March 14, 2018

Safe Water Network hosted its sixth annual Ghana Beyond the Pipe Forum on Wednesday, March 14, at the Holiday Inn in Airport City, Accra. The event brought together senior leaders from the Ghana water sector—representing government, the private sector, NGOs, and other institutions—as well as representatives from many of Safe Water Network’s key funding partners in Ghana including: the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the Stone Family Foundation; Newman’s Own Foundation;  the Osprey Foundation; the Vitol Foundation; the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility; GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities; and others.

Safe Water Network is committed to improving the health and livelihoods of millions of people in need of safe water. Through its Beyond the Pipe Forum series, the organization convenes key stakeholders to share knowledge and advance the scale up of small water enterprises—locally owned and operated water businesses—to reach millions of Ghanaians lacking access to safe, affordable, reliable water.

Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda giving his keynote address

This year’s event highlighted the tangible efforts underway, with the guidance of the Small Water Enterprise Working Group, to make the replication of small water enterprises a reality. During Session 1, Mobilizing for Replication, panelists provided perspectives on the requirements for scaling SWEs in Ghana including: developing standardized technical and training tools that can be adapted to local conditions; making SWEs part of the policy framework; and developing capabilities to transfer knowledge to create a “supply” of replicators. Safe Water Network is collaborating with IRC, EY Ghana and World Vision (all of whom participated in the panel) on a real-life proposition to address these needs. In Session 2, Financing for Scale, Lion’s Head Global Partners, a financial consultancy, shared their findings of an investigation into the financial proposition for a Ghana Water Enterprise Trust, which will ensure the long-term financing, governance and stewardship of small water enterprises, independent from Safe Water Network. The discussion identified three key work-streams to enable success: refining the financial proposition to understand opportunities to attract hybrid funding; addressing policy considerations, including long-term concession agreements and pricing; and mobilizing government funding.

During the event, Safe Water Network shared:

In his keynote address, the Honorable Joseph Kofi Adda, Ghana’s Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, stressed his commitment to working with Safe Water Network to attract funding and improve the policy environment for the growth and expansion of small water enterprises in Ghana.

Charles Nimako, Safe Water Network's Director of Africa Initiatives, reiterated the organization's commitment to improving safe water access in order to impact on the health and livelihoods of millions of people in need of safe water especially in peri-urban areas and small towns, and to work with other partners, including the Government of Ghana, to scale up small water enterprises. He remarked, “We can’t do it by ourselves. That is why we are here today to discuss how we can bring other implementers on board to support Safe Water Network and the entire water sector."

Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network, acknowledged the shift in thinking among sector stakeholders with regards to the role for small water enterprises, saying, “What I really think about—from the last six years when we had this Forum—there was a lot of debate and discussion around whether there was a role for small water enterprises or for the private sector to participate in delivering water systems. And what is encouraging is, that the debate is behind us. The discussion is not if and whether, but how much and when.

Chris Dunston, Senior Program Officer of International Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation emphasized the contribution of the foundation toward improving water access in Ghana and scaling up promising solutions to sustainable water access, including small water enterprises. He indicated his support for Safe Water Network’s comprehensive approach and said “this turnkey solution can really provide a dramatic change in water service delivery here in Ghana.”

Contributing to the conversation, Fred Smiet, the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, noted that his country would continue to play a key role in improving water access to people in Ghana until it reached its target of making water accessible to 50 million people worldwide. He acknowledged that the Netherlands Government had contributed the largest proportion of funding toward Ghana’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and emphasized its increased focus on enterprise solutions as part of their WASH program: “Our project with Safe Water Network is exemplary of the projects we had in mind when we designed the Ghana-Netherlands WASH Program.” He concluded by saying that Safe Water Network “contributes to a more healthy, clean, and sustainable Ghana."

Safe Water Network’s progress in Ghana providing safe water access to more than 350,000 people through small water enterprises, and the knowledge and evidence it leverages to influence scale-up of SWEs, has been supported by its funding sponsors: the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Stone Family Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, the Osprey Foundation, the Vitol Foundation, the Waterloo Foundation, the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility, GSMA Mobile for Development, and UNICEF. The 2018 Beyond the Pipe Forum was made possible through local event sponsors, including Ecobank, Norsen Company Ltd, Joissam Ghana Ltd, Phoenix Insurance, EKY Ventures, Polytank, Interplast, and Akai Multimedia.

Read media coverage of the 2018 Beyond the Pipe Forum:

Business Ghana, Ghana News Agency, Kessben FM, News Ghana