Safe Water Network Presents Opportunities for Leveraging Philanthropy to Achieve SDGs on Water
ACCRA, GHANA—June 6, 2016: Safe Water Network Ghana joined several other leaders from the Ghana Government, academia and international philanthropic organisations on Monday, June 6th at the Holiday Inn at Airport City in Accra to discuss opportunities for applying philanthropy to catalyse progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nearly 40 representatives from the Ghana Government, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Mastercard Foundation, UNDP, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Water Aid, UNICEF, World Vision and IMANI Ghana participated.
Despite achieving the Millennium Development Goal target for water, some 10 million people in Ghana lack reliable safe water access. Even many of the people counted as ‘served’ have inadequate or broken system, with nearly 30% of existing rural water systems inoperable. According to 2007 figures, an average of 36% of hand pumps were non-functional across 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, representing a failure in investment of $1.2 and $1.5 billion in the last 20 years.
Safe Water Network led a discussion on the opportunity for developing small water enterprises as a financially viable and socially inclusive business model that is essential in reaching the vision of universal access to safely managed water by 2030. Joseph Ampadu-Boakye, Program Manager, Safe Water Network Ghana, recommended investing philanthropy funds with other sources from the national government and corporate entities into the Ghana Water Enterprise Trust, a proposed funding mechanism that Safe Water Network is incubating with government and private sector stakeholders could potentially address the financing gap for off-grid small water enterprises.
The Trust aims to improve financial stewardship for the Safe Water Network Ghana’s portfolio of 65 water Stations and substations, build sector capacity and standardize performance targets across key operational, financial and consumer targets for sustainable service delivery. The Trust will be developed in two stages – first as a mechanism under which Safe Water Network will continue to own and operate its Stations under the original Build-Operate-Transfer agreements, and manage them as a portfolio under improved operational oversight. Eventually the Trust will grow into an estimated US$ 60 million independent, Ghana-based entity to secure significant amounts of capital with blended sources of financing.
Charles Nimako, Ghana Country Director at Safe Water Network, opened the discussion emphasizing that the organization is committed to working with other sector players to find solutions to key barriers along the operational and financial sustainability of community water solutions.
Contributing to the discussion, Chris Dunston, Senior Program Officer Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, underscored the need for the water sector to embrace innovative business models such as the market based approach, saying “the model comes in to fill a capacity gap in the sector. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach like that of the hand pump. It provides a safe water solution for all segments of the market – rich, middle income and the poor and allows each segment of the market an opportunity to have access to safely managed water.”
Mr. Benedict Kubabom, Director of Planning and Investment at Ghana’s Community Water and Sanitation Agency, commended Safe Water Network for taking the lead in finding innovative ways of financing the sector, especially with conceptualizing the establishment of the Ghana Water Enterprise Trust to leverage non-traditional sources of funding for water services.
David Duncan, Chief of WASH at UNICEF Ghana, underscored the consistent reduction in funding for the water sector in Ghana over the past few years and reinforced the need to develop alternative financing solutions. “Donor funding is on the decline and therefore the sector needs to look for innovative and sustainable models like the market-based approach used by Safe Water Network, and to also look at tapping into private sector investments and household-level contributions,” said Mr. Duncan.
Heather Grady, Vice President of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, commended water sector stakeholders, especially grantee partners with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, for the collaborative work that they are doing emphasizing its tremendous opportunity in helping the sector to achieve greater impact.