“We have to tell our development partners that sometimes paying 5% of the required amount by small communities is not the easiest thing to do.” The Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, said this while delivering a keynote address at the ceremony to launch WaterAid Ghana’s new Country Strategy early April in Accra.
The minister said he would endorse fully that the District Assemblies must pay their own 5%, and that he was in consultation with the technical staff to recommend to the President that we must waive the 5% for small communities.
“Indeed, I would want our development partners to come with us; I will not share the view that if you do not contribute to something it means you will not take good care of it; that the sense of ownership is only acquired through contribution. I will say no, that is not right!”
The current national policy on community and small town water supply is operated on the Demand Responsive Approach where acquisition of potable water supply starts with the application for assistance filed by needy communities through District Assemblies. One of the key principles of the policy is that beneficiary communities must pay at least 5% upfront cash as their contribution to capital cost of installing the facility. This is based on the premise that such funds will demonstrate commitment by the community and further serve as an indicator for sustainability of the facility.
Sections civil society especially those operating directly in the field have persistently called for a review of the 5% upfront cash contribution. Their claim has been based upon the fact that certain communities find it difficult to pay the upfront cash. The policy therefore rather serves as a barrier for such communities to access potable water. They have rather called for the quantification of in-king contribution as against cash. It is a fact that communities do contribute labour, sand, stones, land and sometimes food for the artisans in order to facilitate the installation of the facility. There is a community in the Afram Plains District which is on record (According to APDO) to have manually constructed a eleven kilometer access road to enable a drilling to enter their community to drill a borehole. In such a situation, civil society organizations in Ghana claim that it would be unjust to compel them to pay upfront cash before they are supported to access potable water on the grounds of sense on ownership.
The loud applause that greeted the statements by the Minister showed a clear sign of relief on the part of these civil society groups. But one major remark by one man needs to be taken more seriously “We really have to follow up on these statements.”