Tapping into Informality: the suitability of MajiVoice as a tool to improve water service delivery and governance in Nairobi’s informal settlements

The promotion of electronic participation, or eParticipation, via mobile phones has grown in popularity within the Global South as a method for providing a platform for previously under-represented clientele to communicate their experiences with public service delivery. MajiVoice, operated by the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Limited (NCWSC), is such a platform. However, the informal urban settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, are settings of deeply embedded socio-political inequalities, all of which severely limit the mobile service monitoring system from reaching its potential as an effective tool for positive change, though it does enable greater state water governance. Previous work has failed to address the suitability of eParticipation methods within service sectors applied within informal contexts. This research draws from primary research conducted among small-scale water vendors operating within three of Nairobi’s largest informal urban settlements (Mukuru, Kawangware and Kibera) and interviews with NCWSC staff and MajiVoice developers. This paper recommends the development of appropriate policy and programmes led by both public and private bodies to decrease disparities in water access within informal settlements to coincide with the implementation of eParticipation measures that strive to improve water service delivery.

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