Water sector literature attributes a substantial cause of rural water system failure in developing countries to poor alignment between water service stakeholders. This study aimed to investigate a means for assessing stakeholder alignment by comparing the systemic interaction of stakeholder values, where the term ‘stakeholder values’ refers to aspects stakeholders believe are necessary to ensure rural water services are sustainable. The research held focus groups with key stakeholder groups involved in the management of rural water infrastructure in Terrabona, Nicaragua, to identify stakeholder values, and then used cross-impact analysis to evaluate how these values interacted to form stakeholder value networks (SVNs). Using normalized betweenness centrality measures, the structures of SVNs were compared to determine alignment. Results from this study showed high levels of stakeholder alignment on the topics of water resources and technology for the sustainability of rural water systems, while there was marked nonalignment regarding the involvement of local government and organizations in the management of water infrastructure. This study offers compelling evidence for future studies to assess stakeholder alignment by identifying and structurally analyzing SVNs.

Walters, J. and Javernick-Will, A. (2015). “Management of Rural Water Services in Nicaragua: A Systemic Network Approach to Evaluating Stakeholder Alignment.” International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology. 22 (4), 358-367. doi: 10.1080/13504509.2015.1053999