Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tracking of water, sanitation funds stalled by scanty, unavailable data

By Edmund Smith-Asante
Mr Harold Esseku addressing the meeting

A pilot project started to track funding for the water and sanitation (WASH) sector of the country has been stalled by scanty and unavailable data from institutions that receive and utilise such funds.

The project was introduced by the ministries of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Local Government and Rural Development as part of the monitoring process for the Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP).

It is being supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is partnered by UNICEF on the platform. 

At a meeting of the Water and Sanitation Sector Working Group yesterday, the consultant spearheading the project, Mr Harold Esseku (Rapha Consult) expressed his frustration at the turn of events.

He said as a result of the difficulty in receiving data from the sector’s institutions, he was still collecting data for a project that should have ended a long time ago.

“From the middle of April, the next time I got data was the second week of July and then last week Friday. So you can imagine that the whole of May and the whole of June was almost impossible to get any additional data apart from what was readily available which was given to us at the beginning,” he stated.

Purpose of project
Addressing the meeting, he said the project was aimed at finding out the total expenditure in the WASH sector, those who paid for WASH services and how much they paid, the main funding channels for the sector and how the funds were distributed to the different WASH services, as well as the expenditure types.

With specific reference to Ghana, he said the project was aimed at finding the total funding to the water and sanitation sector, whether it was sufficient to meet policy priorities, sector plans and targets and how the funds were distributed for the different components of WASH services such as operation and maintenance for sustainability.

The project is also aimed at finding the share of spending by development partners, households and the government, the main channels of funding in the WASH sector and the relation between budgetary allocation to the channels and actual spending.

Key organisations to be covered by the project include the ministries of Finance (MoF); Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH); Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD), the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and Water Resources Commission (WRC).

Others are the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) and development partners (DPs).

Data obtained
According to Mr Esseku, although some data was obtained from the WRC, CWSA, GWCL, EHSD and MWRWH for the periods spanning 2010 to 2013, just scanty data was received from five MMDAs in the Greater Accra Region, which could not be used. 

He said from the MoF, data was obtained from multilateral and bilateral agreements for projected disbursement and actual disbursement, but none was received for the Government of Ghana (GoG) budgetary allocations and actual disbursements.

Key lessons
Mr Esseku said although the project had stalled, some valuable lessons had been learnt which informed certain steps that needed to be taken for similar exercises in the future.

He listed some of these as the provision of a questionnaire which was in line with existing data management systems, putting in place the level of disaggregation on data collection mechanisms, while more efforts were needed to undertake nationwide data collection for the 216 MMDAs.

The consultant also stated that the passing of the Right to Information Bill, making clear the need for data well in advance and involving senior-level stakeholders were all steps that would be taken.

Elimination of open defecation
Mr Stephen Ntow, another consultant, touched on a national campaign to eliminate open defecation and establish the norm of using toilets.

He said its objective was to promote the social norm of using latrines and would use social icons and several partners, with the President leading the way.

A programme officer at the EHSD, Mr Kweku Quansah, said Ghana hoped to eliminate open defecation by 2020 and in the short term reduce the current rate of 18 per cent by 8 per cent. 

Mr Jesse Coffie Danku, WASH Advisor of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, proposed a national customised form of latrine for low-income communities that would deal with the incidence of open defecation.

For his part, Mr Tony Akuamoah-Tsekpetse, EHSD, said open defecation-free communities in seven regions, excluding the Ashanti, Greater Accra and Western regions, had increased from 97 in 2010 to over 2000. 

Writer’s email:

This was first published by the Daily Graphic on August 11, 2014

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