Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Associate Professor Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Professor Neil Drew

Abstract

The issue of water supply throughout the world is of concern for many reasons. It is projected that by the year 2025 two-thirds of the world's population will encounter moderate to severe water shortages. As a result of unsustainable development over the past decade, Thailand has faced pollution problems as well as the depletion of many natural resources. These problems have impacted on the country's main rivers (Chaopraya River, Thachine River, and the Bangpakong River), that are crucial to a sustainable economy, society, and culture. There needs to be a concentrated effort at all levels (individual to community) to address this problem. This thesis reports on a collaborative water conservation project undertaken in the Banmai and Bone market communities located on the banks of the Bangpakong River in Chachoengsao province, Thailand. In the first phase a qualitative research paradigm was used to gain an understanding of sixteen Bangpakong River stakeholders' perceptions of the river and to determine the factors motivating or constraining their water conservation behaviour. Information obtained in this phase was used to construct a questionnaire to measure a range of variables associated with water conservation behaviours and to provide a framework for the subsequent phases of the study. The second phase used the information accumulated in phase one and involved twenty community leaders in partial participant action research in order to obtain solutions for solving the water pollution problem, plan an appropriate Water Conservation Campaign and empower the leaders to mobilise community members. The third phase, the community-based Water Conservation Campaign planned by the community leaders in phase two was implemented over a six month period. Prior to the campaign, immediately following the campaign and three months after the completion of the campaign a sample of 110 community members completed a questionnaire designed to assess the effectiveness of the campaign and to determine the factors predicting their intention to conserve water. An additional 109 participants from Bang-Wua, and Bangkhla market community which was not involved in the campaign also completed the questionnaire as a control group. Multiple Regressions and repeated MANCOVA indicated that the Water Conservation Campaign had a significant effect on the participants in the experimental group across times in six aspects; namely Knowledge, Attitudes, Past Behaviour, Perceived Behaviour Control, Situational Supporters, and also the Intention to Conserve Water. However it did not have a significant effect on Subjective Norm or Sense of Community. With the exception of Situational Supporters, similar results were obtained when the leaders were excluded from the analysis. In comparison to the control group, the experimental group scored significantly higher on Water Conservation Knowledge, Intention to Conserve Water, Attitude towards Water Conservation, Subjective Norm, Past Behaviour, Perceived Behavioural Control and Situational Supporters immediately after the campaign. The same results were obtained when leaders were excluded from the analysis. However, three months later, the experimental group (with and without leaders) scored significantly higher only on Water Conservation Knowledge, Subjective Norm and Past Behaviour, and significantly lower on Situational Supporters. These results suggest that community involvement in a water conservation campaign is an effective, empowering and useful approach to address the issue of water pollution in the Bangpakong River.

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