March 2023

Water Quality Assurance Fund Impact Evaluation Expands to 11 Districts in Ghana

Ensuring that the water we drink is safe and free from harmful contaminants is essential for better public health. However, small rural water systems often lack the resources and expertise to monitor water quality effectively. That’s where the REAL-Water Water Quality Assurance Fund comes in.

The Assurance Fund is a risk-mitigation product that allows established laboratories to extend water quality testing services to small rural systems on a fee-for-service basis. In cases where the water systems do not pay their testing bills, the laboratory can claim reimbursement from the Assurance Fund.

Aquaya launched it’s first Assurance Fund pilot in a single district in Ghana, Asutifi North. During the pilot, Ghana Water Company Ltd. (GWCL) provided microbial testing services to small water systems in the district, and the Asutifi North District Assembly responded to evidence of contamination with improved treatment measures.

Based on the pilot’s success, REAL-Water is now conducting a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) of the Assurance Fund in Ghana. The Assurance Fund trial will measure the effects of programs implementation on water quality, demand for water treatment, and consumer awareness of water quality issues. The trial is also co-funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The Assurance Fund trial will occur in 11 districts across the Bono and Ahafo regions. In February, REAL-Water held official program launch events in both regions, bringing together over 180 attendees, including colleagues from partner organizations, such as USAID Ghana, Aquaya, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and Safe Water Network. Representatives from the 11 District Assemblies and from 31 small water systems signed agreements with REAL-Water that determine the structure and activities of the expanded Water Quality Assurance Fund.

REAL-Water researchers also used the launch events to randomly assign the 31 participating water systems into “intervention” groups and “control” groups. Water systems in the intervention group were immediately enrolled in the program. Water systems in the control group will be enrolled after the researchers have collected data on the evaluation indicators such as water quality, demand for water treatment, and consumer awareness. Differences in indicator measurements between the intervention and control groups will allow the researchers to estimate the impacts that the Assurance Fund has had on water safety management.

In addition to conducting an impact evaluation of the Water Quality Assurance Fund in Ghana, REAL-Water is introducing the Assurance Fund model in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Assurance Fund start-ups in these three countries will be followed by additional impact evaluations to measure the benefits of the Assurance Fund over a range of diverse settings.

Apart from the impact evaluation in Ghana, REAL-Water is introducing the model in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, with start-ups in these countries to be followed by additional impact evaluations. By addressing the challenges of monitoring water quality in small rural systems, REAL-Water aims to promote better public health and ensure safe drinking water for all.

Highlights from the two launches in Sunyani, Bono Region, and Goaso, Ahafo Region, Ghana:

This work is supported by the USAIDREAL-Water program, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

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