Stakeholders unanimous on sustainable infrastructure for Ghana’s WASH sector

Stakeholders unanimous on sustainable infrastructure for Ghana’s WASH sector

ACCRA, Feb. 12, 2015 - Stakeholders on Ghana’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector have stressed the need to focus on a more sustainable service approach that will last for generations.

They also held the view that investments in the sector should incorporate the life cycle cost of facilities in project designs. 

The speakers, including Collins Dauda, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, were addressing the Sustainability Forum organized to bring to a close the Sustainable Service at Scale (Triple S) in Accra on Wednesday. 

The “Triple S” program initiated in Ghana by the IRC, an international Non-governmental Organization (NGO), 2009 in collaboration with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and other WASH sector players, formally came to an end at the forum, paving way for new initiatives between government of Ghana and its partners. 

It was formally  launched by the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing in  2010 with  the underlying purpose of using the  partnership to create awareness of the problem of sustainability and catalyse the desire to do something about it within organizations such as CWSA and District Assemblies.  

In line with its objectives, Dauda told participants that the government had initiated the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan (WSSDP), known as the “Water and Basic Sanitation for All by 2025”. “To achieve this goal, government intends to improve urban coverage to 73 percent by December this year from the prevailing 63 percent, as well as increase rural water coverage to 76 percent by the end of this year from the current 65 percent. We are on track,” the minister said.

 He stressed government’s recognition of the importance of safe water delivery to the citizenry, saying it was therefore partnering Development Partners (DPs) and other key stakeholders investing huge resources to provide WASH infrastructure.     

 Dauda said the forum offered the platform to build synergies in bringing out new innovative ideas on how to ensure that people had access to quality WASH services.   “Sustainability is key to long-term success of WASH service delivery. Sustainability is the commitment to continuously invest in the provision of new WASH infrastructure as well as ensuring the maintenance of existing ones,” the minister  insisted.  

He added: “The time has come for us as a nation to move from one-off project-based approach to a more sustainable service approach that will last. Therefore, investment in the sector should consider not just provision of the facilities but must also incorporate the operational and maintenance cost.” 

He  urged that the gains made under Triple S be examined while the stakeholders explore emerging issues that need to be collectively engaged, especially  where synergies need to be built. 

The minister  also wants the progress made by other partners in the areas of sustainability carefully assessed in order to keep the momentum and ensure sustainability in WASH service delivery. 

Hon. Dauda called for the provision of a platform to share initiatives which may address the sustainability issues in WASH service delivery. 

“With the closure of Triple S project, the main focus of which was sustainability and partnership, it is my plea that we adopt  these principles to ensure that the services and investments we make in the sector will be sustained since that will be the only way we can achieve our universal WASH coverage by the year 2025,” he urged.  

Majority Leader in parliament, Alban Sumanu Kingsford Bagbin, who was the guest of honor at the forum, observed in his message to the forum that diagnoses and dialogues facilitated by the “Triple S” project  unearthed critical bottlenecks. 

Hon. Bagbin who was the sector minister when the project was launched in 2010 observed  that the project generated evidence that helped sector stakeholders to interrogate the underlying assumptions, beliefs and values behind how water services were delivered in the past. 

“Triple-S, it is acknowledged provided the push and raised the awareness to awake sector stakeholders to get buy-in and enabled sector stakeholders to understand the use of service delivery and terminology, representing a shift from only building systems, to include building services,” according to the Majority Leader. 

The Chief Executive Officer of the CWSA, Clement Bugase, said a lot had been achieved by CWSA in partnership with other stakeholders, since the inception of the project. He recalled that  the project ensured the enhancing of CWSA’s District Monitoring and Evaluation Systems(DiMES) through developing indicators for the rural and small town water subsector. According to Bugase DiMES was not only designed and implemented  to take stock of facilities but also to assess their functionality; service levels; and performance of the management teams and the service authorities. “These indicators were applied in the pilot districts and have since been used for collecting baseline information for all districts in six(6) regions through the complementary partnership initiatives such as SMRTer WASH Project and funding from the World Bank, UNICEF, SNV, Dutch government and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation,” the CEO noted. 

The results of the Triple S project included the improvement on coordination and ensuring effectiveness; finalizing and launching the Sector Operational Guideline, and the development of the Project Implementation manual and District Operational Manuals to guide the sector players.  

Bugase said the WASH Sustainability Forum was a clear indicator of the public commitment of authorities and their partners  to continue, in a collective approach to re-shape the WASH sector to focus on service delivery. “As part of this we will mark the transition from the official closure of Triple S project on one hand and introduce emerging initiatives with partners from today,” he announced.  According to him, the confidence of the state actors in their collaboration with IRC emanated from the gains made in the recent past. “These successes will further strengthen our partnerships in defining the way forward: towards making sure that our people have access to quality water, sanitation and hygiene services that last,” he pledged. 

Patrick  Moriarty, CEO of IRC emphasized that although much had been achieved under the Triple-S project, as well as in the entire WASH sector, there was still a long way to go before universal coverage of WASH services could be achieved. 

By Justice Lee Adoboe