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Many rural water systems in Ghana fail prematurely. This is estimated to be around 30 percent at any given point in time. Sometimes, these failures are attributed to a lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities for sector actors and institutions. It is often the case that, once water facilities are provided, beneficiary communities are left with the responsibility of operation, management and the needed maintenance for prolonged functionality. 

The role of governmental institutions to support local service providers and water users has recently come to the forefront as a prerequisite to ensure sustainable delivery of rural water services. Effective institutional support could manifest in comprehensive planning and budgeting for operations and maintenance of facilities, as well as assets replacement. However, this can only be done meaningfully when the full life cycle of the water facilities are clearly understood.

Against this backdrop, the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) Brong Ahafo Region, with support from the Triple-S Project organized a 4-day training (15-18 July) workshop on the Life Cycle Cost Approach (LCCA) for selected sector practitioners in the region.

The training workshop was aimed at building the capacities of participants for effective planning and budgeting for water service authorities. 

Participation

The training workshop was attended by staff of the Sunyani West District, CWSA regional office, the Brong Ahafo Regional Coordinating Council, representatives from the Ghana Water Company Limited and the Sunyani Municipal Assembly. It was facilitated by Dr. Tyhra Kumasi, Senior Research Officer-Triple-S Ghana and Benjamin Agbemor, Regional Learning Facilitator for Triple-S, Brong Ahafo Region, Dr. Kwabena Nyarko a senior lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and formerly of the WASHCost project and Mr. Bismark Dwumfour Asare as consultants.

Participants’ expectations

To understand what each participants expected to acquire from the training workshop, participants were asked to indicate their expectation and this has been summerised below:

-          To know about the life cycle cost approach to planning and budgeting;

-          To have access to materials on LCCA which will serve as reference point in the future;

-          To be able to leave the workshop with a standardized template for planning and budgeting using LCCA;

-          To understand how different and effective the LCCA approach will be from the previous approaches to planning and budgeting;

-          To improve knowledge about planning and budgeting for water projects; 

-          Improve preparation of district water and sanitation action plan with new skills acquired;

The Speeches

Chief Executive of the Sunyani West District, Hon. Agnes Kusi, welcomed all participants to the workshop and urged them to put the knowledge gained to good use to help improve water service delivery at the rural areas. She was grateful to CWSA for choosing her district as a pilot for the Triple-S initiative and acknowledged how the project has influenced her district’s appreciation of water services as opposed to infrastructure provision.

Mr. Daniel Adomako who represented the CWSA Regional Director, bemoaned the high rates of non-functional handpumps in the country, which according to him, invariably translates into wasted investments. He was of the view that such high levels of non-functionality could be reduced if local governments (municipal and district assemblies) begin to plan comprehensively and allocate the needed resources to support both new investments and the maintenance of existing infrastructure.

Participant Feedback

Participants were impressed with the content and timing of the workshop. They were hopeful that lessons learnt would be fed into their next planning cycle. They also recommended that similar trainings be organized regularly to build the capacity of the district assemblies. However, there were fears by some participants that they may not be able to fully implement the newly acquired skills in their various organisations/districts due to constrained financial resources.

Conclusion

Training is a continuous activity if the intended/desired change or impact is to be achieved. IRC Ghana and its partners through ongoing projects will therefore continue to provide technical assistance and  follow ups to help implement the knowledge acquired to improve water and sanitation service delivery in rural and peri-urban areas.