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Background: Community participation is central to the success of primary health care. However, over 30 years since the Alma Ata declaration, the absence of universal community participation remains a major obstacle to combating all types of diseases. This study investigated community participation in water and sanitation activities towards schistosomiasis control in Nyalenda B, an informal settlement in Kisumu City.
Methods: Eight key informant interviews (KIIs) and 8 focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted. Additionally, data on NGOs dealing with water and sanitation activities in Kisumu was collected from the local NGO registration Board. Qualitative data was organised into themes and concepts and analyzed using Atlas.ti.
Results: Most participants felt that project implementers did not involve them in key levels of project implementation, leading to unsustainable projects and unacceptance from the community. Community structures identified that could be used as avenues of engaging the community in improving water and sanitation situation included the use of organised groups, such as youth, gender-based, farmers and HIV support groups, and merry-go-rounds. Factors mentioned that hindered community participation included negative attitude from community members, poor monitoring and evaluation strategies, limited disclosure of project details, and overdependence from the community.
Conclusion: Effective community participation in water and sanitation activities requires a multipronged paradigm that incorporates a change of attitude from the community, information sharing and consultation, improved monitoring and evaluation, transparency and accountability.