President Akufo-Addo’s Claim about Free Access to Water Misleading

In his 14th address to the nation on measures taken against the spread of Covid-19 on July 26, 2020, President Akufo-Addo made a claim about his government’s provision of free water to all households in Ghana.

The President said this was part the efforts his government had made in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on Ghanaians.

The Media Foundation for West Africa’s (MFWA) fact-checking team has verified the claim and concludes that it is misleading.

Claim: “From April to June, Government gave additional allowances to our healthcare workers, ensured free access to water for all households across the country.”

Explanation: On April 5, 2020, during his 5th address to the nation on measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19, President Akufo-Addo announced that the government would absorb water bills of all Ghanaian for the month of April to June.

The President further directed the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to provide water tankers to some communities during the period.

“All water tankers, publicly and privately-owned, are also going to be mobilized to ensure the supply of water to all vulnerable communities,” the President said.

However, a few weeks into President’s announcement, some parts of the country, especially in Greater Accra and Central regions, were hit with severe water shortages. Areas including Adentan, Madina, Teshie, La, Achimota, Ashaiman, Tema and Kasoa did not have access to water for a week.

“How do they expect us to practice the handwashing when they have closed the taps for the past four days without making provision for water tankers to provide water to us since they did not give us advance notice to enable us store enough water?” Shadrach Tetteh, a resident of Tema Community Four, shared his frustration with the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

Residents of Motoka, a village near the Oti Regional Capital of Dambai relying on springs for their drinking water.” Photographs by Manasseh Azure Awuni.

The Director of Communications of the GWCL, Stanley Martey, admitted to the acute water shortages when he assured consumers on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme on May 18 that “in Tema and Kpone, we have had challenges in the area but from today, they will get water.”

Many residents in these areas were therefore forced to depend on commercial and vendor tanker supplies or other available sources of water other than government supplied.

Furthermore, according to data from the recent Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS), GWCL (39.2%), Community Operated and Managed Water Systems (20.8%) and Community Water Sanitation Agency (4.0%) which are owned and controlled by the government altogether serve only 64% of households in Ghana. The remaining rely on water supply from non-governmental organisation (NGOs), wells, natural sources (rivers, streams, dugouts etc.), tanker supply/vendor provided, sachet and bottled water as their sources of water.

Therefore, even though the government provided free access to water for many households in the country, it is misleading when President claims that all households across the country benefitted from the directive.

Residents of Motoka, a village near the Oti Regional Capital of Dambai relying on springs for their drinking water.” Photographs by Manasseh Azure Awuni.

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