Researcher Profile: S. Kumbirai
iCOMMS Masters Student | Email: KMBSHA001@myuct.ac.za
I am a Masters student within the iCOMMS Research Team in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town. I also hold a BSc in Civil Engineering.
Stakeholder Management in Sanitation Infrastructure Projects
The 2011 toilet wars, brought about by the building of over 3000 unenclosed toilets in Makhaza and Rammulotsi, caused a paradigm shift in the way in which South Africa viewed sanitation service delivery. This resulted in the measure of improvement of sanitation to not only be considered from a technical delivery point of view, but from a view integrating both engineering and social sciences. The events at Makhaza and Rammulotsi served as empirical evidence of the failings of governments’ human rights approach to service delivery, particularly in relation to public participation. National policy has incorporated public participation practices into decision-making processes as a means of power sharing and looking beyond technical feasibility and addressing the valuable knowledge that communities have regarding their social systems. However, the decisions made by government showed a clear example of how social systems can very often serve the needs and interests of the wrong client while having detrimental affects to the right clients. In stakeholder management theory, particularly in processes involving the use of public participation the determination a projects sources of motivation – that is, determining the project purpose, who the project serves and what the measure of improvement is - poses a challenge. Oftentimes improvement rarely means the same thing for different groups of people with different needs and interests and lines are blurred on whose needs and interests are to be met. This study will examine the policy and practice of public participation and articulate the comparative perceptions and expectations of the identification and roles that stakeholders have in public infrastructure projects to determine the implications this has towards strengthening participatory processes. It involves the critical identification of stakeholder groups and their perceptions of the roles and responsibilities that the identified groups play. This investigation was conducted on a single case study of Project Silvertown in Makhaza, the project that led to the Cape Town toilet wars. Documentary resources on this case study will be used to gather secondary data on stakeholder groups. Stakeholder expectations and perceptions and will be identified and analyzed using Critical Systems Heuristics, a systems thinking-based framework. The roles that these stakeholders play have been classified under the categories prescribed by the CSH methodology of boundary critique. It is believed that identifying possible conflicts or bias between stakeholders in a given system can assist in reducing participatory project failures. Although no plan can serve all parties involved equally, this study’s findings contribute towards identifying what stakeholder assumptions ought to be considered and built into planning public infrastructure projects.