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Creating a new model for rural water service monitoring: an experiment

Published on: 23/02/2015

A framework for monitoring sustainable water services has been developed and successfully tested in three districts in Ghana. The framework supports the transition from a focus on counting water systems to monitoring services provided and sustained and is now being scaled up to 8 of the country's 10 regions.


This experiment refined and tested indicators of good service and sound financial management, using a web-based technology to increase the efficiency of data collection, and explored how the information can be used for planning water service delivery. After successful piloting in three districts under the Triple-S project, CWSA, the national agency for rural and small towns water service delivery in Ghana is now leading a process of applying the Service Delivery Indicators in 131 districts.

In Ghana, as in many countries, rural water supply monitoring has mainly focused on counting number of facilities constructed. This provides inadequate information for planning, resource allocation and remedial action. To improve this, Ghana's Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and IRC developed and tested indicators for functionality, service levels and sustainability. Mobile phones and a web-based application are used to collect and manage the service monitoring data.

Application of these indicators in the three pilot districts of Triple-S showed that a third of point sources are not working. The majority of point sources and piped schemes that do work, do not provide only a basic level of service. Service is hampered by poorly functioning community-based water service providers and service authorities (local government) fail to meet the benchmarks on almost all indicators for support functions. For more detail, see the presentations and paper presented at the WEDC Conference 2014.

The experiment reached limited piloting stage during the Triple-S project. Applying the framework in the pilot districts Akatsi, Sunyani West and East Gonja has generated data for asset management, comprehensive planning and budgeting that covers new investments as well as capital maintenance of existing infrastructure.
CWSA is leading a national process to scale up the framework across 8 of the 10 regions of Ghana, supported with additional funding of about $3.9 million from the Government of Ghana, the Government of The Netherlands , The World Bank, UNICEF and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The SMARTerWASH project, with support of the Dutch government and the World Bank will further develop the water service monitoring model and collect baseline data in 119 districts in six regions.

Who was involved and where
IRC Ghana worked with:

  • Regional and district level CWSA staff
  • Community Water and Sanitation Agency information technology specialists at national headquarters and regional offices
  • District Assemblies: (district planning coordinating unit, district works department, district water and sanitation team) and service providers (Water and Sanitation Management Teams) in Akatsi, East Gonja and Sunyani West districts

Selected publications

Webinar presentation on water service monitoring in Ghana Presentation by Jeremiah Atengdem on Water service monitoring in Ghana for webinar on District Monitoring of Rural Water Supplies - October 14, 2014.

Adank, M. et al., 2014. The state of handpump water services in Ghana: findings from three districts, WEDC Conference 37, September 2014.

Adank, M. et al., 2013. The status of rural water services in Ghana: a synthesis of findings from 3 districts (Akatsi, Sunyani West and East Gonja Districts), IRC/Triple-S – Working Paper.

Adank, M. et al., 2012. Fact Sheet on Service monitoring in Three Districts in Ghana

A how-to guide for applying the new monitoring framework (published by CWSA). 

For more information contact IRC Ghana Country Director, Vida Duti.