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Community-based management of small town water systems in North-western Ghana: performance and institutional analysis

Fielmua, N. (2016) Community-based management of small town water systems in North-western Ghana: performance and institutional analysis. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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The state-led provision and management of potable water in rural and small towns has been decentralised with the ultimate aim of ensuring reliable and continuous access to water because previous institutional arrangements have failed to do so. Community-based water management (CBWM) has been a product of these policy reforms. CBWM has received support from international and donor communities, pushing many developing countries, including Ghana, to adopt the approach. It is assumed that community level actors, as compared to state-led and other non-state-led actors, are closest to the water resources and are in a better position to devise strategies to manage these resources. In fact, since its inception, studies have highlighted the challenges and successes of this approach. However, while CBWM in the rural areas has been widely researched, little is known about it in small towns, thus creating a skewed understanding of the approach. Moreover, studies on CBWM tend to focus on selected performance indicators and fail to question the institutional underpinning of such performance outcomes. Therefore, this study seeks to examine the performance-institutional linkage of small town water systems by examining (i) the pattern of interactions among the actors; (ii) the rules that guide their interactions; and (iii) the outcomes of their interactions. This study offers an institutional perspective on CBWM in four cases in North-western Ghana. Based on the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, different but complementary data collection methods are used to allow a holistic analysis of institutional arrangements and their performance outcomes. This study confirms that CBWM in North-western Ghana is associated with a well-thought-out institutional arrangement that has the potential to provide sustainable access to water. This study however argues that the presence of stressors, including entrenched socio-cultural ties, limited capacity and commitment, opportunistic behaviour and power asymmetries, adversely affect the functioning of the institutional arrangements. Therefore, it argues for a re-examination of the assumed simple relationship between CBWM approach and the improved performance of its water systems as well as its appropriateness in small towns as a function of the population-size of the communities it serves. This study advocates that future research on CBWM should seek to understand how the institutional arrangements affect and are affected by the performance of the water systems in small towns.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Nunes, R. and Edwards, V.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Real Estate and Planning
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:65936
Date on Title Page:2015


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