Accessibility and utilization of mobile phones for governance of water resources in the Lake Victoria Basin: Constraints and opportunities in Tanzania
Mobile phones are the world’s fastest growing technologies in terms of coverage and adoption. This trend makes them a desirable information and communication technology (ICT) platform for addressing the striking challenges of water resources governance at all levels. Some of remarkable challenges in Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) that have negative impact on the water resources are rapid population growth, unfavorable climate change and variability, and non-sustainable urbanization. Mobile phones can contribute to addressing these challenges by addressing three key principles of governance: transparency in a manner that the resources are utilized by increasing population; accountability in both supply and demand sides of water resources for household, industry and agriculture; and participation of key stakeholders in policy formulation and decision making across temporal and spatial scales. This paper analyses the accessibility and utilization of mobile phones among various actors in the governance of water resources within LVB with the aim of identifying opportunities and constraints at community (micro), local government (meso) and national lake/river basin (macro) scale. To achieve this, three data collection sites were identified in Tanzania: Mwanza, Kagera and Mara. Data were gathered from key stakeholders through five methods: key informant interview, actors’ panel discussion, observation, literature reviews and questionnaire administration. Qualitative data were subjected to contents analyses while empirical data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The analyses provided information on the constraints in access and utilization as well as opportunities availed by mobile phones. Furthermore, their potential for enhancing transparency, accountability and stakeholders’ participation were summarized and discussed. Conclusion drawn from this study is that there is variation in access and utilization of mobile phones across scales of water resources governance in LVB that offer both opportunities and constraints. Integrated and innovative system that bridges the gap by capitalizing on the opportunities and minimizing the constraints could be an option.