Examining the Role of NGOs in Community Water and Sanitation  Improvement: A Case of the Tunayilli Community in the Northern Region, Ghana

Examining the Role of NGOs in Community Water and Sanitation Improvement: A Case of the Tunayilli Community in the Northern Region, Ghana

Gordon Marley, Prosper Bazaanah, Patricia Oppong
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8809-3.ch002
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This chapter examined the role of NGOs in water and sanitation improvement and the effects on the residence of Tunayilli in the Sagnarigu District. The design was descriptive. Questionnaires and interview guides were administered to household heads and key informants. Findings revealed that the water and sanitation condition in Tunayilli is generally poor. NGOs play diverse roles including the provision of water and sanitation facilities, community mobilization, and facility maintenance to ensure their sustained usability. However, inadequate funding, weak community mobilization, poor maintenance culture, and low education are challenges to water and sanitation improvement programmes of NGOs in the community. Measures to mitigate these includes increased central government funding, public education, community involvement, enforcement of sanitation by-laws, and regular maintenance of water and sanitation systems in the community. Stakeholders should intensify and sustain their educational campaigns. Meanwhile, by-laws on water and sanitation should be enforced and offenders prosecuted.
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One of the most debilitating shortfalls of rural poor communities, is inadequate access to water and improved sanitation. Good sanitation and potable water are very important to human existence, and the absence of these is detrimental to human survival. Societies without adequate water and sanitation systems will not have a favourable chance of prospering. The relevance of achieving adequate water and sanitation is highlighted in several studies globally. The advantages of attaining global access to water and sanitation exceed the costs by a factor of 5.5 to 1 (United Nations; 2015; UNDP and UN Water, 2014: 2). A 2014 study produced by Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) (United Nations, 2014: 2) estimates that there is a $5 return for every $1 dollar invested in sanitation, and universal access to water and sanitation services would result in a possible $170 billion in annual economic gains. The study further revealed that inadequate investment in water and sanitation services (WSS) costs developing countries in Asia and Africa around 4-6 percent in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. Therefore, there is a strong urgency to achieve goal six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which focuses of universal access to potable water and sanitation services.

Global statistics suggests that approximately 2.5 billion people are without access to water and proper sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2017). Countries in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are reported to be having the worst form of water and sanitation access due to the growing population, especially in the urban and rural areas (WHO/UNICEF, 2017). The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF, 2012) shows that an estimate of about 1.1 billion people practice open defecation, and the rest are using shared or unimproved water and sanitation facilities. About 27 percent and 13 percent of people in Africa and Asia respectively, face the problem of poor sanitation and unimproved access to water. With approximately 215 million people practicing open defecation, sub-Saharan Africa shoulders the greatest water and sanitation challenges (Galan, Kim, & Graham, 2013).

It is partly because of this trend that the UN describes this as likely to see the world missing out on the sanitation target by 600 million people (United Nations, 2015). Confronted by these challenges, at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, in 2008, African Heads of States and governments committed themselves to contribute 1% of their GDP equivalent budget to water supply (African Union Assembly, 2008). In addition, the African heads of states and their water and sanitation ministers signed the eThekwini Declaration in 2008 to dedicate half a percent of their GDP to sanitation infrastructure and health and hygiene promotion (African Union, 2008). Despite these milestones, water and sanitation access appears to be worsening in rural communities. It was partly because of this trend that the UN describes this as likely to see the world missing out on the MDG sanitation target by 600 million people (United Nations, 2015). The challenges of providing unimproved water and poor sanitation have created an increasing need for improved sanitation and water supply systems in many areas in the world, particularly in West Africa. Countries in West Africa are struggling to meet the demands for improved water and sanitation. This region has witnessed relative stagnation in sanitation coverage since 1990, when total access to basic sanitation was 32 percent (WHO & UNICEF, 2006a). Improvements in water and sanitation coverage have been targeted by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) because of their strong links to issues of environmental and public health, economy, and human dignity. It has been estimated that about 1.6 billion people must be able to access improved water and sanitation services in order to meet the SDGs target of halving the percentage of people without access to improved sanitation (United Nations, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

NGO Programmes: Interventions and initiatives of non-governmental organizations which are meant to address water and sanitation constraints confronting people living in rural and urban communities.

Non-Governmental Organizations: They are non-profit making organizations involved in the provision of services in the water and sanitation sectors of Ghana.

Improved and Sustainable Water and Sanitation Facility: Ability of a water and sanitation facility to provide standard water and basic sanitation service over a period of two years with minimal breakdown.

Northern Ghana: A geographic or land area which covers the northern region of Ghana.

Rural Community: A settlement with a population less than 5000.

Water and Sanitation Services: Activities of NGOs which promote water supply and improved sanitation delivery in rural and urban areas.

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