Contributing to the Mole Conference sector learning panel discussion session on the topic “Advocacy for Innovative Financing,” the Sanitation Challenge Administrator and IRC Ghana Programme Manager, Mr. Kwame Asiedu Asubonteng urged Civil Society Organisations and the private sector to support the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana, which was identified as one of the innovative financing models designed to incentivise Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to design and implement innovative liquid waste management strategies to bring transformational changes to city-wide sanitation services in urban centres with a population of more than 15,000 people.

Mr. Asubonteng argued that the changing financing landscape in the WASH sector makes it very imperative for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to open up the sanitation market and forge partnership with the private sector to provide efficient and low cost sanitation services to the citizenry especially the poor households.

To give impetus to the MMDAs to prioritize sanitation, Mr. Asubonteng said the Sanitation Challenge was initiated to enable the Assemblies turn ideas into impact. He said that the Sanitation Challenge initiative is focusing on liquid waste. “In Ghana, our objective is to get the Assemblies to prioritize sanitation; and we have seen from where we started last year that, the Assemblies are really responding by making sure liquid waste management reflects in their plans and actions with corresponding budgets lines included for implementation” he stressed.

The IRC Programme Manager also indicated that the Ministry of Finance in Ghana has now designated budget lines for these sanitation plans. “So Assemblies are most likely to get some public funding for liquid waste management in their budgets for the first time, hitherto, all the sanitation budget allocations to the Assemblies were used for solid waste management,” he emphasized.

Assemblies are most likely to get some public funding for liquid waste management in their budgets for the first time

According to Mr. Asubonteng, one significant feature of the Sanitation Challenge is its ability to redirect the focus of the Assemblies to funds mobilization for sanitation activities beyond traditional Government sources. He appealed to Assemblies to take the lead role by creating the enabling environment for the private sector to do what it does best through latrine construction artisans and microfinance institutions. Mr. Asubonteng, however admitted that one of the challenges was how to get the Assemblies to perform their lead role; “and that was exactly what the Sanitation Challenge initiative was working assiduously to address.”

Mr. Asubonteng explained that Assemblies are responsible for the sanitation market and latrine provision; and that the sanitation challenge arrangement provides partnership opportunity with the private sector and other institutions that can provide the financing and other technical and ancillary support. “So this is a change from the regime of Assemblies advertising for bids and tender to invite the private sector on board; with this initiative the doors are now opened and it is the private sector who are rushing to the Assemblies for partnership engagement” he further explained.

The IRC Programme Manager said the Sanitation Challenge initiative focuses on forging inclusive partnership by bringing everybody on board to contribute to addressing the challenges in the sanitation sector. “So when you go to the Assemblies, especially the 17 implementing MMDAs, you will realize that there is private sector partners’ involvement; interestingly, unlike the traditional consultant engagement, the MMDAs together with partners collectively developed the Liquid Waste Management strategies during the first stage of the Sanitation Challenge. These designs, plans and strategies were done without the Assemblies paying any money to the private sector. The private sector actors were more focused on the business opportunity at the end of the day and that is what the Sanitation Challenge seeks to foster,” Mr. Asubonteng explained.

To take part and win the prize (s), the 17 MMDAs finalist will need to implement their liquid waste management strategies that seek to achieve the following:

  • Eliminate open defecation in urban localities;
  • Increase access to basic and hygienic sanitation facilities for all at home, in public buildings (school, work places, health centres, markets);
  • Improve excreta and faecal sludge treatment and grey water management (on site and off site treatment and nutrient reuse; pit content emptying, transport, safe disposal, treatment and reuse); and
  • Progressively reduce the sanitation services gap between the rich and poor.

The competition, which is part of Ideas to Impact Programme runs from November, 2015 to December, 2018 under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with funding from the UK Department for International Development. IRC Ghana is the national implementing agent acting on behalf of IMC Worldwide with the support of Maple Consult.

He expressed the hope that, through the implementation of the Sanitation Challenge across the 17 MMDAs, lessons would be learnt from the process to enable upscale to other parts of the country.