Looking at the Alorsekope community's water supply situation in Ghana.
Published on: 28/01/2014
We examine how interventions by the Triple-S project through the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) to the District Assembly to the communities has enhanced water supply. It is based on a visit to the community in May 2013 during which interviews with water users and the chairman of the Water and Sanitation Management Team (WSMT) chairman were conducted.
"Since the construction of the new water facility, we have not had any problems with it."
Alorsekope is a community in the Akatsi district of the Volta Region. It has a population of about five hundred inhabitants. The main occupation of the inhabitants is farming and trading.
Water Supply situation
The Alorsekope Community was without an improved water source until the late 2000s. The residents relied on unsafe sources of water for domestic use. These included ponds, wells, streams etc.
Mr. Prosper Gidi is the Water and Sanitation Management Team (WSMT) chairman for the community. He explains that the water situation of the community was not good; "There was no safe water source and the people in the community relied on any available source of water for domestic uses without regarding water safety".
The community stayed without safe water source until they were provided with a borehole fitted with handpump in the late early 2000s. Unfortunately this facility was low-yielding and only produced a few buckets of water (20 litres) after long pumping hours. Upon noticing the predicament of the community, the District Assembly, through implementation of the DANIDA funded water and sanitation programme, provided a new and high-yielding borehole.
Gidi said "However, because the other water facility does not have very good patronage, the high-yielding facility sees an average visitation of 15-20 people a day during the raining season when other water sources are available. Patronage, however, increases during the dry season when other water sources are unavailable or have dried up".
Sales of water
The community practices 'pay-as-you-fetch' and sells 40 litres of water (one basin) at GH10p. The amount of GH10p was set by the WSMT after it was discussed and agreed upon with the community at a community meeting. The tariff was set low because the decision was not to make a profit but to ensure that water is affordable and accessible to all whilst generating some funds for operation and maintenance.
The sale of water peaks in the dry season when there are no alternative water sources but drops in the rainy season when other sources are available.
Daavi (sister, woman or aunty) Ami is a widow with three children. She fetches water from the handpump every day and gets an average of two buckets per day. She uses it for her household chores including bathing, cooking and washing. According to her the GH10p a basin is affordable to her. "However, days that I don't have money, I don't go to fetch from the facility but from any available source that I will not need to pay. However I do not wait for my water to finish completely before I fetch".
How water is sold
According to Mr. Gidi, the WSMT has engaged a water vendor to retail water from the facilities to water users. The vendor is paid a commission of 10% of monthly sales. She opens the facility in the morning for people to fetch, and takes a break mid-morning. She opens it again in the afternoon till late evening.
According to Daavi Ami; "If I need water and the vendor is not around, I will go for the keys to the water facility to fetch and give the money to the vendor". A worrying observation about this situation is that people could just go for the facility keys and fetch with or without the knowledge of the vendor, a situation that could deny the WSMT revenue generation and monitoring of the facility.
In general, water users expressed that the quality of water service delivered to the community by the water facilities is good. However some community members enumerated a few challenges they encounter with their water facilities. According to Daavi Ami; "The quality of water from the handpump is good. However sometimes it is difficult to fetch water because the facility becomes hard and difficult to pump. It takes quite some time to fill a bucket, especially during the dry season. Sometimes I get assistance from other people around to fetch water because of my age. I am okay with the performance of the WSMT because they ensure there are no breakdowns with the facility".
According to chairman Gidi, "Since the construction of the new water facility, we have not had any problems with it. The older facility gives us problems because of the pressure exerted on it. It breaks down a lot more often". He said anytime a facility breaks down they get assistance from the office of the District Water and Sanitation Team (DWST) to access the services of area mechanics and spare parts for repair work.
Composition and activities WSMT
According to the chairman of the WSMT the team is well constituted and they hold regular meetings. He said they conduct routine maintenance on the facilities. This, he said, prevents frequent and major breakdowns. At the time of visit, Mr. Gidi indicated the community has the amount of GHC 150.45 in their water and sanitation account for operation and maintenance.
Mr. Gidi added that; "We also do render accounts to the community twice a year and the community is happy with our work. There has not been any interference, political or chieftaincy in our activities as a team". According to him they have been receiving regular monitoring and technical support from the Environmental Health Assistants in the district to perform their duties. He said they provide them with information on facility site maintenance and general effects of poor sanitation and hygiene.
Challenges and way forward
The WSMT has not been given any refresher training after the initial training when the team was first constituted. Patronage for the older facility is not encouraging because of the low yield and number of strokes required to fill water receptacles. It also breaks down frequently which ends up depleting the savings of the WSMT.
Members of the WSMT expressed their desire for refresher training to boost their knowledge and skills in facility operation and maintenance. The issues have been communicated to the District Assembly. They also expressed the desire to have water quality test analysis for the facility.