It’s a winding drive through thick forest to reach Beposo, a village so remote that residents had to help clear the roads so a truck could come in and drill a Rotary-USAID borehole. “You spend about three hours in getting to this place from where we are, so if you have to visit regularly, it becomes a challenge,” said Kwabena Boakye-Antwi, a member of the Rotary club of Koforidua-New Juaben.
Before the borehole, residents used water from a nearby river for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing clothes. “Though that wasn’t good, we had no choice but to use it,” explains Dede Christiana, a member of the local water and sanitation management committee. “Since the water came, people haven’t been falling sick as much as they used to,” says Dora Awusie, treasurer of the local water and sanitation committee.
Rather than charge per use, the community levies a 2-cedi (36-cent) monthly fee from residents; those who can’t afford it make their payment whenever they sell their agricultural products. Dora Awusie, the treasurer of Beposo’s water and sanitation management committee provides reports on the finances at community meetings and deposits the money in 100 cedi (roughly $18) increments to the bank.
I pay for the water because it’s very important, and I know that the money is going to be used in operating and maintaining the borehole
Frimpong and his neighbors in Beposo understand the necessity of the water fees and willingly pay the 36-cent monthly fee. But a study of projects in the pilot phase of the Rotary-USAID partnership in Ghana found that the local management committees in nine of 12 communities failed to collect fees on a regular basis. Without those funds, the committees would be unable to buy spare parts, hire mechanics, and maintain the borehole, which would ultimately negate the benefits of the partnership’s projects.
To overcome those shortcomings, USAID leverages the local leadership and professional skills of Ghanaian Rotary members who act as mentors to committee members. “We have to teach them accountability and convince them to establish an accounting system and put money in the bank,” says Ako Odotei, the chair of the Rotary Ghana partnership management committee, the umbrella body leading clubs involved in the partnership. “Invariably, any equipment you install will break down. That’s why we have them try to set up a system to collect tariffs and reassure the community that the money is being used appropriately.”
Editing by RI’s Diana Schoberg with additional reporting from RI’s Mohamed Keita. Photography by Andrew Esiebo