Institutional influences on local government support for professionalized maintenance of water supply infrastructure in rural Uganda: A qualitative analysis Journal Article uri icon



  • Professionalized maintenance arrangements are emerging and growing to improve rural water service sustainability across sub-Saharan Africa, where local governments often act as rural service authorities. Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment released a novel policy in 2019 to promote professionalization, outlining requirements of local governments to support professionalized maintenance under a new framework for rural water service delivery. We identify how responsibilities of local government actors shifted under this policy and then use Organizational Institutional Theory to explore how the institutional environment—composed of regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive pillars—influences these actors’ fulfillment of assigned functions under the new policy and support of professionalized maintenance arrangements. To do this, we collected, transcribed, and qualitatively coded data from semi-structured interviews with 93 Ugandan local government actors at all hierarchical levels across 22 sub-counties in three Ugandan districts. Due to infrequent references by interviewees to regulative influences on action such as formal rules and policies, we propose that the new policy alone is unlikely to motivate essential local government support. Allocated responsibilities must align with widely-cited normative and cultural-cognitive influences, including relationship expectations, typical processes and routines, political dynamics, notions of identity, perceived self-efficacy, and cultural beliefs. We recommend leveraging existing institutional influences where possible to motivate actions aligned with the policy. For example, local government actors can fulfill community expectations of them to solve prolonged nonfunctionality by connecting communities to professionalized maintenance service providers instead of performing individual out-of-pocket repairs. Improving understanding of local service authority perspectives is essential as professionalized maintenance arrangements emerge and grow and as new policies expand and shift essential support functions.

publication date

  • February 15, 2022

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • March 1, 2022 8:16 AM

Full Author List

  • Cord C; Javernick-Will A; Buhungiro E; Harvey A; Linden K

Full Editor List

  • Rivera-Salazar D

author count

  • 5

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2767-3219

Additional Document Info

start page

  • e0000003

end page

  • e0000003


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