From wells to standpipes – a success story of rural water delivery

From wells to standpipes – a success story of rural water delivery

Although all may not be well with rural water delivery in Ghana, the water and sanitation development board of Anlo Afiadenyigba in the Anlo District of the Volta Region, has shown that with a sense of dedication and commitment, the country’s rural folks can access clean drinking water.

Thus, a large area that was hitherto dotted with and depended on a number of individually hand-dug wells for its daily water needs, although most of them were not hygienically kept, the area can now boast of numerous standpipes, which pour out year round potable water for thousands of local residents.

Since the construction of a water system supervised by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in 1999 and its subsequent completion and launch on September 15, 2000 by the then Vice President John Evans Atta Mills, there has been massive expansion and increase of access to potable water in the area.

As a result of the expansion, the water system initially constructed for a population of 7,000 people is now estimated to be serving 10,000 in the ten communities of the Anlo area, including Afiadenyigba.

After touring a host of rural communities in the Eastern and Volta regions, where it was found that there were daunting challenges in water delivery and access to potable water, 14 journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN), whose focus is on water, sanitation and hygiene, were pleasantly surprised when the usually pitiable stories they had been used to on the trail turned different at Anlo Afiadenyigba.

Presenting an overview of the eleven-year-old community water project, chairperson of Afiadenyigba’s Water and Sanitation Development Board (WSDB), Edith Kumpe, stated in a matter of fact way that there are now 44 public stand posts (pipes) distributed in the various communities, 36 private connections and five overhead tanks whose capacities range from 20m3 to 45m3.

To further increase access to water in the Anlo area, the WSDB chairperson intimated that plans were afoot to construct a sixth reservoir at Kpota which is developing at a very fast rate and assistance is being sought to carry on with the project.

She disclosed that the board currently makes an average of GH¢2,000 monthly from the sale of water at 5Gp per two 18 litre buckets, largely from peak times of 5am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm, employing the pay-as-you-fetch system for the stand posts and charges GH¢1.30 per 1m3 for private connections.

But Edith Kumpe does not take credit for the success chalked. “My dedicated board and staff have contributed to success of the project,” she quipped. It was also divulged that all stand posts are functioning, as a result of the hard work of two permanent operators and a caretaker each for the ten communities, who supervise regular maintenance.

This is coupled with a very good recovery rate from all institutional connections made so far in the area.

Lending his voice to the discourse on Anlo Afiadenyigba’s successful operation of its water system, the Regent, Togbe Kadzahlo V said “I have confidence in the good work the board is doing.”

It was however not all commendations and successes, as currently only three public toilets including two water closets, serve all the 10 communities, which means some communities do not have any toilet facilities while individual latrines are sparse.

There is also no dump site for the waste generated by individual households and institutions, despite the fact that some of the women of the communities who rear pigs let them out into the open and they litter with their faeces whilst feeding on garbage strewn around for lack of proper management.

To address this sanitation headache, the Environmental Health Officer of the district, Richard Agbenyegah pleaded with waste management companies such as Zoomlion Ghana Limited, to come to their aid to prevent any environmental disaster.

“We need a refuse container; without sanitation matching with the water we cannot go,” he said.
Another blight on Afiadenyigba’s otherwise huge success as disclosed by its water and sanitation board, is the non functionality of five of its stand posts as a result of the lack of vendors. Edith Kumpe explained that the situation has arisen “because some feel the remuneration of 15% from the revenue made is not good.”

Anlo Afiadenyigba’s water system is dependent on underground water from the very rich aquifer of the water table of the area.

The tour, which took the journalists to both Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and CWSA facilities and projects in the two regions, was made possible under the EU-funded Improvement of Water Sector Performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing and was led by Project Manager, Mr. Attah Arhin.

By Edmund Smith-Asante