Ghana Water Initiative

Ghana has an unserved population of over 8 million that does not have access to safe drinkable water.

Ghana has an unserved population of over 8 million that does not have access to safe drinkable water

Abomosu is small town in central Ghana’s Atiwa District, an area dominated by the production of cocoa. The existing system provided water to the community, however not safe for human consumption without being treated first. It is here where Grundfos Gahan Water Initiative project successfully install its first pilot revenue collective water supply system.

Grundfos Ghana Water Initiative aims to provide sustainable clean water that is accessible, reliable and efficient. A water solution that gives users a sense of ownership and involves all stakeholders from the point of production to the end user in utmost transparency while keeping the quality standard according to WHO.

The water situation in Ghana

Ghana undoubtedly has abundant water resources, however, access to safe water in Ghana is curtailed by various challenges that can easily be avoided. Where over 90% of urban water supply is from treated surface water and rural and small towns rely on groundwater, all these water bodies are increasingly under threat particularly from pollution such as illegal mining, popularly called “galamsey”, and other human activities including the discharge of untreated wastewater in the catchment areas.

Some instances further include increased non- revenue water, power challenges, lack of system service or poor maintenance causing system failures, lack of transparency and accountability and the competing need for land to meet the growing housing demand.

The greater percentage of water produced is unaccounted due to losses in distribution, system breakages and lack of transparency in revenue collection. Low revenue generation in Ghana water sector prevents expansion and creation of new systems.

Water rationing could be attributed to many reasons but the obvious situation for Ghana is mostly due to power crises in the country. The systems run on-grid energy which is not enough for the population. Also, the cost of energy used in water production is high compared to what is produced for the people. This makes system owners make little or no profit in water production.

Water Service providers in Ghana

Recognizing the sustainability challenge, market-based solutions to encourage accountability in the whole value chain are being encouraged. The Government is also encouraging public-private partnerships, amidst difficult framework conditions owing to overreliance on donor funding. Despite challenges in framework conditions, the situation still presents interesting opportunities for the private sector.

Urban water key players include the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) responsible for portable water supply in urban areas, the Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority (PURC) responsible for tariff regulation and consumer protection, NGOs providing small water systems for peri-urban and inner-city areas, private sector operators providing water via trucks and standpipes, household borehole systems and packaged water producers.

Primary responsibility for the provision of water in small towns and rural areas has been the local assemblies/government with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) providing technical backstopping and investment planning for both the local and central governments. NGOs fill in the gaps in collaboration with the two institutions, private companies and philanthropic organisations.

Generally, many Ghanaians do not drink water directly from the tap, thus creating a very vibrant business for packaged water producers. According to the National Association of Sachet Water and packaged water producers, there are over 1,000 sachet water and packaged water producers in Accra alone. They are mainly local private companies with Voltic (owned by Coca Cola), being the market leader, having a market share of over 70%. 

NGO’s play a huge role in providing access to clean water in small towns and rural areas. International larger NGOs often provide mechanized small-town water systems catering for the whole value chain including treatment while the smaller local NGOs usually build hand pumps, which have proven not to be sustainable in terms of operational viability of the systems.

Philanthropists, private companies implementing CSR projects and faith-based organizations also play a significant role in providing water to rural and small towns, although it is often not done in a sustainable manner to ensure the systems at a minimum, operate efficiently to cover operation and maintenance cost.

Small Water Enterprises (SWEs) are off-grid community water systems, stations, or kiosks (some with household connections) operated as local water businesses, which provide locals with safe water at affordable prices. Consumers pay fees, which cover operating and maintenance costs. Initial investments are typically funded by donors, involving systems built to cater to the water value chain, including treatment of water from surface water or groundwater and distribution via standpipes and household connections in some cases.

Small Water Enterprises have been described as the missing middle catering for the population, which are not covered by local government and it is estimated that the market segment for SWE is a population of around 3.2 million representing over 800 communities. These systems appear to be more cost-effective and efficient compared to small water systems built by local authorities in small towns and rural areas.

Despite progress made so far, there is still more room for improving revenue collection, building systems to meet the demand of the population, as compared to some oversized systems built with donor funds, reducing energy consumption by using energy-efficient technologies and solar among others.

Grundfos Involvement & Solution

Grundfos seeks to leverage the gains made by SWEs and introduce efficient technology and operation & maintenance procedures, and management processes to address the pains of the consumer. The project after the initial pilot phase of five (5) systems seeks to provide safe water for up to one million people by the year 2025. 

Grundfos technology will address the issues of trust in water quality; provide a payment platform to address leakages that will ensure part of the investment be recovered. Furthermore, provide consumers convenience by leveraging on the more than 150% mobile phone penetration rate to improve distribution. Grundfos will deliver a cross-subsidized model where the value generated from packaged water will subsidize the price at the standpipe.

Constant Water supply by renewable energy (Solar)

Due to the high cost of grid energy and inconsistencies in power supply, water systems run periodically which affects the availability and accessibility of water to the people.  Grundfos water systems can run solely on solar energy which can provide a much cheaper option and could be a more sustainable solution.   

Enhanced treatment of Groundwater

Studies conducted in Ghana revealed that Ghana is among the African countries with the greatest groundwater potential and with Grundfos quality pumps and enhanced treatment systems, groundwater would be treated to drinking water standard for the people. The use of groundwater as the main source of water for treatment always makes water available irrespective of the season.

Smart and cashless payment method

 About 50% of Water produced in Ghana is unaccounted due to system discrepancies and wastage.  Grundfos introduces solar-powered smart AQTaps that makes water payment cashless. Grundfos AQtap is an intelligent water ATM that addresses some of the main challenges of providing reliable and sustainable water supply. Through an integrated platform for revenue collection and online management of water kiosks, Grundfos AQtap supports the financial viability and accountability of water service operations. Water users would have their prepaid water cards that always makes it easy for them to access water. The smart cards make transactions cashless which enhances accountability of revenue water.  Prepaid water cards can be loaded with mobile money, which is convenient, easy and simple. Another advantage of the smart card is, it contributes to a sense of individual ownership of water. Water users would take conscious measures to reduce wastage as the cards are prepaid.

Accountability and Transparency 

Grundfos Water Management System makes it possible for AQTaps to be monitored and serviced remotely. The management system gives a transparent account of the amount of water consumed by a specific user. This always makes it possible for service providers to keep track of all users with enhanced monitoring and evaluation of water systems.

Social and Economic Growth

By engaging the community, educational service on recycling and clean water and sanitation can be provided minimising the possible pollution of water resource.  Support local engineers to become certified installers and maintenance service providers. Entrepreneurs can be training to run Grundfos water systems allowing them to grow into a franchise and so create jobs within the communities.

Progressing Results

Abomosu was selected based on the consumer pains and the fact it has an already installed system, which unfortunately was not delivering safe drinking water and has not been maintained since installation.

Water samples were collected and analysed with the result that only minor level of treatment would be required, leaving the main concern about the condition of the borehole and if it will be able to deliver the yield needed.

 With a local team the borehole pump was extracted, pipes were cleaned and inspected with cameras only to find hardened iron in the bottom of the borehole, implying that the borehole probably never been cleaned. After cleaning the borehole, the water quality significantly improved but did not improve the deliverable yield, questioning the original documented yield figures.  Further, a bend in the borehole was discovered resulting in reducing the pump size from a 6” to a 4” diameter. 

The upside of the site is that the piping system is fully functional allowing for easy setup of AQtaps throughout the village.  Assessing each area of the village carefully, locations were selected and AQtaps were installed by a local assembly member. 

With a great effort from both Grundfos staff and local members of the community, a new treatment unit and AQtaps have been installed delivering 3400m³ to date.  Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, site visits have been restricted setting back plans to optimise the system to deliver 80m³ a day.

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