Mr. Yaw Attah Arhin, the Chairman for the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has urged the government to develop a good monitoring mechanism that will track progress, achievements and challenges and establish feedback mechanisms for reporting to the public.
This, he said, was a top-notch recommendation drawn from a survey conducted by CONIWAS in Three Low-Income communities in the Greater Accra Metro Area, namely Janman Gonse and Olebu on the government’s Free Water Supply intervention to the public as a mitigating measure against COVID-19.
Presenting a brief note on the implementation directive at a media engagement in Accra, Mr. Yaw Attah Arhin, said sufficient evidence existed to show that residents in the study areas generally did not benefit from the programme.
According to him, this was due to the bad road networks to the communities, irregular flow of water, technical issues, high tension, etc.
“Olebu for instance had access to the main lines but limited access to distribution lines and so most parts of the community did not benefit from the free water since they had to buy from private vendors.
…Gonse had no main lines connected to the community and so did not have access to the services from GWCL. They largely relied on private vendors for water supply.
Janman was connected to the service line, but a section of the community (High Tension) still did not have access to water because of the hilly nature of the area and the narrow nature of the pipelines laid. which makes it difficult for water to flow up”, he said.
Which he explained resorted to buying water from private vendors at a higher cost. A 20-25 litre container of water (Kufuor gallon) was sold for between 70-80 pesewas even though households with direct GWCL connection pay 5.80 Cedis for one thousand litres of water which includes all levies (0.0058 pesewas per litre). They also paid GHS 28.00/ 1000L from private tanker services, which is about 5 times the cost of the water they were supposed to enjoy free of charge as per the President’s Directive.
Stating that, a total of 9,672,030 persons benefited from the free water agenda across the country.
Highlighting that, the average monthly water supply increased by 44.5% from 9,240.495m3 to 13,351,853m3. Meaning that GWCL ensured the regular flow of water amidst increased demands for handwashing and other domestic chores during the period. With a total of 630, Rambo 10,000-litre water containers (poly tanks) were mounted across the whole country to supply free water
Also, A total of 118 private water tankers were deployed across the country to supply free water to customers who had no connections. These tankers were sourced from the Ghana National Fire Service, The Police Service and other private tanker services. 11,038 existing and newly constructed standpipes were used across the country to provide water to citizens
A total of 1,320 communities (rural and small towns) making up a population of 6,068,604 benefitted from the free water across the 16 regions.
It was also noted that water demands increased across all communities and they were provided with water to achieve the objectives of the free water measures.
Despite many achievements, Mr Yaw Attah Arhin noted that there were delays in the release of funds by the ministry of finance to enable GWCL and CWSA to facilitate the implementation of these measures; Hence Water demands increased sharply, and which led to initial water supply challenges, as well as increased energy and operational cost.
CONIWAS, therefore, recommends that:
· GWCL and CWSA should work together to develop one comprehensive pro-poor policy for the water sector for water provision. This comprehensive pro-poor document should address the weaknesses of future Directives as happened in 2020.
· The current review of the National Water Policy should explicitly mention mechanisms for targeting and addressing the safe water needs of poor and vulnerable groups.
· For future interventions regarding emergencies, there should be adequate consultations with stakeholders to establish clear modalities for facilitating the implementation of the intervention.
The participation and involvement of CSOs such as CONIWAS in future would be strategic in fashioning out Guidelines and implementation of such Policies/ Directives.
· The MSWR and its agencies should commission a comprehensive review of the Free Water intervention and report to stakeholders, targeting the successes, challenges and lessons learnt from the process to inform future interventions.
· The ministry should facilitate, through its WASH in the emergency platform, a clear mechanism that will enable easy intervention and support from all stakeholders in the event of similar emergencies in the future.
In April 2020, The President of Ghana announced an emergency response to COVID-19 during which he declared the provision of free potable water to the entire Ghanaian populace.
The main aim was to provide relief to people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated health, economic and livelihood challenges that people and businesses faced.
In line with the President’s directive, the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR) directed the management of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to issue Guidelines for implementation of the free water initiative.