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Participation: Rhetoric and Reality. The Importance of Understanding Stakeholders Based on a Case Study in Upper East Ghana

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Based on the views of a number of stakeholders involved in the development of small reservoir systems in the Upper East Region of Ghana in West Africa, this paper examines the importance of understanding the stakeholders whom the international development community wants to include in its participatory approaches. The paper also aims to show that terms such as participation’, participatory approach’ and participatory planning’ are often used in project proposals, but that in reality the extent to which stakeholders are actually able to participate in projects is limited. This limitation is often due to a lack of understanding by the project organization of the interests and views of the stakeholders, which are then not incorporated in the project process. A stakeholder analysis could provide more insight in the interests, goals and views of all stakeholders involved in a project, as well as in the differences between the stakeholders. In the development of water resources, the long-term sustainability of a project's work is dependent on the manner in which relevant (often local) stakeholders continue the process after the official time of the project has ended. Thus, since the project is dependent on the involvement of relevant stakeholders, the formulation of adequate and appropriate forms of stakeholder engagement that will ensure information exchange and participation is essential. However, as the case study shows, such analyses were not always carried out, thus leading to a number of problems with project implementation and also with transplantation from one region, district or community to another.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Water Resources Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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