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Monitoring water services

Published on: 29/09/2014

Ghana's new service monitoring framework provides important insights on underlying causes of water system failure. At WEDC, the framework and findings regarding handpump failure were discussed. 

Is there a need to rethink ideas behind community management of water supply facilities? Have benchmarks been set too high? These were some of the key questions raised during the presentation of a paper titled: The State of hand pump water services in Ghana: Findings from three districts. The paper was presented by Dr. Tyhra Kumasi (IRC/Triple-S Ghana) during the 37th WEDC Conference in Hanoi.

Dr.  Kumasi‚Äôs presentation was based on findings of water service monitoring in three districts in Ghana using the national water service monitoring framework, which was developed by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), in collaboration with the IRC-led Triple-S project.

Rural water supply monitoring in many countries mainly focuses on coverage and provides inadequate information for planning, resource allocation and remedial action. The service monitoring framework starts from the national norms and standards for rural water supply in Ghana. It was noted that while Ghana has attained increased coverage over the decades, there has not been adequate attention paid to service levels, the functionality of systems and the sustainability of services. 

The monitoring framework considers key indicators of service level including: reliability, accessibility, quality, and quantity. Findings showed that only 21% of hand pumps met national standards for water services. The service providers also scored low on compliance with the national standards and guidelines relating to governance, operations and financial management.

The monitoring data further confirmed that there is a direct co-relation between the performance of a service provider and reliability of a hand pump. Dr. Kumasi said that water quality remains the major challenge yet to be addressed in rural water supply. 

In a second presentation, Dr. Kumasi provided further detail on the reasons for monitoring water services, costs and methods of ICT data collection. Data on the service delivered is a critical step towards improving the quality of water services, based on an understanding of underlying causes of system failure. The data are also important for asset management, planning and investment decisions.