Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CWSA introduces Smarter-WASH to monitor functionality of systems


The Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) has piloted a cutting edge technology that will enable it get real time data on which of its pumps, mechanised boreholes or water systems is providing the desired services to the people of Ghana.

Known as the Smarter-WASH project, the technology will involve the use of text messaging (SMS) by means of mobile telephones to report on the state of water facilities.

Commenting on the importance of the new technology, Benedict Kubabom, the Director for Planning and Investment at CWSA said it is no longer useful to count pipes and pumps to determine whether people have access to water or not.

“If CWSA really has to ensure sustainable WASH services, then it must move from the current un-structured, ad-hoc data gathering, storage, analysis and dissemination processes,” he said.

“Our position is that continuous investment in new WASH facilities, without reference to the already existing ones, is not the right way to go. CWSA’s position is to grant equal attention, if not more, to the monitoring of functionality and sustainability of WASH systems with guaranteed continuous service. And to take corrective measures based on the monitoring reports as carried out by the various WSMTs [water and sanitation management teams] and service authorities. So CWSA is calling for all hands on deck to ensure that happens,” he added.

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of CWSA, Clement Bugase, lamented that past projects have often come with their own monitoring tools, many of which were deficient
He admitted that this resulted in a situation where piped systems and boreholes which had completely broken down for long periods, were counted as providing service.

“Most of you are aware of our history, some of the difficulties we’ve had in doing that, especially when after a particular project has ended, the tools and framework that were used for that project die with that project. So, somewhere along the line, we decided that we needed to develop our own tools, get our own framework to be able to monitor throughout the sector, a framework that will cover any project that comes. That was when the DiMES [District Monitoring and Evaluation System] was developed as a software monitoring tool,” Clement Bugase said.

“The tool has worked well for us up till now. And as and when we have the resources and are able to deploy it at the regional and district levels, we’ve been able to gather data, analyse it and report, though there are limitations as at now,” the CWSA CEO stated further.

He has therefore called on all WASH sector stakeholders, especially Development Partners, to buy into the Smarter-WASH project, which he believes is the surest way of tracking  functionality and providing more satisfactory and better access to water for the people of Ghana.

Sharing the findings of a pilot of the new technology at Akatsi in the Volta Region of Ghana, Jeremiah Atengdem, Northern Regional Learning Facilitator, Triple-S, the implementers of the project, disclosed “The results of this survey also showed that of the 249 water point sources in the Akatsi district, only 48 of them, representing 20% were functioning as they should.

“As you can see there, the functionality situation in the district is about 67% and also 69% of the facilities are not reliable…CWSA standards say the facilities should work about 95% all of the time,” he indicated.

Indeed it is a known fact that in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, different players give different figures for the number of people who have access to water, while many are not convinced that Ghana has met her MDG target for water, as day in day out, large numbers of Ghanaians are seen carrying the now infamous yellow ‘Kufuor gallons’, desperately looking for water for their daily chores.

Meanwhile, available records show that at any given time, up to 30% of boreholes across the country are dysfunctional.

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