A mixed methods study to evaluate participatory mapping for rural water safety planning in western Kenya

Joseph Okotto-Okotto, Weiyu Yu, Emmah Kwoba, Samuel Thumbi, Lorna Okotto, Peggy Wanza, Diogo Trajano Gomes da Silva, Jim Wright

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Water safety planning is an approach to ensure safe drinking-water access through compre- hensive risk assessment and water supply management from catchment to consumer. How- ever, its uptake remains low in rural areas. Participatory mapping, the process of map creation for resource management by local communities, has yet to be used for rural water safety planning. In this mixed methods study, to evaluate the validity of participatory map- ping outputs for rural water safety planning and assess community understanding of water safety, 140 community members in Siaya County, Kenya, attended ten village-level partici- patory mapping sessions. They mapped drinking-water sources, ranked their safety and mapped potential contamination hazards. Findings were triangulated against a question- naire survey of 234 households, conducted in parallel. In contrast to source type ranking for international monitoring, workshop participants ranked rainwater’s safety above piped water and identified source types such as broken pipes not explicitly recorded in water source typologies often used for formal monitoring. Participatory mapping also highlighted the over- lap between livestock grazing areas and household water sources. These findings were cor- roborated by the household survey and subsequent participatory meetings. However, comparison with household survey data suggested participatory mapping outputs omitted some water sources and landscape-scale contamination hazards, such as open defecation areas or flood-prone areas. In follow-up visits, participant groups ranked remediation of rain- water harvesting systems as the most acceptable intervention to address hazards. We con- clude that participatory mapping can complement other established approaches to rural water safety planning by capturing informally managed source use and facilitating commu- nity engagement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0255286
    Number of pages16
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021

    Bibliographical note

    © 2021 Okotto-Okotto et al. This is an
    open access article distributed under the terms of
    the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
    permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
    reproduction in any medium, provided the original
    author and source are credited


    • Water safety planning
    • Participatory mapping
    • GIS
    • Household survey
    • Water sources


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