Several factors contribute to the lack of safe water access in Ghana. Most rely on surface water and these sources have life-threatening parasites and high microbial content. In some regions of the country, the water has significant water discoloration and contains dangerous minerals. During the summer months, many areas suffer from water scarcity.
Communities, particularly in rural areas, also lack basic skills and the capacity to maintain the wells, hand pumps and other systems well-intentioned organizations have provided. No toilets and a lack of good hygiene awareness also contributes to the problem.
Progress to Date
Safe Water Network set out in 2009 to prove that locally-owned water stations could provide safe, affordable water to people without access in Ghana. With the help of our partners including The Hilton Foundation, Newman's Own Foundation, The PepsiCo Foundation and Kosmos Energy, we are now providing reliable, safe water access to nearly 50,000 people throughout the country.
The eight sites in operation as of the summer of 2013, all cover their operating costs. This is an important aspect to long-term sustainability because it not only contributes to financial stability, it also means significant household penetration. When Safe Water Network achieves 75% household usage, it translates into significant community health improvement.
This local success is due in part to Safe Water Network's commitment to develop the local capability to own and manage their water systems. On-going support is a critical component of this effort and we have developed extensive field-tested training programs and materials to address the technical and marketing aspects of a water-station operation.
Because women and children often have walked hours to collect free unsafe water for the family each day, convenience becomes a key driver to household adoption, especially when a consumer pays for water, even a nominal price. We established our first two remote kiosks in Dzemeni, followed by three remote kiosks in Pokuase in 2011. This innovative expansion/delivery program significantly increased usage. This program is now being introduced into other locations. Safe Water Network's Field Insight Series describes in detail this remote kiosk program and its results.
In February of 2013, we released the country's first comprehensive survey of the role decentralized water systems serve in Ghana and it concluded that market-based approaches can play a significant role in bridging the gap in the population's safe water access. The Ghana Market Assessment funded by The Hilton Foundation, provided important analysis that helped shape Safe Water Network's planning in Ghana. Its results were also presented at our fourth 'Beyond the Pipe' Forum, held in Accra in March of 2013, attended by over 150 leaders in Ghana's water sector.
As with all Safe Water Network field initiatives, we continue to monitor and evaluate all aspects of our operations with the objective of standardizing our approach and packaging it in ways for ease of replication by our partners at scale.
Safe Water Network is focused in four regions of the country. In 2013 we continue to improve operations in our existing sites around Accra and the Lake Volta Region, as well as embark on an ambitious three-year expansion plan for the country. Our objective is get more people safe-water access while at the same time structure growth in ways that can scale our local success.
Last year we launched several modular slow sand filtration sites in the Lake Volta Region including the villages of Akateng and Aveme. Up to 500,000 people in the area could benefit from this cost-effective and proven approach to providing affordable, safe water and over the next three years we intend to roll-out another 10 systems reaching an additional 50,000 people in this region.
In a joint effort to provide safe drinking water to multiple communities in the Western Region of Ghana, Safe Water Network and Kosmos Energy, launched a Modular Ultrafiltration water treatment plant in Beyin. With support from the Ghana's Community Water and Sanitation Agency, the water plant provides over 100,000 liters per day of safe drinking water to the town and neighboring communities. The plant also accommodates future expansion needs to service other communities in the area. When fully operational this initiative will deliver safe water to over 20,000 people in several communities.
In the Ashanti Region of Ghana, Safe Water Network will launch the first of four systems to address the safe water needs of communities in this region, funded by BGI LLC. The Ashanti sites will use Limited Mechanization Systems (LMS) technology to improve water yield, convenience in access and operational efficiency of existing boreholes. LMS is also cost-effective to operate for communities of less than 5,000 people.
1 UNICEF 2006