Leaning to lead : the case of water source committee members of Labongolayamu sub-county in Kitgum District
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Water source committee (WSC) members are the management bodies of rural water facilities. Their roles encompass paying hand pump mechanics, hand pump maintenance, recording of financial flows, planning of weekly and monthly meetings about progress, managing community use of the water system including arbitration of any disputes and prevention against damage, amongst other roles. To understand whether WSC members learnt to carry out their roles, this study was designed. Three key questions asked and answered by this study were; what roles and responsibilities are held by the different WSC members in Labongolayamu Sub County, Kitgum district? How have members of the WSCs learnt to perform their specific roles and responsibilities in Labongolayamu Sub County, Kitgum district? and how does the learning meet the needs of the WSC members in Labongolayamu Sub County, Kitgum district? By answering the above questions, the results from the study would inform policy revisions to address challenges facing WSCs in the area and across Uganda. This research adopted the transformative learning theory by Jack Mezirow, and the theory of education of Paulo Ferire, focusing on dialogue, praxis, problem posing education vs banking education and conscientization. The study was qualitative in nature and qualitative data collection methods like Focus Group Discussions (FGD), in-depth interviews, document review and observation were used to collect data from thirty (30) respondents. The study also drew so much from the Interpretive or constructivist paradigm, which holds that knowledge or reality is constructed according to how people make meaning in their lives. Key conclusions where that the different roles and responsibilities performed by the WSCs included collecting user fees on a regular or monthly basis and paying HPMs, Individual behaviour like lack of trust by the water user community in their WSCs was the main reason for water users not willing to pay user fees and the reason why other water users preferred individual water facilities. There were other water sources where community members were able to collect water without paying. WSC members have learnt to lead, through performing their roles and responsibilities as WSC members, although their work is hindered by several factors. Recommendations were drawn and when they are implemented, operation and maintenance (O&M) will improve.