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Two districts in the Volta Region of Ghana - Akatsi North and Akatsi South - benefited from a five-day area mechanic training.
Context and process of the training
The workshop was organised by the Akatsi South District Assembly and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and supported by IRC. The main themes of the twofold workshop of theory and field work touched on community entry and relations, and borehole repair and maintenance. Uniform service charges of GHS 80 (US$ 17) and GHS 150 (US$ 32) for above ground and below ground repairs were agreed upon. As part of the practical side of the training the team visited Afatsagbleve, Agbagblakope and Avukope, all located in the Akatsi South district. The participants were taken through the dismantling and assembling processes of the three types of borehole pumps - Ghana modified Indian Mark II; Afridev and Nira - which are in use in the two districts. As reference materials after the field exercise the area mechanics received a training manual (to-do-guide) specially prepared for the training.
What did water experts, local authorities and area mechanics have to say about the training?
Jeremiah Atengdem, water expert at IRC Ghana, when outlining the objectives of the workshop said the following: "This workshop forms part of post-construction support from IRC to the Districts and CWSA. The aim is among others to move towards professionalising the work of area mechanics and equipping them with the necessary skills to perform their tasks more effectively for improved water service delivery."
Kirk Kofi Kudozia and Eric Amekoenyo, the respective heads of the works department of Akatsi South and North district assemblies recounted that since Akatsi North was curved out as a new district, it has not had its own area mechanics. It always relied on Akatsi South for support. They also mentioned how this workshop has given the new district three out of four of its new area mechanics. The three other practising mechanics have had refresher modules in the form of peer-training where the home grown area mechanic was the main resource person for the workshop. Their expectation is that the rate of borehole breakdowns in the districts with about a third of the facilities not working at any point in time will be reduced; and that the growing need for more equipped and organised area mechanics to reduce down time and improve service delivery will now be met.
Sylvester Eyram, CWSA Volta regional principal extension services specialist stated that the workshop was very useful for ensuring sustainability in the delivery of rural water in the two districts. Speaking on behalf the CWSA Volta regional director, Eng. Divine Dugbatey, Mr. Eyram said, "The plan is for the new mechanics to work in teams in the meantime with readily available technical assistance from senior colleagues and the district assemblies. As next steps, one of the primary issues is the tooling of the area mechanics, which is being worked on. Also, the DAs and CWSA will respectively follow-up with Area Mechanics' maintenance reports, measuring the impact of facilities repaired and functionality status."
Adoku Ebenezer Kwaku, a new area mechanic and a participant from Akatsi North stated, "This is my first training and I find the practical aspect really revealing. I am confident that my level of delivery will improve when I return back to my community." Fortson Agbeli of Akatsi South and a practising area mechanic stated, "This is my fourth workshop as area mechanic and in fact, this was different and more comprehensive, touching on very relevant areas of the work and charges - I will be more focused and professional with this new knowledge."
All in all, elated with the workshop, the area mechanics and local authorities expressed positive impressions of the training content and components, the mix of theory and practise, and the general facilitation of the workshop by the experienced local expert Gabriel Dzakpasu of Life Time Wells.
In his closing remarks, Jeremiah Atengdem on behalf of IRC Ghana country director, Vida Duti recalled the signed Memorandum of Understanding between IRC and the local authorities. This agreement provides details about the role of each partner under the IRC post-construction support. He stated that the workshop agreed to the zoning of the two districts, using the borehole database and assigning area mechanics to coordinated outcomes. He appealed for the agreed area mechanic charges to be documented and progress reporting taken seriously to inform future refresher courses and other decisions.
The training workshop brought together about twenty participants comprising of four trainee and three practising area mechanics; staff of Akatsi North and South District Assemblies, CWSA and IRC.