The effects of encroachment on sustainable Public Land Management: a case study of the Owabi catchment area in Kumasi

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Land is a basic resource and almost all activities of man hinges on land. To ensure equitable and sustainable livelihoods for the people, governments provide some basic infrastructure and services that are essential for the development of the nation. For this reason, various governments as part of their priority policies reserve and declare certain areas as public lands to be used for such public services and the Owabi catchment is of such a nature. The Owabi catchment was specifically acquired for the production of potable water for Kumasi and its environs. Thus, the government has the responsibility of ensuring that the area acquired is protected against any other use and as such institutions like the Lands Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, district assemblies, etc have been entrusted to see to the proper and sustainable management of the area. However, the Owabi catchment seems to be poorly managed and facing serious challenges. The catchment of late has come under serious pressure because of encroachment which is becoming alarming. The site has been sub-divided, allocated and developed mostly for private residential and farming purposes. The toll of the encroachment on its management cannot be over-emphasised. The study sought to investigate the encroachment phenomenon in the Owabi catchment, assess the effects of encroachment on sustainable land management, identify the problems that the Stakeholder institutions are confronted with in the management of the area, and come up with policy recommendations of resolving the encroachment and of ensuring sustainable and effective management of the catchment. The study revealed that the law; Ashanti Administration Ordinance, 1902 (Cap 110) used for the acquisition of the Owabi catchment did not make provision for compensation payment for the land. It also revealed that the encroachments which are mostly in the form of buildings started over two decades ago but became more alarming in 1997. Interestingly, properties demolished in 1998 had almost all been rebuilt. Factors that seem to have given way to the encroachment included among others the non-payment of compensation, lack of alternative livelihood for the indigenes, and improper boundary demarcation. The encroachment has had negative effects on the management of the catchment resulting in the non-enforcement of the land use plan and building regulations, high cost of water production and reduction of government’s revenue. In the light of the above findings, some recommendations have been made for resolving the encroachment issue and improving the sustainable management of Owabi catchment area in particular, and other catchments in general. These include the seeking of injunction order to halt the continuous development in the catchment, educating and sensitizing the public on the environmental impact such developments have on the dam, the setting up of a management technical committee inclusive of the chiefs and members of the communities to assess the situation to see how best the encroachment could be controlled, adopt participatory land management and considering indigenes who qualify for employment in the Ghana Water Company Limited. It is hoped that the use of participatory approaches by both stakeholder institutions and the surrounding communities of the catchment in controlling encroachment and subsequent management of the Owabi catchment in line with the given recommendations would be a sure route towards sustainable land management of catchments in Ghana.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Land Economy, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER of PHILOSOPHY (Land Management),December,2012