Barriers to Sustainable Management of Public Services. The Case of Water, Sanitation and Environment Services

Nkrumah Kwame Osei, PhD. Candidate, Researcher


In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 agenda for Sustainable development and its 17 goals (SDGs). The agenda 2030 is committed to achieving sustainability in its three aspects: (economic, social and environmental) in a balanced and integrated manner. However, not all countries have all the financial and non-financial resources means to reach each of the goals by 2030. The study explores the barriers to the management of clean water and sanitation in the context of Ghanaian water supply and sanitation services. An inductive approach is used based on document analysis. Interviews and opinions are explored in relation to the existing literature. In this research, sustainable development is understood as a form of collective action in the case of clean water and sanitation (SDG-6) in Ghana.

The study shows that Ghanaian water supply and sanitation services primarily perceived sustainable development from a rational point of view and treat it in an individualistic and opportunistic manner. Challenges are tackled by quick fixes, such as improving economic and operational efficiency. However, it is argued in this case that this kind of approach undermines the structure and process of management and can suppress policy integration. Sustainable development is mostly explored only from three dimensions, although some of the research participants recognize the need for shared governance. It also suggests that critical dialogue and joint decision making between water, sanitation and environment service providers and actors are lacking and skill to develop this type of collaboration is scanty. The study puts forward the corresponding solutions to address this nexus, which could furthermore benefit other nations with similar challenges.


Sustainable development, sustainable management, sustainable development goals, Digitalization, human rights, water rights, environment, sanitation, public service, participation, Ghana