Sub-theme 10. Local institution building and radical futures for the commons
How Does Institutional Empowerment Affect Public Participation in Water Governance
Institutional supports are a common mechanism to stimulate the government to engage the public to participate in governing commons. Chinese central government has carried out River Chief System as a water regulation policy from top to bottom since 2018 when facing severe water pollution. It shows that institutional empowerment can also affect public engagement. It is essential to examine whether institutional empowerment enables the public to participate in local water governance and explore the impact degree of willingness, action, frequency, and other factors of public participation. Meanwhile, it could be interesting to analyze the interaction mechanism or effect of institutional empowerment with relevant elements, like neighbor influence and community unity degree, in different levels from macro to micro, like at individual, organizational, and community levels, and so on. Both qualitative and quantitative research are welcome in this panel to investigate these research questions. If you want to address even more exciting aspects of this theme, please submit it to our panel. We will share brilliant ideas and try to provide guidance to advance public participation in water governance together.
Topics include but are not limited to:
- theoretical development of institutional empowerment to public participation in water governance
- important factors/dimensions of institutional empowerment to public participation in water governance
- challenges or chances of institutional empowerment to public participation in water governance
- interaction mechanism of institutional empowerment to public participation in water governance
- institutional design/management/modification of institutional empowerment to public participation in water governance
1. The role of social network embeddedness and collective efficacy in encouraging farmers’ participation in water environmental management
Northwest A&F University, China
Water environmental management (WEM) has a significant influence on the global ecological balance. As an institutional innovation, the River Chief System (RCS) in China has achieved a positive short-term impact in addressing water environmental problems. However, its effects are limited in rural China. As a type of public good, the rural WEM demands the active participation not only of government but also of farmers. Based on the social cognitive and social network theory, this study empirically investigates how rural social networks promote farmers’ participation in WEM. Using the survey of 860 farmers in the Yellow and Yangtze River Basin, we employ the double-hurdle model (D-H-M) to craft the primary assessment. The results show that the social network embeddedness facilitates farmers’ participation in WEM directly. Collective efficacy plays a full mediation role in the relationship between social network embeddedness and farmers’ participation. Moreover, the perceived role of village leaders affects the relationship between social networks and farmers’ participation. Our research enriches the application of social network theory in the rural social context and offers an innovative approach to solving farmers’ participation problems in WEM.
2. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation for Water Security: Case Studies from India
Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure Fellow, India
In traditional top-down programmes for water security and drought resilience, the communities are often reduced to being mere end-users with a complete lack of involvement in the planning, selection, construction and management of the systems created, which can be a result of the rigidity of participation and monitoring processes. We analyse the role of participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E) models in building institutional resilience in governance of water commons to build climate resilience in arid regions in western India. The first model is Social Audits, a participatory M&E method institutionalised in India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGA), a large rural public works program in India which creates community water structures. Social Audits are community-led accountability tools to measure and evaluate service delivery by the government with the direct participation of beneficiaries. The second model is an NGO-directed and community-led approach of building and evaluating community water conservation infrastructure. Our comparative analysis includes the methodology of systematic literature review, process net-mapping of two mature community-led M&E models and stakeholder interviews. We explore the ability of “beneficiary” stakeholders of the program to engage with and shape the program, thus operationalizing their stake. We examine which features of participatory M&E processes empower the affected community to overcome institutional barriers for governance of community assets to build water security and climate adaptation. We find social audits at the village council level are an effective tool for accountability and learning. Yet, it is important to factor in local level power dynamics within communities which may mar the process.
3. How Does Institutional Empowerment Affect Public Participation in Water Governance: Evidence from the River Chief System in China
1Northwest A&F University, China, 2Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
Institutional supports are a common mechanism to stimulate the government to engage the public to participate in governing commons. Chinese central government has carried out River Chief System as a water regulation policy from top to bottom since 2018 when facing severe water pollution. It shows that institutional empowerment can also affect public engagement. We first examine whether institutional empowerment enables the public to participate in local water governance. We then explore the frequency of public participation. Finally, we analyze the interaction effect of institutional empowerment with neighborhood effect and community cooperative degree. To investigate our research questions, we use regression models, the Heckman model, and Double-Hurdle model on data from a survey of 1570 local communities’ residents along the Yangtze River and Yellow River in China. The results indicate institutional empowerment at individual, organizational, and community levels are significantly related to public participation and frequency. The results are still stable after robustness test and endogenous treatment. Mechanism analyses show neighborhood effect positively impacts public participatory behavior from all levels and positively impacts public participatory frequency at community level; community cooperative degree positively impacts public participatory behavior at individual and community levels. Heterogeneity analyses reveal that institutional empowerment has a greater impact on public participatory behavior in the middle area and Yellow River groups; and has a greater impact on public participatory frequency in the eastern area, Yellow River, CPC membership, and urban resident groups. These findings provide guidance to advance public participation in water governance.