ICT for Public Participation in River Water Quality Management
An Assessment of Knowledge, Readiness and Willingness
Public participation in water resources management and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for engaging with public have both been studied extensively albeit independently by researchers. The use of ICT for managing water resources in developing nations like India has mainly been top-down and technical in nature and has not found much role in participative and deliberative decision-making processes. The objective of this study is to understand the role that ICT can play in participative river management. Based on a face-to-face questionnaire survey with 2706 respondents along the River Yamuna in India and key informants’ interviews, the study aims to explore the knowledge, readiness and willingness of the public to use ICT for participation in river water quality management projects and their perception about the technology that would be most effective for that purpose. The findings reveal the familiarity of people with television and mobile phones across different socio-economic groups. However, knowledge of computer and the internet was stated mainly by the higher income and the literate groups confirming that the impediments associated with trickling down of technology is not just limited to access but also to lack of education. Gender-based differentiation in knowledge and readiness was also observed in the study. ICT for receiving information was the key role perceived by the respondents, and higher order participation roles like consultation, virtual representation and monitoring were perceived only by the educated class. The paper suggests “belongingness” to the river and “benefits” from the participation process as the two key drivers for willingness of the public to participate.