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Published on: 24/04/2014

I’m hugely excited by the decision of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support our work in Ghana and by extension to buy into our vision of what it is that’s required to make water services sustainable. As readers of our blogs will know, IRC believes strongly that strengthening the ability of governments to lead the provision of services is not only the best route to scale, but the only viable exit strategy for charitable giving.  At a time when much attention in the sector continues to be focussed on finding technical quick fixes or the provision of new hardware, I’m particularly pleased that we’ve found a new partner in building the soft systems and longer term engagement with government necessary to turn that hardware into services that last 

The new grant joins our growing family of IRC projects and programmes dedicated to finding scalable and sustainable solutions to providing lasting water and sanitation services worthy of the name. I’m looking forward to working with the Foundation and others over the years to come to build this family of activities into a movement for universal access to sustainable services through the creation of viable, government-led national water and sanitation sectors.   

IRC’s Ghana programme – and what the new grant will add to it

IRC has been working with a range of local partners in Ghana since the early 1990s.  Over the last six years this work has intensified as Ghana became a member of our family of “focus countries”: countries in which we commit to a longer term presence and engagement to drive and support sector change.   

Thanks to a range of projects most notably our WASHCost and Sustainable Services at Scale (Triple-S) initiatives we have been able to identify a number of key building blocks required to establish sustainable services in water and sanitation and an approach to delivering them. In practice, this has meant working intensively with our main partner the Community Water and Sanitation Agency and with local government and communities in three districts (Akatsi, East Gonja and Sunyani West) to work out in practice what it takes to make water services sustained.

The new project involves continued support to our district and national level work as well as scaling up the innovation from our existing three pilot districts to at least 10 additional districts in which other Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grantees are working, such as World Vision International, WaterAid, Desert Research Institute, Safe Water Network and UNICEF. Through the new grant we will continue to work to improve district level coordination and water investment planning to reach the entire population in the district, train staff of other organisations in five regions and strengthen government to increase sector stakeholders’ knowledge about and ability to implement key policies, strategies and guidelines.

In 2013, our district level work led to local government supported improvements to the services of 50,000 people (another million had their service properly monitored for the first time). The new grant will directly extend this work, bringing effective and viable services to an additional 1.3 million people.

I started and will finish by saying that having the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as a new partner is hugely exciting and important to us.  It’s not just their support to our Ghana programme. It is their commitment to a shared vision of what is needed to break through the status quo of aid to water and sanitation: that it’s not only about providing hardware but about building the government-led systems necessary to provide services that last: not just today or tomorrow - but indefinitely.


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