Improving Participatory Water Governance in Accra, Ghana

Africa Initiative Policy Brief No. 7

June 4, 2013

The city of Accra faces challenges in providing its citizens with potable water due to rapid population growth, poverty and governance challenges. This policy brief highlights the positive uses of local water boards (LWBs) and “water dialogues” to spark discussion and change in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area.

The international community has outlined the need for participatory environmental governance for decades and drawing upon this discourse, the authors, Leila M. Harris and Cynthia Morinville, discuss whether this governance is feasible in Accra. They note that dialogue must be sensitive to local concerns and designed to ensure that citizens’ voices are heard. The authors recommend that LWBs are instituted in additional communities in Accra, that effort is put into improving the function of the boards, that participatory mechanisms are strengthened to ensure citizen representation, and that best practices are shared with other urban areas with similar challenges.

Part of Series

CIGI-Africa Initiative Policy Brief Series

The CIGI-Africa Initiative Policy Brief Series presents analysis and commentary emerging from field-based research on issues critical to the continent. Findings and recommendations in this peer-reviewed series aim to inform policy making and to contribute to the overall African research enterprise.

About the Authors

Leila M. Harris (Ph.D., geography) is assistant professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. 

Cynthia Morinville recently finished her M.A. at IRES. Her work focusses on issues of water governance and access, participation and community engagement, particularly in Accra, Ghana.