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Empowering rural women for sustainable development through the provision of water infrastructure in north-western Ghana

Constance Awinpoka Akurugu, Mathias Mwinlabagna Jatoe and Maximillian Kolbe Domapielle

World Development Perspectives, 2021, vol. 21, issue C

Abstract: This article examines the role of the ‘Water for Resilience’ intervention in empowering poor women for sustainable development in the semi-arid and deprived settings of rural north-western Ghana. The Water for Resilience project aimed at equipping poor women, with enhanced income-generating opportunities to overcome poverty and to enhance resilience. This was done by drawing on agro-ecological methodologies, strategies that encourage the use of environmentally sustainable practices such as composting, organic-based pesticides, mulching, and the provision of enhanced water resources. We employed qualitative in-depth interviews, focused group discussions and observation with women beneficiaries and project staff to gather data in four intervention communities. Based on the analysis of the field data, our study shows that the Water for Resilience approach has enormous prospects for reducing poverty and eradicating vulnerability in these deprived settings. We further show that this innovative intervention can promote the transformation of unequal gender relations and empower women. Nonetheless, these can only be achieved if the intervention is executed within a framework that incorporates strategic gender interests, including issues of status relative to men, improved capacity for action, equitable access to household productive resources and access to decision-making and influencing power. We conclude that these structural issues, which remain untouched by this instrumentalist intervention require critical attention if women’s empowerment is to achieve meaningful results in the male-centric settings of rural northern Ghana and beyond. We explore lessons to emerge from our analysis for the empowerment of women in these and similar resource-scarce and patriarchal contexts for sustainable development.

Keywords: Northern Ghana; Women’s empowerment; Resilience; Strategic gender interests; Vulnerability; Food security (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2021.100287

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