Before the twentieth century, watershed management in most Ghanaian communities relied solely on religious-based restrictions such as the use of taboos and sacred groves, to deter people from encroaching on watersheds. However, the advents of Christianity, western education, and urbanization, and the desire to develop the resources of the country have reduced the effectiveness and respect for traditional restrictions for the protection of the environment. Also, customary administration over watersheds has had a lot of challenges in evaluation and assessment of environmental damages, enforcement of laws to bring illegal land users to book, and integrating the rights of land users with policies on regulation and management. In the face of these numerous problems in the reliance on customary laws and practices, several watershed management policies have been consolidated with other key water sector policies such as the Water Use Regulation LI 1962, the Integrated Water Resource Management Policy (IWRMP) of 1996 and the National Water Vision Policy of 1997to streamline the administration over local watersheds. Despite these policies, many watersheds are still under the threat of degradation. This study identifies the reasons why the government has become unsuccessful to manage watersheds in the country. It used the Inchaban Watershed as a case, and solicited information using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions from 41 stakeholders or respondents who were selected purposively. The results of the study revealed that capacity of the management institutions to enforce the laws and policies set out by government was challenged due to problems of legal pluralism posed by local chiefs, some management and other institutions as well as individual local users of the Inchaban Watershed.
Key words: Watershed management, management institutions, user institutions, policies, Inchaban Watershed, Ghana.
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