November 2021

Implementation of Targeted Water Subsidy Programs

MOTIVATION

In Ghana, the poorest households tend to have lower access to safe drinking water, in part due to the cost of improved sources such as piped water systems. Subsidizing safe water services for the poorest can help to address these inequities, but water subsidies are commonly ineffective due to the financial constraints of service providers and unsuccessful targeting that benefits high-income groups. It is critical to find appropriate targeting methods that can accurately predict household poverty, are acceptable to community members and other stakeholders, and can be scaled efficiently.

RESEARCH QUESTION

HOW SHOULD TARGETED WATER SUBSIDIES BE IMPLEMENTED TO ENSURE THAT THEY EFFECTIVELY REACH THE POOREST HOUSEHOLDS?

We conducted a literature review of over 40 studies from various organizations, global institutions, and research centers related to designing and implementing water subsidies. We also interviewed 21 experts from Ghana and internationally as well as 11 water supply stakeholders in Asutifi North, Tano South, and Ahafo Ano North districts.

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE WATER SUBSIDY PROGRAMS

  1. Implement clear eligibility criteria to facilitate replication and scalability, and reassess household eligibility every 3-5 years (or after a significant economic shock or natural disaster) to ensure the program includes new households that may be in need of assistance and removes households that no longer require it.
  2. Involve local government and community leaders as key stakeholders to facilitate community engagement and buy-in. Ensure stakeholders are able and incentivized to fulfill their required functions. National stakeholders should support scale-up and broader education on the importance of paying for safe water.
  3. Ensure low administrative barriers so that targeted households can easily access their subsidy while minimizing opportunities for non-targeted households to benefit from the subsidy.

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