This year for World Water Day, we welcomed women from 8 Saha villages: Chanbuligu, Kuchani, Defisa, Wovogu, Wovogumani, Nomnayili, Guma, and Kujeri.
Rain the night before made getting some of the women to Tamale more difficult, but everyone eventually arrived safely! While we waited, we played the simple but very fun “Stump!” a Saha original game.
Our team led a lively discussion with the women by posing questions that got the entreprensurs talking and sharing ideas. They talked about difficulties with dry dugouts and using motorkings and donkey carts to bring water from further distances during the dry season. When discussing marketing and advertising, one woman shared that she has told her customers that if they come with their child, and the child has a small container, she lets the child fill their container for free!
The women discussed savings strategies in depth. Saha does not pay the women they need to save any profit they make in order to buy any replacement parts if things break. Mariama from Nomnayili is working with a microfinance NGO and has been able to save a truly impressive amount of money in the three short months her business has been running!
Other topics included health and sanitation, community involvement with the businesses, and the larger picture of the Saha mission. After the discussions, we had lunch and the group socialized and of course, took some selfies!
Our goal for the day was to have the women meet and share ideas, show them some appreciation for their hard work, and have them leave with a better understanding of what a large community they are truly a part of! Some of our villages are very geographically isolated, so we want them know that there are literally hundreds of other women who deal with the same challenges they do!
Thank you to Sachiya and Samata from Wovoumani, Ishatu and Asana from Wovogu, Warihana and Sumaya from Chanbuligu, Mariama from Nomnayili, Mariam and Adisa from Kuchani, Abibata and Zeha from Defisa, Ayi and Maimunatu from Navali Guma, and Asana and Abuo from Kujeri for joining us!
It’s been just over 1 month since our #Saharmattan 2018 winter program businesses opened! We’ve loved getting to know our 16 newest entrepreneurs and chat clean water with new families! There have been highs, there have been lows, but we are committed to working in these villages for at LEAST another 119 more months, so we know this is just the beginning.
Click on the links below for a summary of how each new business is doing by the numbers, followed by our monitoring transcripts. Some of the January monitoring transcripts are missing, since we transitioned to a different survey January 20th and it took a week or so for us to work out the kinks!
Before you wade into the messy details of Saha data, here are some quick explanations of what numbers mean, how we collect them, and why certain things look the way they do. If you are a data viz wiz, feel free to skip right to the fun stuff.
Visits to the Village – this is just in the first month! More recent visits aren’t included in this summary.
Graph of Percentages of Households (HH) with Polytank Water (PT) – look at the Y axis! These graphs do not span from 0% to 100%. In Nomnayili, for example, the graph goes from 65% to 100%.
Savings – This graph charts responses to the question, “How much do you currently have saved for replacement parts?” So it can fluctuate based on expenditures or even who you talk to!
Kujeri – *spoiler alert* sadly, the dugout has dried out, but the women are working to get a motorking to bring water. This means they pay an off-roading tricycle to drive to another source of water transport water back in storage containers, for a fee. Of course, Saha will be there to help the business restart once it rains again and the dugout stores water. While difficult for the community, it’s not uncommon for dugouts to dry out as the dry season continues, and at Saha we believe we would rather people have clean water for as many months of the year as possible. And the good news is that, like in Kujeri, there are ways to transport water from other sources to treat (though this added cost and logistics management makes the business a little more difficult to run). You’ll see this reflected in lower percentages of households that have clean water, or empty polytanks – indicators to our team that operations are not business as usual. Ultimately, we find that once the rain fills the closer source again, it’s pretty easy to get the business back up and running again. Check out these blogposts on seasonal transitions to read more context.
Naviali Guma – *spoiler alert* sadly, the stream has dried out, but the women have moved the center to town and are working with a motoking and have increased prices to cover the cost of transportation. Read the Kujeri spoiler for more seasonal explanations. Saha will be there to help the business restart once it rains again.
If you have any questions, email our awesome Operations Coordinator, Heidi at email@example.com . We’re figuring out how to make it easier to check up on your village’s status, so stay tuned to our “sustainability” page.
It’s been just over a month since we said goodbye to the 2018 Winter Field Reps. Thanks to this awesome group students and young professionals, Saha was able to partner with with 4 more communities in Northern Ghana to open new water treatment businesses. Because of them, over 1,000 more people now have the ability to drink clean water each day. 16 women entrepreneurs are able to provide potable water to their friends, family and neighbors through community-supported small businesses. And Saha is able to welcome 15 new faces to our global Saha family!
Alexa, Amber, Amy, Annie, Bronte, Dan, Hadley, Jill, Juliette, Justin, Rhiana, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, and Yaa:
We did it! We powered through the unanticipated busses and breakdowns and survived the first hours of 2018. We rolled with the punches and found joy and success in the unexpected! Though not every moment was easy, all the (literal) blood, sweat and tears paid off.
It was such a pleasure to work with all of y’all, and we consider ourselves lucky to count you as part of Sahayili! As you head off to your next adventures, please don’t forget
Kujeri, Namvili Guma, Nomnayili & Nyantag
and all of us here at Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions. Stay tuned for 1st month business updates this week, right here.
Amin, Blessing, Dzorsah, Eda, Eric, Heidi, Kate, Kathryn, Morganne, Nestor, Peter, Shak, Simply, Sita, TJ and Wahab
“May God bless you.” It’s a short and simple prayer we have often received from many of the villagers in Nyantag these past three weeks. “We knew that the dugout water was unsafe to drink,” said one woman, “but it was the only option we had. We are thankful that our children can now drink clean water and will not have to drink the dugout water that we’ve always had to drink.”
In just three weeks’ time we have met with Nyantag’s chief and his elders, trained women entrepreneurs from their village, and watched these women have a successful opening day for their new clean water business. We have made friends amongst the children while playing soccer and tag, and we taught them their new favorite game, “Duck, Duck, Goose.” We have been sent off with the trunk of our car full of yams, a staple crop from Nyantag’s fields on three separate days.
We have enjoyed our three weeks working with Saha. We accomplished our goal and helped start Saha’s 118th clean water business in the Northern Region. We leave in just a few days knowing this business is in the good hands of our entrepreneurs, Naiyla, Maymunatu, Borobiche, and Janaba, along with the Saha monitors who will continue to provide support for the next ten years.
To conclude, we would like to say thank you to our supporters who contributed toward the startup costs of Nyantag’s clean water business. Know that your donations have been well spent, and the population of nearly 1,000 people are very grateful. The villages that Saha has worked with have reported improvements in health since their clean water businesses have opened. Now it’s Nyantag’s turn to reap the benefits thanks to your support.
This is the village of Nomnayili, located in the Northern Region of Ghana. Nomnayili is a rural village full of large cotton trees, roaming goats, sheep, chickens, and kind, hard-working people. There are 26 households of Dagomba tribe people in the community and 18 households of Fulani just outside of the community (approximately 340 people). Fulani are a semi-nomadic group of people that raise cattle and usually live on the outskirts of a village. They come from different areas of Africa, so many of them speak different languages as the Dagomba communities.
Yesterday, January 12th our village had its opening day for the water treatment center! Our team and the business women were so excited to distribute the clean water! They have worked so hard learning and treating the dugout water over the last week. We pulled up to the village around 8 am and walked to the dugout. On the walk, we passed many women carrying bins on their heads and we were a little worried they might have already fetched water for the day. After waiting a few minutes we saw the business women walking towards the dugout with buckets balanced on their heads (never ceases to impress me). Moments later, many blue buckets carried by women and kids from the village began to pour in. The business women were totally ready; they already had a perfect system in mind for washing, testing for leaks, and filling the storage containers.
All of the containers were lined up, washed and filled with clean water. It was amazing to see the women and kids so happy and grateful to have a sustainable way of attaining a resource that is a basic human right. The kids were downing water bottles that they filled with the treated water, which was a strong contrast to seeing them scoop up dug out water to drink just days before. Mariama, one of the business women, was so happy that she was clapping and dancing when we finished. We tried to teach the kids how to do the footloose dance, but they were being shy and just kinda stared at me. However, the kiddos sure do love having their picture taken!
All the Dagomba households came and left with their filled buckets, but we still hadn’t seen the Fulani households. After sending a couple of kids to spread the word that the center was open, the Fulani began to pour in. At first they were a little hesitant (remember they don’t speak the same language), but after showing them some direction their buckets were filled as well! It was great to see the two communities working with each other so that everyone has access to clean water.
By the end of the morning, all but one household showed up to fill at least one bucket with water! The Polytank ran out after the last bucket, but the women already had settled water to add and treat with chlorine. To finish off opening day, Mariama told us how grateful she and the other business women are for the water treatment center and all of our help. The truth is, we didn’t do too much other than bring the materials and the process. We learned a lot more from them about having a positive attitude and being thankful for everything that we have.
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.
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.
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.
With this post, we’re kicking off our “Field Rep Voices” segment for winter 18! What better way to keep you up to date with the progress of our 4 new water business implementations then to hear from our Field Reps themselves? Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the chance to hear from each team about the challenges and successes of all our new business. So without further ado, take it away, Team Dzorsah!
We have been having a great time in our village, Kujeri, in Ghana’s Northern Region! On our first day in the village, we met with the chief to propose our clean water business, and every day since then has gone incredibly well.
Over the past nine days, we have collected and monitored their current dugout water; selected our four female entrepreneurs (Asana, Abu, Mayama, and Mamemumat); and started building the treatment center. Our team has also loved exploring the Tamale market during our free time!
Mamemouna poses for her picture.
One of the most rewarding experiences was showing the clean and dirty 3M samples during the chief, elder, and community meetings. It was striking for everyone in the village to see the positive tests for bacteria and E.coli in their own dugout water sources for the first time – and it got everyone further inspired and enthusiastic towards building the sustainable center soon!
Additionally, everyone in the village has been so friendly, welcoming, and grateful. One of the highlights was when the village chief presented us with a guinea fowl and 16 cassava yams to express his thanks! To balance work and play, we also play soccer with the kids most afternoons.
Our driver Hustla and our translator Dzorsah have been amazing, and make every dusty drive to Kujeri a good time (#SAHArmattan). We are so excited for the opening day of Kujeri’s clean water business this Thursday!
This December, Heidi Ayran joined the Saha team as our new Operations Coordinator. Heidi will be will be working with the team to continue insuring all Saha community businesses are running effectively and supporting development and expansion as Saha pushes to reach more communities. Say hello to Heidi:
Hi, I’m Heidi and like all others on the Saha Team I have a passion for clean water for all! I got to celebrate graduating with a degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) by participating in Saha’s Summer 2015 Global Leadership Program. It was an amazing experience to be able to implement a solar business in Jangbaryili with Team Jaleel, which has stuck with me to this day!
Working with Saha showed me how effective simple solutions could be and how important is was to invest time into getting to know the people. A quality that really stood out to me was that Saha’s ultimate goal is to have these villages self-sustaining. Give a village a clean water solution, sustain them for some time. Give a village the understanding of the importance of clean water and how to get it, sustain them for a lifetime!
After the program, I worked as a Project Engineer for a General Contractor in SF and built high rise residential buildings. However, I soon realized that my passions were not being fueled my current position, so I decided to change that. I saw that Saha was hiring a new Operations Coordinator and I seized the opportunity. I was drawn (twice!) to Saha not only because of their passion for clean water, but their passion for people. Saha is overflowing with it! I look forward to see how I can contribute and collaborate to such a great cause and where the new year will take the Saha Team!
As our Field Rep Alumni already know, Nestor and Simply are quite the brother-sister duo and Saha is so excited to have them both join the full time team! Simply started monitoring with us this summer, and both officially joined the monitoring staff in September. They’re working hard alongside the rest of our team to get centers back up and running after the rainy season, and they’ve brought plenty of energy and fun to the office too! Everyone at Saha is thrilled to have the Tamale team growing, which will help us better monitor our current businesses and implement more in the Northern Region. More updates on the post-rainy season projects to come but until then let’s offer a warm welcome to Nestor and Simply!
Nestor grew up in Bulpela neighborhood of Tamale. He found out about Saha through Peter, and joined our team as a translator for the Global Leadership Program in January 2012. His first Saha business was a water center in Manguli 1. Nestor joined the team full time in September 2017 as a monitor, alongside his sister Simply. In his free time, Nestor loves listening to music and dancing, and his favorite food is T.Z. and ayoyo. When the Saha Field Reps are in town, he enjoys having fun with them and the kids out in our partner communities.
Simply first joined Saha’s team as a translator in January 2014, after learning of our work through Eric. She implemented a water center in Manguli 2. She became a full time monitor in September 2017, and says her favorite time at Saha is when new Field Reps arrive for the Global Leadership Program. Simply grew up in Bulpela neighborhood of Tamale with her brother, Nestor. Before Saha, Simply obtained her certificate in hair dressing and cosmetics. She enjoys eating banku with hot pepper sauce and fish, and she likes listening to music in her free time.
A lot has been happening with Saha Global. We started off the year by opening our 100th water business in Ghana with the help of the 2017 Winter Field Reps. Since then, we’ve opened 10 other businesses, and are now serving clean drinking water to a total of 51,798 people in rural Ghana. Read on for more exciting updates from our team!
A Renewed Focus on Water: It’s Time to Grow!
Preparing to open our 100th water business was very exciting and also provided some time for reflection. While we are so proud to be providing clean drinking water for over 50,000 people in Ghana, there are approximately 800,000 people in the Northern Region of Ghana alone who are still drinking unsafe water. We know that the Saha water businesses are the best solution for rural villages in this area and we have the track record to prove it: once a Saha business is open, it stays open and provides clean water that stays clean, even when its stored in peoples’ homes. So now we want to grow, quickly.
This renewed focus on expanding our impact in water means that Saha will not be opening any new solar businesses for the foreseeable future. This change is bittersweet. On the one hand, we know that access to electricity is something that people in our partner communities value and our solar businesses see a lot of success in the early years. On the other hand, we have been having issues with maintenance in a lot of our communities once they reach the 2 year mark. The good news is, there are a lot of really amazing organizations doing innovative work in off-grid solar solutions. For now, we will continue to provide monitoring support to our 26 solar businesses and our hope is that another organization, which focuses only on solar, will want to partner with our Saha villages soon!
Simply and Nestor Join Our Team
This summer, two of our best translators, Simply (3rd from left) and Nestor (1st on the left), joined Saha’s monitoring team! They both provided part-time help this rainy season and have officially joined our full-time monitoring team this month to offer support as we transition into the dry season and start to ramp up new village implementations.New Board Members
With expansion in mind, Saha welcomed four new members to our Board of Directors this year to help Saha reach our goals for scale: Bill Ambrose, Mark Ferrari, Greg Garvin and Bennett Grassano. Each one of our new directors brings unique skills and experiences that have already proven to be tremendously helpful to the Saha team. Read more about their backgrounds here!
New Funding Partners
Over the past year, we have been very grateful to receive support from a number of new funding partners who believe that Saha can achieve impact at scale and are excited to support our growth. Kevin Starr, from the Mulago Foundation, even wrote this great article featuring Saha after a visit to Ghana last February!
We are looking for a dynamic leader with operational experience to lead our team in Ghana as we prepare for rapid growth. Please share this job description with anyone that may be a good fit. We are looking for someone who is excited about living and working in Tamale for a minimum of 3 years.
As some of you know already, our goal to reach everyone in Northern Ghana that needs clean water also means that we will not be expanding our work to Nicaragua just yet. At first, we delayed this expansion due to the outbreak of the Zika virus, but it later became clear that Saha can have the biggest impact for every dollar that we raise, if we focus 100% of our work in Ghana until every village that needs a Saha water business has one.