Half of people in rural Central Region lack potable water, despite MDG target

In spite of Ghana’s tremendous leap towards achieving its MDG target of 76% for water, it has been established that about half of the rural population of the Central Region still lack access to potable water.

Although available statistics provided by the Ghana Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform (WSMP) indicate that Ghana has so far achieved a water coverage of over 70% with the likelihood of exceeding the 76% MDG target for water by 2015, current figures indicate that the Central Region still has a long way to go in meeting the water needs of its population, especially those in the rural areas.

This is notwithstanding the fact that over the last few years the access to potable water and the perennial water shortage has been greatly improved in the entire region, especially in the Cape Coast Municipality, with the provision of some more water infrastructure.

Current figures show that the coverage of water for rural Central Region, which was just 31% as recent as the year 2000, has with the assistance of development partners such as the European Union (EU), DANIDA (Danish Development Agency) and International Development Agency (IDA), scaled up to 44.92% (approximately 50%).

The contribution of the development partners comprises three major funded projects made up of 20 EU funded small town projects, 10 IDA funded small town projects and one new project and six rehabilitated projects by DANIDA, adding up to 37 completed small town water projects.

The current statistics mean that while for a period of 10 years rural water coverage in the Central Region has increased by about 13%, 50% of the rural population are still without potable water.

The rural water situation in the Central Region was brought to the fore, when a team of journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) undertook a two-day tour of small town water and sanitation projects being funded by the European Union and other development partners in some beneficiary communities.

Addressing the team after a two-day tour of the region, the Central Regional Director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr. Stephen Opoku Tuffuor, disclosed that under the DANIDA project a total of 450 boreholes were also constructed, as well as 256 institutional and 14 water closet communal latrines.

“So if you look at the facilities, we are saying that the EU project alone is covering getting to 200,000 people,” he intimated, adding that at Denkyira Obuasi, the DANIDA project is catering for the water needs of about 6,000 people now, while about 10,000 are benefitting from facilities rehabilitated by DANIDA.

Continuing with the positive developments in the provision of rural water and sanitation facilities, Mr. Opoku Tuffuor said 450 new boreholes have also been constructed in the region, which are at present catering for about 1,350 people.

“Then we also did some kind of functionality programme, where we rehabilitated 135 boreholes, still under DANIDA,” he added

Stating that the various projects which have been successfully completed does not in any way mean that they have achieved 100% coverage, he disclosed they have been able to cover about 44% to 51%, adding that if the EU sponsored projects are included, rural water coverage may reach 55%

“So if you are 50%, then you are saying that you have covered about half of the rural population; so if you are going to support me, then you are saying that Central Region Community Water and Sanitation has done a lot and these are some of the things they have done, but this is the gap, that about half of the rural population still lack potable water,” he said.

Revealing the dire straits that some communities find themselves in as a result of the lack of access to potable water, he intimated “There is just a community here – a market centre, Andom and Dominase – anytime I get there, I get sad because these people fetch from a running stream.”

Answering whether the region could experience the same level of increase it has experienced in the past ten years in the next ten years, Mr. Tuffuor said “Whether we will see it or not, depends on investment.”

He was however optimistic that if the momentum of the current rate of investment is sustained the region will be able to attain the MDG target for water.

“Well if we put in the EU values and we get to about 50%/51% , then we have about 20% to get to the MDG goal and IDA is coming in again, … and if we get EU again to take in maybe 20 more towns, I can say with confidence that we will be able to get to the 76% in the next few years that we have targeted, but it all depends on whether the funds will flow.” he stated candidly.

He explained that his confidence was hinged on the fact that the increased tempo of funding responsible for the appreciable coverage within ten years will be sustained with more development partners getting on board, so that the next ten years will see even better increase in coverage.

The tour, which has also taken the journalists to the Western Region, is intended to enhance greater visibility to Ghana’s water and sanitation agenda, while bringing out various issues on the ground.

It also aims at assessing the functionality and sustainability of water and sanitation facilities and provides opportunity for engaging water and sanitation committees and development boards regarding post construction and management of the facilities.

The tour is being undertaken under the Improvement of the Water Sector performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) project, Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing funded by the European Union with support from DFID and Government of Ghana.

According to Yaw Atta Agyei Arhin, project manager, it aims at building capacity within the water and sanitation sector to implement the national water policy and improve the water sector performance for achieving national and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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