National Learning Platform discusses sustainability of rural water services

National Learning Platform discusses sustainability of rural water services

The 11th National Learning Alliance Platform (NLAP) hosted the Triple-S project at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, Accra on November 11, 2010. The project shared the initial findings on sustainability of rural water services; what works and what needs to done to achieve the minimum level of sustainability of water system.  Six sustainability indicators were proposed for discussion/validation by the national learning forum.

Sustainability of rural water supplies has been looked at as the ability of a system to provide constant service throughout its design lifetime. 

The voices of the community on the sustainability challenge

 Nene Ahotomekaku V, chief of Kpetoe states that sustainability challenge stems from government departments such as Custom Exercise and Preventative services, Ghana Education Services and the District Assemblies.  Government institutions claim that central government should pay for the services while the government does not meet this responsibility. Thus, the institutions owe a lot of amount to the water boards.

David Fiagbe, Secretary of the Kpetoe Area insists that sustainability of the community water supplies requires Watsan to have good financial management and operational practices. As well as strengthen review meetings to assess performance and identify areas for improvement.

Mr. Felix Moti, Triple-S researcher, Volta region explains that the communities are struggling to do all the management of the water systems because they are not aware of the support the District Assemblies are mandated to provide. The communities want do management without support.

Sylvester Enyramh, an operation and maintenance specialist explains that the Districts Assemblies should provide technical support to the communities. The technical assistance will strengthen communities’ management potential of the water supply systems. Sylvester also indentifies that financial support to enable DWSTS and EHAs to provide the backstopping was not forthcoming.

The CSO global sector assessment performance study findings indicate that Ghana seems to be doing well with two sector variables; i.e. enabling factors such as policy and budgets and  development factors such as  planning, except for sustainability in  both rural and urban water supply.

The functionality challenge in Ghana stems from the project delivery approach of services; systems provide a service for limited time and break down. Thus, these broken down systems are wasted investments. The need to shift from project approach to a service delivery approach with unlimited time frame and linked to institutionalized structures, is critical for Ghana.

The sustainability parameters indicate that some aspects of sustainability are working well in Ghana but leave a lot to be desired if sustainability has to be achieved. In terms of: Policy-Strategy, Coordination, Institutional arrangements, technical services, post construction financing as well as accountability and regulatory framework.

What it takes to provide sustainable rural water services.

  • Agreement on service delivery approach
  • Water security and safety planning
  • Technical Services: eg. spare parts and technical assistance
  • Clarity of Roles for Community Water and Sanitation Agency, District Assemblies, Water Sanitation Development Board/Water and Sanitation committees:
  • Support to full Life-cycle costs
  • Performance monitoring, accountability and regulation
  • Bridge policy and practice: service delivery source documents and guidelines
  • Strong national leadership and vision–better harmonization and alignment

Sustainability indicators.

The Triple-S Project has developed six sustainability indicators from existing policies, Program Implementation Management, Community Water Sanitation Agency (CWSA) guidelines (2010) and model WSDB bye-laws for example.

The 6 groups of indicators include:

  • Service delivery indicators
  • Community mobilization indicators
  • Management and governance indicators
  • Financial Management indicators
  • Operational indicators
  • Enabling environment indicators.

These indicators have been developed for the two service delivery systems in communities.

  • hand pump water services
  • small town piped water services

Market place on sustainability indicators.

The participants at the National learning Alliance 11 discussed the feasibility of the six indicators at a market place, a participatory workshop methodology.  Feedback from the market was presented to the Alliance on what issues have to be adjusted for the indicators to apply in the Ghana WASH sector.

Presentations from Mrs. Vida Duti , the Country Director for Triple-S on Overview of the sustainability of rural water services; Prosper Dzani, Triple S and Marieke Adank, IRC on Sustainability Indicators are available on 

The monthly learning and sharing platform (NLAP) is organized by the RCN secretariat.