Press Release: 2018 Safe Water Network’s Beyond the Pipe Forum

Safe Water Network Ghana hosted its sixth annual Beyond the Pipe Forum on Wednesday, March 14th at the Holiday Inn at Airport City in Accra. The event brought together key stakeholders from the Ghana water sector—representing government, the private sector, NGOs, and other institutions—as well as representatives from such Safe Water Network funding partners as: The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; The Stone Family Foundation; Newman’s Own Foundation; The Osprey Foundation; The Vitol Foundation; The Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility; GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities; and others.

Safe Water Network is committed to improving the health and livelihoods of millions of people in need of safe water. Through its Beyond the Pipe Forum series, the organization aims to convene key stakeholders in order to realize the potential of small water enterprises—locally owned and operated water businesses—to reach millions of Ghanaians lacking access to safe, affordable, reliable water.

Building on ideas shared during the 2017 Forum, this year’s event highlighted the tangible efforts being made to make the scale of small water enterprises a reality. Attendees were offered a real-life proposition developed by Safe Water Network, IRC, EY Ghana, and World Vision that defines the requirements for replicating small water enterprises in Ghana. In addition, the financial consultancy Lion’s Head Global Partners shared their findings of an investigation into the proposition for a Ghana Water Enterprise Trust (GWET)—developed by Safe Water Network in consultation with Lion’s Head Global Partners and legal firm Laryea, Laryea & Co., P.C.—which will ensure the long-term financing and governance of small water enterprises.

In his return keynote address, the Honorable Joseph Kofi Adda, Ghana’s Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, reflected on the 2017 Forum and what has occurred in that time: “When I addressed the Forum last year, I was the new Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, with barely one month in the newly created Ministry. Now that I have been in the position for a year, I have an even greater appreciation of the role that small water enterprises can play to help achieve the Ministry’s vision of water for all by 2025, and SDG 6.1 for safely managed water supply by 2030.”

Charles Nimako, Ghana Country Director, opened the day by underscoring the objective of the Forum: addressing the requirements for success in scaling small water enterprises. This includes: financing; a network of skilled implementers, along with the required toolkits, supportive supervision, and regulation; an appropriate governance framework; and a conducive policy and enabling environment for replication. Emphasizing the importance of bringing together innovative partners in a collaborative event, Nimako argued, “We can’t do it by ourselves. That is why we are here today talking about how we bring other implementers on board to support not just Safe Water Network, but also the entire sector.”

Kurt Soderlund, CEO, Safe Water Network, contemplated the shift in thinking that has occurred among stakeholders in the Ghana water sector: “What I really think about—from the last six years when we came to have the first Forum—there was a lot of debate and discussion around, ‘is there a role for small water enterprises? Is there a role for private sector? Is there a role for private capital to participate in delivering water systems?’ And what’s so encouraging is: that debate is behind us. The discussion is not if and whether, but how much.

Mr. Chris Dunston, Senior Program Officer of International Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, stated his support for Safe Water Network’s comprehensive approach: “This turnkey solution can really provide a dramatic change in water service delivery here in Ghana.”

Contributing to the conversation, Fred Smiet, the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, suggested: “Our project with Safe Water Network is an exemplary example of the projects we had in mind when we designed the Ghana Netherland WASH Program.” He concluded by saying that Safe Water Network “contributes to a more healthy, clean, and sustainable Ghana.”

The 2018 Beyond the Pipe Forum was made possible through local event sponsors such as Ecobank, Norsen Company Ltd, Joissam Ghana Ltd, Phoenix Insurance, EKY Ventures, Polytank, Interplast, and Akai Multimedia.

About Safe Water Network
Safe Water Network is advancing the potential for small water enterprises to ensure millions gain access to the most essential of needs: safe water. Working in hundreds of communities in Ghana and India, we are demonstrating the affordability, effectiveness, and sustainability of the enterprise approach. With a commitment to operational excellence and local capacity-building, we are developing the tools and resources needed to overcome an unacceptable failure rate typical of developing world water systems. Working with government agencies and large implementers, we are expanding this approach to improve the health and livelihoods of millions of people in need of safe water.