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Service level baseline study in three districts of Ghana

Published on: 06/08/2013

Triple-S Ghana shares results of the baseline assessment of the status of service levels, service providers and support functions, in Akatsi, Sunyani West and East Gonja districts in the Volta, Brong Ahafo and Northern regions respectively.

This report presents results of the baseline assessment of the status of service levels, service providers and support functions, in Akatsi, Sunyani West and East Gonja districts in the Volta, Brong Ahafo and Northern regions respectively.

The main objective of the baseline study was to identify strengths and gaps in the provision of sustainable water services at service provision and district level, particularly to identify the extent to which norms and standards of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) are being followed in the provision of water services

In doing this, a set of indicators was developed to assess and monitor sustainable service provision. These indicators were based on norms, standards and guidelines set by CWSA. This included indicators on:

  • Point source and piped scheme functionality
  • Service level provided by the facility (based on reliability, accessibility (in terms of crowding and distance between facility and users), water quality and water quantity)
  • Community-based water service provider indicators, related to governance; operations and financial management
  • Service authority indicators, related to support to community-based water service providers and other service authority functions (like planning, budgeting, coordination etc.)

Between October 2011 and January 2012, baseline data were collected in order to score and benchmark facilities, service providers and service authorities against the agreed indicators. The data collection exercise was undertaken by district-level staff, using mobile phone technology.

The study showed a high level of non-compliance with CWSA norms and standards, at service provision level, water service provider – Water and Sanitation Committee (WATSAN) and Water and Sanitation Development Board (WSDB) – level and at service authority (district assembly) level.

Functionality is higher for piped schemes than for point sources. About a third of all point sources in the three study districts were not functioning well (these were either broken down or did not pass the stroke and/or leakage tests), while the majority of the piped schemes were functioning.

The majority of water supply facilities do not provide a basic level of service, as per the standards set for the community water sub-sector on reliability, maximum number of people per point source (crowding), maximum distance to the facility and water quantity. The water supply facilities in the three study districts provide basic (reliable, non-crowded) services (providing at least 20 litres per capita per day of water of acceptable quality, within 500 metres of the user community), to about 20% of the people which they serve. In East Gonja and Sunyani West, only 2% and 3% respectively of point sources provide a basic level of service.

Service Levels

Service levels

Many WATSANs did not meet the service provider benchmarks. WATSANs scored especially low on the financial management indicators. Community-based piped scheme water service providers, WSDBs, generally scored lower than the WATSANs. Part of the reason for this could be that the benchmarks are set higher for the WSDBs than for the WATSANs.

Point sources managed by a WATSAN committee did not necessarily provide higher levels of services than point sources not managed by WATSANs. However, point sources managed by WATSANs with adequate preventive maintenance, spare parts supply and financial management, do provide more reliable services.

Although tariffs are relatively high (far higher than the tariff charged by the Ghana Water Company Ltd), annual revenues are much lower than expected, based on an estimated average utilization rate of 18-20 lpcd for each member of the user community. This is due to low consumption levels and / or high rates of utilization of non-revenue water. Therefore, revenue levels, though generally high enough to cover current annual expenditure, are likely to be too low to cover the operational and minor maintenance costs and costs of capital maintenance expenditure needed to sustain at least a basic level of water services.

Overall, water authorities scored very low on the service authority indicators. With the exception of Akatsi, where monitoring support to point source and piped scheme service providers had been high, scores on the service authority function indicators were generally very low. That means that districts are hardy complying with their mandate of providing support to the community-based service providers, and often lack the capacity to do so. More attention needs to be given to the service authority functions. This support can lead to better performing community-based service providers, which can in turn lead to more reliable supplies and hence higher levels of services.


Compiled by:

Victor Narteh Otum


August 7, 2013.