Rural Water Supply

A cost effective Analysis of selected water projects in Ghana

Research Paper (undergraduate) 2012 38 Pages

Geography / Earth Science - Geology, Mineralogy, Soil Science


Table of Contents

Executive Summary


1.1. Present state of rural water supplies in Ghana
1.1.1 Number of New communities/small towns pipes
1.1.2 Rehabilitation of water facilities
1.1.3 Regional Water coverage at end-2006
1.2 Climate
1.3 Geology
1.4 Snapshot of the National Community Water and Sanitation Agency in Ghana

2.1 The Search for Interventions
2.2 Alternative sources of water
2.2.2 Desalination
2.2.3 Borehole/ Hand Dug Well
2.3 Wrap-up of literature reviewed

3.0 Policy Goal
3.1 The research questions for this policy proposal
3.2 Objectives of the Policy
3.3 Policy alternatives
3.4 Scope and Methodology
3.5 Limitations
3.6 How to Measure
3.7 Type of Analysis

4.1 Discussion of Results
4.2 Sensitivity Analysis
4.3 Conclusion
4.4 Policy Recommendations


Executive Summary

The axiom “water is life and life is water” underscores the importance of water to the everyday needs of all living things including man. The global perspective on access to safe drinking water for both domestic and agriculture needs has for some time now been a major challenge. The WHO estimates that nearly 3.4 million people die annually as a result of water and sanitation related diseases and about 99 percent of this number is from developing countries. About 780 million people lack access to potable drinking water that is one in every nine people. Women spend almost 200 million hours daily collecting water for domestic chores. These findings are jaw-dropping. Ghana, as a developing country with an estimated population of 23 million is faced with these same challenges. Incidence of water related diseases have been prevalent in most rural communities in Ghana. Background check shows that Ghana’s problem in rural water supply have come as a result of low investments couple with high capital demands in carrying out annual rehabilitation works on existing facilities.

The objective of this policy proposal is to address the challenges of water supply in rural Ghana. The aim is to increase rural water access as captured in the coverage rate from 52.16% to 76% in rural communities. To achieve this, two policy alternatives (rain harvesting system and desalination plant) have been proposed alongside existing government intervention (status quo). The cost associated with each intervention has been estimated and projected to cover the duration of the proposed policy periods. To have all three interventions implemented concurrently for the duration of this policy will cost government an estimated US$66.4 million. On the other hand, making a choice among implementing any of these alternatives; borehole, rain harvesting and desalination plants will cost US$19,246,500, US$ 12,960,000 and US$22,050,000 respectively from 2012 to 2015. However, it is a policy in Ghana that rural communities should be able to provide 5% to 15% of the total project cost as mobilization cost to benefit from such facilities delivery. This component is an important factor in rural water supply. It is therefore important to look for a cost effective alternative in which the cost per head could easily be afforded. This policy factored in this aspect through the policy analysis type adopted. A cost effectiveness approach was carried on all three interventions to determine which is more expedient in terms of cost. The cost effectiveness ratio was the main criteria used to arrive at the preferred alternative. An estimate of the total annual cost was therefore needed to help compute the CER. It became necessary to compute the cost recovery factor (crf) taking into account a discount rate and the total lifespan of each policy alternative divided by the target population. The analyses showed that the per capita cost of Borehole project is between USD$0.82 – 1.38 for the next four years. Rain water harvesting system is expected to record a per capita cost ranging between USD$0.73-1.07 while that of desalination project is expected between USD$1.05-1.13. The WASHCost project funded by Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation to collect, collate and analyze cost data for water and sanitation services estimates per capita cost of small town water systems in Ghana to be between USD$12-22 and USD$4. The three alternatives have a per capita cost falling below these standards of estimation. Based on the total annual cost and the changed in improved water consumed after intervention, cost effectiveness ratio was estimated. The Cost Effectiveness Ratios (CER) for borehole project ranges from $22.03 to $30.83. Rain Harvesting System recorded a CER of $21.63 to $26.58 whiles Desalination System ranges $28.08 to $31.20. The results, tentatively reveals that Rain Harvesting System have a lower cost effectiveness ratio (CER), followed by Borehole project and Desalination plant. Therefore, rain harvesting system or projects in Ghana are more cost effective than borehole and desalination projects. However, to make an informed decision as to which of these interventions is suitable in both long and short runs, further analyses needs to be done. Under the sensitivity analyses, the one-way varies only the discount rate while the multi-way varies both the discount rate and the lifespan of the interventions. Both analyses presents the worst case scenario reflected in the decrease in parameters and the best case scenario showing an increase in parameters. Despite the fact that the variation of the discount rate in the one-way analysis shows some changes in the CER of the three interventions, these changes are not significant enough to deviate from earlier results. In both one-way and multi-way analyses, there was a close up between borehole and rain harvesting as both were seen to have had low CER. However, in terms of consistency, rain harvesting system recorded the lowest CER throughout the analyses. A look at the NPV estimates also buttresses earlier results as the present value of rain harvesting system was least, implying given the same outcome for the three alternatives, it is economically and financially viable to invest in it. The results of the sensitivity tests/analyses reaffirms the stability of best and worst case scenarios. This policy document based on these findings strongly recommends the adoption of rain harvesting as an alternative through the Ministry of water Resource works and Housing to augment existing government’s interventions but cautions that in the wake of available resources with much reference to the oil proceeds, efforts should be made to pursue desalination at the coastal parts of Ghana.


I am very grateful to Dr. Nattha Vinijinaiyapak the co-lecturer for Policy Studies (DA 802), at the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA). This policy proposal would not have been possible without the well taught lectures and materials provided by Prof. Nattcha. The same appreciation goes to Prof.Sombat, a co-lecturer and president of NIDA for his initial introduction of the public policymaking process and the intricacies involved. This proposal would not have also been possible without the contribution of my colleagues in class. To the Ministry of water resources, works and housing and its allied agencies in the water sector in Ghana, I say thank you for the information provided. I also wish to acknowledge the endless efforts of the PhD administrative staffs of GSPA for their administrative contributions to making this course a success.



The global need for water cannot be over emphasized. The WHO and its allied agencies have been working feverishly with head of states of developing countries and other private institutions in ensuring majority of the world populace have access to good drinking water. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) highlights this need. According to the WHO, lack of safe drinking water has become a major concern for third world countries. Available figures indicate that more than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world (WHO 2009). It is also estimated that 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in every nine people. Water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through gun. The same report from WHO has stated that, women spend more than 200 million hours a day collecting water (ibid). These figures are alarming. Ghana has a land size of 238,537 sq km (92,100 sq miles) with an estimated population of 23 million. Out of this 23 million, about 60% are resident in the rural communities (i.e. approximately 15 million people). The first public water supply system in Ghana, then Gold Coast, was established in Accra just before World War I. Extensions were made exclusively to other urban areas among them the colonial capital of Cape Coast, Winneba and Kumasi in the1920s. During this period, the water supply systems were managed by the Hydraulic Division of Public Works Department. With time the responsibilities of the Hydraulic Division were widened to include the planning and development of water supply systems in other parts of the country. In 1948, the Department of Rural Water Development was established to engage in the development and management of rural water supply through the drilling of bore holes and construction of wells for rural communities. Successive governments have provided Medium-Term National Development Policy Frameworks to guide the preparation and implementation of Sector and District Development Plans aimed at reducing poverty and improving the social well-being of the people. The Ghana Vision 2020, Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS I) and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) are the latest of such national development policy frameworks. Throughout these policy documents, efforts have been made to mitigate the social canker of poverty through a countless number of interventions. Ghana’s poverty situation has been defined from a multi dimensional perspectives ranging from security, respect, lack of social amenities, prevalence of diseases among others (GTz poverty profiling in Ghana, 2003). Ghana’s poverty situation is quite pronounced in rural areas of the country where about 60% of the country’s population resides and where government’s interventions lack.

1.1. Present state of rural water supplies in Ghana

Gyau and Dapaah (1999) contend that about 50.5% of the rural population depends on surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, dams and dugouts. These sources are usually heavily polluted and are the main causes of water borne diseases so common in the rural communities. Based on the same estimates, only about 0.05% of the rural population depends on rainwater harvesting due to the unfavourable annual rainfall pattern in many parts of the country. About 40.7% depend on boreholes and wells whilst about 0.7% rely on springs for their water supply needs. Though a number of researches have been able to identify the underlying causes of most water related diseases in Ghana, not much has been achieved in terms of the policy interventions at play. Investment in water facilities has been lower than expected. In 1984, it was estimated that rural water coverage was 55% (Gyau and Dapaah, 1999). This figure has however dwindled over the past 20 years affirming low investment giving the rising population in rural communities. Currently, the estimated rural coverage to access to potable water stands at 52.86% (CWSA Medium Term plan, 2008-2012). The Medium Term plan has also shown that the National Community Water and Sanitation Agency (NCWSA) responsible for providing rural and national water have consistently failed to meet projected targets. A look at the declining trend shows that, from an estimated 27% in 1990, rural water coverage increased to 30 % in 1999. Coverage expanded to 46.3% 2003 and 51.1% and 51.9% in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Notwithstanding this, the regional coverage has shown lot of variation across board. This trend is shown below (Strategic Investment Plan 2008-2015 & The Medium Term Plan 2008- 2012).

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Figure 1: Facilities and service: Targets and Delivery: 2001 to 2006.

Source: Author’s own construct, Data from SIP (2001-2006) & MTP (2001- 2006).

The pictorial exhibits shown above reveal that there has been a fluctuating trend with respect to facilities targets as against the actual. For instance, in 2001, the target for the construction of boreholes stood at 550. The actual provision made was 198 representing 36% with a shortfall of 64%. The period between 2001 and 2006 actuals saw an increase from 198 to 1,325 representing 569% increment. This represents a significant jump in policy interventions. However, this has not been able to meet the demand as there are countless communities without access to safe drinking water.

1.1.1 Number of New communities/small towns pipes

According to the 2008 SIP & MTP report, targets with respect to provision of small communities/ Town pipes were exceeded. For instance, in 2001, the target was to provide small communities with 10 new pipes but the actual number of pipes provided was 92. Small towns’ pipes also experienced the same scenario with actual exceeding targeted projection. Figure 2 below shows the trend:

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Figure 2: small communities/towns pipes: Targets and Delivery: 2001 to 2006.

Source: Author’s own construct, Data from SIP (2001-2006) & MTP (2001- 2006).

1.1.2 Rehabilitation of water facilities

The main challenge to the provision of safe drinking water in Ghana is the issue of maintenance or rehabilitating constructed water facilities. The maintenance culture in Ghana is far below expectation and this is depicted in the graph below.

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Figure 3: Rehabilitation of water facilities: Targets and Delivery: 2001 to 2006.

Source: Author’s own construct, Data from SIP (2001-2006) & MTP (2001- 2006).

From fig.3, though it could be seen from the given data that actual rehabilitation has always exceeded targets, the ensuing years showed nothing to indicate if rehabilitation had taken place. In 2005, targeted rehabilitation work was 49, but only 31 of existing boreholes facilities were actually rehabilitated. Rehabilitation works on hand dug wells were non-existence. This undoubted contributed to the continuous fall in the coverage level of rural/communities water.

1.1.3 Regional Water coverage at end-2006

The national coverage as at 2006 showed a varying degree across regional borders within Ghana. The upper west region was leading in terms of coverage, recording 67.18 %. The Ashanti, the Brong Ahafo, Greater Accra, Northern, upper east and the Volta regions recorded an average of 52% in coverage with the remaining 4 regions falling below 41.53%. See table 1 below;

Table 1: Regional Water Coverage

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Source: SIP (2001-2006) & MTP (2001- 2006).

The rural water coverage mirrored/mimicked the trend in the national coverage. In terms of rural coverage, the upper west dominates with a recorded coverage of 73.39% followed by the Ashanti region which also recorded 64.26%. Most of the other regions recorded an average of 50%. The trend is further illustrated in the diagram below;

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Figure 4: Rural water coverage and Administrative Regions of Ghana, 2006.

Source: Author’s own construct, Data from SIP (2001-2006) & MTP (2001- 2006).

Rural water coverage as shown is far below the sustainable level needed to curb the high incidence of water related diseases. Available figures from the Ministry of Health shows that water borne diseases are among the top reported cases in Ghana. Malaria, Guinea Worm infestation, typhoid fever, diarrhea and hepatitis are among the prevalent cases (Ministry of Health, 2010). A look at the guinea worm cases across the regional borders shows that government and its development partners have to intensify interventions in eradicating guinea worm in Ghana.

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Table 2: Guinea Worm cases in Ghana from 2001-2006

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Figure 5: Guinea Worm Eradication program

The Northern region of Ghana has the highest guinea worm infestation cases, followed by the Eastern region. Government’s interventions must focus on these regions where the prevalence rates in water related disease is high. Ghana reported 5,497 cases of dracunculiasis in 741 villages in 2002, or 11% of the global total for that year. 95% of the cases occurred in only 15 of the country’s 110 districts. Five of Ghana’s 10 regions (Ashanti, Central, Greater Accra, Upper East and Western) reported only imported cases in 2002, all of them reportedly contained. Ghana reported 15% more cases in January 2003 (859) than in January 2002 (744). The epicenter of Ghana’s remaining endemic area is in the eastern part of the Northern Region, encompassing land that is very fertile—including the three top yam-producing districts in the country—and draws migratory seasonal farmers from many other areas of Ghana.

Table 3: coverage by interventions in Ghana-2001-2002

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Source: Public Health Service center for Disease Control, GHS (Ministry of Health, 2006)

1.2 Climate

The climate of Ghana which is of primary importance in understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of surface waters is influenced by three air masses namely, the South-West Monsoon, the North-East Trade Winds (Tropical Continental Air Mass) and the Equatorial Easterly. The warm but moist South-West Monsoon which originate from the Atlantic Ocean and the warm, dry and dusty Tropical Continental Air Mass (Harmattan) from the Sahara Desert approach the tropics from opposite sides of the equator and flow towards each other into a low pressure belt known as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The slow and irregular north-south oscillations of the ITCZ gives rise to the regime of wet and dry seasons. The wet season in the southern sections of Ghana is characterized by two main rainfall regimes, i.e., double maxima whilst the northern sections experience single rainfall regime in a year. The extreme south-western portion of Ghana is the wettest part of the country which receives more than 2000m of rainfall a year. Rainfall which mainly recharges the aquifers generally decreases towards the north and south-eastern sections of the country. The driest part of the country is found in the south-east coastland plains where the mean annual rainfall is about 800mm. Mean monthly temperature over the country never falls below about 25oC while open water (pan) evaporation is generally high and ranges from about l200mm per year in the south-west to more than 2600mm in the north. Relative humidity’s are high on the coast and are generally between 95% and 100% during the night and early morning. These can reach low values of between 20% and 30% or less in the north when the area comes under the influence of the dry Tropical Continental Air Mass (Gyau and Dapaah 1999).

1.3 Geology

The country is underlain partly by what is known as the Basement Complex which comprises a wide variety of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks. These crystalline rocks cover about 54 percent of the country. They can be further divided into subregions on the-basis of geology and groundwater conditions. These consist mainly of gneiss, phyllites, schists, migmatites, granite-gneiss and quartzites. About 45 percent of the country is underlain by Palaeozoic consolidated sedimentary rocks locally referred to as the Voltaian Formation and consist mainly of sandstones, shale, arkose, mudstone, sandy and pebbly beds and limestones. Both the Basement Complex and the Voltaian formation have little or no primary porosity, hence groundwater occurrence is associated with the development of secondary porosity resulting from jointing, shearing, fracturing and weathering. This has consequently given rise to two main types of aquifers which are the weathered zone and the fractured zone aquifers. The remaining 1% of the rock formations are associated with aquifer formations and are made up of Cenozoic and Mesozoic sediments which consist of unconsolidated alluvial sediments, beach sand, red continental deposits of mainly alternating limonitic sand, sandy clay gravels, marine shale, limestone and glauconitic sandstone[1].


[1] See Gyau and Dapaah (1999).


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ISBN (Book)
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Ghana Rural Water Supply Cost Effective Analysis Borehole Rain Harvesting Desalination




Title: Rural Water Supply