Sanitation and solid waste management systems have recently received major attention through the United Nation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Increasingly, the role of civil society organizations – most notably Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) – in providing sanitation and solid waste management services to underserved, marginalized, poor or hardly accessible areas and communities is widely celebrated, as fully public and private schemes are thought to be less capable and willing to serve these areas and groups effectively. But little is known about the actual performance of NGOs and CBOs in urban environmental service provisioning in East African cities. This study explores and compares the extent and success of civil society organizations in providing urban sanitation and solid waste services for the poor in the capitals of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Using ideas of modernized mixtures and institutional pluralism we clarify the particular role of civil society institutions among a plurality of urban environmental service arrangements in East African cities. Major differences are found in CBO/NGO involvement in sanitation and solid waste provisioning, in the socio-economic characteristics of NGO/CBO service recipients and non-recipients, and in levels of appreciation of these systems.
- institutional pluralism