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Published on: 03/04/2012

The commitment coming out of the session was that by 2020, more than half of the countries in each continent have organized, inclusive and reliable reporting mechanisms for water supply services in rural and urban areas. Mr Clement Bugase, Chief Executive of Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) Ghana, shares views on the steps that Ghana is taking to establish an organized, inclusive and reliable reporting mechanism for rural water supply services.

Why is monitoring water services important?

Mr Bugase: It is important for many reasons, but important among them is first we put in an investment to provide a water service facility and an expectation to provide a certain level of service to the consumers and the population. It is important to monitor, to see if the facility is continuing to provide that level of service to the people; and if yes or no and why? What is causing the success or deterioration in the service? What can be done to bring it back to the acceptable level, because the aim is to drive the quality of the service that will impact the quality of life of the people benefitting from it?  Safe water is important for life and development.

What are the indicators you use in monitoring water services?

Mr Bugase: I will talk about them in 4 broad groups:

  1. Governance and Management Indicators:  We monitor the water use associations in Ghana, also known as Water and Sanitation Management Teams to see if they are managing the services according to the set regulations, because that will ensure the sustainability of the service.
  2. Finance management Indicators: These include a number sub indicators i.e. Tariff setting and collecting; expenditure; what are they spending the money on; how safe is the money? Are they saving it for a rainy day for possible replacement or expansion? This is another area we monitor the Water management team on and if not properly done, they can be corrected in a timely manner.
  3. Operations and performance indicators: We also monitor if the facility is working; are all the components of the facility working optimally to produce the quality, quantity and reliable water for people in the affected area.
  4. The fourth area we would like to monitor is the Support Services: are there any support services from local level governance structures, like the municipalities to the water use associations? By way of local legalization, nurture support, capacity building, conflict resolution when it comes to communities having difficulties between their members or other communities. Sometimes we have a facility that serves more than one community, so you can warn the local level governance structures to give their people support. Helping with expertise to do for instance, auditing of accounts. These are in a nutshell the kinds of services we would like to monitor. The results of the monitoring process would then feedback into the functioning of the facility.

An additional and important aspect to the support area is Information and data, because once you have enough and good information you can always take decisions based on it.  

Tell me about the process?

Mr Bugase:I will talk about it in two ways:

Before the Triple-S project started supporting CWSA, we had developed our own way of monitoring; we were more focused on the numbers of the facilities we put in place; we would check to see if the governance structures are there; whether the facility was still working, we were not interested to desegregate into levels of service, once the facility was working it was working…a facility could be working at 10% or 50% capacity we need to know that.

Now with the support of the IRC widget, we have developed data indicators that are able to segregate these kinds of things into sub-indicators that give us details on what is happening. This way we are beginning to monitor actual service rather than numbers. We look at processes and procedures that are in place at the local level to ensure that the service is there. This is the area in which we are working closely with the IRC project and we are happy to have been collaborating and hosting them in CWSA.

We are using computers to capture all the detailed data, information, analyse and bring out the different angles and pictures of users and stakeholders in a quick and efficient way. In regard to capturing data from the field we are using mobile phones, we have system where we have coded all these questionnaires and these can be texted to the centralized computer at the district or municipality level.

We are also using Google maps with Geographical Information system (GIS) to indicate the various services using colour codes. This way the person overseeing the entire system can quickly see the what is happening and deal with the ‘hotspots’ and send the necessary support. We think that will improve on the service levels and bring out information quickly for local managers, stakeholders and all who want to know what is happening in the WASH sector.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Mr Bugase: Getting all the stakeholders at various levels to identify and agree that these are the things that will indicate the outcomes we are looking for.

Why was that a challenge?

Mr Bugase: It was a challenge because it is something new, we did not have an already made process to rely on we learned as we developed the indicators and consulted at different levels.

However, the biggest challenge that I foresee in the future is when the IRC project is over, how we sustain this level of activity with funds from the municipalities. We are likely to have a situation where the level of activity to monitor the frequency, the detailed monitoring might reduce and that in turn will affect sustainability. In an effort to overcome that we would like as CWSA in future, any project we undertake in the water sector, to have sustainability engrained, streamlined right from day one and also preserve some funds for post project this will help keep the project monitoring process going.

Are you looking to attract and work with others?

Mr Bugase: The World Bank has been very interested to support us financially; they provide logistics that are needed and provide us with expertise in helping us put together a framework for the monitoring. Since Triple-S project does not cover the whole of Ghana, we need to find other resources to help us cover the rest of the country.

Interview by Vera van der Grift


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