Water, time and gender : assessing the impact of a water project in rural Ghana

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Arku, Frank Sena
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University of Guelph

People's sense of well-being among other things derives from cultures, thereby making the measure of well-being subjective. Studies have found that people need time in order to promote their well-being. Other studies show that Rural Water Supply Projects (RWSPs) can free rural people's time. However, how the saved time is used in the light of the beneficiaries' perceived sense of well-being is largely missing from the literature. The aim of this study therefore was to determine what rural people consider as their own indicators of well-being and whether RWSPs has enabled them, especially women to save time, and whether and how the saved time is used to achieve their sense of well-being. This study used an interpretivist methodological approach, recognising that people have different viewpoints about the world, hence different interpretations. Three rural communities in Ghana were selected for this study. Both men and women from male-headed households participated with the assumption that when women who are the main collectors of water in rural households saved time, this can directly and indirectly affect the entire household, including men. Mixed methods approach was used in collecting data and the data were analysed with SPSS software, producing statistical tests such as t-test, correlation, the Mann Whiteney test and factor analysis. Qualitatively, data from focus group discussions and one-on-one interactions and observations supported results from the SPSS analysis. In total, men and women indicated having about 18 indicators that promoted their well-being, although their preference for them varied by gender. The VRWSP generally saved the respondents' time and this was true of women. Men, even though were not the main collectors of water saved time, indirectly. Also, it was revealed that saved time was used by both men and women to achieve their local indicators of well-being. It is recommended that interventions that can free rural people's time should be encouraged. Also, neglecting contextual perceptible realities of what promotes the well-being of any target population culminates to measure of organisational performance, and not well-being. Hence approaches to measuring rural people's well-being should be linked with their own indicators of well-being.

Ghana, Rural, Water supply, Well-being, Time