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#6 Investing in Clean Water


Denmark and Ghana have a long history og development cooperation. Diplomatic relations were established in 1961, and since the Embassy reopened in 1991, a wide range of sectors have been supported, including health, agriculture, water & sanitation, rural roads, decentralisation, private sector, justice, civil society and much more. At the peak of activities in 2010, Denmark disbursed more than half a billion DKK in one year to Ghana.

It is well known that better access to clean water and sanitation is a way to ensure better living conditions and ultimately reduce poverty. That is why the area of water supply & sanitation has been one of the key areas of the Danish-Ghanaian development cooperation. From 1993 to 2008, Denmark directly supported water supply & sanitation in Ghana at the tune of DKK 991 million (approx. USD 150 million). Denmark has supported reforms and general framework conditions, including an improved legislative framework, the development of a Water Sector Policy, capacity development, and core funding for the establishment of key water sector players.

Ghanaian woman using a Grundfos pump to get clean water.

Denmark has also supported efforts to put all the policies, plans and strategies into operation and has particularly focused on rural and small town water supply. After 2008, Denmark has indirectly supported the water sector through the support to the decentralisation programme. Without overdoing the role of Denmark in the sector, it is fair to say that we have contributed significantly to Ghana’s ability to meet the MDG on water. Particularly in the Northern part of Ghana, Danida is usually understood as more or less synonymous with the provision of clean water.

After Ghana achieved middle-income status, in 2011, it has been natural that the Danish-Ghanaian relations have been changing as well. In line with the Government’s call for investment and trade, our cooperation is in transition, and we are building up our commercial activities, while development cooperation is gradually being phased out. While we do not expect to have development activities after the end of 2020, we are hopeful that the Danish-Ghanaian commercial cooperation will then have significantly increased.  Ghana is becoming of more interest to Danish companies and investors for many reasons.

While the Ghanaian economy is growing, substantial problems remain in the area of water supply: The Non-Revenue Water (NRW) level is above 50%. In comparison, the level in Denmark is below 10%. Denmark has the technologies, resources and knowledge to reduce the water losses in Ghana to the desired 25% in line with the Government of Ghana’s plans and programmes to achieve universal access to water by 2025. In Denmark, a group of nine Danish partners have formed a consortium (LEAKman) with the objective to stop urban water loses through pressure management, active leakage control, smart metering, pipeline management and rehabilitation as well as speed and quality of repairs with the aim to reduce the Non-Revenue Water in Denmark even further to about 4-5% only. The experience gained from Denmark can be transferred to Ghana and could help reduce the water losses significantly in urban areas. In accordance with the government’s Water for All programme, significant investment will be required in the water supply chain – and this is where the Danish companies enter the fray.

The future for Ghana as well as for the rest of the world lies within companies, which embed the Sustainable Development Goals in their business. With solutions that can bring growth, create lasting jobs, and at the same time improve living conditions, the SDGs are becoming more and more important. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark has taken a strategic decision to focus on supporting activities of Danish companies that are in line with meeting the SDGs. To improve our capacity to enhance commercial cooperation between Denmark and key countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa Region, the Embassy in Ghana together with the embassies in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have adopted a regional cooperation strategy. We are working closely together across these four countries and we have decided to focus on three sectors where Danish technology can make a significant impact: Water & sanitation is one of them, the others being Food & Agriculture, and Energy.

Since 1991, when the Embassy of Denmark in Ghana was reopened, a lot of water has ran under the bridge and we should start thinking of sustainable business as a key to develop our Danish-Ghanaian commercial cooperation. Investing in the water sector is good business – for both the Ghanaians and for the Danes. Now is the time for Danish companies to take the lead, to invest in SDG 6 in Ghana, and show how sustainable solutions are the only way to a sustainable future.