POVERTY Millennium Development Goal
water, sanitation and hygiene can do in Ghana
Country Note provides evidence for the impact of
water supply, sanitation and improved hygiene on
poverty in Ghana.
by: Vincent Tay, TREND
by: Frank Odhiambo, WEDC
MDGs are strongly inter-dependent and programme
interventions must reflect this. Water,
sanitation and hygiene deliver outcomes across the
Why is water,
sanitation and hygiene so important for the poor?
Urban and Rural Poor - the poor in both
urban and rural areas are always the least
served in the provision of potable water and
sanitation facilities and hygiene education.
to Pay - setting differential tariffs
and establishing pro-poor payment systems allows
poorer households to pay for services.
Generation - appropriate provision of
water and sanitation can lead to income
generating opportunities for the poor.
of Facilities - improving incomes for
the poor allows them to sustain their facilities
by ensuring their proper Operation and regular
and Poverty - access to safe water and
appropriate sanitation and hygiene education
leads to significant health benefits for the
Urban and the Rural Poor
the last twenty years (1981-2001), it is only in
sub-Saharan Africa that the number of people
living in abject poverty has increased from 42%
to 47% (UNIDO, 2004).
calorie requirements, Ghana has pegged extreme
poverty at using ¢700,000 per year ($0.22)
enough for 2900 kilocalories. Close to 27% of
the population fall into this bracket (Ghana
Statistical Service, 2000).
Ghana, large majority of households in urban
areas have access to potable water (defined as
non-natural sources). Despite this, only 8.0% of
people classified as very poor have access to
pipe borne water or inside water because of the
cost involved in the provision of the facility.
poverty in Ghana is visible in urban and peri-urban
areas, it is excessively a rural phenomenon. The
rural areas have always recorded the highest
incidences of poverty with the rural savannah
recording 70% occurrence (Ghana Statistical
sanitation and hygiene?
Water is essential to life
and everybody deserves to have access to safe
water. One of the cardinal principles of
the Community Water and Sanitation Programme (CWSP)
in Ghana is Community Ownership and Management
(COM) of facilities. Under this
community members can determine that the very
poor, the aged and children do not have to pay
Government of Ghana has put
in place the Public Utilities and Regulatory
Commission (PURC) to ensure amongst others
that utilities tariffs, including water, are
not pegged beyond the reach of people.
The lifeline tariff for the urban poor is
reassessed regularly to protect them.
Many urban poor in
developing countries, who have been deprived of
public service, presently pay very high rates to
informal providers for water supply services. In
Ghana, many urban poor households already pay
more for water than middle and upper class
households. People pay as much as ¢200 (2.8c)
per 18 litre bucket of water.
shows that even the poorest communities are
willing to make a substantial contribution
towards improving their water supply, it is
essential that pro-poor payment schemes are
established so that the poor are left out.
Currently, installing a single borehole in Ghana
costs approximately ¢70,000,000 ($7,600). It is
important that the poor are considered when
contribution levels are being considered.
water, sanitation and hygiene?
Provision of water
for productive uses encourages economic
activity. This can supplement household income,
thereby providing the means for improving
nutrition and medical care for HIV/AIDS
sufferers. For example, water plays a key role
in a range of income generating activities, such
as vegetable growing and livestock rearing,
which supplement incomes at the household level.
Improved access to
water supply provides important labour saving
benefits to households affected by HIV/AIDS. The
time saved fetching water can be used for income
generation and enterprise development.
part of its objective of promoting good health
and development towards reducing poverty, the
Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA)
continuously solicits funds to support rural
communities who are willing to contribute to
capital cost. In a recent development, the
government has obtained a credit facility of
$26 million for the CWSA to provide water to
some 500,000 people in six regions (Daily
Ghana, small towns and rural communities have
to contribute 5% of the total capital cost of
the facilities. In many communities,
differential contributions are set for various
segments of the community in raising the
capital cost contribution: - women pay less
than men, children don’t contribute and
elderly people don’t contribute. These are
all ways in which the community ensures that
the poor also benefit.
the four main occupations people in Ghana are
engaged in, majority are in agriculture (49.2%).
People involved in farm crop farming record the
highest incidence of poverty – 59% (Ghana
Statistical Services, 2000). The provision of
safe water and sanitation create opportunities
for families to earn extra income.
African cities, small scale independent
providers are an important alternative to
utilities when it comes to supplying the peri-urban
and the poor with water and sanitation services.
Many people earn a reasonable income from
providing these services.
of the labour force, especially those in the
rural areas are largely unskilled and only
semi-literate. Therefore, they cannot earn high
incomes for their services and are forced to
live on a $ 1 or even less a day.
water, sanitation and hygiene?
water and sanitation sector has provided a lot
of work for both the middle and low-income
groups all over Ghana especially in the urban
cities and small towns at the district level.
Processing of water into sachets has created
jobs for both manufacturers who are mostly
middle-income people and retailers who are
mostly poor people majority of whom are women
Board and WATSAN Committee members at the
community level receive basic skills training
for simple bookkeeping, tariff setting, and
record keeping among others. This skills
training builds up their profile and opens up
more opportunities for them in their personal
every district, the Community Water and
Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and other
organisations have selected and trained
ordinary community members to become latrine
artisans. These artisans are paid for
providing the service. An artisan earns an
estimate of between ¢800,000 and ¢1,000,000
($86 - $108) per single seater Kumasi
Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP) latrine.
the Small Towns Water Project, Water Boards
are formed in beneficiary communities to be in
charge of the Operation and Maintenance of the
water facility. Members of the board are
paid a minimum allowance. Pipe
attendants who are employed to man the
stand-pipes are also paid for their services.
maintenance of facilities is important to ensure
their sustainability. Under the Community Water
and Sanitation Programme (CWSP) in Ghana,
beneficiary communities are required to fill in
a Facilities Management Plan (FMP) which spells
out clearly their financial contribution towards
Operation and Maintenance of the facility.
Cost of Operation
and Maintenance of water and sanitation
facilities can become an added burden on the
rural poor if the appropriate levels of
technologies are not selected for both water and
water, sanitation and hygiene?
CWSA has carefully selected four types of hand
pumps for use in rural communities mainly
because of their relative low maintenance
costs and ease of repair. These Village Level
Operation and Maintenance (VLOM) pumps ensure
that the cost of maintenance for the community
is not high and the use of the facility is
sustained over many years.
fund raising approaches are used by the
community to raise money for Operation and
Maintenance (O&M) of the community's water
facility. In new Abirim in the Eastern Region,
the Water Board, using the 'Pay as you fetch'
approach has managed to raise over ¢100
million ($10,753) for O&M over the past
over the world, the cost of health care is
usually quite high. Poor families have
worse health conditions than those with higher
incomes. Health is paramount for poor people and
in most instances, their very environment is a
threat to them. Improving environmental
conditions including providing water, sanitation
and solid waste management services is basic to
the creation of sustainable livelihoods and the
elimination of poverty.
related diseases like guinea worm and trachoma
still plague portions of West Africa. A
person suffering from guinea worm looses a lot
of productive farm time which reduces their
income. Ghana is currently one of the
leading guinea worm endemic countries in the
The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) has
clear objectives towards increasing access
to improved potable water and sanitation as
key to achieving health outcomes and
sustained poverty reduction. Some of the
Rural population with access to safe water
Rural population with access to household latrine
Urban population with access to safe water
Urban population with access to household latrine
As a way of moving towards the eradication of guinea worm,
the government as part of its poverty reduction
strategy is fully subsidising the provision of
water facilities in guinea worm endemic
Cairncross et al, 2003. Health Environment and
the Burden of Disease: A Guidance Note.
Graphic, Feb 2005. Govt. gets $26m credit for
water project. Accra.
Statistical Service, 2000. Poverty trends
in Ghana in the 1990s, Ghana Statistical
of Ghana, 2003. Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy
2003-2005. An Agenda for Growth and Prosperity,
2004. Industrial Development Report 2004.
This Country Note is part
of a series based upon the six WELL Millennium
Development Goal Briefing Notes
further information contact:
Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)
LE11 3TU UK
+44 (0)1509 228304
+44 (0)1509 223970
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