Overview & country report

Ghana has an economic growth rate, HDI and corruption indices that far-outstrip its neighbours, and a GDP per capita of US$1,551 (IMF, 2010). Just over half of the population lives in rural areas. In the last five to ten years the focus in rural water supply has shifted from point sources towards simple piped networks for small towns, with a reported average coverage rate in 2009 of 57% in rural areas. However, according to 2008 Demographic and Health Survey (GSS, GHS and ICF Macro, 2009), the percentage of the rural population with sustainable access to an improved water source was 76.6%. Since the late 1990s Ghana has implemented comprehensive local government and decentralisation reforms.

Administrative set up

Ghana has a four-tier structure: national, regional, district and sub-district. There are ten administrative regions, which are divided into 170 Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

Main sector institutions

  • Rural water supply is the responsibility of the Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing (MWRWH). The ministry has the primary responsibility for the formulation of policies for the water sector.
  • The Water Directorate, established in 2004 as a division within the MWRWH, is expected to coordinate the activities of all key sector institutions operating under the auspices of MWRWH.
  • The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) is the main actor responsible for overseeing local government in the form of MMDAs.
  • The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) is responsible for rural water: namely, water supply to scattered rural communities and small towns, while the Ghana Water Company Ltd and Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) are respon­sible for urban water supply.
  • Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) have the mandate to monitor, coordinate and evaluate the performance of all MMDAs.
  • MMDAs exercise deliberative, legislative and executive functions, and are responsible for the overall development of the districts. Water is not expressly noted among the functions of the MMDAs, and it may be one reason why it falls low on the list of priorities.
  • Within every District Assembly (DA) there is a District Water and Sanitation Team (DWST) which is a technical unit to support the delivery of water and sanitation services. In small town contexts the DA normally delegates responsibility to Water and Sanitation Development Boards (WSDBs) to manage and hold the water systems in trust.
  • Water and Sanitation Committees (WATSAN) are set up around point sources, such as a handpump. They set water user fees (with approval from the DA), maintain accounts, and manage day-to-day operations of these water points.

Service Delivery Models

There are four broad groups of SDMs:

  1. CBM – there are a number of different types in operation, dependent on population size and technology, and employed mainly in rural and small town contexts.
  2. Utility managed, including PPPs, with a management contract and community partnerships with a utility for bulk supply.
  3. Private providers, including a broad group of largely unofficial models that have emerged more or less spontaneously to meet the demand for services not met by the two official models.
  4. Self-supply which has evolved as a response to the inadequate formal water service delivery systems. It is, however, not addressed in policy or strategy papers.

Key issues

Sector support remains almost entirely a bilateral affair between sector agencies and development partners and, while most players express strong verbal support for harmonisation, progress appears to be mixed, with only an ad-hoc Sector Working Group which essentially serves as a platform for information sharing between government and donors. A critical issue in pushing the harmonisation agenda has been the past level of government commitment. However, there now appears to be a genuine desire on behalf of government and at least some donors to move towards a more harmonised approach. A SWAp roadmap was established in 2009 to build towards sector-wide planning and coordination.