Management of Catchment for the Protection of Source Water in the Densu River Basin, Ghana: Implications for Rural Communities

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Coping mechanisms, water management, multi-stakeholders, costs and benefits, catchment committee, and sub-Saharan Africa

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Since the 1990s, integrated catchment management (ICM) has been promoted as a holistic and integrated approach to water resources management. However, there is evidence to show that the costs and benefits associated with ICM are often inequitably distributed. This study investigates impacts of the implementation of catchment strategies on four rural communities and the coping mechanisms available to residents to cope with concomitant socioeconomic hardships within the Densu River basin, Ghana. The study relies on data collected through reviewing regulatory and policy documents, interviews, observations, and a household survey of 327 respondents. The results show that the implementation of the catchment strategies has negatively impacted the economies of all communities leading to local resistance. Increasing unemployment, decreasing incomes, and decreasing sales are generating increasing crime rates, out migration, and changing gender roles with additional burden on women. What compounds the problem are that socioeconomic interventions and coping mechanisms have failed to make any significant impact. We argue that for effective ICM, proportional representation of local people on catchment committees should be central in order to incorporate a thorough understanding of the local socioeconomic issues and integrating those issues into the implementation process; otherwise catchment strategies risk disproportionately impacting rural communities.

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International Journal of River Basin Management, in press