A key trend of urbanisation across Africa is villages evolving into small towns but lacking the accompanying investment in basic services.
The Ashanti region, Ghana’s most populated region, is an example of this challenge. As a result, whole communities lack access to clean water.
To address this issue, WSUP has been working with The One Foundation to improve water services in 10 towns across the region, ensuring sustainable services in the years to come.
Elizabeth Konadu, a single mother of four has been a water vendor in Asamang town for the past two years.
“Before the installation of the water facility, fetching water took a lot of my time, especially during the early hours of the morning which could have been used for other productive activities. Currently, I am able to devote more time to assist my children in getting ready for school.”
Before the construction of the new water system, residents had to walk long distances to access water from sources which were also used by animals, making it unsafe for drinking and domestic use.
Following the construction of the new water supply systems, water quality tests were carried out to ensure compliance with water safety guidelines. The facilities were then handed over to the communities, the Community Water and Sanitation Agency responsible for water and sanitation coverage in small towns and communities, and the District Assembly.
For Elizabeth, the water facility has been a real blessing for her family. The monthly income she receives as a water vendor helps feed her family and send her children to school.
At Okaikrom, another community located about an hour’s drive from Asamang, the water facility has had great impact on Ernestina Antwi’s health and that of her family.
“Our previous water source was not clean. As a result, members of our household, especially children, fell sick often. We always had to spend money on medicines. Ever since the water facility was installed in the community, members of my household rarely fall sick and we no longer spend lots of money at the hospital.”
Water and Sanitation Committees enhancing the management and sustainability of water facilities
WSUP, in collaboration with the District Water and Sanitation Agencies, set up Community Water and Sanitation Committees that were tasked with overseeing the water facilities to ensure sustainability of services. Honourable George Osei Asomaning, an Assembly Member for Konya-Brehoma is the Chairperson for the Water and Sanitation Committee at Asamang.
He constantly strives to ensure that the Committee fulfills its role in ensuring that the facility runs smoothly.
“The assistance we have received for the setting up of the water systems is immense. Our priority is to extend the water facility for access by vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as persons with disabilities and the elderly.”
26-year-old Isaac Awuah is a technical officer who regularly visits the water facility at Asamang. He is among 170 community management team members from both the district and municipal water and sanitation team members who received training from WSUP on operations and maintenance of the new water supply system.
“Since the project started, I have gained a lot of skills in managing the pipe, identifying and handling fault and plumbing. As part of my duties, I have to ensure that the pump is put off at least every two days. In addition, the income I gain from this role enables me to provide some of my needs.”
James Akuoko was selected to become the chief technical operator of the water system in Okaikrom.
“I am delighted to be part of this project and I hope to use the knowledge and skills acquired during the construction phase and the capacity building programme. Apart from being a member of the team that will ensure provision of safe and affordable water to my community, personally it will serve as alternative source of income which will help take good care of my family. Thank you, One Foundation, thank you WSUP.”
Effective data management is a key challenge for the water operators. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck last year, the government issued a directive that water would be provided for free during the pandemic with a view to reimbursing water suppliers later. However, to be reimbursed by the government, clear records must be kept for the water used during the time, and this proved complex for the Water and Sanitation Committees.
WSUP is working with its partners to overcome this challenge; but despite this difficulty, five out of the 10 communities decided to continue paying for the service anyway, demonstrating how much the residents value the new system.
For these communities in Ghana, clean water is bringing enormous value. Improving basic water services across these rapidly growing towns is vital to managing urbanisation successfully.