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Exploring An Appropriate Rural Water Infrastructure Asset Management In Ghana

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Tyhra Kumasi (Accra, Ghana), Peter Burr
IRC1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 4: Infrastructure development,
AbstractRural water supply is reported to cover 63% of the rural population of Ghana, thereby putting the country on track to achieving the Millennium Development Goal target for water. However, behind this apparent success are a complex set of challenges. These include high level of non-functionality of water facilities coupled with sub-standard service delivery and the lack of conditions which need to be in place to ensure sustainable service provision over time. A key challenge faced by water service providers is that supply systems are very capital intensive therefore as system components age and begin to fail they find it difficult to finance and budget for the inevitable costs of major maintenance and rehabilitation. Without improved asset maintenance and financial planning, it likely that premature breakdowns will keep happening and the cycle of unsustainable rural services will continue. Under the Triple-S initiative, the Community Water and Sanitation Agency and IRC have been developing and testing ways to improve water service monitoring within local government agencies to help systematize improved financial planning, asset maintenance, and ultimately service delivery outcomes for users. As part of this process a baseline inventory has been created of all improved water facilities across three rural districts. This study evaluates the asset inventory data as well the broader financial management processes and practices in two of the three districts in order to initially reflect on the current status of asset management planning in Ghana, and subsequently to assess the feasibility of using the asset inventory data to inform maintenance scheduling at local levels, and to feed into existing budgeting and planning processes at district, regional, and national levels. Analysis of the inventory data shows that asset management practices in rural Ghana are currently very poor leading to premature infrastructure and in many cases a complete cessation of service delivery with a non functionality rate of 30%. In small communities fix on failure of handpump systems was a standard practice but occurred intermittently leading to long periods of system downtime. In most cases preventative maintenance was not undertaken leaving many systems operating at a sub-optimal capacity. In the case of small town piped systems, there was no evidence that systematic maintenance of above or below ground systems was taking place. As with hand-pump systems, managers employed a fix-on failure approach -- although low tariff revenues meant in many cases components were not being replaced when they failed, leading to a steady decline in service performance. In both cases a major financing gap was identified between current levels of expenditure on operating and maintaining assets and what is required to sustain a basic standard of service. In terms of the feasibility the main challenges identified relate to the relatively high ongoing costs of updating and maintaining an asset inventory, and the capability of service providers to act on this information. Recommendations are provided on how the costs of effective asset monitoring can be reduced and incorporated into existing monitoring systems and financial and budgeting processes. However further work is needed to test these simple asset management approaches, to see if they are able to systematise maintenance at local levels, while also ensuring funds are mobilised in a timely manner when the cost goes beyond the capacity of the service provider to finance.
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