The long-term vision of the Government of Ghana (GoG) is universal access to safe drinking-water by 2025 and to eliminate open defecation by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The documents which set the overall strategic direction and many of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector targets are the National Water Policy (2007), Environmental Sanitation Policy (revised 2010), the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan (WSSDP) 2012-2025, and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) 2014–2017. These national strategies align with the targeted outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the challenging targets of achieving nationwide open defecation free (ODF) status by 2030 and universal safe sanitation and water access supported by good hygiene practices by 2025, with 98 per cent functionality of water supplies.
Policy formulation regarding WASH in Ghana is carried out at the national level with some national level institutions also involved in the implementation. The implementation of WASH programmes and projects at the local level hinges mainly on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs). This synthesis report was compiled from two different studies commissioned by WaterAid Ghana (WAG) with a specific focus on the Bongo and Kassena Nankana West districts of the Upper East Region of Ghana. The studies were carried out in 2017 and 2019 respectively. The essence of the study is to document the performance of the selected district assemblies with regards to WASH and assess if WASH is prioritized and if so, to what extent. This is important for WAG in its influencing work at the district level as well as provide information for WAG for its advocacy aimed at influencing activities at the national level.
2.0 National Allocation for WASH
Between the periods 2014 to 2018, the trend of the national budgeted expenditure for WASH has been inconsistent. In 2014, the budgeted expenditure for the sector ministry responsible for WASH was about 4.5% of total Ministry Department and Agencies’ (MDAs) budgeted expenditure. The sector’s share to total MDAs budgeted expenditure declined to 1.6% in 2015, but this increased to 3.8% in 2016. The Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources’ (MSWR) share of total MDAs budgeted expenditure for 2017 and 2018 were 1.00% and 0.62%, respectively.
In nominal terms, the budgeted expenditure for 2015 declined by 61.8% of the previous year’s (2014) budgeted expenditure. However, in 2016, there was a marginal increase in nominal share of 3.8% of the 2015 allocation. In 2017, the nominal allocation declined by 16.4% and this further declined by 39.2% in 2018. The continuous decline in budgeted expenditure to total MDAs expenditure and nominal allocations for the period 2016 and 2018 suggest that some programmes and projects for the sector were not implemented. The targeted indicators for the achievement of the SDG 6 will, therefore, not likely be achieved if the government continues to reduce budgeted expenditure both by share and nominally.
Donor funding for WASH activities at the national level is relatively very high. The development partners’ contribution to WASH activities was 76.8%, 47.6%, 86.9% for 2014, 2015, respectively and 2016 and 84.6% and 60.3% for 2017, and 2018, respectively. This means that the sector is mainly funded by development partners, making it donor dependent and vulnerable as reductions in donor support can result in drastic decrease in the total budgeted expenditure. In terms of sustainable funding of WASH at the national level, it will be prudent for government to provide adequate funding for WASH so as to achieve the SDGs and improve livelihoods as donor funding is not reliable and sustainable.
Even though the MSWR provided some information on the key national level indicators in the 2017 and 2018 budgets, not all of the targets and actual achievements were available due to inconsistencies in the presentation of budget information. This is partly due to the fact that the MSWR was created only in 2017. The Ministry should, therefore, improve upon its data capturing ability so as to provide actual performance data for the key national indicators.
3.0 Regional Level WASH Interventions
The two key agencies responsible for WASH at the regional level are the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD). The CWSA is the lead agency in the community water and sanitation sub-sector, under the MSWR, and is responsible for facilitating and coordinating the implementation of the National Community Water and Sanitation Programme (NCWSP). The EHSD’s role is to ensure clean, safe and pleasant environment for all.
The water supply in the towns and relatively bigger communities are designated Small Town Water Systems (STWS) which is under the CWSA. These were initially owned and managed by the communities under the Water and Sanitation Management Boards (WSMBs). Even though the WSMBs were to generate revenue from sales of water to their clients, the systems broke down and owed huge amounts of money in electricity charges. This compelled the government through CWSA to actively participate in the STWS by supporting the STWS. One of the reasons assigned for poor management and administration by WSMBs was politicization of the selection of members to these WSMTs as most of the members had no expertize in water system management.
To sustainably implement projects and programs at the local government level, the District Assemblies would need to increase their Internally Generated Funds (IGFs). In general, all the MMDAs in the UER have not been very effective in mobilizing their own revenues (IGFs). While the Municipal Assemblies have managed to exceed 10% of their total budgets, the district Assemblies have achieved less than 4% with some even making just 1%. Both the BDA and KNWDA have indicated in their District Composite Budgets that they have made various efforts to mobilize revenues. In spite of these efforts, the two Assemblies still have problems with the generation of IGF as the amounts collected are not adequate to meet the needs of the Assemblies. They have attributed this to the subsistence nature of their economies, the weak tertiary sector and a poorly constituted secondary sector. Also, the assemblies do not seem to give the revenue mobilization efforts enough support, particularly with regards to property rates, as it has not taken the needed initiatives. Most of the revenue collectors are commission earners who are not committed to revenue collection as compared to the permanent collectors paid by the Assembly. There are also some leakages from both types of collectors due to poor supervision.
5.0 District Level WASH Planning, Indicators, and Resource Allocations
The study districts have prepared their Medium Term Development Plans (MTDPs) and Water and Sanitation Development Plans (WSDPs) based on which the district budgets are prepared. Both districts have also provided some indicators on WASH in their Composite budgets.
5.1 Water Situation in the Districts
Although water coverage is partially high in both districts relative to sanitation, access still remains a challenge, especially in the KNWDA, where people have to walk long distances for water and/or wait for long periods to get water at these points some of which dry up in the dry season. The major challenge in providing water facilities in both districts is the high fluoride content which has led to the capping of many boreholes.
5.2 Sanitation in the Districts
Sanitation is still a major challenge in both districts as the baseline targets for sanitation were not achieved. The indicators for assessing actual performance on sanitation are not consistently provided. Like all other MMDAs, the government has contracted a private company (Zoomlion) in Accra for the two districts to take care of solid waste.The assemblies are also encouraging the construction of household toilet facilities. The KNWDA has also entered into Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for the construction of public toilets. With donor support, the assemblies are also constructing WASH facilities for public health and education institutions. The new WASH facilities provided by the development partners for the health and education institutions are modern facilities as compared to those that were provided earlier. The communities are encouraged to repair and maintain the WASH facilities in the health and education institutions. In some cases, the repairs and maintenance of the facilities in the public institutions are beyond the ability of the communities and so the Assemblies have to take over, especially with major repair works.
The challenge is ensuring every household has toilet facilities as some of the communities are unable to secure local materials for the construction. If this challenge is not addressed, the ODF cannot be achieved. There is also a problem of logistics and means for visiting communities for facilitators of the CLTS.
5.3 Resource Allocations to WASH Sector
At the KNWDA, even though approved budget and actual receipts increased in nominal terms between 2014 and 2017, the district has consistently received less than its approved budget for WASH activities. At the BDA, the budgeted and actual expenditure on WASH as a share of the district budget has consistently declined within the period 2014 to 2017. The common feature for WASH related budgeted activities for both KNWDA and BDA is the reduction in WASH related budgeted expenditure for the year 2018. When it comes to funding WASH activities in both districts, a chunk of the budgeted expenditure is from the DACF. Thus, the delays in the release of the DACF heavily affect WASH sector programmes and projects. The Development Partners’ funds (either through the DDF or Pool Donor funds) follow the DACF in terms of funding for WASH related activities. In fact, a substantial part of the WASH Programme is being driven by the development partners (directly or indirectly), notably, UNICEF, Water Aid, Sustainable Rural Water System (World Bank), among others.
When it comes to sustainability of funding for WASH activities, the IGF is the sustainable means of funding WASH related activities. However, there was virtually no allocations from their merger IGFs to fund WASH related activities. This makes sustainability of funding WASH activities very precarious.
6.0 Recommendations for Improving WASH services
From the analysis and tracking, a number of recommendations have been made for the improvement of WASH service delivery:
The practice of awarding sanitation contracts to ZOOM LION from Accra for the Assemblies needs to be reviewed as its deprives other WASH activities of resources and also does not allow the Assemblies to supervise the sanitation service delivery; Disaggregated budget information is limited, impeding the assessment of progress and improved performance, hence there is a need for adequate disaggregation and consistency in data.
There is an urgent need to reconnect those communities close to the Vea Treatment Plant to the pipe-borne water to help address the fluoride problem in the Bongo District. There is also a need for further research on how to address the fluoride problem; Government must systematically increase financing for WASH services at both the national and district levels as the allocations at all levels of government are grossly inadequate.
The Assemblies need to explore more avenues for increasing IGF and set up databases of taxpayers for tracking of tax evaders and improved revenue projections; Funding from GoG and donor support should be released in a timely manner for project execution to accelerate and sustain WASH services as delays end increasing the costs of projects; The formation of water management bodies should be based on expertise and not on political considerations as it leads to poor management; There is a need for the consultation and continued sensitization of community members on their role and responsibilities in the provision and access to WASH services; The district assemblies should encourage all development partners and CSOs providing mechanized water systems to use solar panels to avoid electricity charges; WASH systems should consider climatic, socio-cultural, and economic dynamics and encourage the use of locally available materials for the construction of household toilets; Stakeholders of WASH project execution at all levels should take interest in monitoring projects and provide logistics for it to avoid shoddy and delayed project execution.
The Assemblies should also encourage assembly members and opinion leaders in communities to monitor activities of the contractors implementing projects; The equipment for mechanized water systems should be properly secured from thieves as theft has occurred in some areas; The CWSA should blend community ownership with public management of the water system to promote local ownership and enhance management;
The MSWR, the CWSA, the ESHD and the Assemblies need to develop and provide measurable WASH indicators so as to monitor progress on WASH activities and interventions.
Achieving SDG 6 requires substantial resource allocation both at the national and district levels to fund WASH and WASH related activities. The budget analysis and tracking show clearly that the budgetary allocations for WASH service delivery has not been adequate both from the national level and district level. In most cases, the allocations are inadequate and either delay or are not delivered in full. In particular, the two districts which depend largely on the DACF, suffer from this phenomenon as projects and programmes are sometimes not executed. It is, therefore, important that the government takes up the delivery of WASH resources more seriously than has been. However, the Assemblies also have a very important role to play not only in ensuring that they generate more IGF but also to efficiently utilise whatever funds they are able to generate and prioritise WASH interventions. Targeting and providing actual outcome indicators on WASH related issues has been a challenge both at the national and district levels. It is, therefore, difficult to assess whether resource allocations to WASH and WASH related activities are yielding the expected outcomes or impacts. National and district level institutions should frequently provide data on WASH related indicators so as to monitor progress.