GRADUALLY rural water supply is improving after many years of problems in the rural communities of the Ashanti Region.
The establishment of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) seems to have done the trick.
Even in the face of what seems to be an improvement, there is still more to do to reach the expected target.
In spite of efforts by successive governments to improve the situation, to date about 40 per cent of the rural population in the region is still without potable water.
Water, the sages say, is life. Indeed, without water, life would not be possible. The importance of water to human life, however, does not mean just any kind of water. It means quality water that would improve the health of the people.
It is for this reason that the need to improve rural water has become more urgent as the government and its development partners move to bring about the necessary change in rural Ashanti.
The persistent attempts to convince people to stay in the rural areas to work would fail if the basic necessities of life are non-existent.
About 16 years ago, the CWSA was established by the then government to solely move to address the challenges facing the rural communities of the country.
Ashanti Region was one of the early beneficiaries of the project.
Before the CWSA was established, rural water development was at its lowest ebb.
Water-borne diseases prevailed in a number of communities, bringing pain, anguish and misery to the people.
The commonest diseases were bilharzia, guinea worm and Buruli ulcer, the latter being the disease that brought so much pain to the people of the Amansie West District. It maimed and killed many people who lived in that part of the region.
Therefore, the establishment of the CWSA was welcome news for the rural communities of the region, even though more, apparently, needs to be done to achieve the desired coverage.
Currently, the CWSA is undertaking a massive programme in 15 districts of the region. Under the programme being supported by the KfW of Germany as the major financiers, 1,000 boreholes are being dug in the various communities. Eight hundred of them have been completed leaving 200.
According to the Regional Director of the CWSA, Mr Ofori McCarthy, they would be completed before the close of the year.
Additionally, 800 of such projects are also being executed in five districts. They are about halfway complete and again the regional director has given the assurance that the entire project would be completed by the end of November 2008.
The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank sponsored Small Towns Water Project as part of the CWSA’s efforts to provide potable water for the people.
In all, 11 towns benefited from the project, including Bompata, Boaman, Atwedie, Jachie, Pramso, Onwe, Fumso, Kwaso, Juaben and Foase.
Today, the people in those communities are very happy because they have good water to drink.
Apart from the IDA funding, the government has provided money for one of such projects at Dompoase in the Adansi area. The two major criteria for the provision of the small towns project are a population of more than 5,000 and availability of electricity.
In addition, the beneficiary communities were made to provide five per cent counterpart funding of the projects. With the support of their respective district assemblies, the communities were able to meet the requirements and today they are enjoying good drinking water.
One interesting feature of the small water projects is that they are managed by the people themselves. However, the management of the projects is not encouraging.
According to Mr McCarthy, a recent survey his outfit conducted revealed that the management of the projects in the region was not encouraging.
This remains the major challenge as the government and development partners make efforts to further improve the situation.
The various management committees in the towns must sit up because the breakdown of the facilities could adversely affect the people.