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So far, so good. The way up for water services in rural Ghana

Published on: 02/12/2014

Good news from Ghana! IRC Ghana and its contribution to help build Ghana's rural water monitoring seems to be going very well. "Indeed, we are firmly on the path to support the establishment of a national system for rural water monitoring in Ghana", says country director Vida Duti. 

drawing water from a pumpIRC Ghana's recent success is demonstrated by one of the programmes country director Vida Duti and her team of 15 professionals cooperate in: SMARTerWASH. 

SMARTerWASH is a public/private partnership with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), SKyFox Ghana, Akvo and others to develop tools for rural water monitoring and repair services. And so far, so good! The programme runs already in 64 districts, making up nearly one third of Ghana.

"Excellent partnerships and good progress"

Mid-November, IRC Ghana welcomed Dutch RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) account manager Hans Smolders to the field who came to monitor the Sustainable WASH Fund initiatives in Ghana. SMARTerWASH is one of the programmes they fund. Mr. Smolders met the partners and the co-financer, the World Bank. His conclusion? According to Smolders, SMARTerWASH was "one of the best initiatives of the Fund". 

He praised the excellent partnerships, good progress and clear plans. "The intent of the project is to strengthen systems to improve efficiency in delivery through partnerships and SMARTerWASH contributes to this objective," he said. Mr. Smolders was happy to hear that the prime beneficiaries of the project, CWSA and SkyFox were enthusiastic about the project.

IRC's role 

SMARTerWASH consists of three smart components: The District Monitoring and Evaluation System (DiMES) to analyse and collect data; Akvo FLOW to collect data using mobile phones and visualise it online; and SkyFox SMS to help communities report problems, order spare parts, and access financing. These tools aim to help nationwide, long-term monitoring for better functioning facilities in Ghana. 

IRC's role is to help government to set up a digital national level monitoring system that informs service providers and authorities about functionality of services in districts. By linking information and financial systems, a vibrant private market is emerging in the maintenance and reparation of facilities. This makes use of an online savings platform for communities to put money aside for repairs, and an SMS alert system to mechanics in the area, which considerably reduces down-time of services.

98% complete... 

In the comfort of my office, I am now able to track on a daily basis what is going on

Together with some IRC staff members, Mr. Smolders met with Chief Executive Officer of CWSA, Mr. Clement Bugase, who shared his personal experience. Mr. Bugase said he is already using the uploaded information to track progress from his office and uses it as a management tool to ensure that Regional Directors are up to speed on the implementation. When asked about how he felt, he said with a beam – "Hitherto, I had to send my team to the field to collect data any time I needed specific information, travel to the field to see what is happening or read reports after the fact. But now in the comfort of my office, I am able to track on a daily basis what is going on."

The meeting with Mr. Bugase was followed with a presentation by the SMARTerWASH technical team in CWSA on progress of implementation. He showed a lot of numbers: 36 CWSA and other national interlocutors staff have been trained in data cleaning, analysis, visualisation and report generation; 152 regional and district staff have been trained on the CWSA Service Delivery Index (SDI) monitoring framework and Akvo FLOW; about 714 district staff members are expected to be trained to collect baseline data on water supply facilities and performance of service providers and it is 98% complete; 15732 handpumps have been surveyed in 6 regions. In the words of IRC country director Vida Duti: "Indeed, we are firmly on the path of supporting CWSA to establish a national system for rural water service monitoring in Ghana!"