Willingness and ability to pay for potable water supply and improved sanitation services in rural Ghana: a study of Amanise East District of Ashanti Region

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Inadequate safe water supplies and lack of improved sanitation facilities are the main causes of water - and faecal - related diseases in the Third World. Those who suffer the most from these diseases are the poor who often use polluted water and rely on unhygienic and often inadequate sanitation facilities. Because of this they suffer debilitating diseases. Each year more than one billion people suffer from roundworm infections, 500 million from trachoma, and 200 million from schistosomiasis (World Bank, 1994). This state of affairs prompted the international community to set aside 1981 to 1990 as the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. Even, in spite of this worldwide intervention, one billion people in the developing countries lack access to potable water, particularly the rural poor, and 1.7 billion must contend with inadequate sanitation facilities (World Bank, 1994). This is because in spite of substantial gains made during the decade, access to safe water expanded from 77 percent to 82 percent and from 30 percent to 63 percent of the population in urban and rural areas respectively. Similarly, access to adequate sanitation increased from 69 per cent to 72 per cent and from 37 per cent to 49 per cent of urban and rural residents, respectively (World Bank, 1994) . In Ghana, water and sanitation investment follow the above trend. There has been an acute skewness toward the urban areas. In the Ashanti Region, for instance, the average rural-urban coverage for water in 1992 was 47 percent to 67 percent. A worse situation pertains for sanitation investments. Besides the gap between demand and supply of the services was widening, during the said decade population of the developing world increased 23 per cent (World Bank, 1994) and this coupled with problems of inadequate cost recovery, improper operations and maintenance, among others, have left many with poor and inadequate water supply and sanitation services. The main objective of this study is to ascertain whether or not the rural poor will be willing and able to pay for improved services without subsidy. This is against the background of proven research that the urban poor pay more for improved services (Whittington, various; White, 1991). The study adopts appropriate methodological approaches like the contingent valuation method (CVM) to ascertain the people’s willingness to pay (WTP). Levels of income and mode of payment of set tariffs also play a vital role in determining the people’s ability to pay. Generally, the study finds out that the rural poor are willing to pay less for improved services but may in actual tact be unable to pay for them due to low incomes. Recommendations have therefore been put forward in regard to making improved water and sanitation services accessible to the rural poor without constraining cost recovery efforts.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in National Development Policy and Planning, 1997