Community participation in planning for improved rural water supply and sanitation in District development - a case study of the Ahanta West District

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The Government of Ghana had committed itself to developing its rural areas. This is clearly shown by the formation of the Department of Rural Development in 1948. However, much emphasis was geared towards providing essential services in the rural areas of the country, with the government and donor agencies bearing the financial burden and the necessary manpower for this development. Recently, the government realized that promoting rural development without the participation of the essential and tangible ‘software’ (the community) has led to gross failures and waste of resources and efforts. This realization led development specialists in Ghana to advocate Rural Development Strategies that are primarily oriented towards the needs of the rural communities, who constitute 67 percent of Ghana’s 1:4.8 million people. These people are the focus of every rural development programme, therefore their sharing in the planning, implementation, and management of rural development projects is crucial to the success of such programmes. This study examines the nature of community participation in planning for improvement of Rural Water Supply and sanitatin I district development in the Ahanta West District - Western Region of Ghana. Data was derived from a field study involving the administration of questionnaires to 120 households in 12 villages in the Ahanta West District, documentary research into various Publications of the WHO and UNDP publications, journals, magazines, and government documents; informal interviews, and participant observation. Analysis of the data revealed that communities were not adequately involved in planning water supply and sanitation projects. In cases where they were involved, the level of involvement was limited to project implementation, where communities contributed labour, locally available materials, and food and lodging for project officials. The study also revealed that communities are aware of improved technologies available in the sector and are willing to pay part of the funds and undertake such constructions if they are well organised and motivated. Health Education programmes in the district is integrated and is not specific to water supply and sanitation. Amongst the problems that are affecting community participation in the district are the following: inappropriate project technology; lack of better organised local structures; lack of coordination between government, district administration, implementing agencies and NGOs; and inadequate qualified personnel to handle issues of water supply and sanitation in the communities and the district as a whole. However, the district is endowed with certain potentials which, if properly harnessed, would enhance a ‘lively’ Community participation strategy in water supply and sanitation. These include the existence of a District Assembly to organise such programmes, the presence of local organisations, arid the presence of a host of bilateral and multilateral agencies, to name a few. From the findings was evolved a strategy for the successful planning and implementation of a community water supply and sanitation programme in district development. This strategy attempted to incorporate the problems and potentials highlighted from the analysis. Certain recommendations have also been put forward which if taken into consideration would greatly assist in promoting water supply and sanitation development in the Ahanta West district in a participatory manner Finally, a successful water supply and sanitation development scheme could only be achieved through a well conceived “lively community participation strategy”. This remains the key to promoting effective Rural Water Supply and Sanitation systems in Ghana.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Post- Graduate studies, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management,1993.