Transforming lives: How a co-operative rescued a community from water scarcity

Water is a fundamental necessity for human survival, yet access to it remains a challenge for many communities in Ghana.

The struggle is real, with long queues forming at the mere two boreholes available. Women spend their entire day waiting to fetch water for household use, and children even skip school to assist with this arduous task.

Women fetching water from the newly constructed reservoir.

The plight of the people of Karaga is just one example of the water scarcity plaguing communities in Northern Ghana that affects humans and animals.

In 2020, the district selected Karaga for the 4R Nutrient Stewardship project, which is a partnership between the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada, Fertilizer Canada and Global Affairs Canada. This project’s goal is to improve communities’ socio-economic capacities, and as a result, the 4R co-operative was born. Through a series of transformative training sessions, the co-operative members were educated on the principles of democracy, member participation, and community development. They understood the power of co-operation and realized it was time to act.

The Tikpanjotub Co-operative, fuelled by their newfound knowledge, sought to be the catalyst for change in their community. They approached a construction company working on a road in their vicinity and skilfully applied their negotiation skills gained from the 4R project training. The result—the construction company agreed to build a reservoir for the people of Karaga for GHC5000 (CAD $580).

Undeterred, the co-operative pooled their resources, with each member contributing GHC50 (CAD $6) towards the construction costs. Additionally, GHC1000 (CAD $116) was contributed by the Njabado, a neighboring community, who supported this vital project after learning how they would benefit from the reservoir. After successfully mobilizing the negotiated fee of GHC500 (CAD $60), the reservoir became a reality. It collected rainwater for communal use. Its impact reached far beyond Karaga, benefiting the neighbouring communities of Nchibadu, Njambado, and Nadudo.

Speaking with one co-operative member, the memories of the past are vivid.

“We used to embark on long journeys in search of water during this time of year,” he reminisced. “Our cattle suffered, and we rarely spent time with our families,” a co-op member said.

Some members of the co-op at the new community reservoir.

“Queueing endlessly at the borehole often led to conflicts. However, thanks to the newly constructed reservoir, we now have easy access to water for cooking, bathing, and everyday activities,” Naporo, a VSLA facilitator, said.

The co-operative’s initiative has not only brought relief but also transformed the lives of their community and beyond. Time that was once wasted in queues is now channelled towards productive ventures. Children attend school regularly and effortlessly fetch water from the reservoir. The co-operative’s resolute action has ushered in a new era of hope, where water scarcity is no longer a constant burden.

The story of Karaga stands as a testament to the power of co-operation and the extraordinary impact a united community can have. With determination and knowledge, they triumphed over adversity, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. Water, once elusive, is now available freely, and nourishes the community, bringing an end to their struggles.


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