BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Water resource management has acquired prominence in global development discussions throughout the years. Water is required for the survival of humans and all other living things. It has a wide range of applications. It is utilized for industrial, household, and irrigation reasons, for example, and society receives a variety of benefits from it (FAO, 2009). Water is a critical component of human development and a crosscutting concern in modern development objectives driving worldwide efforts to achieve sustainable development goals, due to its numerous occurrences, management, and uses.
This is reflected in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six (6), which aims to guarantee universal access to and sustainable management of water and sanitation. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development (WECD) (1987), sustainable development is defined as development that aims to fulfill current needs and ambitions without jeopardizing future generations’ ability to meet their own. Protecting water resources and enhancing water services are critical for improving hygiene and sanitation standards, which have an impact on people’s ability to work productively. Furthermore, an effective and dependable sanitation and water supply system is critical for lowering morbidity and mortality, as well as avoiding vector and water-borne illnesses (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2009).
Water’s importance for life’s nourishment has been recognized for decades. Indigenous peoples have acquired an extensive body of knowledge for sustainable use and management of natural resources such as rivers and streams over the years as guardians of natural resources and as a result of centuries of experimentation. Rules and belief systems that constituted pieces of their customary laws were used to ensure the continuation of this knowledge and the long-term usage of these resources (Gadgil, 2005). Indigenous peoples had a systematic understanding of how to manage plants, animals, and natural occurrences in ecosystems and their environments. When colonialism, technology, and population expansion occurred, and their lands and territories were taken over, a process of resource looting and deprivation began (Henrik, 1996).
These customary laws that governed the application of their expertise to the management of natural resources within their territory were marginalized by the advent of statutory laws (Opoku-Ankomah, Amposah& Some, 2006). With the arrival of the age of economic development, which was vigorously pushed by private enterprises, the situation worsened throughout the decades. As a result, various efforts at conferences have contributed to the progress of water policy problems throughout the years. The Lake Success Conference on Resource Conservation and Utilization in 1949; the Mar Del Plata Conference in 1977; the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972; the International Conference on Water and Environment in Dublin in 1992, where the Dublin Principles were developed; and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 are all examples of such initiatives.
The International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn in 2001; the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002; and the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth World Water Forums in Kyoto, Mexico, Istanbul, Marseille, and Daegu-Gyeongbuk in 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012, 2015, respectively, are examples of recent conferences. The creation of an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) strategy and other water resource management concepts emerged from these conferences, summits, and forums. These concepts and ideas have been accepted by the international community and have been argued to be important instruments for managing global water resources.
In Africa, there are several water resources. Lake Victoria, the Niger River, and the Volta River are just a few examples. The availability of fresh water is critical to Africa’s growth. Nonetheless, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2014), Africa accounted for more than 40% of all people without access to safe drinking water, with 300,000 people deprived of clean water sources owing to inefficient water resource management. According to Freitas (2013), increasing strain on Africa’s water resources might cause internal instability, worsen current inter-state tensions, and possibly serve as a source of armed conflict.
Water contamination, according to Prüss-Üstün, Bos, Gore, and Bartram (2008), might occur if water sources, such as river basins, are not adequately managed. According to Prüss-Üstün et al., unsafe and contaminated water use in Africa might result in widespread typhoid, dysentery, and other illnesses. Apart from the impact on health, Prüss-Üstün et al., (2008) pointed out that the loss of production caused by water-related diseases stymies the continent’s growth. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), population growth in many African nations was high each year, averaging 2.5 percent across Sub-Saharan Africa, but lack of safe drinking water and sanitation slowed economic growth to double that pace.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (2014) claimed that attaining sustainable development and efficient water management in Africa needed representative engagement from all those who stand to benefit or suffer, as well as consideration of water timing, quality, and biodiversity. Mondello (2006) also recommended that the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and other solid policies be implemented in the future to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of water usage. This was to be accomplished by taking the following steps: establishing multilateral river basin management authorities for more than half of Africa’s eighty-eight trans-boundary rivers and lakes; developing national plans for the management and wise use of wetlands; and conserving 50 million hectares of freshwater wetlands to support local people’s livelihoods.
As a result, a number of African nations have undertaken water sector reforms. The Okavango Basin Management Board, established to address trans-boundary water issues in Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, and the Nyando Basin Management Board, established in Kenya, are two examples. Biswas (2008), however, claims that the introduction of formal policies such as the IWRM plan and other principles has not entirely eradicated difficulties connected with the management of water resources in Africa.
Ghana has abundant water resources, including rivers like the Volta, Densu, Pra, Tano, and Ankobra. Ghana adopted formal water policies that informed new policies and enactments such as the Water Resources Commission (WRC) Act 522 of 1996 for river basin plans, which was followed by the National Water Policy of June 2007 in which all stakeholders were expected to be brought on board as far as river basin management in Ghana was concerned. According to WRC (2012), the introduction of the IWRM at decentralized levels in selected river basins was necessary due to factors such as farming activities along river banks encroaching on water shed zones; water shortages in an otherwise perennial river system caused by an accelerating increase in irrigation demand; and the construction of numerous smaller dams and dug-outs in the uplands (WRC, 2012).
Furthermore, the IWRM was deemed necessary for managing Ghana’s freshwater resources. In Ghana, many IWRM frameworks have been developed for distinct basins. IWRM plans for the Densu River Basin, for example, were completed in 2007, followed by those for the White Volta, Ankobra, Pra, and Tano River Basins. However, as Biswas (2008) argues, the implementation of these formal regulations in Ghana’s water management has not completely remedied the country’s water management challenges (Millar, 2005). It was thought that if formal organizations were charged with managing water resources and these principles were followed, a solution might be found. Nonetheless, even under the supervision of these official organizations, pollution and biodiversity loss continue to rise (Bonye, 2008).
On a razor-thin margin, indigenous peoples continue to emphasize and practice their own way of life and worldviews. Rural communities in Ghana’s Volta basin, for example, used adaptable institutional frameworks to conserve natural resources, including taboos and other cultural practices, according to Opoku-Ankomah et al. (2006). Indigenous knowledge is gaining traction as a tool that the global community may utilize to address current and future food and health security issues (Reed, 1997). In a similar spirit, there is a growing recognition of the critical role that indigenous knowledge and customary rules may play in ensuring the planet’s health (Boelens, Chiba, & Nakashima, 2006). The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Convention on Biodiversity, for example, recognize the importance of indigenous knowledge in the development and conservation agendas (CBD). Henrik (1996) ascribed current inadequate natural resource management to invasive state policies that allegedly interfered too much on the local scene and damaged traditional institutions’ ability to regulate resource usage.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The Tano Basin is a major river basin in Ghana’s south-western river system. It runs through the BrongAhafo, Ashanti, and Western Regions and serves a variety of socio-economic roles, including providing one of the most reliable supplies of water for household, industrial, and agricultural uses in the BrongAhafo Region and other areas through which it passes. In a 2011 study on water resources in the BrongAhafo Region, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noted that water quality was excellent, but that activities like as poor agricultural practices might have an impact on water resources if not managed correctly. The IWRM plan was developed in 2012 in response to conflicting demands for water, with the goal of facilitating wide stakeholder participation in order to foster compromise and fair access.
The Water Resource Commission’s study on the Tano basin in 2014 confirmed to the fact that human activities along the Tano river were placing the Tano Basin in jeopardy, which might have ramifications on the lives of many who rely on it for a living. Legal and illicit gold and other mineral mining, as well as clay and sand mining, are key concerns impacting the Tano Basin, according to a 2014 assessment by the Water Resource Commission. Farming and tree cutting in the buffer zone, as well as human-built structures, were recognized as activities that have an impact on the basin. Inadequate water to fulfill demand for household, commercial, agricultural, and industrial uses was mentioned as a possible outcome if steps to curb such activities are not implemented. Nonetheless, Haverkort, Van’t Hooft, and Hiemstra (2003) proposed the Endogenous Development method, which suggested that the utilization of local resources, such as human resources, leadership, and institutions, may be effective instruments for tackling development issues. As a result, the goal of this study was to see how indigenous knowledge is being used to water resource management in the upper Tano river basin.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this study is to examine indigenous water resource management knowledge in the upper Tano River Basin in Ghana, thus, the following objectives;
1. Describe the forms of indigenous knowledge used in management of water resources.
2. Examine the indigenous practices that existed in the management of water resources in the communities.
4. Describe the challenges faced by indigenous institutions in using indigenous knowledge to manage water resources in the communities.
3. Make appropriate recommendations on the need to incorporate indigenous knowledge in basin management policies.
The following questions guide this study;
1. What are the forms of indigenous knowledge used in management of water resources?
2. What are the indigenous practices that existed in the management of water resources in the communities?
4. What are the challenges faced by indigenous institutions in using indigenous knowledge to manage water resources in the communities?
3. What are the appropriate recommendations on the need to incorporate indigenous knowledge in basin management policies?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Poor water resources management has given rise to a number of problems in relation to health, socio-economic development and environmental management, which need to be solved (Dungumaro & Madulu, 2003). This study will create awareness on the issue of poor water management and its effects on health and other sectors of the economy. It will allow for the government and the individuals to take proper steps towards better appropriate water management not just in the Tano River Basin but also other areas. This study will also be significant as it will create more materials for other scholars or researchers looking to further the subject matter or undertake the study from a different perspective.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study looked at the forms of indigenous values and knowledge and how they fit into water and related resources management policies and laws. It was restricted to riparian communities along the upper Tano River in the BrongAhafo Region of Ghana. This research sought to describe the community’s norms and practices as well as how these practices impact on water resources management in the upper Tano basin.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study will be limited to the riparian communities along the upper Tano River in the BrongAhafo Region of Ghana. The findings of this study will be limited to this region, however, the recommendations and findings may be applicable to other regions as it relates to the proper management of water resources.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. WATER RESOURCE: Water resources are natural resources of water that are potentially useful as a source of water supply.
2. MANAGEMENT: the process of dealing with or controlling things or people. In this case, it refers to the management of the actions of people towards water resources.