The impact of ownership & management on the sustainability of rural piped systems in Ghana

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The National Community Water and Sanitation Programme (NCWSP) was launched in 1994 to encourage beneficiaries to own and manage their own water supply facilities. Again the Government of Ghana is planning to convert about 110 rural piped systems to community ownership and management as a possible solution to the issue of sustainability in the rural water sector. However, the successful outcome of this venture is still a dilemma among stakeholders in the sector. This research analyzed quantitatively the extent to which sustainability is being achieved in some existing community managed rural piped systems and compared to those under GWSC management. In all, seven systems were studied; four systems under GWSC management and three systems under community management. The analyses were based on the following indicators: • water production to meet anticipated population increase • reliability of service delivery • accounted-for—water/saleable water • financial self-sufficiency • health benefits to the target population. Sustainability values of the above indicators were calculated on each system and compared with sustainability criteria that were developed for the assessment. Beside the health benefit that could not be calculated on the GWSC-managed systems due to lack of data, the assessment proved that all the four GWSC-managed systems were unsustainable whilst the three community-managed systems were found to be sustainable with respect to the above indicators. The outcome of this research has demonstrated that: • If local people are trained and given a project which is acknowledged as important and in which the local people have a vested interest, they can assume the responsibility to sustain the project. • Community ownership and management of rural piped systems will lead to sustainability. These in a way have proved communities’ ability to rely less on external resources that may not be forth coming when needed and to sustain the facilities from local resources when ownership and management responsibilities are entrusted to them. It is therefore the hope of the author that the government will adopt appropriate policies to allow beneficiaries to initiate their own programmes and also proceed to hand over the rural systems to the communities as community ownership and management are seen as necessary ingredients to achieve sustainability the the rural water sector.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation, 1999