UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Water access and governance among indigenous and migrant low income communities in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), Ghana Dapaah, Elizabeth Koryoo


Access to potable water remains a key concern for most developing countries, especially across the sub-Saharan African sub-region. Although countries such as Ghana have already declared success in attaining its MDG target of halving its population without access to potable water ahead of the 2015 target date, there are disparities in water access across the country. This disparity is notable in growing urban areas such as Accra, the national capital, where access to potable water remains a daunting challenge especially for many neighborhoods located in low income enclaves of the city. Adopting a comparative approach, this research aims to elicit the everyday accessibility options and coping strategies of two low income neighborhoods; one indigenous (Ga Mashie) and one migrant (Madina), located in the metropolitan region of Accra. The study uses data from a two and half months of fieldwork conducted in both communities in Accra, Ghana. It includes a survey of 200 households in Ga Mashie and Madina, group discussions, and semi-structured interviews with local community leaders. Drawing on concepts of entitlement, social capital, vulnerability and water governance, the study analyzes the everyday lived experiences of water access in these communities. Results of the study show that while there are qualitative differences in water access between both communities, they both rely on informal water vendors for their water supply. Also, among the many social problems in both communities, water was considered to be among their biggest concerns. However, this notion held by the respondents in both communities was not shared by local public officials in Ga Mashie, where officials discounted the existence of a water problem. Moreover, in some notable ways, Madina appears to be more resilient in times of water shortages than Ga Mashie, contrary to what this study initially hypothesized. In conclusion, this study suggests that care must be taken in proposals for water governance reforms in particular settings since different localities likely call for different responses. For a sustainable governance outcome, there is the need to promote models that tend to account for the roles and needs of different social groups at the local level.

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