Assessing community performance in the community water and sanitation programme in the Tano District

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Over the past few decades, community water projects in Ghana have been supply driven, based on government and/or donor initiative. The supply driven projects left the communities as mere passive beneficiaries. Communities were selected to receive the facilities on the basis of need (as expressed by experts) rather than on demand for services (as expressed by communities). The level of service was based on what the project could afford rather than what consumers were willing to pay. When implementers had finished their work, projects were left to the communities, who were not very sure as to what to do. This situation caused many water supply systems to break down, because the responsibilities of maintaining such facilities were unclear. The low level of sustainability in many such projects has given way to a new strategy which involves the communities in all aspects of projects - from planning to implementation, through operation and maintenance to monitoring and evaluation. The intensity of community involvement has thus increased over time from mere participation to community ownership and management of the day-to-day operations and maintenance of their facilities. The success of this strategy depends on the government establishing support mechanisms and processes to enable communities to play their part in the planning and upkeep of their facilities. The study examined the performance of water and sanitation beneficiary communities in the Tano district within the context of the on-going decentralization programme in Ghana. The key concept “community performance” was defined in order to throw more light on the required functions of the beneficiary communities, as owners and managers of the provided facilities. A framework for analysing community performance was proposed and accompanying indicators to measure the performance defined. Twelve communities were sampled out of eighty beneficiary communities of the Community Water and Sanitation Programme in the Tano District. The stratified random sampling technique based on the district’s twelve town and area councils was employed in selecting the twelve communities. In each community focus group discussions and community meetings were held with the WATSAN Committee and the community respectively to solicit information on the management of water and sanitation facilities. Based on the performance indicators, the study examined the extent of the performance of the communities, in the areas of financial management, health and hygiene practices, community mobilisation and facilities’ management. The assessment revealed that based on the training and resources provided to the communities, they have made appreciable strides in keeping their facilities functioning as well as in keeping their communities clean. On the other hand, it was also revealed that the zeal and enthusiasm with which they participated in meetings and other project activities initially have waned considerably after their facilities were installed. Consequently, the management practices of the communities, apart from pump maintenance and community cleanliness, have been ad hoc in nature. The communities have deemed the mission accomplished. This coupled with lack of motivation for the WATSANs and regular monitoring from the District Water and Sanitation Team, among others, has rendered the sustainability of the processes put in place vulnerable. To this end, recommendations have been made which are further provided in a frame of a community performance improvement plan. The study concludes by advocating for the commitment of all the stakeholders who must see themselves as equal and important partners in development in implementing the community performance improvement plan.
A Thesis Submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2000