Back to basics: urban households’ perspective on free water supply in Ghana in the COVID-19 pandemic
Water supply is a basic human right and governments have sought to fulfil this right through free supply of water. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed governments, including the Government of Ghana, to return to supply of free water as a measure of enhancing personal hygiene in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. This study sought to analyse the reliability of water supply before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of households’ water consumption during the pandemic. The paper is based on an online survey of 4,257 urban households across the 16 administrative regions of Ghana. The study found that flow reliability has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic free water delivery. We also established that correlation between consumption before and during the pandemic was r = 0.659, p < 0.01. Therefore, use of the ‘stay home campaign’ as a strategy to contain the disease in addition to social connection and sharing free water, have increased domestic water consumption. Although the pandemic necessitated the return to water being delivered as a basic necessity to fight against the pandemic, the emphasis on ‘back to basics’ was not fully implemented. This is because some urban households that could not pay water bills prior to the free water supply were denied the COVID-19 pandemic free water package and rural households who relied on point sources also did not benefit from the package.