Context matters: A baseline analysis of contextual realities for two community-based monitoring initiatives of water and environment in Europe and Africa

Mohammad Gharesifard, Uta Wehn, Pieter van der Zaag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Much attention is being paid to the design and implementation of community-based monitoring initiatives of water and environment, and how to attract more citizens to participate in such initiatives. Although mass participation in collecting and sharing water-related or environmental data and good project design and implementation are key factors for the success of community-based monitoring, these initiatives do not operate in a void. Community-based monitoring initiatives are embedded in, and can influence, existing social, institutional, political and technological settings. In spite of the fact that these contextual factors are not static and constantly change over time, capturing their status quo at the initiation of a community-based monitoring activity delivers critical insights for establishing a sustainable initiative and can be used as a benchmark for assessing its subsequent outcomes and impacts. Yet, the salience of understanding the initial contextual settings is often underestimated, or these are only considered once an initiative has already been established. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the importance of early stage research about such contextual realities. In order to do so, we employed the CPI Framework (Gharesifard et al., 2019) for conducting a systematic analysis of the baseline situation of two newly established community-based monitoring initiatives, one in the Netherlands and one in Kenya. The case study in the Netherlands focuses on the issue of pluvial flooding in an urban setting, while the Kenyan case study deals with balancing sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity management in a rural area. Our baseline analysis showed that aside from the fact that these initiatives have different thematic foci, there are distinct differences between the two in terms of access to technology, availability and accessibility of data, the institutional arrangements for public participation in decision making processes, and the level of citizen trust in the authorities in charge of managing the respective water-related and environmental issues. Based on the findings of this research, a number of recommendations are provided that can be beneficial for the future development and functioning of the two initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124144
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Citizen science
  • Community-based monitoring
  • Context analysis
  • Participation
  • Power dynamics
  • Technology


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