Everyday politics in collaborative governance of (non)networked water infrastructures in rural and small towns of Ghana
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Habitat International, Volume 139, 2023, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2023.102904.
Following the increasing failure of participatory governed planning interventions in attaining inclusive outcomes, critical governance scholars have articulated the need to pay attention to politics, especially in the global South. Motivated by this pertinent scholarly invitation, this study examines the politics in a state-community collaboration involving the provision, operations and maintenance of water infrastructures in rural and small towns of Ghana. By drawing on everyday politics and the qualitative case study, we explore the actors involved and their roles, the rules guiding the collaboration, the power relations, and how activities were performed; and offer a reflection on the implications for inclusive governance. We showed that though state-community collaboration holds the potential for joint deliberation towards the operations and maintenance of water projects, instead, it manifested more of a representation in practice, where rules and principles of the collaboration were pre-defined by state actors and served non-state actors in the implementation (provision of labour, financial/material inputs and meetings). These were shaped by the diverse interests and uneven power relations between state and non-state actors and among community-level representatives, including experts’ power of dominance by knowledge, and the quest for incentives in the collaboration. The findings suggest that the constellation of actors and the uneven power relations inherent in collaborative governance arrangements tend to empower actors with the “powers over” and “powers to” empower non-state actors. Therefore, we recommend that planners and policy-makers pay attention to power relations and dynamics among actors by conducting power dynamic mapping toward building partnerships for inclusive governance.
Keywords: Water infrastructure, Everyday politics, Inclusive governance, Collaborative governance, Rural and small towns
- Journal Article