Published on: 21/05/2012
Tamale, the Northern Regional capital of Ghana has hosted the final in the series of Life Cycle Cost Approach (LCCA) training for selected districts in three regions of Ghana. The training is to build the capacity of the relevant technical staff involved in budgeting and planning for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities to enable them adequately budget for activities to ensure the sustainability of service.
Participants were drawn from three districts in addition to representatives from the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) regional offices.
They were taken through the Life Cycle Cost Approach (LCCA) to budgeting and the various cost components in it. Each of the cost elements/components were painstakingly explained the participants.
The various components of the LCCA are (Capital expenditure (CapEx), Operational and minor maintenance expenditure (OpEx) Capital maintenance expenditure (CapManEx), Expenditure on Direct Support (ExpDS), Expenditure on Indirect Support (ExpIDS) and Cost of capital (CoC)) to the participants.
At the end of the workshop, participants were grouped into district to design a prototype LCCA budget for Direct Support cost for facilities. The districts budgeted for facilities in their respective district whereas the regional CWSA office for activities in the region.
The idea for the workshop and exercises was to equip the participants with the knowledge and techniques to be able to properly budget for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in their areas to ensure sustainability of service.
Some participants were interviewed to elicit their understanding of the training. Eng. Alhaji Ahmed Awura is the Chief Water and Sanitation Engineer at the CWSA Northern regional Office. Alhaji Ahmed represented the Regional Director for CWSA and was also head of delegation for the CWSA regional staff at the training workshop. He granted an interview to our Documentation and Communications Officer (DCO), Victor Narteh Otum. Below is the full text on the interview.
For ease of recognition, Alhaji Ahmed Awura is represented with AAA and Victor Narteh Otum with VNO.
VNO: what is your understanding of the Life Cycle Cost Approach (LCCA) to budgeting for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services?
AAA: Hitherto our emphasis has been on just delivering facilities without emphasis on sustainability. However, before you can sustainably manage the system you must first know what actually goes into it and how much that will cost. You therefore need to know all the component parts or elements in terms of the costing; what goes into providing the facility and what you need to put it into proper running to continuously deliver sustainable service to the people.
VNO:Were you factoring some of these LCCA cost components into your budgeting before this workshop?
AAA: To some extent I will say yes because apart from the capital expenditure, under the L’ Agence Française De Développement (AfD) Project in this region, for example, we catered for project monitoring. A one-year budget was provided to assist communities where facilities were provided to help to sustainably manage the systems in terms of operations and maintenance (O&M) cost and running cost. So for this particular region I will say yes.
VNO:What happened to projects undertaken by CWSA without a donor support or funding, did the CWSA include a budget for post construction activities?
AAA: We sometimes budget for it; however in cases where post construction activities are not budgeted for, we normally rely on our quarterly subventions from government. It is not enough or adequate though. What we do then is what we call the‘on-the-call’kind of response to communities. A community calls to report their system breaking down and we rush there to assess it and see how best to link them to the private sector. This is not the best of situations because problems with systems must be identified even before breakdowns occur. And this can only be done through regular monitoring of systems. Continuous monitoring and maintenance will prevent complete breakdowns.
VNO: So now that you have been introduced to the LCCA approach, how different is it going to change your budgeting to cater for post construction activities to ensure sustainability of service?
AAA: I will say that this region is very lucky because apart from this workshop, we are also benefiting from the Triple-S Project which is piloting the Service Delivery Approach in the East Gonja District. From what we have learnt from the Triple-S Project and what we have been taught at this workshop, I will say that we are much more endowed to be in a better position to know exactly what will go into sustainably managing our projects or systems.
We believe that from now on any project that we run in this region will address the issues on sustaining services. For example, the Sustainable Rural Water project by the World Bank has taken into consideration the issue of sustainability. Also if you look at the NORST Project by CIDA, currently UNICEF I-WASH Project supported ten districts in bringing them up to date on how to run the DiMES and using it as a tool for monitoring in their districts.
Currently we are in talks with our funding agencies in the region to let them understand that delivering facilities without taking cognizance of managing them sustainably will lead us nowhere; and there is the need for a paradigm shift.
VNO: Some NGOs have been accused of providing facilities without provision for maintenance; how best do you think the CWSA can get them involved on the issues of budgeting for post construction activities?
AAA: We have a platform that we use to disseminate information to all sector stakeholders including NGOs. Here we share experiences on projects with them and encourage them to also take up from there. Also now that we know the way to go through this LCCA, we will impress upon the NGOs to also imbibe it into their budgeting to provide facilities or systems. We will let them know that when the Legislative Instrument (LI) before parliament is passed it will mandate the CWSA to enforce the provisions and guidelines in it and even give punishments to those NGOs who fail go along with those guidelines.
VNO: What then happens to an NGO constructs a facility but does not meet the requirements relating to budgeting for post construction activities; would you prevent them from constructing the facilities or what?
AAA: I think gradually we are heading towards there, a situation where such NGOs may be prevented from installing their systems. It may not come from CWSA per see, it may even come from the communities themselves. The District Assemblies are involved in the process on ensuring that we deliver sustainable services to the communities, we (CWSA) are just facilitating the process because the districts are the beneficiaries. Isn’t it a shame that you construct a facility and the next five years you are going back to look for funding to rehabilitate them after they have completely broken-down. If the messages go down well you will see that the communities themselves will prevent such NGO’s from drilling a borehole before even CWSA gets to the community ,because if they know that you are only coming to dump a facility on them and will not empower them to be able to sustainably manage it then there will not be the point of constructing it.
We did not have the mandate to say no you can’t do this; but could only impress upon them. But now that the legislation is passed by parliament we have the power to enforce the provisions and make them mandatory and binding on all in the sector. But we don’t want such a situation where we resort to sanctions due to non compliance of a section of the stakeholders; we just pray that all stakeholders will do the right thing.
AAA: You are welcome
DCO-WASHCost Ghana Project
May 21, 2012