, Urban Governance, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2022, Pages 259-269, ISSN 2664-3286,