As Safe Water Network hosted its seventh annual Beyond the Pipe Forum on Wednesday, March 20 at the Marriott Hotel in Airport City, Accra. The event brought together key stakeholders from the Ghana water sector—representing government, the private sector, NGOs, and other institutions—as well as representatives from Safe Water Network funding partners, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; The Stone Family Foundation; Newman’s Own Foundation; The Osprey Foundation; The Vitol Foundation; GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities; and others.
Safe Water Network is committed to improving the health and livelihoods of millions of people in need of safe water. Through its Beyond the Pipe Forum series, the organization aims to convene key stakeholders in order to realize the potential of small water enterprises—locally owned and operated water businesses—to reach millions of Ghanaians lacking access to safe, affordable, reliable water.
Building on progress made during and subsequent to the 2018 Forum, this year’s event focused on “Mainstreaming Small Water Enterprises for Scale.” While participants acknowledged the encouraging progress that NGOs and small private-sector implementers have made in Ghana over the past decade, cost-effectively providing safe water access to approximately 1.1 million people, the event emphasized the engagement needed to garner the full support and adoption of small water enterprises by the Government of Ghana and multi-laterals, including funding and regulatory reform, so that meaningful scale can be realised.
In his keynote address, the Honourable Michael Yaw Gyato, Deputy Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, stated that “the experience from Safe Water Network has taught us that small water enterprises are an important part of the mix for sustainable water supply in Ghana, especially in peri-urban and small towns, as well as in rural areas, and the Ministry will work in partnership with Safe Water Network to support their efforts in mainstreaming small water enterprises into the Ministry’s overall strategy and plan for water services delivery.”
As he welcomed participants, Charles Nimako, Safe Water Network’s Director of Africa Initiatives, emphasized the role of small water enterprises in delivering safe, affordable, and reliable water services, especially for the poor: “Combined with the efforts of other implementers, and with an operating footprint in 9 out of 10 regions and reaching 1.1 million people in Ghana, small water enterprises have been proven, are replication-ready, and have a critical role to play in achieving the SDGs. We estimate that, with an investment of US $106 million, we can reach approximately 3.2 million people in 1,000 communities with reliable safe water access.
Chris Dunston, Senior Program Officer of International Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, acknowledged that District Assemblies increasingly have a role to play in applying turnkey solutions for water supply in order to place more responsibility for service delivery on the private sector, and to leverage public-private partnerships.
During the event’s closing remarks, Safe Water Network Program Manager Joseph Ampadu-Boakye explained how the 2019 agenda of the Small Water Enterprise Working Group—a collective of leaders from government, civil society, the development sector, and the private sector founded in 2015 for the purpose of gaining the support, funding, and policy and regulatory reform needed to mainstream small water enterprises—would center on advocacy and engagement with government and policy makers, so that small water enterprises can more easily be adopted and recognized as part of Ghana’s water supply landscape.
The 2019 Beyond the Pipe Forum was made possible through event sponsors, including: Water4-Access Development; eWaterPay; Project Maji Foundation; Ecobank; Jual Group Ghana Ltd.; Akai Multimedia; Joissam Ghana Ltd.; and Structures Branding Ltd.