This study was primarily aimed at investigating the physicochemical and microbial quality of water in 14 such dugouts from five districts in the northern region of Ghana. Results obtained suggest that except for colour, turbidity, total iron and manganese, many physicochemical parameters were either within or close to the World Health Organisation’s acceptable limits for drinking water. Generally, colour ranged from 5 to 750 Hz (mean 175 Hz), turbidity from 0.65 to 568 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU; mean 87.9 NTU), total iron from 0.07 to 7.85 mg/L (mean 1.0 mg/L) and manganese from 0.03 to 1.59 mg/L (mean 0.50 mg/L). Coliform counts in water from all the dugouts in both wet and dry seasons were, however, above the recommended limits for drinking water. Total and faecal coliforms ranged from 125 to 68,000 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL (mean 10,623 cfu/100 mL) and < 1 to 19,000 cfu/100 mL (mean 1,310 cfu /100 mL), respectively. The poor microbial quality, as indicated by the analytically significant presence of coliform bacteria in all samples of dugout water, strongly suggests susceptibility and exposure to waterborne diseases of, and consequent health implications on, the many people who continuously patronise these vital water resources throughout the year. In particular, more proactive sustainable water management options, such as introduction to communities of simple but cost-effective purification techniques for water drawn from dugouts for drinking purposes, education and information dissemination to the water users to ensure environmentally hygienic practices around dugouts, may be needed.