Sanitation Financing in Ghana

Discovering how much the Government of Ghana is spending on sanitation is relatively straightforward for two reasons and I must admit that I welcome the simplicity!

First the Government of Ghana , with the support of the World Wide Web Foundation, has, like Kenya, built an open data portal that went live this year (although the site is still in beta). The Ghana Open Data Initiative (GODI) is still in its early stages but already there are 123 government datasets available to download, including government budget for the years 2008 through 2012.

Separate budget lines for sanitation were listed under the Social Intervention Programme in 2011 and included financing for Sanitation and Waste management and sanitation specific funds for district assemblies. Furthermore the 2011 Detailed Appropriations reports sanitation financing through the Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit.  In total, I found that in 2011 the government of Ghana spent 0.04% of GDP on sanitation, far below the eThekwini target.

  • 2011: Sanitation = 0.0404 % of GDP
    • Sanitation and Waste Management
      • 20,800,000 GHc
    • District Assemblies- of which Sanitation
      • 4,938,410 GHc
    • Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit (MLGRD)
      • 5,613,137 GHc
    • Total : 31,351,547 GHc

In 2012, sanitation financing in Ghana improves significantly. For example, according to the 2012 Budget (page 257) sanitation and waste management spending triples to 60 Million GHc and the government began funding the sanitation guard project. These increases helped boost sanitation spending in Ghana to 0.113% of GDP, still below targets but on the right track.

  • 2012: Sanitation = 0.113% of GDP
    • Social Intervention Programme
      • Sanitation and Waste Management (MLGRD)
        • 60,000,000 GHc
      • Sanitation Guards (MLGRD)
        • 27,360,000 GHc
      • Achimota Sewerage (Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing)
        • 1,000,000 GHc
      • Total: 88,360,000 GHc
    • Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit  – no funding data found

Unfortunately, the picture becomes more complicated as we go into the 2013 financial year. Although the 2013 budget is not yet available on the Ghanaian Open Data Portal, the 2013 Budget Statement is available on the website for the Ministry of Finance.

First, the 2013 budget statement reports that in 2012 “sanitation and Waste Management projects by the MMDAs received a disbursement of about GH¢13.1 million”, significantly less that the 60,000,000 GHc committed in the 2012 budget.

Furthermore, while the 2013 budget statement reports to double the 2012 Sanitation and Waste Management funding to 120 million (although as mentioned above this 60,000,000 does not appear to have been disbursed), the 2013 appendix shows this same budget line at half the 2012 amount, or 30,000,000. Needless to say, it is not entirely clear how much the Government of Ghana plans to spend in 2013.

Finally despite the Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit having the responsibility to “continue to expand Community Led Total Sanitation Strategy (CLTSS) to cover all regions and roll out results based M&E system for environmental sanitation” , funding for this role appears nowhere in either the 2013 budget statement (role detailed on page 192) or appendix.

  • 2013: Sanitation = 0.0555% of GDP
    • Coastal Sanitation (Poverty Focused Social Intervention and and Priority Intervention Expenditure) :
      • 13,000,000 GHc
    • Sanitation and Waste Management
      • 30,000,000 GHc
    • Total:  43,000,000 GHc

So, while much of the information on Ghana’s sanitation spending is open and accessible, there are some clear contradictions within the 2013 budget. The information in the current statement available points to a potential step backwards from last years’ ‘progress’ in increased budget allocation towards achieving the e-Thekwini target of 0.5%. However, it is also evident from the data that a significant portion of this ‘progress’ in budget allocation for 2012 has not translated into the actual disbursement of financial resources for tangible spending on sanitation and waste management. The issue of the complete absence of funding allocation for the planned continuation of Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit in the 2013 budget is also concerning and seems to underline a significant problem in the Government’s ability to back up certain plans to improve access to sanitation with the finances necessary.

With this said, despite the problems identified here, the fact that this information is so easily available to scrutinise marks progress in itself. Whether the inconsistencies identified above are the result of inaccurate or incomplete information or whether they represent genuine lack of commitment to fund plans to improve sanitation spending, the openness and accessibility of Ghana’s data on sanitation spending makes these gaps and discrepancies easier to identify, enabling those in the sector to follow the Government’s progress more closely and push for consistency, clarity and tangible progress in sanitation spending in Ghana.

– Katelyn & Natasha