Today we are going to hear from Shak, Saha’s Director of Ghana Operations. Shak has worked for Saha since 2009, is our resident solar expert, and manages our team in Tamale. He is an huge asset to the Saha team and one of the most popular guys in Tamale! This is his first-ever blog post. I’ll let Shak take it from here:
Every Monday, I meet everyone at the office by 6:30am to check in about how the week is to start and where each person is heading out to monitor. After checking in with everyone, I give them each a day of fuel money so they can head out to the field. At the end of each day, everyone checks in with me at 2:30pm about how the day went and challenges encountered in the communities that day. Some examples of challenges would be if there was a broken polytank. If this happens, then they can take the supplies needed for the women to repair it the next day.
After my morning check ins, I leave to monitor communities myself. The first thing I do when I am out to monitor is visit the business centers to see the status of the center. Then, I go talk to the entrepreneurs. The first thing I ask them (after sending my greetings to them) is “how is the water business center doing?” I make sure to ask how many blue drums were treated this week and how many aquatabs they used. I then ask about the challenges or successes of the week, before heading out to my first compound visit.
The same thing applies to the solar centers. I make sure that I ask how many cell phones the entrepreneurs charged in the past week and count the number of cell phones and batteries plugged in when I arrive. I also ask how often the panels have been cleaned and how sales are going for the the week. Finally, I ask how much money they made in the past week.
On Fridays we have our general staff meeting day. During this meeting we discuss all problems encountered for the week and how to solve them.
My responsibilities as the Director of Ghana Operations are:
-To provide advice and support for teammates
-Support teammates, answer basic questions, and act as a funnel for communications with the US staff
-Create clean and organized expense reports
-Write blog posts for Saha Global
-Oversee all monitoring and operations
-Make sure all activities are are getting accomplished in a timely manner
-Order supplies in preparation for the Global Leadership Program
My favorite part of my job is providing cleaning water and solar power to people in need. The difficult part of my job is if there is bad communication in the team. That is stressful!
December was a great month for both our water and solar businesses. Despite some challenges (see below), our usage rate for the water business was higher than our usual average, with 85% of people drinking clean water! Our team really focused on education this month as the rains have totally stopped and people have no other option, other than the water treatment centers, for safe drinking water. Their hard work paid off!
The solar businesses were also thriving with high sales and exciting purchases made by many of our entrepreneurs. Read on for photos and more info!
This is the first monitoring post written by Saha Manager Eric Angkosaala and Senior Manager Wahab Lawal. I’ll let them take it from here:
The Kpanshegu water business made a lot of they had made a lot of sales this month. The ladies made a total of 70cedis and are planning to buy crops to store and later sell.The following villages had high sales and had 6/6 household visits at some point during the month (meaning every house visited had clean water in their safe storage container at the time of the visit): komlanyili, yepela, tunga, kideng, indigenous kabache, nekpegu, tohinayili, kagbal, warvi, sagbragu, namdu I, yakura, balomposo, jangbarigiyili, and changyili.The overall percent usage rate for the month was 83%, which is above our typical average of 75% Go water villages!
We also had some successes with our solar businesses this month. The Voghyili solar center had high sales because people were coming from Djelo to charge their phones and batteries. This is a success for Voghyili but a challenge for Djelo (see below). The ladies in Voghyili also bought phone chargers for the center. The entrepreneurs in sakpalua bought some crops so they sell later when prices increase.
The water businesses that had challenges during that month were jarigu, kpalbusi, kudula, jagberin, jarayili. All had very low or sometimes no sales. To address this issues, our team emphasized that the entreprenuers shoulld try to make announcements when their business is open and to go round households anytime they treat water. Nyamalga, kasulyili and jabayili have closed centres at the moment, but we are working with the entrepreneurs to get them back up and running. In nyamalga, the stream that they use for their source of water in the rainy season has run dry and they need to move the center back to the dugout to resume business. Moving seems to be taking a long time, but we are hopeful that they ladies will get it set up by the dugout soon. The reason for the delay is that the Chief of nyamalga recently passed away dead so the village is busy arranging for the funeral. As we mentioned in previous posts, kasulyili now has a project that pumps dugout water to the village. Although this water is not treated, the community thinks that the water is safe because it is coming from a pipe. Wahab held a village meeting with chief and elders and women but there is still no change in behavior yet. We plan to do continued education in kasulyili over the next couple of months to help people realize that the water is not treated and unsafe for drinking. As we mentioned last month, J two blue drums stolen were stolen from Jabayili, which has stalled sales. The community is working on buying new blue drums. Additionally, yapie yepela now has running taps and so the women have not been treating water. We don;t really view this as a challenge because all of the water test came out clean from this tap! Go Yapie. We are keeping the water center in this village for now until the community can be sure there there will be consistent water access at the tap.
Villages that had solar challenges were yepalsi and djelo. Both had broken inverters and our technician from Burro had a major delay in helping the women fix them. In Sakpalua, chani and nekpegu people have noticed that their lamp batteries don’t last long after charge. This is something that we anticipated since the batteries only last 500 charges before needing to be replaced. The entreprenuers at these villages are working on buying new batteries to replace the older ones. Addtionally, voghyili had four broken battery chargers. These were still under warranty, so Burro replaced them.
Click here for more detailed, week by week monitoring reports for December.
Mariama was born in Yogh, where she later got married. She and her husband moved and have since settled in Kadula. She has given birth to five kids, two girls three boys– including a set of twins. She cooks and sells food aside working as a water entrepreneur. She also farms rice and groundnuts.
The water treatment center in Kadula was implemented back in June of 2011 by Summer Field Reps Nadiah, Christina, Matt and Karina and, five years later, still provides the community of about 960 people a source of clean drinking water. Mariama says, “I was happy when the elders of the community chose me among the women to run the water business. Since the water treatment center was implemented we have seen improvements in our health and the kids no longer complain of stomach aches. I am grateful to Saha Global.”