Management, Uses and Values of Demand-Oriented Domestic Water Facilities in the Akatsi District of Ghana
thesisposted on 06.05.2011, 10:14 by Francis Shine Gbedemah
Community participation and management has been hailed as central to the provision of essential services like clean water facilities to underserved communities in developing countries. In Ghana, community participation and management is seen as the blue-print to water facility provision and management in both rural and small towns of the country due to the failure of the top-down approach to the provision and management of this essential facility. I argue in this thesis that the water sector reform in Ghana is being influenced by external forces like the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as such community management (CM) of water in rural areas of Ghana is not made to serve the interests of the poor but to relieve the government of providing good and affordable water to these people. It is argued in the thesis that the use-values people in rural and small towns attached to different sources of water are not properly enumerated in the water sector. This thesis presents a comprehensive analysis of the bottom-up approach to water facilities provision in the Akatsi District of Ghana through the use of extensive field surveys, observation, focus group discussions, and interview with key informants in two communities- a rural community that benefited from a borehole (tube well) facility and a ‘small town’ where people use different forms of water sources like wells, boreholes, rain harvesting systems and pipe scheme (gravity fed borehole). The study assesses how the facilities are being managed and reasons why people use a particular water source at a particular time. Findings show that whilst water has been commodified, remuneration given people managing the facilities have not been commodified. Women agreed to participate in water management but later leave the water and sanitation development boards (WSDB) because they derive little remuneration from this undertaking. Within the WSDB, there is no consensus of opinion among “indigenous” citizens of Akatsi and people from different towns serving in the board on how the facilities should be managed. Sustainability and replication of the facilities is at stake because institutions and bodies owe the WSDB arrears that could have been used to pay for the initial capital cost incurred by the DA or extension of service to new areas. The DA is also not assisting the WSDB to institute legal action against these defaulters to recover these costs because the water facilities in principle belong to the community. Indeed, the institutional pluralism in the construction and management of water facilities in rural areas and small towns of Ghana is de-motivating WSDBs and people in beneficiary communities to make additional contribution for the development of their water systems because some communities were assisted with water facilities without paying initial capital cost of construction. Even though distance people travelled to gather water has been shortened as a result of the provision of public stand pipes and boreholes in various locations in Akatsi, the new infrastructure associated with the CM strategy has increased time spent gathering water. The findings also show that people of Akatsi do not have demand for the water facilities being provided them because they refused to pay part of the initial capital cost of the facility provision and get connected to the piped network. They are also resisting CM of water facilities because they do not take part in the activities of the WSDB leaving the facilities to be managed by these selected few. Findings from the thesis shows that the use-values people attached to a particular type of water are very important in addition to the price they have to pay to use it. People use a particular type of water for a specific purpose base on the characteristics the water possesses. Borehole water does not replace rain harvested water or river use because of its taste and hardness. The study reiterated that existing local water management strategies like rainwater harvesting should be incorporated into CWSP in small towns as well as villages for the people to use this water source for purposes like drinking or washing. This study fills a gap in development geography which often overlooks how gender is created through water resource interventions by concerning itself with how new meanings of community management is reinforcing gender inequality and spatial development through water facilities management and its commodification. It contributes to feminist and development geography literature by demonstrating that participatory approaches to water resource management act as a constraint to women empowerment and poverty alleviation. The study concludes that, community participation and management of water facilities is not benefiting the intended beneficiaries as such the whole concept of community participation and management should be given a second thought in the development geography literature.