Sustainability of community projects: a case study of Atwima District

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Sustainability as a development paradigm is essential in ensuring that community projects are well thought out, executed, monitored, managed and maintained for the benefit of the present and future generations. The study focused on tree indicators namely participation in the planning process, financial capacity and management capacity of communities to enhance or sustain development projects., The Purposive sampling was applied in this study. Investigations were carried out in six communities in the Atwima District namely Nkawie Panin, Akropong, Bayerebon No. 5, Akotaa, Asaamang and Barniekrom, Interview methods used were individual interviews and focus group discussions. Key informants were District Assembly personnel such as the District Chief Executive (DCE), District Coordinating Director (DCD), Development Planning Officer, Senior Works Superintendent and Community Development Officer. Technical personnel attached to the EU micro-projects programme, Technoserve, and African Development Foundation was also interviewed. In addition, traditional authorities, Community Implementation Committees, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) were also interviewed. The study revealed that participation differed from EU, micro-projects, Technoserve, ADF, on one hand, and District Assembly Common Fund projects on the other hand. The major difference lies in the implementation process; whilst the EU and the NGOs involved the beneficiary communities, the DACF relegated the beneficiaries to the• background. In addition, it was noted that the communities’ management and financial capacities differed from project to project. With the exception of Akotaa, the other communities charged user fees to enhance sustainability. It was found that the development goals of the District Assembly and other development bodies’ priorities were compatible and therefore tied to sustainability. Also the different project implementation approaches adopted by different development partners, EU, District Assembly Common Fund, etc appeared to be sending conflicting signals to communities with regard to the use of communal labour. Past implementation maintenance and management was imputed and therefore not ignored the development actors. The EU, Technoserve, ADF and District Assembly officials emphasized the importance of post implementation maintenance and management of development in project preparation. Opinion leaders and ordinary members expressed the views that sustainability depended on individual contributions, user fees, revenue from the District Assembly, assistance from NGOs, formation of management committees and educational campaigns. Furthermore, the study revealed that the District Assembly has put in place certain mechanisms to sustain community projects. These include financial allocation in the annual budget for maintenance and rehabilitation. Assembly meetings serve as a forum through which Assembly members are instructed to educate the electorate on the need to form management and maintenance committees, thus adhering to the culture of maintenance to ensure long life span of projects. It was clear that the District Assembly’s absorptive capacity to maintain and rehabilitate projects depended very much on the revenues it derives from local taxes. In concluding, the study has shown that the concept of sustainability connotes the desire to solve problems related to rural/community projects on a more permanent basis. If sustainability is not respected in the development process, community projects cannot last and resources committed to such efforts will go down the drain. Sustainability approach to community projects should be vigorously pursued to ensure that resources put in development projects produce sustained outcomes to improve upon the livelihood of the beneficiaries.
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 National Development Planning and Management, 1998