February 2021

ASSESSING THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON ACCESS TO WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE -Country Deep Dive Report – Ghana

In May 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) tasked the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability (WASHPaLS) project with assessing the effects of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services and products in USAID high priority and strategy-aligned countries. The assignment sought to characterize the current state of affairs and to forecast near-term trends (6–18 months) that could assist governments, donors and implementers prepare an informed response to the WASH-related impacts of the pandemic.

This report presents the detailed findings of the deep dive for Ghana.

The COVID-19 pandemic control measures instituted by the Government of Ghana resulted in extreme controls on movement in March and April followed by a rapid relaxation of lockdown measures. The resulting economic shock in Ghana was significant (with 38 percent of our SMS survey respondents reporting a drop in earnings, and 22 percent reporting either losing their job or closing a non-farm business), though it appears less pronounced than that experienced by other countries we analyzed. To address water supply continuity in the context of the shock, the government implemented the most ambitious intervention of its kind in Africa, eliminating water tariffs for both urban and rural populations initially for three months, but eventually extended through 2020 and into 2021.

While sensibly intended to help households meet basic needs during a time of intense economic pressure, the measure has threatened the financial viability of water service providers, since many have not been reimbursed for the costs they have incurred during an extended period in which they have not collected revenue.

Our topline findings, by subsector, are as follows:

WATER SUPPLY – CURRENT STATUS

1) Fewer Ghanaian consumers (21 percent of those surveyed) report COVID-related difficulty in accessing drinking water than did those from the five other deep dive countries in which we conducted surveys (which range from 29 percent to 38 percent).

2) The process for reimbursement of water supply costs has proven challenging for small town and rural water service providers.

3) COVID-19-related water service disruptions have already occurred in Ghana.

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In collaboration with USAID, Tetra Tech, FSG and Iris Group.

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