Impact of Management and Policy on Small Reservoirs for Irrigation in the Upper East Region of Ghana

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Many small dams have been constructed in the Upper East Region (UER) of Ghana to address the problem of water scarcity and to help bring security to the livelihoods of the people in the region. Small reservoirs are important for socioeconomic development in the UER, without which the livelihood of many communities would be jeopardized. The reservoirs are a widely used form of infrastructure in the Upper East Region for the provision of water mainly for irrigation and for livestock watering, fishing, and domestic use. Government developed strategic policies aimed at increasing and improving dry season irrigation farming in the region. As a result, considerable attention was given to the development of Water Users Associations (WUAs) capable of managing the schemes. There is thus, the need to assess the impact of government policies and management by WUAs on the small reservoirs for irrigation. This study assesses the impact of management and policy on small reservoirs for irrigation in the UER. Nine small reservoirs were selected for the study. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools were used namely, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and one-to-one discussions. The results of the study show that the impact of government policies and management functions by the WUAs have been the recognition and increased sense of ownership of these reservoirs by the beneficiary communities which has resulted in increased financial mobilization leading to timely repairs of damaged dam infrastructure and protection of the scheme; the growth and appreciation of participatory culture which led to the increase in number of women involved in dry season farming and the smooth democratic change of leadership between the periods 2001 and 2004 at all the dam sites visited; the application of enough fertilizers leading to increased farm yields. From the study it can be concluded that by harmonizing the interests of individuals served by small multi-purpose reservoirs through the formulation and implementation of policies coupled with proper management, the goal to improve food security at the household level and increase sustainable livelihoods in the UER could be attained.  
A thesis submitted to the College of Engineering in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Master of Science.