How does improved access to clean water impact rural communities? Evaluating impact of water projects in the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam district in Ghana
AuthorSam, Josephine-Mary O.
Chapin, F. Stuart III
KeywordRural water supply
Women in rural development
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractResearch has shown that rural water programs benefit communities by promoting women's empowerment, and improving children's education and the health of residents. However, the tendency for such programs to be short-lived (as water pumps break down and villages are unable to repair them) erodes any benefits and sets villages back on the path toward using unsafe and inconvenient water sources. The incidence of failed rural water projects has prompted calls for a more holistic approach to addressing rural water supply issues. Two development organizations, the Nyarkoa Foundation (NF) and the Rural Education and Development Program (REDEP), implemented a water program in villages located in the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam District of Central Region, Ghana, where earlier water programs had been unsuccessful. Using a new approach, the program focused on gender-sensitive planning, financing for maintenance and participatory governance. Through interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation, this study evaluates the impacts of the NF/REDEP water program in two villages, Ofosu and Awordo. Findings showed that improved access to clean water enhanced economic opportunities for women and children's education in both villages. There was also evidence that equitable and participatory decision-making engendered cooperation and efficient management of the water program, while exclusionist policy making led to apathy and noncompliance. However, the combined usage of the water pumps with unprotected water sources threatened to negate its health benefits, while the absence of effective women's involvement in the management of the program raised questions about its capacity to truly empower women. These findings reveal the need for increased sensitization on the risks of using unsafe water and a review of the program management approach.
DescriptionThesis (M.S.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2011
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