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Title:When empowerment disempowers: a case study of Ghana's community-based rural development projects
Authors:Adusei-Asante, Kwadwo
Hancock, Peter
Periodical:Ghana Journal of Development Studies (ISSN 0855-6768)
Geographic term:Ghana
rural development
local government
traditional rulers
Abstract:This paper argues that the term 'empowerment' is too complex to be simply 'inserted' into development project designs without prior and precise conceptualization. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in 2010/2011 and using Ghana's Community-Based Rural Development Projects (CBRDP) in Ntoaso (Eastern region) and Aboloo (Greater Accra region) as a case study, the paper outlines power struggles that occurred between traditional chiefs and local government officials over the right to manage the projects. The analysis shows that the mal-application of 'empowerment' in the CBRDP's design impacted negatively on the projects. As the projects' officials did not envisage the feuds there was no strategy in place to monitor and manage unintended outcomes. The paper provides a theoretical and empirical basis for policy-makers and programme officials to consider more carefully the politico-cultural contexts of 'development' beneficiaries rather than focusing on positivistic and normative terms, such as empowerment, which seems to characterize many development projects at the global level. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]