Integrating conflict management into local development projects in Ghana: a case of selected projects in Ejisu-Juaben District, Ashanti Region

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There is growing concern in the development industry about the interrelationship between development assistance and conflicts in the developing world. While inherent conflicts have prevented development work in certain regions, experience has shown that project activities themselves have inadvertently contributed to the ignition and escalation of a number of conflicts in other work places. This awareness has engendered mounting efforts among development donors towards rethinking their assistance packages to ensure conflict sensitive response to humanitarian and development situation in the poor nations. In some quarters, advocacy is already strongly underway to ensure that donor assistance is received only when project proposals are made conflict sensitive. Some projects have failed not because of shortage of funds or insufficient staff as often attributed to traditionally, but because of disagreement among key stakeholders to the projects. This is true for projects at all levels whether it is national, regional, district or community projects. Coupled with the widely accepted viewpoint that conflict is always and everywhere a natural phenomenon, it has thus been seen very much decisive for all projects to be conflict sensitive in their working environments. The objective of this study was therefore to analyze the sensitivity of local development projects to- conflicts, taking the case of two projects in Ejisu-Juaben District of Ghana. Data were collected from a wide range of respondents to triangulate responses to reduce biasedness in the analysis using different methods including structured questionnaires, interview guides, group discussions and personal observation. The analytical method used was a system of indicators constructed to enhance the analysis. The responses revealed that, the two analyzed projects were sensitive to conflicts but while one was extremely moderately sensitive the other was highly sensitive. The low sensitivity project had suspended operations due to conflict that intensified during its implementation process before this research began while the high sensitivity project was ongoing and discovered to have integrated conflict management (CM) principles right before activities were begun. The study outlined a lot of CM methodologies for project planning and management, and it was highly recommended that all projects use at least the basic methods and tools. Among the numerous other recommendations was a proposed framework for institutionalizing CM principles into development projects in Ghana for which the National Commission for Development Planning was the earmarked institution for coordinating the management of such framework since it has to do with formulation of national policies and planning guidelines among other things.
A Thesis Submitted to The School of Graduate Studies, Kuame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2005