Asutifi North District Level Learning Alliance platform webinar on three months free water policy
On 28th May 2020, IRC Ghana in partnership with Asutifi North District Assembly under the District Learning Alliance Platform convened a webinar to discuss Ghana government’s free water policy to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on communities. The decision was announced by Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a televised address and will cover the months of April, May and June 2020. The webinar which brought together participants from government, CNHF partners, private sector, CSOs, NGOs and the media discussed the policy and assessed the progress of implementation, identified challenges, and proposed solutions to optimise the policy outcomes and secure the sustainability of the water service provision beyond the programme.
Stakeholders at the webinar observed that there was generally compliance with the directive coupled with the guidelines issued by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency to support the operationalisation of the policy. Many communities with access to water services in the district were enjoying the free water except for areas that were not served or had unreliable supply. However, some challenges such as lack of reserve funds by water schemes to pre-finance the operations, poor record keeping by service providers, and increased water demand, lack of targeting of poor households, non-observance of social distancing at water points by users hampered the smooth implementation of the policy. Participants further noted that the challenges exposed through the implementation of the policy should provide an opportunity for a national discussion on system strengthening within the rural water sub-sector that affect service delivery and develop guidelines for dealing with pro-poor policies. This notwithstanding, some service providers found innovative ways to carry on with their operations.
The webinar concluded that for water schemes to be resilient to respond better to future emergencies such as COVID-19, the following recommendations should be implemented.
- Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MSWR, MLGRD, CWSA) must strengthen their coordination to be better prepared to handle future emergencies as far as water is concerned.
- Government must develop cutting-edge data system that captures various segments of the population and their water access to make targeting of vulnerable populations for free water subsidy or other pro-poor interventions easy
- Government must work with CSOs to develop and implement a communication plan or strategy for consumer reactivation beyond the free water policy
- Government must leverage on technology to increase transparency, reliability, and accountability on the pro-poor water policy.
- Establishment of a robust monitoring system to capture reliable and accurate real time data on a timely basis to inform decision making at all levels within the rural water sector.
Stronger District oversight on water system operators to ensure financial and operational sustainability and compliance with national guidelines
Good practice for WASH in Ghana- Meeting the targets for water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030 in Asutifi North District.
Earlier this year, the National Development Planning Commission which advises the President of Ghana on development strategies and IRC visited three selected districts - Wassa East in Western Region, Bongo District in Upper East Region and Asutifi North in Ahafo Region to collect and document case studies within the WASH sector, share best practices and lessons to contribute further to evidence-based innovative development approaches towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Ghana.
The visit to Asutifi North District took place in March 2020, meeting leaders of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services at district level, representatives of ANAM partners, NGOs and development partners, conducting community visits and interviews.
These case studies have been documented and shared on the NDPC Good practice for WASH page; and also compiled in a booklet that highlights experiences in the three districts of Ghana reflecting efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for WASH. They represent examples from real-life about making progress towards the targets set by the Government. The documentation observed some common factors that can be drawn from the experiences of the three districts about what is driving success. These included political leadership from district assemblies, inclusive partnerships, motivated staff, community level leadership, cost recovery, supportive funding partners, ambitious targets and innovative methods.
NDPC is collaborating with IRC Ghana to launch the Good practice for WASH booklet. Hopefully the selection of these three districts who have made strong efforts to improve access to water and sanitation and have embraced innovative approaches w2will provide basis for other districts to emulate the good example and inform planning in the country.