The two day meeting on 29th & 30th November 2012, brought together stakeholders from the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana. They discussed issues relating to proper costing for WASH service to ensure sustainability of service delivery.
The Director of the Water Directorate at the Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing (MWRWH), Frederick Addai, in his opening remarks, reiterated governments commitment to the provision of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services to the populace.
Mr Addai said even though water is important, sanitation is also equally important and must be given the needed attention. “Unfortunately, we have never been able to adequately quantify the amounts of funding being spent on sanitation, and as a result Ghana is not doing very well in sanitation”. He said “Even with water where there has been improved investment we still have deficit”. He stated that it is the responsibility of government and other stakeholders to bring water and sanitation to the doorsteps of everybody because “both water and sanitation are not a privilege to the people but are human rights”.
Mr Fred Addai called on the media to give more prominence to issues on water, sanitation and hygiene to help attract the needed attention from the necessary stakeholders.
WASHCost in Ghana
Dr. Kwabena Nyarko, Country Director of WASHCost Project Ghana
Dr. Kwabena Nyarko, Country Director of WASHCost Project Ghana made a presentation on activities of WASHCost in Ghana from the national perspective. Dr Nyarko said KNUST, IRC and other WASH stakeholders implemented the WASHCost Project from 2008.
He said the project is an Action research that researches the life cycle cost of providing water, sanitation and hygiene services in rural and peri-urban areas. This, he said was done to stimulate the use of cost information to improve governance and decision making at all levels.
Dr. Nyarko said after the project was launched in 2008, a consultant was engaged to conduct an institutional mapping on the availability of cost information and its use in the sector. The study result revealed that WASH cost information was used for two main activities-for the preparation of strategic investment plans and preparation of specific projects. This, he said clearly gives the indication that at that time WASH cost information was available only for the delivery of water and sanitation infrastructure-borehole, pipelines, etc.
Dr. Nyarko said the provision of infrastructure then did not take into consideration the cost for operation and maintenance. The situation was that investments ware made in the provision of infrastructure but within a short time service delivery deteriorates then the need to look for new money to provide new infrastructure. This was ‘business as usual’ and did not promote sustainable service delivery.
Dr. Nyarko said, to ensure sustainable service, there was the need to invest in the infrastructure, make provision for operation and maintenance, repairs and rehabilitation and then upgrade. He said even though the WASHCost project is coming to end, it is just the beginning of the of the implementation of the LCCA approach, an approach to improve WASH service delivery.
The WASHCost Legacy to Ghana WASH sector
According to WASHCost, to move from business as usual to sustainable WASH service delivery, there was the need to identify the cost of providing the services and measuring the cost against service delivered. This brought in the Life cycle cost.
The life cycle cost is the cost of ensuring adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to a specific population in a determined geographical area – not just for a few years but indefinitely. This is the concept and legacy that WASHCost is leaving with the WASH sector in Ghana.
The framework for costing water service delivery is based on the life-cycle costing approach. Life-Cycle Costs (LCC) represent the aggregate costs of ensuring delivery of adequate, equitable and sustainable WASH services to a population in a specified area. WASHCost disaggregates the costs of providing WASH services as follows:
- Capital expenditure (CapEx)
- Operational and minor maintenance expenditure(OpEx)
- Capital maintenance expenditure(CapManEx)
- Expenditure on Direct Support(ExpDS)
- Expenditure on Indirect Support (ExpIDS)
- Cost of capital (CoC)
(Please check Briefing Note 1 for disaggregated cost details )
Dr. Kwabena Nyarko said the WASHCost study was carried out in 31 rural communities, 4 small towns and 1,373 household survey case studies in 17 small towns focusing on cost. The WASHCost focus regions and districts were–Volta (Ketu South), Ashanti (Bosomtwe) and Northern (East Gonja).
Highlights of the study
- Majority of systems which had broken down (during the study time) were due to lack of funds for Capital Maintenance Expenditure. Thus lack of funds for major repair works, rehabilitation and replacement.
- Well performing systems had funding for their capital maintenance expenditure from their water revenue derived from their tariffs.
- Those systems that did not have efficient revenue/revenue system had to rely on government and donor support for capital maintenance activities. These sources of funding normally take a long time to come hence the long down-time and high non-functionality rates of those systems.
- An experience of a pool funding in the northern sector. Further investigations however revealed that the pool funding arrangement is not able to adequately address much of the capital maintenance needs in the area.
The International Perspective of WASHCost
Dr. Catarina Fonseca, WASHCost Director Global, IRC International made a presentation on the global perspectives of the WASHCost project. Dr. Catarina stated in the last five year that there was very limited knowledge on the long term cost in providing water and sanitation in rural and peri-urban areas. She said there was knowledge on how much it cost to provide the facility but very little knowledge of how much it costs to maintain the facility over the long term or forever and there was no disaggregated cost, with very limited use of accounting language in the sector.
Dr Fonseca said, to break away from the ‘business as usual’ where facilities are constructed but they breakdown shortly due to lack of proper costing for operation and maintenance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in 2008 provided funding for this project. The project partnered with institutions and people who had both research capacity and also the ability influence policy.
About the WASHCost Project
WASHCost is a five year (2008-2012) multi-country (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Andhra Pradesh (India)) initiative of IRC - International Water and Sanitation Centre, financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
WASHCost is researching the life-cycle costs of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in rural and peri-urban areas in Ghana. The rationale is that WASH governance will improve at all levels, as decision makers and stakeholders analyse the costs of sustainable, equitable and efficient services and put their knowledge to use. WASHCost is working in partnership with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and other sector institutions.
Victor Narteh Otum
November 03, 2012