From Development to Empowerment: How a Borehole Gave Agency to The Community: A Case Study of The Project Water For All in Bole, Northern Ghana

Melitka Križman

Student thesis: Master thesis


The present study takes a point of departure in Bole, Northern Ghana, where it investigates the socio-technical network and dynamics between the borehole and community and the processes of economic and social change deriving from such association. The question about what things do or can do directs the attention of the research towards an important phenomenon, namely the agency of the network between objects and humans. Conducting qualitative group interviews with a comprehensive list of stakeholders in three communities in Bole, this study found that material objects (i.e. new technology such as a borehole) induced social and economic change due to the success of emancipation embedded in the borehole by the social actors. However, the study also showed that the scope of change varied among the communities and largely depended on the problematization phase. When the human actors perceived the borehole’s water as a long-term commodity for resolving some of their broader societal considerations, they were more likely to cooperate and financially contribute to the activities in exchange for water. The implication of the latter for the external interventions in rural parts of Northern Ghana is that when objects are required to sustain society’s emancipatory potential, they are more likely to become actors. Hence, if the supply of services does not match the local demands, the private or public investments may become inefficient in prospering the processes of social and economic change. As the present study found, when demand and supply are in equilibrium, the objects are more likely to induce interactions with human actors and the agency of such associations formed between objects and human actors is more likely to result in community empowerment.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages72