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Technology, Society and Bureaucracy in India: A case study of women and water
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering. (Vattenförvaltning, Water Management)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6166-4992
2005 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Water supply programs are seen as instrumental in achieving development by fulfilling the goal of ‘safe’ water for all. One of the principal target groups in these programs is women, whose development is believed to be promoted through improved water facilities offering them greater convenience, better health and enhanced socio-economic opportunities. These programs are largely built upon 3 essential aspects, namely, technology, people and institutions. Of these, the responsibilities of designing technologies for supplying water, creating institutional frameworks for their execution and implementing the program at the people’s end for their benefit lie with the bureaucracy. The people are generally taken to represent the beneficiaries who will ‘develop’ as a result of the program. However, women who are targeted in these programs actually perform the role of domestic water managers within the context of their communities where the role and its performance are built upon the specific socio-cultural intricacies. The latter lie embedded in aspects such as cultural beliefs and values regarding water and water needs that influence their choice of technology and social dynamics that determine their access to water sources.

The construct of water supply programs appears to reflect insensitivity on part of the bureaucracy about these contextual realities and their relevance for program outputs, reflected in inappropriate technology and inadequate program designs. These weaknesses further find expression in the process of implementation of the programs at the ‘cutting edge’, finally affecting their effectiveness and efficiency. Through a study in rural India, this paper seeks to understand how the socio-cultural intricacies in local communities influence water supply programs and what is their impact on the effectiveness of these programs. It will further explore how these intricacies can be incorporated in program design and implementation processes so as to enhance their effectiveness. The findings will offer important lessons for bureaucracies that design and implement the ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ components in water supply programs, urging them to build these upon processes that facilitate incorporation of the perspective of the women and their communities whose development is ultimately to be addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-62755OAI: diva2:481087
Joint Roundtable Conference on Global Blues and Sustainable Development: The Emerging Challenges for Bureaucracy, Technology and Governance, at University of South Florida, Tampa, USA, September 2005
QC 20120202Available from: 2012-02-02 Created: 2012-01-20 Last updated: 2012-02-02Bibliographically approved

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