Can a WASH Desk Bridge Communication Gap in service delivery?


The Asutifi North District Assembly (ANDA) has partnered with key development partners, including the non-profit organization Netcentric Campaigns, to implement a 13-year initiative called the Asutifi North District Ahonidie Mpuntuo (ANAM) initiative. With funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, this initiative’s goal is to promote universal access tosafe water, basic sanitation, and hygiene services to the total population of the district by 2030. The current numberof residents is 84,423 individuals.

Right now the ANAM WASHinitiative has succeeded in providing approximately 90% of citizens access to improved water services, while 33% have access to basic sanitation. In addition, all healthcare facilities in the district have basic water coverage, and 75% of schools have water services.

To tackle the complexissues affecting sustainable WASH delivery, Netcentric Campaigns designed its WASH Customer Service program and in partnership with district authorities established the ANAM WASH Desk to promote WASH customer service by creating a two-way channel between water users and service providers or managers. The program also launched a Core Group that meets monthly to address resident’s complaints and concerns that seeks solutions to them, presents a monthly call in radio program, has a toll free telephone number that residents can use to connect to the WASH Desk, created an ANAM WASH website, developed WhatsApp groups, delivers regular SMS blasts, undertakes field visits, and uses the district’s Information Centers to hosts special events to connect the WASH consumers and providers multiple ways to reach other.

The WASH Desk is staffed by a Desk Officer who recruits and manages network members,the critical mass of people in the district who will have to engage regularly and use their influence to ensure that WASH systems function as designed. Other staff include the Customer Support Assistant who receives and records all citizens' complaints through walk-ins, phone calls, and direct field visits. The WASH Desk’s intern program provides recent school graduates and young adults interested in WASH with the opportunity to improve their understading of WASH while contributing to communityorganizing, creating social media content on WASH, and being involved in other activities of the WASH Desk.

The District Chief Executive, Hon. Anthony Mensah, during a visit to the district by a team from Netcentric Campaigns, said, "Netcentric has bridged the communication gap that existed between the Assembly and the people through the establishment of the WASH Desk. It will be important to set up desks dedicated to communications and advocacy on any project we start here in the district moving forward."

Martin Kearns, Executive Director of Netcentric Campaigns, speaking about the expansion of the initiative to three new districts inthe Ahafo region said, "We are delightedto go from Asutifi North’s population and expand to half a million people in the Ahafo region, and we very excited to beable to serve more people by adapting the model we piloted here in the Asutifi North District."

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The WASH Desk currently has a network membership of 2,871 individuals who actively support WASH service delivery. Through its various communication channels, the WASH Desk is able to reach approximately 50,000 people in the district. This outreach utilizes the monthly radio programs, weekly WASH updates distributed via SMS blasts, and the sharing of WASH content on popular social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube.