Pacific Institute Insights

Notes from the Field: The “We are Coming Syndrome” Calls for Community-Decision-Making Tool

by John Akudago, Senior Research Associate for the International Water and Communities Initiative
 November 2, 2011 

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Learning session at Bulenga community in the Upper West Region, Ghana

In Ghana, there is a saying that goes like this: “the world changing does not mean the sky will be on the ground but only that people will shift away from doing things the way they used to do them.” This saying came to light when I recently visited Bulenga in the Wa East District of Upper West Region of Ghana for a community learning session.

About 17 men and 13 women attended the learning session. The photo above shows the community learning process. During the process of learning, the community was asked if it was necessary for NGOs and development partners to ask them of their needs and priorities before coming out with solutions to their problems.The people present all said yes and supported their decision with the argument that they would want to know the future cost implications of any intervention, if there were other technologies that could serve more than one purpose for the community, and how they could generate income from the same provided facility to make the facility sustainable. 

However, the community also pointed out that though detailed discussion with NGOs and development partners would be a good step to ensuring sustainable WASH intervention, they were also afraid that government officials would not return to the communities after visiting and giving them promises. Follow-ups with the community always resulted in, “We are Coming”. The community said they wished they had prior information about various WASH technologies and their advantages and disadvantages so that they could deal with the “We are Coming Syndrome”.

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