Water & Sanitation

Our project empowering rural communities to demand water and sanitation services from their District Assemblies has recently closed. We have a final project report with an overview of what we did and the results we achieved here.

community durbar3We’ve got an update on our EU-funded WATSAN project to tell you about what we’ve been doing to support communities’ demands for accountability, and what they’ve been doing to get water and sanitation services into their communities

water is lifeFoE-Ghana has been in the news with our water and sanitation project following a workshop bringing together communities, chiefs and assembly members to empower communities to demand their rights to services. Read the press release here

water picAs part of the water and sanitation project (see below), we have met with many deprived rural communities where we listened to their struggles of access to water and sanitation. Their stories are both disturbing and sad. Read more about them here

Empowering civil society to demand accountability for ensuring community rights to basic services are met

Funded by the EU, this project is empowering civil society, community based organisations (CBOs) and communities to demand accountability from their local government – the District Assemblies (DAs) – for meeting communities’ rights to basic services. The majority of marginalised rural communities in Ghana still have no access to clean potable water, and even less access to sanitation facilities.

community drinking water source
Source of drinking water for one of the project communities, NR

People are often forced to use dirty water for cooking and drinking, causing health problems especially among little children. In Ghana it is the gendered role of women and girls to provide water for their families, and they often have to walk miles just to fetch a bowl of water, which reduces the time they have for earning an income or attending school. The DAs have funding for providing basic services such as water, sanitation, health and education. But corruption and financial mismanagement means communities may wait forever to be provided with these services.

community durbar1
Community durbar northern region

To address these worrying trends, this project is building the capacity of communities and community groups to demand that their DAs provide them with basic services, mainly health,
water and sanitation. Contrasting with some of our other projects that provide basic services directly to beneficiary communities, this EU fund has taken a rights based approach that recognizes all people have rights to water, sanitation, health, education and other basic services, and that the DAs have a moral responsibility to be accountable to their communities and fulfil those rights.

The project is partnering with around 200 communities and their civil society groups in 5 Districts of the Volta Region and 5 in the Northern Region. There are three objectives, each with related activities and expected achievements.

Objective 1. To train, assist and support local CBOs, citizens’ groups, community support groups and local leaders to identify problems in service delivery, and monitor and evaluate government progress in service provision.

woman sharing her views
Women sharing their experiences of accessing to water and sanitation and the problems the women encounter

The activities will cover: training around 200 CBOs and community support groups in basic research and monitoring techniques so they can identify the bottlenecks in service delivery and to monitor the DAs’ progress in fulfilling their rights to services. We will establish a monitoring system, and ensure systematic monitoring continues by civil society. One study will be completed in each Region identifying the bottlenecks that undermine efficient service delivery and evaluating current levels of service provision in the selected districts. This will give communities information for developing effective advocacy and campaigns that demand the DAs be accountable and transparent by fulfilling their needs to water and sanitation and other basic services.

The expected achievements are that communities will be able to monitor and report on service quality and delivery, and have the information they need to hold their DAs accountable over use of local government and provision of basic services.

Objective 2. To strengthen the advocacy capacity and build strong partnerships of CBOs, citizens’ groups, communities and the media by raising awareness about communities’ rights to services as well as the budget allocations to DAs for water, sanitation and other services.

We are organising durbars and community radio broadcasts to reach around 50,000 people

Raising awareness about communities' rights to basic services and who should provide those services
Raising awareness about communities’ rights to basic services and who should provide those services

living in 200 communities to raise awareness about their human rights to water, sanitation and other basic services, and that their DAs must be held accountable for fulfilling those rights. To help with the awareness raising, we will establish or facilitate at least 50 community radio stations to deliver information directly within the communities. We are facilitating training workshops for around 200 CBO and civil society groups to learn about working together effectively in a coalition, and learning the skills to develop and implement a campaign advocating for people’s rights to services to be fulfilled. One coalition is being formed in each region to strengthen the voices of civil society, and partnerships developed with the media to increase the pressure on DAs by exposing the inaction of the DAs. We will hold media encounters and editors’ forums to keep the media updated on the issue of communities’ rights to service provision.

Youth scorecard session at Gbi Atabu, Volta Region

The expected achievements are that communities and their civil society groups will have new knowledge on their rights to basic services and new skills for developing advocacy and campaign activities. They will develop and implement ongoing advocacy activities demanding their rights to service provision are met, and demanding transparency and accountability in the use of local government funds. Partnering with the media will strengthen these advocacy and campaign activities.

Objective 3. To establish community support groups and empower them together with civil society to engage government and demand accountability from DAs for service provision.

The District Assembly Procurement Officer addressing community representatives, Volta Region
The District Assembly Procurement Officer addressing community representatives, Volta Region

The activities will establish community support groups and hold training workshops for around 800 members of the various community groups to build their confidence for discussing communities’ concerns directly with the DAs and to demand accountability in service provision and use of government funds. There will also be training workshops for 100 DA staff on policy dialogue and community engagement to encourage more participatory structures of governance, and to ensure they are open to dialogue with communities and to listening to and addressing their needs and concerns. We will establish policy dialogue structures – the ‘District Community Engagement Forums’ – where CBOs and the various community groups will meet with their DAs to discuss the communities’ needs and rights to basic service such as water, sanitation and health. We will ensure each District forum meets three times a year.

The expected achievements are that CBOs and civil society groups will be empowered to meet directly with local government and demand accountability in service provision, and participation in decision-making over the use of local government funds. The forums established by the project will provide a structure for communities to meet their DAs regularly and discuss issues that are important to them.

FoE-Ghana has produced a manual for Empowering Local Communities and Civil Society to Demand Accountability as one of the training materials for this project.

community durbar sciorecards
Training in community scorecards, Volta Region