500,000 Ghanaians to benefit from Safe Water for Africa project

It is estimated that up to 500,000 Ghanaians currently without access to safe water will benefit from a Safe Water for Africa (SWA) partnership programme between Diageo/Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited, the Coca Cola Africa Foundation and Water Health International (WHI), with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Announcing the partnership at a press launch in Accra on Wednesday September 7, 2011, Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta, Corporate Relations Director, Guinness Ghana Limited, said “Diageo/Guinness Ghana Breweries Ltd, Coca Cola and Water Health International believe that the Safe Water for Africa programme is an important and valuable partnership, which will help ensure communities in Ghana and in Africa have access to safe water – now and in the future.”

Disclosing that the overall goal of the programme is to provide safe drinking water for over two million Africans, Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta stated further; “In Ghana, we will work with our partners to install up to 50 WaterHealth Centres if our funding goals are reached, thus providing access to safe, clean water for up to 500,000 Ghanaians.”

Speaking on behalf of Diageo, she said “Providing access to sustainable safe water supplies in Africa is the primary goal of Diageo’s ‘Water for Life’ programme, an initiative that has already benefitted nearly 5 million people. SWA will help us to reach our goal and make a lasting impact.”

She divulged that Diageo has since 2007 embarked on 65 active projects in Ghana, which have benefitted 300,000 people across nine regions of the country namely, Upper East, Upper West, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Central, Volta and Greater Accra.

Together with its partners, Diageo has at the Africa regional level, provided access to clean drinking water to over four million people across 15 countries.

For his part, Sanjay Bhatnagar, Chief Executive Officer, WHI, stated, “One of the keystones to the success of WaterHealth’s model in Ghana has been its supply of safe water. In countries like Ghana where cost is a barrier to access, our work with the water sector, governments, communities and civil society allows us to determine a reasonable price point that ensures equitable and sustainable access. We look forward to working with our communities to lay the foundations for further economic growth through the provision of safe water.”

Water Health International currently operates centres (WHCs) in three regions of Ghana – Greater Accra, Volta and Eastern, with Accra’s facility at Pokuase, a peri-urban community, where patrons pay 10Gp per 20 litres water accessed.

“IFC is actively supporting the expansion of the WaterHealth model, which will leverage both global and regional investments to combat water challenges in Africa. The Safe Water for Africa partnership will accelerate the number of beneficiaries with access to drinking water in Ghana and contribute significantly towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations,” Usha Rao-Monari, Global Head, Water, IFC also said.

Meanwhile according to a statement issued at the press launch, the collaboration will invest more than US$6 million to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water in Africa, initially in Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia.

However, the SWA, which has been first launched in Ghana and will begin with 10 WaterHealth Centres in the country, plans to raise over US$20 million to fulfil its ambition of providing safe water to at least two million Africans by the end of 2012.

WHCs are small modular structures that house water purification equipment to treat locally available water through a combination of sedimentation, pre-filtration and ultra-violet technology.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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