, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 157-174

Household strategies in the face of resource scarcity in coastal Ghana: are they associated with development priorities?

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Abstract

In many developing regions, women and young girls spend several hours daily in the collection of natural resources. Still the link between these household resource strategies and stakeholder perceptions of development priorities remains unexplored. This project examines this association with survey data representative of the adult population from Ghana’s Coastal Region. Although natural resource scarcity and the sustainability of resource use represent key development challenges, there are others (e.g., energy, sanitation, employment, and educational opportunities). As such, even in the face of natural resource scarcity, individuals may place greater importance on other dimensions of development, especially if household resource strategies are perceived as relatively efficient. The analytical focus here is on water and the results suggest that gender roles shape household water collection strategies, while also shaping these strategies’ perceived opportunity costs. Specifically, Ghanian adults more often see drinking water provision as their primary development need when water sources are distant and/or when male household members collect water (particularly male heads). In the end, I argue that social science inquiry benefits by contextualizing social dynamics within environmental context, particularly within cultural settings in which human subsistence is intimately tied to the state of the natural environment.