Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 HLM: Ghana Govt pledges to invest US$ 170m in water, sanitation

BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE

Even before the third Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting (HLM) gets underway at the World Bank in Washington DC on April 11, 2014, the Government of Ghana has pledged a total annual investment of US$170 million in the water and sanitation sector.
This is made up of an annual injection of US$120 million for water and US$50 million for sanitation.
Disclosing this to the Daily Graphic in an interview on Monday, Mr Kweku Quansah, a programme officer at the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and Ghana’s SWA focal person, said this would however leave a gap of US$469 million, which would be taken up by development partners and the private sector.
He gave the gap for water as US$117 million annually, which puts the total investment in water at US$237 million, and which is expected to cater for 1.14 million people each year.
For sanitation, the difference in financing to be taken up by development partners, the private sector and individual households each year, is put at US$352 million, thus bringing the total annual investment to US$402 million.

The overall annual investment envisaged for Ghana’s water and sanitation sector after the 2014 HLM, which will be under the theme “Smart investments to achieve water, sanitation and hygiene for all”, is therefore US$639 million.

The SWA HLM
SWA High Level Meetings (HLMs) are held every two years and bring together ministers responsible for finance, water and sanitation from developing countries, ministers of development cooperation from donor countries, high-level representatives from development banks, and representatives of leading sanitation and water agencies.
This year’s meeting would be convened by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on behalf of the SWA Partnership chaired by former President of Ghana, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor and hosted by the World Bank. 
Ghana would be represented at the 2014 SWA HLM by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper and Ministers responsible for sanitation and water, Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu and Alhaji Collins Dauda respectively, who would together with two other technical staff from the two ministries, also represent Ghana at a Sector Ministers’ Meeting (SMM) on April 10.
Earlier Commitments
Sector players have nonetheless accused the government of not fulfilling earlier financial commitments totalling US$350 million and US$400 million for the water and sanitation sector at the 2010 and 2012 SWA HLMs respectively, and are wondering how the new figure would be achieved.
But speaking to the issue of the earlier commitments made by the government, Mr Quansah said “The fact is that we did a lot, almost 64 per cent of the commitment we made in 2010/2012. There were three main commitments – the political commitments, the institutional commitments and the financial commitments. Where we didn’t fare well is the financial commitments.”
He however indicated that Ghana did very well in the other commitments and was adjudged one of the best across the partnership.
While admitting the government’s failure in making good its earlier financial pledges, he expressed optimism that as the reasons for the poor showing had been identified, it was going to be better this time round.
Mr Quansah explained that the two underlying causes responsible for the government’s poor showing in its financial commitments to the sector, were the confusion between government and donors in the contribution of each party and the low inflows from the government to the sector.
He added that it was also found after a careful study that “there were not clear and achievable indicators. When you box activities and commitments together and they become so difficult for you to measure, then you come back to square one and say how are you going to measure that, how are you going to make sure that you even know you have achieved that?”
Measures put in place
The SWA focal person said that issue had since been rectified with government now providing clear and achievable indicators, while it had also been decided to put together the same team that helped with the plan to start tracking the progress of government after the 2014 HLM, to forestall some of the earlier challenges.
While lauding the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) for assisting in tracking the government’s financial commitments, he said government had also signed unto Tracksin, a mechanism in the World Health Organisation (WHO), to help developing countries track commitments in their WASH sector.
         Specific Commitments for 2014
Specific commitments made by the government for the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector for 2014, include a review of the National Water Policy of 2007 by June, 2015 to come up with a new policy that matches Ghana’s post 2015 agenda.
The government also pledges to establish District Works Departments in all the 216 districts in Ghana and provide the necessary logistics for their operations, which would be reflected in the 2015 and 2016 budget.
There is also in the offing, a national study on equity and inclusion by end of 2015, to further improve the assessment of the marginalised and pro-poor groups and adequate financial provision for new investments, major rehabilitation and expansion of existing facilities and funding of operational cost of government institutions for effective delivery of WASH services.
Government says it is also committed to bridging the gap in financial releases from the Ministry of Finance which stood at 28 per cent in 2013, to at least  5 per cent within the next two years.
It also pledges to approve and roll-out with development partners by December 2014, the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan (SSDP) and establish a framework and modalities for sector harmonisation and coordination and also establish a sector information system and process to monitor access, equity, functionality and quality of WASH services, to inform planning, investment decisions and remedial actions.

Writer’s email: Edmund.Asante@graphic.com.gh

FACTS
·         According to the 2013 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) update report, Ghana has already achieved her water target with 86 per cent coverage using improved water sources and that only 14 per cent will need to be provided with safe water by 2025.
·         The JMP puts the urban access rate at 92 per cent and rural access rate at 80 per cent.
·         National utilities however estimate coverage to be around 64 per cent as at the end of 2013.
·         The 2013 JMP indicates that only 13 per cent of Ghanaians use improved sanitation facilities, whilst 18 per cent practice open defecation and 59 per cent use shared latrines.
This story was first published by graphiconline on April 8, 2014
 

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