Field Rep Voices: Team Toufik, Annie, Victoria, Amber, and Alexa

The team on our way to Guma after picking up the Rambo 140.

Our team spent the weekend in and out of around Tamale’s markets buying supplies to build Naviali Guma’s (or Guma for short) water treatment center with the Village’s women entrepreneurs. This past weekend we bought three 200L blue drums to treat water with alum, a 140 Rambo Polytank to disinfect alum treated water with chlorine (1400 L), locks, keys, and a chain to keep the center’s parts together. We also bought our welded metal stand to place the polytank on top of so the polytank tap is high enough from the ground to fill each household’s two liter safe storage containers. We picked up 20 SSCs, covers, and taps as well to distribute to the households.

On Friday we brought our metal stand to the village to paint a light blue. The whole village was involved and Ayii, one of Guma’s women entrepreneurs ran to us from her household and started painting with the village elders and some teenagers.

The village men, women entrepreneurs, and children who helped assemble the water treatment center.

On Saturday, we brought our blue drums and on Sunday we brought our polytank into our village. We cleaned the blue drums with soap and hot dug out water. The village had decided to place the center by the dug out. So we had a lot of help carrying the blue drums, metal stand, and polytank to the dug out. It’s roughly a 20-25 minute walk from the center of The village. Men from Guma made sure the treatment center was placed on flat ground in the shade. Several women filled each blue drum from dug out water, so we could train Ayii and Mayimantu to treat the particulate water with alum.

We explained to Ayii and Mayimantu  that particulates make the dug out water turbid, or opaque. Alum separates the positively charged particulates from the negatively charged water. After swirling one to two balls of alum the size of one fist underneath the surface of dug out water, particulates usually will settle to the bottom of a 200L drum of dig out water. The amount of alum needed to remove particulates from dug out water depends on the turbidity of the water. My team advised Ayii and  Mayimantu to treat dug out water with one ball first, let the particles settle for twenty four hours, and then revisiting the drums to see if the water needs to be retreated with another ball. After twenty four hours, the 200L drums are to be treated with alum if the water is still turbid, but the women entrepreneurs should only wait fifteen to twenty minutes for particulates to settle. Treating water turbidity is almost like a guess and check process.

Alum Training Day! Our alum balls vs Guma women entrepreneur alum balls.

After we treated some dug out water for turbidity, we used it to clean the poly tank. Taufik and several men from our village removed the poly tank from the stand and placed it onto the ground. Ayii and Maimantu splashed roughly a fourth of one treated 200L blue drum into the poly tank, and we scrubbed the inside and the mouth of the polytank with some detergent. After we emptied the poly tank a few times through the tap and the water came out clear, we added another fourth to two fourths of the treated blue drum water into our poly tank. We also added one chlorine aqua tab. We told Guma’s women entrepreneurs usually one aqua tab is to be used to disinfect the transparent water after scooping one 200L blue drum into the polytank. This time however, we used one chlorine aqua tab and less than 200L to concentrate the water and clean the polytank for the first time.

While my team instructed Ayii and Mayimantu how to clean their center’s polytank and drums, My team had noticed another woman, also named Mayimantu has been present at all our trainings. We asked the village to consider her as another woman entrepreneur. Though she is still breastfeeding her daughter, she is very helpful, and engaged at all our trainings so the village allowed us to continue to train her, and Guma’s originally appointed women entrepreneurs will continue working with her when she has the time.

Today, we returned to Guma to distribute one 2L safe storage container to ten households out of the twenty one households in Guma. During this time, my team explained SSC’s cost 20 pesweas to fill at Guma’s water treatment center, and that cost contributes towards the center’s maintenance: the cost of buying aquatics, alum, replacement locks, keys, even saving for emergencies if the center needs a new poly tank or blue drums. We also explained to villagers that treated water from the center goes into the SSC through the top lid, and in the household it should only come out of the tap. A designated cup should be close to every household’s SSC and water can be received from the tap. To prevent contamination, is not to be scooped with cups from the top of the SSC. Every SSC should be placed at least 6 inches from the ground, so a cup can fit underneath the tap.

Today we also showed Guma’s three women entrepreneurs, Ayii, Mayimantu, and Mayimantu how to screw taps inside safe storage containers, so they can address any  leaks in household SSC’s before a full time Saha monitor. Tomorrow we will continue to distribute the rest of Guma’s safe storage containers to the households and Fulani. We will also check on the water the women treated this afternoon.

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