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Rural water monitoring in Ghana - leveraging partnerships for sustainable services

Published on: 04/02/2016

The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) shared baseline data on functionality and service levels of existing rural water and small town water facilities in about six regions at the Ghana Rural Water Forum in Accra on October 7, 2015.

Moving from data to impact in the 216 rural districts in Ghana lies at the doorstep of the Government of Ghana. Over the last years in the framework of the SMARTerWASH project data have been collected in 131 of the 216 districts. Data on functionality of infrastructure, on service levels and on the performance of service providers and authorities. A rich data base which for the first time in history has provided District Assemblies and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) with the information to correct system failures, to strengthen water committees and to plan for next year’s investments. 85 of the 216 districts could not be covered with the project resources. Partnerships with Development Partners (DPs) will be needed to access additional resources to collect the data in the remaining 85 of the 216 districts of Ghana.

For the first time: a national inventory of all rural water facilities in Ghana

This will facilitate the generation of a complete national inventory of all water facilities and rural water services with their performance levels; and will enable the development of a national performance report to provide a stronger framework for service level benchmarking, effective programming and investment decisions. This was revealed when the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) shared the baseline data on functionality and service levels of existing rural water and small town water facilities in about six regions at a national sharing session, dubbed, the Ghana Rural Water Forum in Accra on October 7, 2015.

Poster presentations at the Ghana Rural Water Forum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presenting on the theme, 'From Data to Impact: Leveraging partnerships for sustained rural water services', Mr. Ben Kubabom, Director of Planning and Investment at CWSA, stated that the SMARTerWASH project has so far resulted in great improvements in sub-sector monitoring. According to him, there has been an upgrade of the rural water sub-sector monitoring ICT system and adaptations to include service delivery indicators. Over 700 district officials have been trained and coached in data collection and cleaning; the trained officials have successfully collected data in over 20,000 water facilities across the country in 131 of the 216 administrative districts in Ghana; an SMS alert system for repair services and development of a viable business model have been piloted and are at an advantaged stage of commercial viability.

MMDAs to sustain the data base and exploit the information for better services

In a mix of interactive plenary and market place sessions, the CWSA and partners successfully presented various components of the service monitoring initiative; explored the emerging issues that require collective engagement and synergy building to support rural water service monitoring. The discussion widely acknowledged the gains of the SMARTerWASH project - that the gap of data gathering and analysis was filled by the use of technology to gather data in real time through the SMARTerWASH project; that within a short period of time the project has given an idea of functionality for both point sources and small town systems; and that the use of mobile phone technology for WASH data collection has underscored the importance of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the WASH sector. Furthermore, a number of recommendations and suggestions were raised, and include the following:

  • Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) must show commitment and take up the use of the innovative technology to ensure sustainability of the process; data collection processes should be extended to cover communities unreached and unserved, including urban communities even although CWSA is focusing on rural areas;
  • The costs for sustaining the initial SMARTerWASH project efforts are: $550,000 to cover data collection in the remaining 85 districts and; $1.5 million every 2 years to keep the existing data up to date;
  • MMDAs are encouraged to include budget lines for water service monitoring and data collection; and increase the District Assemblies Common Fund and Internally Generated Fund allocation to the WASH sector;
  • MMDAs need to think critically about fundraising strategies to leverage additional funding; and noted that WaterAid is looking at piloting the district wide approach in a couple of districts to achieve total coverage and this would include data collection;
  • Synergies should be built to support the process - budget lines to accommodate the monitoring of rural water services; the collection of WASH data should be mainstreamed into regular work of officers stationed at the district and community levels; districts should be assessed on WASH service delivery under the District Development Facility – a Functional Organizational Assessment Tool (FOAT) exercise, and the indicators for WASH service delivery should be made a minimum condition for receiving their grants;
  • The Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS) should be involved in the process; and funds could be leveraged from the WASH data collection project of the cities alliance to cover districts in the Greater Accra Region (e.g. Shai Osu Doku, Kpone Katamanso, etc.).

SMS alerts to trigger repairs and spare part supply

In the welcome address at the forum, Mr. Clement Bugase, Chief Executive Officer of the CWSA stated that his agency with the support of IRC and partners has since 2014 been leading a subsector effort at improving the existing mechanisms for monitoring rural water and small town water services in Ghana. He noted that the initiative will improve reliability of data so that districts and national government will have the necessary data to inform sector policy choices, programming, better targeting and investment decisions to solve problems with water service provision. According to him, with the collective sector support, baseline data on functionality and service levels of all existing rural water and small town water facilities in Ghana will be established. Mr. Bugase revealed that the data being gathered will be compiled into a “State of Rural Water Services in Ghana” to provide a stronger framework for water service level benchmarking that will lead to long-lasting services. Mr. Bugase also announced with delight, that as part of the project partnership, a Ghanaian private company, SkyFox has set up an SMS alert system and is strengthening relationships between community service providers, area mechanics and spare part distributors to improve technical services that assure reduced service downtime.

Data for investment decisions and programming

In his keynote address, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing stated that leadership by CWSA in this initiative signifies government commitment to strengthen country systems for sector monitoring through partnerships that assure collective impact for the delivery of quality water services. He commended CWSA and partners for demonstrating the achievements in advancing ICT technologies for rural water service monitoring and progress towards establishment of regional level baseline data for programming and investment decision. The Minister also opened and participated in the market place session, which had six regional exhibition stands fully branded with posters and field photographs; and regional factsheets on the baseline data on functionality and service levels of existing rural water and small town water facilities.

Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing addressing the meeting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mobile monitoring of rural water and sanitation services that last (SMARTerWASH) project started in March 2013 and ends in September 2016. It is a joint initiative (Public Private Partnership) between IRC, CWSA, Akvo and SkyFox with matching funds from the RVO (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemers) of the Government of the Netherlands. The national baseline data collection exercise was undertaken with collaborative funding from the World Bank, UNICEF, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and SNV. Beyond this forum, reflections on fostering mutual partnerships for additional resources to cover the remaining 85 districts and ensuring continuity of the monitoring process beyond the initiative, and integrating it into the Sector Information System will facilitate the national efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) of universal access to water by 2030.

 

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