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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Navigating water access and governance in peri-urban Ashaiman, Ghana : a case study Peloso, Megan Michelle


Low-income, peri-urban residents of Greater Accra face disparities in water access, particularly given that piped water services provided by the formal municipal network are highly erratic and unreliable. Often, those underserved by the official provider are able to meet their daily water needs by sourcing water through alternative, or informal, means. Although it is often the case that informal water services pose important challenges for users, for instance in terms of price and quality, this research attempts to understand other dimensions of how populations are served when they are not adequately reached by formal networks. This research also explores the potential for participatory water governance, querying policy and scholarly literatures that advocate for a more inclusive water governance process on the grounds that it is key towards service extension and empowerment. This thesis is based on two months of fieldwork in Ashaiman, a rapidly growing settlement located on the outskirts of the capital region of Accra, Ghana. The overall objective of the thesis is twofold: (1) To examine the myriad of mediums and networks through which water is accessed, with particular attention to those that extend beyond the municipal water system, and (2) To assess how participation in water governance is experienced and expressed by the peri-urban poor, with the aim of considering possibilities for managing water concerns in this context. These themes are addressed respectively in the two substantive chapters of this thesis. Insights suggest that a diversity of strategies to obtain water is a key factor in allowing peri-urban dwellers to cope with water insecurities. In addition, mainstream approaches to participatory water governance may be at odds with local institutions operating within Ashaiman, which tend to be multi-purpose and adaptive, based on a wide-ranging goal of improving social welfare. Among other implications of these findings, it is concluded that an in-depth process of consultation with community members, organizations and private water vendors is imperative to promote collaborative governance of water and well-being, where members themselves define the scope of the mandate, and where the critical role of informal water networks is accounted for.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada