Water Providers Misquote Data

REPORTS INDICATE that both providers and users of water and sanitation misuse and misinterpret information available to them. According to Emmanuel Addai, Communication Specialist of the Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform, various agencies set their own data collection objectives and have diverse measurement criteria. These agencies include the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA). �Provider-based and user-based data are different and do not provide the same result. They can both represent the same sector but in different contexts,� Mr. Addai reiterated. He further mentioned that they were equally useful, adding �we have to understand that they are generated for different purposes, whereas one is good for the community level planning and investment, the other is useful for monitoring user perceptions and the progress made in water and sanitation by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as making comparisons among countries.� Different data circulated by the two agencies have been categorised into provider-based, representing data generated by GWCL, who is the major urban water supplier, and the CWSA, which is also charged with rural and small town water supply and related sanitation. At a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Addai explained that the both outfits have established standards for the effective performance, and also to provide facilities for their own advantage and to measure access to water and sanitation services by the people. The estimated coverage, he noted was for a defined area and period. Buttressing his point, Mr. Addai added that while user surveys on improved drinking water showed a high percentage of the population, data from service providers rather showed low number of people, adding �while some documents put Ghana�s MDG target for improved water coverage at 76 percent, others put it at 78 percent, with some international reports on sanitation placing Ghana among the lowest countries in Africa in terms of the usage of improved sanitation facilities by the population, other national reports rather put Ghana high. �If GWCL reports 59 percent as coverage for the country, it should be interpreted to mean the coverage for the urban sub-sector and not the whole country; in the same way when CWSA reports that coverage as 76 percent, it should also be interpreted as target for only the rural and small town sub-sector and not the national target,� he clarified. He revealed that such situations were the root causes of the apparent confusion, and called on stakeholders to implement their own monitoring standards. Mr. Addai also mentioned that the wrongful use of data results in several negative implications including planning inaccuracies, unequal allocation of resources and improper calculations on investment needs.