- Brief: The Community Water and Sanitation Agency was established by an Act of Parliament (Act 564, 1998) with the mandate to facilitate the provision of safe drinking water and related sanitation services to Rural Communities and Small Towns in Ghana. However, through the rural sector reform policy in 2017, it seeks to include to its mandate direct management of these pipe water systems.
Giving a historical background to the establishment of CWSA, Mrs. Pauline Estella Pebla Tambro, the Chief Public Relations Manager of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, said that, the CWSA is the public sector organization charged by Government “to provide water and sanitation services to rural communities and small towns in Ghana”. She explained that, up until the 1990s, the Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation (GWSC), now Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), had been responsible for both urban and rural water supply since 1965. Mrs. Tambro explained further that, due to the enormous responsibility of having to provide potable water for the whole nation, there was low coverage of water supply to the rural people. This situation led to the establishment of the Rural Water Department (RWD) under the then Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation in 1986. She emphasized that the purpose was to give more attention to the provision of water and sanitation services to rural people. “As was expected, some facilities were provided, dotted all over the country in the form of point water sources (boreholes) but these could not be sustained due to little maintenance by the centralized Maintenance Units of the GWSC”. According to Mrs. Tambro, this was a really difficult task which eventually led to the collapse of the point source systems that GWCL provided for the rural people.
Throwing more light on Government’s effort to make potable water accessible to the rural communities, Mrs. Tambro said that between 1981 and 1990, the United Nations General Assembly declared that period as “the decade of drinking water and sanitation globally”. “The purpose was to ensure that nations gave priority attention to the provision of water and sanitation to their people,” she said. In line with that UN declaration, the Government of Ghana (GoG) at that time launched a policy of decentralization in the water sector. In pursuance of that agenda, the GoG and its development partners in 1987 organized a donor conference “to prepare the grounds for a rural water sector strategy”. The outcome of that partnership initiative saw “the separation of rural water from urban water supply and the establishment of a semi-autonomous Rural Water and Sanitation Division (RWSD) while by legislation, the GWSC was also transformed into the Ghana Water Company Limited to be solely in charge of the provision of water to urban dwellers in furtherance of government’s decentralization policy”.
Subsequently, the National Community Water and Sanitation Programme (NCWSP) was launched in 1994 to push the water agenda for rural Ghana towards attainment and sustainability. The Chief Public Relations Manager of the CWSA, explained that “a National Community Water Strategy (NCWS) was developed and this became the blueprint for the establishment of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency”. She continued, “But, this did not just come right after the launch of the NCWSP. The Department that was in charge of rural water was transformed, as said before, into the Community Water and Sanitation Division still under the Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation in 1994 and it operated as such for about four years. The Division’s work was being monitored to see whether there was capacity for it to become a fully-fledged agency to take care of the rural water supply needs. So after four years of its existence, the Government of Ghana and its stakeholders deemed it right to grant it autonomy to give impetus to its work. This led to the establishment of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency.’ Continue Here