By Jessica Ahedor.
About 20 million Ghanaians are without access to safe, reliable and affordable water supply. This, the sector players believe is hindering efforts, to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goal 6, that commits governments to provide sustained, safe and quality water to its citizenry. About four civil society organizations in the water sector with an alliance to Safe Water Network says, there are opportunities government could leverage on to pull through the situation.
Available Data from the Ghana Water company Limited shows that, the country’s water coverage rate is about 80 percent instead of 12 million customers based on the market potentials. Leaving a deficit of 1.2 million customers in the urban sector. The rural and small market sector is hovering around 19 million. About 12 million is being catered for, with a gap of about 6.8 million to serve. Based on millennium development goals standard and if this data is translated into the SDG requirement about 20 million are without safe and quality water supply. The safe Water Network one of Ghana’s leading CSOs in the water sector has established.
Speaking to Mr Joseph Ampadu- Boakye, the Progammes Manager for Safe Water Network, at the sidelines of its 7th Beyond the Pipe Forum themed ‘’Mainstreaming Small Water for Scale’’ held in Accra, he pointed out policy and financial bottleneck as their major challenge in closing the existing gap in the water sector. He stressed the need for the review of the policy to address the challenges they encounter with collaboration. He added government must take interest in investing in a simple mechanized water solution to improve access to water since the Network has chalked a milestone and can prove the sector is viable.
As such, the CSOs are calling on government through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to review the National Water Policy to enhance progress, in delivery of quality water to Ghanaians.
In 2007 the country launched its first National Water Policy aimed at defining deliverables and services of the rural to urban water supply and water sources management. The initiative was taken to help government achieve its millennium development goals. Even though the policy was a very comprehensive one, the country has gone beyond the millennium development goals and running the sustainable development goals hence the need to fix the loopholes identified to suit the current obligation of achieving SDG 6. The SDG 6 being specific and gone beyond just access to water is emphatic on sustainability and quality of water supply. Although government acknowledged the need to have the policy reviewed, it is yet to initiate steps to have it done to address the current needs of the sector.
The Director of Africa Initiatives, Mr Charles Nimako believes CSOs are rather working on behalf of government, and it should commit financial resources towards mainstreaming of small water enterprises SWEs, so that more than 3.2 million underserved people in 1,000 peri-urban communities and small towns can have access. He added to safely managed water for a capital investment of approximately $106 million (or about $35/person) is needed. This, he said is achievable based on evidence from the financial performance of 75 on-the-ground SWEs operating in Ghana for over a year, along with the findings from an assessment established by Ghana Water Enterprise Trust (presented at last year’s Forum).
On his part, Deputy Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources Hon. Michael Yaw Gyato, says, Government knows the importance of pursuing appropriate reforms to address emerging challenges with water access. Government will work to fix the challenges that include rapid urbanization, resulting in a large gap in meeting the demand for water. The protection of existing water resources, potential to meet the needs of the increasing population, both now and into the future, competing demands on government to deliver basic social services amidst very tight fiscal space.