Barriers to Sustainable NGO WaSH Projects in Low-Middle Income Sub- Saharan Africa




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


The provision and access to sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) facilities as part of international development remains a major challenge in Sub-Saharan African (SSA). Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are playing increasing roles in filling the gap of funding WaSH projects in communities in SSA regions. However, NGOs efforts have concentrated on SSA countries classed as Low-Income Economies. In contrast, Lower-Middle Income Economies (LMIEs) SSAs have seen a decline in NGO aid in their regions due to marginal economic growth. This growth, however, has not always trickled down to all citizens within countries. One of the major contributing factors to insufficient access to WaSH facilities in Sub-Sahara Africa LMIEs’ is the lack of governments' concerted efforts to drive reforms supporting WaSH, especially in small towns and rural areas challenged by poverty. Thus, the adverse effect of slow economic growth is less aid towards WaSH; this, combined with Governments’ lack of prioritisation of solutions for poorer communities, means that Lower-Middle Income SSAs have more significant challenges in the WaSH sector.
Despite the depletion of NGO aid in LMIEs SSAs, it is imperative that the limited initiatives provided are sustainable and contribute to long-lasting impact. However, literature on the contribution of NGOs in delivering sustainable WaSH projects in these regions concludes that evidence on the impact of NGO WaSH needs evaluation. For example, research states that 30 to 50% of NGOs WaSH projects fail after two to three years; however, the causes of these failures are unknown; this is another major setback to an already challenged sector. Thus, this research contributes to knowledge by identifying factors that lead to NGO WaSH projects failure in Sub-Saharan Africa LMIEs, drawing knowledge from WaSH experts within SSA and focusing on WaSH project barriers from the perspectives of NGOs and beneficiaries in Ghana. This research focused on an Interpretivist perspective and adopted qualitative methods using content and thematic analysis to examine three sets of primary data. The first was a content analysis of an online WaSH forum discussion about WaSH project management in SSA between nine WaSH experts, the second and third were thematic analyses of semi-structured interviews with twenty NGO WaSH representatives and forty beneficiaries of projects in four regions in Ghana. The findings of this research revealed that the barriers to sustainable WaSH projects were complex and interrelated. Although limited financing of projects played a central role in the eventual disbandment of projects, factors such as culture, nepotism, political infiltration in NGO projects contributed to why projects were not sustainable. Furthermore, the lack of clarity on who was responsible for monitoring projects also abetted to project failure. These factors became more eminent once an NGO had handed over a project to the community. The researcher captured these empirical findings in a conceptual framework that demonstrates the key challenges to WaSH in SSA and proposed recommendations to address these barriers.





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