By Ernest K. Chanani
Joint multi-stakeholders and Professionals in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector have met in Accra to discuss the way forward for successful Household Water Treatment and Storage (HWTS) in the country.
The WASH Resource Centre Network (RCN) in collaboration with Local Government and Rural Development Ministry (MLGRD), Water Resources Works and Housing Ministry (MWRWH) has held the 26TH National Level Learning Alliance Platform (NLLAP) on the Theme: “Household Water Treatment Storage Strategy in Ghana.”
The objective of the meeting was to share and disseminate the HWTS Strategy Document. NLLAP is a WASH sector multi stakeholder platform with overall goal of improving sector learning and dialogue.
The EHSD-MLGRD in collaboration with UNICEF Ghana led the discussions.
A number of stakeholder concerns were raised which included Management Plan, Monitoring and Evaluation, and overall recommendations. Adopting approaches to hygiene promotion covering social life was very important to discussants.
During lively discussions and opinion sharing, participants made suggestions and recommendations. On the issue of rain water harvesting, participants contended among other issues that even though President Mills pledged in his Statement of the Nation’s Address to take a critical look at it, much has not been achieved.
Mr. Fredrick Addai, Director, WD-MWRWH noted that there was the need to develop a detailed scope in the scheme of things which include Situation Analyses, Prioritizing Behaviours, Behaviour Analyses, Strategic Approach and also bearing in mind the necessary tools and strategy.
In terms of strategic approach to HWTS, Mr. Naa Lenason Demedeme, AG Director, EHSD-MLGRD stressed the need for a strategy which should be combined with creating an enabling environment, encompassing appropriate and advocacy including capacity building and sustained financing scheme.
RCN Ghana is a network of institutional partners seeking to promote Knowledge Management in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector in Ghana. The vision is a dynamic knowledge-driven WASH sector providing improved and sustainable pro-poor services.
GHANA NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR HOUSEHOLD WATER TREATMENT AND SAFE STORAGE
1. Background and Rationale
Unsafe drinking water, along with poor sanitation and hygiene, impose a heavy burden of disease in Ghana. Contaminated drinking water contributes to an estimated 10,000 deaths annually from diarrhea disease, the third largest killer of children under 5 years of age in Ghana. (JMP 2008).
The government of Ghana recognizes the essential role of safe water and sanitation in promoting health and development, and is committed to increase access to safe water, especially among rural populations, the urban poor, those affected by floods and other emergencies, and those living in remote areas. This commitment needs to be reflected in the National Water policy, the National Sanitation policy and the Community Water and Sanitation Strategic plan, all of which aim to advocate for a demand-responsive approach to establish the link between water and health.
The Ministry of Water Resources,Works and Housing and Ministry of local government are designated as the lead Ministries for coordinating the implementation of water supply and sanitation respectively. Other key ministries involved in the promotion of health through safe drinking water, include the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service among others.
Ghana has made significant progress in extending the coverage of improved water sources, with an estimated 93% of urban populations and 76.6% of rural dwellers having access to ―improved water supplies‖ according to JMP (2008).
However, while most urban dwellers have household connections, the main water supply for rural
populations are wells, rainwater collection systems, dug outs and surface sources (rivers or streams). Water quality monitoring suggests that water supplies in Ghana rarely meet national standards for drinking water quality, especially for sources used predominantly by rural populations.
Providing safe, reliable, potable water to every household is an essential goal, yielding optimal health gains while contributing to the MDG targets for poverty reduction, nutrition, childhood survival, school attendance, gender equity and environmental sustainability. While committed strongly to this goal and to incremental improvements in water supplies wherever possible, the Government of Ghana together with
development partners, private sector, NGOs and others have called for interim approaches through Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) that will accelerate the heath gains associated with safe drinking water for those whose water supplies are unsafe.
Interventions to treat and maintain the microbial quality of water at the household levels are among the most promising of these approaches. This is particularly true in settings, Outreach and Coverage of Services and Products.
Collaborations between government institutions, particularly ministries and nongovernmental
organizations, are good examples of public-private partnership. For purposes of this strategy, public-private partnership (PPP) is seen as a as the means to bring together a set of actors for the common goal of improving the wellbeing of a population through mutually agreed roles and principles that appears more appropriate to promote household water treatment and safe storage.
3. Commercial/Business approach
A commercial approach, unlike nonprofit programs, which rely on external grants and subsidies, commercial ventures sell goods at prices that cover all of their costs—making the approach inherently more sustainable. The potential for profits also creates an incentive for more companies to enter the HWTS market.
These companies may compete for market share by reducing prices, improving the quality of their products, developing innovative technologies, and heavily promoting their products. All of these strategies may tend to heighten public interest in sales of HWTS products. With more companies manufacturing HWTS products, it may also be easier to improve production and distribution, reach different geographic areas and serve diverse market segments.
The strategies and actions taken under the National HWTS strategy will be governed by the following principles: Health is the primary driver of all HWTS initiatives undertaken within the
framework of the national strategy for HWTS. Any program or project involving HWTS will be considered and evaluated on the basis of its contribution to health.
As a matter of priority, HWTS initiatives should target populations that do not currently practice effective HWTS on a correct and consistent basis.
HWTS products and technologies should be introduced in Ghana only after they have been shown to be safe and effective. Wherever possible, householders should also be given choices in HWTS options that meet national standards, and sufficient information on which to make informed choices.
Consistent with national strategies and target programs, HWTS initiatives should follow a demand-response approach, with users deciding from a range of certified methods, products and technologies, with users paying the cost.