Alhaji Collins Dauda (MP) explained that moving towards sustainable services approach would prolong the life span of facilities to adequately and efficiently address the challenges of WASH services delivery in the country.
“Investment in the sector should consider not just the provision of the facility but must incorporate the life cycle cost of the facility in the project design. This should include the operational and maintenance cost”, he added.
The minister was presenting a key note address at the WASH Sustainability Forum in Accra on Wednesday on the theme; “Triple-S in Retrospect: Shaping the Context for WASH Sector Partnerships at Scale”.
Organized by IRC in collaboration with Government, the forum brought together all the major stakeholders in the sector to take stock and find lasting solutions to the factors causing system failure and also foster partnerships to ensure that the people have access to “quality WASH services that last”.
In collaboration with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Triple-S was initiated by the IRC in 2009 to improve WASH services delivery in Ghana’s rural and deprived communities.
It also tested potential solutions in the three pilot districts – Akatsi in the Volta region, Sunyani West in the Brong Ahafo region and East Gonja in the Northern region to generate evidence for informed WASH policy decisions and practice.
Lauding the project, Alhaji Dauda emphasized that the contribution of Triple-S among other projects “corroborates the vision of Government for the water sector as indicated in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II (GSGDA II) and the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan (WSSDP), which is ‘Sustainable Water and Basic Sanitation for all by 2025”.
Towards this goal, he continued, government has challenged itself to “improve urban water coverage, which is currently at 63% to 76% by December, 2015; as well as increase rural water coverage from 65% to 76% by December, 2015”.
According to Alhaji Dauda, the government of Ghana is currently funding a 20,000 borehole water supply project to the tune of GH17 million from the Consolidated Fund over a 5-year period with additional $48 million support from the World Bank to improve water services delivery within the Greater Accra metropolitan area alone.
Sustaining investment in the WASH sector
The Water Resources, Works and Housing minister further noted that since 2009, the government and its development partners have invested more than $750 million in the WASH sector.
However, the expected results of such investments have down played the level of management and sustainability.
“Studies conducted by the IRC and other research institutions indicate that at any point in time, a substantial proportion of water supply infrastructure is either not functioning or is functioning sub-optimally”.
The minister mentioned that for success to be achieved, partners and sector practitioners:
- Should examine the gains of the Triple-S project and explore emerging issues with collective engagement to build synergies
- Must examine progress being made by other partners in terms of sustainability and how to keep momentum on the sustainability issues in WASH service delivery
- The provision of a platform to share initiatives, which may address the sustainability issues in WASH service delivery.
Piloted districts share experience on Triple-S
Representatives of the beneficiary districts including Akatsi, Sunyani West and East Gonja took turns during the forum to share their experiences with the Triple-S project, which ended just last year, 2014.
- They said the project exposed services delivery challenges faced in the areas
- It equipped them to further train people to facilitate project delivery
- It has brought partners even more closer
- Broken down boreholes repaired through improved way of budgeting
- It prepared them to maintain the facilities rather than opting for new projects
- They have been empowered to do more in other areas including improved budgeting
- Refocusing on service delivery through data collection
Funding to ensure project sustainability
Lack of institutional approach to accountability
Panel discussions on sector partnership for sustainable WASH initiatives outlined the following pragmatic ways forward:
- Adequate funding needed for projects sustainability
- Systemic change and enforcement
- Comprehensive budgeting for monitoring, evaluation and maintenance of facilities in rural communities
- Time to focus on drinking water quality
- Enhance public health
- Find the right institutions to execute projects that will be sustainable
- Practical demonstration of funding
- Sharing of data
- Proper training needed for sectoral leaders to be able to plan, monitor and engage the communities
- Ensure complete services delivery to all in the districts
- Life cycles of projects should be considered to enable sustainability
- Maintain existing facilities as new initiatives are carried out