The promise and perils of water reforms: Perspectives from Northern Ghana
Africa Spectrum, 2007, vol. 42, issue 3, 419-437
The Ghanaian government, while aiming at the privatisation of the country’s drinking water resources, initiated a wide reaching reform of the water sector in 1996. The country’s water resources are now officially under the control of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), which propagates integrated water resource management (IWRM), and has the task of managing the country’s water resources efficiently, sustainably and equitably. Taking an irrigation scheme in Northern Ghana as an example, this article shows formal and informal constraints on the implementation of the water reform at the local level. Given the local political climate of legal pluralism and weak governance, the question arises as to how the WRC, with slender resources, is to implement resource management locally. As the WRC has also failed to influence important water sector decisions on the national level, there is the danger that powerful local and national interest groups use the reforms to legitimize their vested interest, thereby excluding others and ignoring environmental concerns.
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