A five-year project designed to ensure sustainable water service delivery to rural dwellers has been launched in Accra.
The $22-mililion pilot project, being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a US charity, is being implemented in Ghana and Uganda.
The Community Water and Sanitation Agency and IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, a Netherland-based organisation, are facilitating the project which starts next-month and ends in December 2014.
The project will ensure that government put up mechanisms that will guarantee sustainable water services to the rural folks and guarantee that broken down pumps are repaired.
It further aims at developing strategies to facilitate constant maintenance and repairs of the country’s rural water systems.
Launching the project, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH), Alban S.Bagbin said of the one billion people in the world who have no access to safe drinking water, nine out of the ten live in the rural areas.
He said projects to increase access to rural water systems often neglect the critical factors of sustainability and maintenance of existing water systems.
“Some rural areas including some in my own constituency are known to be grave yards for non-performing pumps, with repeated projects providing short terms solutions,” he stated.
Mr Bagbin said the project aimed at “ending the cycle of failures that cause wells, pumps and piped systems in rural areas to require replacement every few years because they have not been maintained.”
The Minister entreated the project team to apply themselves diligently to the programme of activities “since the outcomes will help the government accelerate its progress towards achieving the MDGs targets on water.’
Mr Bagbin implored the project team to also consider the issue of water quality, saying that glossing over it could undo the gains made in increasing access to clean, safe and potable water as a tool of reducing poverty in the country.
He encouraged the stakeholders in the water sector to ensure a good maintenance culture to ensure the longer life spans of the rural water systems.
While commending the developing partners for their continuous support to the water sector, Mr Bagbin said the water ministry would continue to initiate programmes and projects to lift the rural poor from the quagmire of poverty and to enhance the wellbeing of particularly, women and children.
Mr Clement Bugase, Acting Chief Executive of the CWSA in his welcome statement said “if we can tackle the issue of sustainability, we can make faster progress.”
He said under the project , the CWSA would build the capacity of the District Assemblies on the management of the rural water system.
The Director of Water at the Water Directorate of the MWRWH, Mr Minta Aboagye said about 30 per cent of rural water systems were not functioning.
He said while making efforts to achieve the water targets of MDGs, the issue of the sustainability of the rural water system should be seriously considered.
Mr Ton Schouten, Director of Triple-S and IRC International Water Sanitation Centre later told the Times that the project was brought to Ghana because the country had made progress in the water sector in terms of provision of infrastructure, monitoring and maintenance.
He said the project would provide post construction support system to the rural water systems, skill and supply of spare parts.