SWASH: Sustainable Wastewater Systems for Ghana


Start date: 1 October, 2022 End date: 30 September, 2025 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier Window 2) Project code: 21-M02-RUC Countries: Ghana Thematic areas: Climate change, Urban development, Water management and sanitation, Lead institution: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Ghana (UG), Ghana Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Paul Stacey Total grant: 4,983,065 DKK

Project summary

SWASH (Sustainable Wastewater Systems for Ghana) delivers new research knowledge and capacity strengthening for Ghanaian institutions to achieve water sustainability. The 3 year project undertakes extensive fieldwork in the rapidly growing coastal city of Tema, east of Ghana’s capital Accra. Water access and quality infrastructure is vital to both economic development and public health, and urban sustainability depends on residents’ ability to enjoy access to quality water. But achieving urban sustainability in regard to water is highly challenging. Many cities in the Global south, including Tema, experience high rates of rural-urban migration with ever-increasing pressure on local authorities to provide water services. At the same time, quality water provision is not only limited by economic costs and the need for innovative technologies, but by the large number of stakeholders involved. As such, water governance comprises a highly complex social and political field of diverse public, private, state, and non-state actors and institutions. These often pursue competing interests and are organized according to different logics and rationales. SWASH contributes to achieving viable solutions by investigating the role of informality in government’s efforts to achieve sustainable urban water systems. Broadly, the role of informality has been left out of analysis of how to achieve sustainable urban water systems because of overt focus on costs, regulatory framworks, and technological challenges. SWASH undertakes a holistic and interdisciplinary analysis of different sites and institutions and approaches water system development as an inherently non-linear and political process, as well as necessarily technical, natural, and economic. Tema provides a highly relevant setting for the project, experiencing problematic water governance, widespread informal development, growing inequality, industrial growth, and increasing climate related risks. Together with original research, SWASH contributes to DANIDA ongoing Strategic Sector Cooperation on urban water by building partnerships and strengthening capacity to achieve sustainable urban development and the SDGs. Research is undertaken by Roskilde University, University of Ghana, and University of Miami, and the project partners with Tema Metropolitan Assembly, Ghana Water Company Ltd, and the City of Aarhus. SWASH is led by Paul Stacey at IDS-RUC.

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