The Water & Sanitation Crisis in Ghana
In Ghana, close to three million people (nearly 11 percent) rely on surface water to meet their daily water needs, leaving them vulnerable to water-related illness and disease. Further, 85 percent of Ghanaians lack access to improved sanitation or are entirely without toilet facilities, forcing them to use alternate options such as open defecation, putting themselves and their community members at significant risk for disease. 70 percent of all diseases in Ghana are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, and diarrhea remains one of the leading causes of death among children under five.
The majority of households without access to safe water and sanitation lack the upfront funds needed to invest in their own solutions. Consequently, those living in poverty often pay up to 10 times more per liter for water service from private vendors than their middle-class counterparts connected to piped water services. These water costs can be reduced through investments in improved household water assets such as connections, rainwater harvesting equipment, wells, and latrines. Unfortunately, this requires up-front investments that, without access to financing, are unrealistic for most of these people.
Since 2008, Water.org has worked in Ghana to deliver access to safe water and improved sanitation through our direct impact model, thanks in part to John Deere. The Helmsley Charitable Trust is funding our current project – a program where our partners are constructing 61 water facilities. This project ends in late 2017, and so far, we have reached over 27,000 people through borehole wells, water systems and health and hygiene education.
We are also partnering with a local microfinance institution, Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans (SASL), for our first WaterCredit program. This project started in 2015 and they are currently piloting their first loans. Ghana’s strong enabling environment and growing microfinance market make it an especially promising geography in which to launch WaterCredit to reach more people, faster, and at a decreasing cost. With Ghana’s growing microfinance market, a mostly well-educated population, and one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Africa, the country demonstrates strong potential for successful WaterCredit programs.