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Published on: 17/03/2011

Ghanaian planning processes do not systematically address the full range of post-construction costs to ensure indefinite provision of WASH services, according to Dr. Kwabena Nyarko, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He is the director of the WASHCost project in Ghana which has found inadequate co-ordination between planning, budgeting and finance.

The sustainability of water services for people in rural and peri-urban areas depends on a whole chain of things going right - from the Ministry of Water, Works and Housing in the capital down to the water vendor in a community.

This chain is reflected in this story produced by IRC with WASHCost Ghana and the Resource Centre Network in Ghana. In “From Top to Bottom” a whole chain of people from the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing to a water vendor in the community reflect on the link between costs and services from their own unique point of view.

The Hon. Alban S. K. Bagbin, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing himself grew up in a rural area and understands the challenge of meeting the Millennium Development Goals. “We are compelled to spend a lot more in replacing broken down water systems, either because of lack of maintenance, or because of lack of knowledge,” he says.


Minister Alban S. K. Bagbin

Minta Aboagye, Director of the Water Directorate, stresses the need to provide communities with services that they can afford and for the communities to be able to assess what goes into the management of a facility. That would help the directorate to budget properly and communities to make their contributions. According to the director, “Once we know how much it will cost to provide these levels of services, then it will help us also to make appropriate financial commitments to be able to deliver the service.”


Mr. Minta Aboagye

Mrs Theodora Adomako-Adjei, the Extension Services Co-ordinator for the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) understands a good service as convenience, availability and accessibility. Her focus is on equipping people with the right knowledge, information, the skills, and, “the right attitude to take care of the facility.” Her question is, “How much will it cost to actually change human behaviour?”

Mrs. Fay Ephrim, Eastern Zonal Planner for CWSA says the focus should be on long-term planning that looks at trends in costs, housing, and energy. CWSA wants communities to be able to sustain services as long as possible.

Bosomtwe District

Much of the burden to plan and deliver sustainable services falls to district professionals. District Water and Sanitation Plans address the capital costs for installation of new systems, but do not yet address significant reinvestment in keeping infrastructure going nor the costs of institutional support related to monitoring and training. In practice, when a major breakdown occurs, the facilities are typically abandoned.

In Bosomtwe District in the Ashanti region, professionals reflect on these issues

Mr. Bartholomew Amponsah, the District Water and Sanitation Engineer, is involved in proposing district budgets to the district assembly. Sometimes, the district does not have enough money to cover monitoring costs, which prevents visits to communities. According to the engineer, if you do not visit, some communities will let anybody fetch water for free and fail to generate the required revenue.

Mr. Francis Asare Kusi of the Kuntanase Water and Sanitation Development Board manages the local water system. He accepts the challenge of providing a continuous flow of potable water to a growing population, but points out that “local funds cannot cover the costs of expansion”.

Mr. Augustine Owusu, Abono WatSan Committee Treasurer, verifies the costs of parts from the area mechanic.  He feels his community should charge more for water, like other communities do. Too little revenue is generated because some people would rather go to the lake for free.

Kune Banahene, an area mechanic for 11 years, says that towns sometimes fail to maintain systems but still expect the company or NGO to come back and repair the system. He only repairs systems of communities who are serious about maintaining facilities.

 Kune Banahene

Water vendor Akua Afriyei is concerned that if the pump in a village borehole breaks down it is impossible to maintain services. The community cannot afford to install another borehole itself, but if they had one more borehole they could maintain it without taking loans.


Akua Afriye

This story was made in Ghana by Nick Dickinson with photographer Peter DiCampo. Bismark Dwumfour-Asare from WASHCost did some of the interviews and Rebecca Obuobisa-Darko provided the narration.

Nick Dickinson


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