OU International WaTER Conference

Water4 had the opportunity to participate in The University of Oklahoma International WaTER Conference September 16-17, showcasing how we are partnering with entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa to end the water crisis once and for all.

The conference brought together water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) experts, non-profits, students, and subject matter experts in an effort to collaborate and address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6-access to water and sanitation for all. 

There are numerous challenges faced when tackling such a large goal. For example, recent studies have found that due to poor management practices, up to 35% of rural handpumps are no longer functioning after just three years in service. This means the community management model, where community members are responsible for the upkeep of their hand pump, isn’t delivering lasting results.

To ensure sustainability of water systems, Water4 starts and scales safe water enterprises and uses area-based coverage to fight the water crisis in the 14 countries where we have partnerships. Richard Moore, Director of Programs at Water4, shared with conference attendees the ways Water4 partners with safe water enterprises by providing financial support, technical training, operational oversight and strategic guidance. These enterprises operate in primarily rural areas and receive guidance to enable them to be profitable, mission-focused and self-sustaining. The enterprise model has been proven to ensure sustainable rural and peri-urban systems in the long-term.

Our Ghanaian enterprise partner, Access Development-Ghana, was also represented at the conference. Yidana Mahami and Sylvester Adjapong shared about their progress in achieving district coverage in the Wassa East District of Western Ghana. Now that many of the community systems are in place, they are focusing on household water connections and really see that as the critical next step in getting safe water to every home, school and clinic in the district. 

Water4’s partnership in Ghana began in 2015, and since then, Access Development-Ghana has provided 54,000 out of approximately 100,000 residents in Wassa East with access to safe water. They are poised to achieve district coverage by the end of 2020.

Water4 has also been partnering with the University of Oklahoma. Philip Deal, a PhD candidate with the university, has been conducting a study in Wassa East to better understand consumer behavior. The study was designed to measure how the level of service provided by Access Development-Ghana stacked up against existing rural water systems. Data collection was completed in 60 communities (30 control and 30 with service provided by Access Development-Ghana) to examine consumer uptake of water produced by Access Development-Ghana, NUMA water, and how the water is being used. The results are driving Water4’s approach to marketing, sales, and behavior change teaching in Ghana and in other countries where Water4 has active partnerships. 

Want to learn more about Water4? Curious how you can empower an enterprise partner to solve their water crisis? Shoot us an email at info@water4.org.

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