What influences the establishment and functioning of community-based monitoring initiatives of water and environment? A conceptual framework

Mohammad Gharesifard, Uta Wehn, Pieter van der Zaag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Community-based monitoring of water and environmental resources is believed to have the potential to help produce more or better water and environmental data, increase public participation in environmental monitoring, respond to issues of common community concern and enhance informed, democratic and transparent environmental decision making. Despite these perceived outcomes, initial and long term engagement of different stakeholders with community-based monitoring activities remains a challenge. Successful establishment of these initiatives has proven to be complex and there is little evidence that community-based monitoring projects have an impact on environmental or water resources management processes, or a legacy beyond their funding period. Whereas much attention is being paid to promoting community-based monitoring as a tool for producing more or better water or environment-related data, there is little conceptual understanding of how to critically analyze and understand the features and functioning of these initiatives. Therefore we do not know whether, or to what extent, these initiatives deliver on their perceived potentials. Thus, it is essential to learn from past experiences and critically document, analyze and understand factors that might influence the establishment, functioning and outcomes of community-based monitoring initiatives. Based on the review of a large body of literature in the fields of community-based monitoring, Citizen Science and affiliated fields of research, combined with the empirical evidence from a number of major EU-funded community-based monitoring projects, this paper introduces a framework that can be utilized to analyze the dynamics underlying the establishment and functioning of community-based monitoring initiatives. The distinction between five different dimensions, consisting of 22 internal and context-related factors, is a unique feature of this framework that broadens its applicability and makes it suitable for ‘Context analysis’, ‘Process evaluation’ and ‘Impact assessment’ of the initiatives. The introduced framework is therefore called the CPI framework in short.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124033
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Citizen Science
  • Community-based monitoring
  • Context analysis
  • Impact assessment
  • Process evaluation

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