Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources launches URBAN-WASH project

The Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR) has launched USAID-supported Urban Resilience by Building and Applying New Evidence in WASH (URBAN-WASH) project in Ghana.

It is a five-year USAID research and learning activity (2021- 2026), an initiative to generate evidence through applied research to promote sustainable, equitable and climate-resilient WASH and Water Resources Management policies and programming in urban and peri-urban areas.

The primary goal of the URBAN WASH project is to address knowledge gaps of Service Providers and Government institutions in USAID priority countries, including Ghana and to strengthen the evidence base for decision-making.

The research to be undertaken would be in two-fold – one would focus on pro-poor subsidy projects in Accra that are scalable, financially sustainable and effective at reaching the most vulnerable. The other would primarily be on water quality, water equity and non-revenue water in Kumasi and Tamale.

Mrs Patricia Sampson, the Director of Administration of the MSWR who read the keynote address on behalf of the Minister at the launch said the research was some of the challenges faced by the country and that Ghana was fortunate to be one of the countries selected.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am extremely happy that this project is being implemented now as it will enhance efforts that Government and Partners are already making to provide sustainable water and sanitation services in the country. It also aligns with the Ministry’s WASH Sector Development Programme (GWASHSDP) 2021-2030 launched two weeks ago,” she stated.

She said even though evidence showed that access to basic water services in urban areas stood at 96.4 per cent per the Ghana Statistical Service Population and Housing Census, 2021, there was evidence that some segments of the population within the lower income group still lack access to basic water services.

“The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources has made and is still making great efforts to make WASH services accessible to all. Several strategies are therefore being adopted to ensure universal water access,” Mrs Sampson stated.

She expressed gratitude to the USAID, Aquaya and other development partners who have shown their willingness to support the initiative.

Mr Daniel Asseh Allan, Senior Manager Water Utilities Performance Monitoring- PURC in the early 2000s PURC through its social policy study realised that the poor paid more for water than those connected.

“Through various engagement with stakeholders including study tours of some African countries it became clear that the poor were a key and peculiar stakeholder in the urban water value chain.

“Kenya decided to take care of its urban poor by doing pro poor interventions because they realised that if you do not take care of them, they can vandalise your system and still get water while your costs increase through loss of water and negatively affect water quality in the distribution systems and even reduce pressures and thus ability to serve utility customers,” Mr Allan stated.

He noted: “If the poor do not get water, even if they do not vandalise the system, they are less likely to report when they see bursts and rather capitalise on it to get water.

The Senior Manager said over the years PURC worked with Ghana Water Company Limited to encourage the creation of a Pro Poor unit to help in this endeavour and that “We have been involved with many studies and interventions over the years to promote the progress of these pro poor programs.”

Mr Allan said looking at the sector it had been important to look at the full integrity of the system in terms of not just water and its quality but Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as well.

“We are very pleased with this study and this launch and ready to contribute to ensure that Ghana’s Water Sector gains from evidence that have been gathered from around the world and for Ghana to share its own knowledge as the sector grows and improves especially with a view to apply new evidence to the progress of the sector.”

Source: GNA

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