“Fula-what?” we all thought on the first day. Kathryn, Rhiana and Amin were in the midst of explaining how village operations normally work while we were still in Accra and dropped something new on us: the Fulani people. The Fulani are a group of nomad cattle-herders located in most villages across Ghana. They all travel by foot all around Western Africa (Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso) in order to find land for all of their cattle to graze. Financial status among the Fulani is determined by the sheer size of their flock and how developed the cows appear. Since they’re nomadic, their homes within their village are only temporary and normally located far away from the village center, which means they have to walk the farthest to the Water Treatment Center and coincidentally are our best customers!
Our first encounter with the Fulani was on our second day of working in Dalibila, at the community meeting. During this meeting, we were able to get a list of all of the people in the village. From then on, our group worked to construct the Water Treatment Center, train our entrepreneurs and endlessly entertain the Dalibilian kids.
In the days that followed, our team worked hard to purify the nasty dugout water. On the day that we did alum and chlorine training with Azara and her team of 3, the kids also brought out a ball, the first ball we’d seen since we’d gone to work 3 days earlier. The makeshift ball was made out of tape, plastic and leaves, but nevertheless the kids had themselves a day playing Who Can Kick the Ball Hardest and a hearty session of Taps. While Mary Reade was killing it doing the financial training, Sam and Griffin were helping scoop the alum water into the poly tank, and Corey was demonstrating how to roll an alum ball, the kids, worn out from tape-ball games, ran to the dugout, passing our soon-to-be-clean water source and stuck their heads into the dugout water, drinking until quenched. We were speechless and ready for these innocent kids to have something healthy to drink.
Team Amina (Corey, Griffin, Mary Reade and Sam P.)
“Ghana is a Cool Place to Be” a poem by Corey Castellanos
Day one was rough
Ants entered the pants
The battle with him was tough
And his bites had me in a trance
Next day was better
We were off to our town
Dalibila is the name
And a place where no one likes to frown
Actually that’s a lie
Because there is a grumpy baby
You’ll never hear him cry
He just looks at us like were shady
The other children watched
Some of them confused
Thankfully there was a tape soccer ball
That ignited an interactive fuse
Amina is the best
She is our translator
Her attire will always impress
We all get sad at “see you later”
In the village
They only speak Dagbani
And down the way
There are people called Fulani
The love of my life is there
But she does not want me
Seeing the dugout water
Sometimes makes me sad
But it really makes me happy
Knowing that some people give a damn
Alum is the key
It makes the dirt become clean
It works just like magic
Acting like a non-hot steam
I love all the smiles
They make me feel wild
Its crazy that all these small steps
Have added to a mile.
Every morning starts with an early wake up call, an hour taxi ride, and a warm greeting from the village of Kplakore! Our team, comprised of Fiona, Jean, Lexie, and Samantha, have been loving the experience of serving our village and implementing the clean water business.
It is so crazy to think that a couple short weeks ago, all the field reps were landing in Accra and just getting to know each other! After meeting and getting to know the field reps, we took an all day bus to Tamale to begin the real action. From the moment we arrived in Tamale, everyone hit the ground running and started working towards our goal of providing clean and safe drinking water. We are close to our opening, day and as it continues to get closer, the excitement continues to mount! We’re working with three members of the community as Team Kamil’s entrepreneurs: Hamdia, Salamatu, and Yahaya, who have been working hard to provide for their community and make important decisions about the business.
The experience of being in Ghana as a whole, meeting field reps from all different backgrounds, and working along the community members of Kpalkore has been incredible and absolutely life changing. Saha Global has provided the opportunity for the group of us to combine with our amazing translator, Kamil, and awesome taxi driver, Sadiq, to work towards the goal of providing clean water to our village, with so much fun along the way!
It’s that time again! Summer ’18 Field Reps, aka Group #SahaWaterWorks18, has been busy working in 6 new Saha partner communities. Up first to tell their story of their time so far in Nafarun is Team Evans, Céline, Chase, Julie and Michael. Take it away, Team Evans!
So picture this. It’s day three in the Nafarun village and our team is starting to fill up the three 200L drums. We have to wade into the shin-deep, murky dugout water to fill up our buckets. Our women entrepreneurs, Abiba, Ashetu, Rafatu, Hawa, Rukaya, and Nafisa, are gathered around us also carrying water, but mostly watching us struggle. The women laughed, asked for our buckets, and proceeded to dump out the water we got and fill it up with less-murky surface water. Julie decided to try balancing the water on her head and unsuccessfully sloshed water all over her. The women and children around us roared with laughter as she struggled to walk the small distance to the blue drum. Nafisa, the young women entrepreneur walking with her, held her (much larger) bucket with ease – and with no hands!
This moment was just one of the few incredible times of community, shared laughter, and learning in Nafarun. Whether our translator Evans was corralling the children to play a huge came of football (soccer) or our driver I.B. was bumping to Usher, our team loved to have fun while working in Nafarun. In one game of football, one 10-year-old boy kicked the ball at Michael’s head, giggled, and ran away. A few minutes later, the same boy hit Michael again and giggle-ran away again.
We’re currently at day four in the village, and so far we’ve set up our entire business and are in the process of training the women on money management, safe storage containers, and chlorine use. The chief meeting and alum training went really well, and the chief and elders were extremely excited to hear from us. Unfortunately, we had to dump out the water from the blue drums three different times as there was a layer of oil remaining from the drum sellers. Other than that, we are right on track for our community meeting and opening day!
Everyone in the village loves getting involved, from the children helping us clean, the men moving drums, and of course, the women running the business. We’re confident that when they open their business in a few weeks they’ll do a great job of keeping it open and bringing clean water to every household in Nafarun!
If you haven’t already noticed, there have been a lot of changes at Saha in recent months! I am so excited to update you on all of the improvements we’ve had. New staff, new reporting, new ideas!
The team has more than doubled since we last introduced new members. Here is a brief introduction of all our recent additions. Last February, we said a fond fairwell to Eda and Morganne who have served as Operations Coordinators for over a year here in Ghana. A month later, we said warm hello to the new Operations Coordinator Rhiana Meade who will be working with me (Heidi)! Rhiana was actually a field rep during our previous Winter GLP 2018. She helped open a center with TJ at Nyantag, little did she know that a few months later she would be returning to work full time with us helping implement even more villages.
Here is a brief introduction of Rhiana. She graduated from Reed College in Portland Oregon with a degree in Chemistry and went on to get her Masters at Tufts University in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Previously, she worked for a Field Operations Supervisor for a Cambrian Innovation, a provider of wastewater treatment services. She has been to Ghana even before her field rep days. Her parents lived and worked in Accra for a few years, during which she visited them, found herself a Ghanaian Auntie, and was able to tour around the country. She has works with passion and compassion and can make an amazing Blondie! It been great having her as my counterpart. She was was able to hold down the fort when I went on vacation 2 weeks into her arrival and orientation. We plunged her into the Saha life, and she has done well!
Next to introduce, is someone who took on a completely new role: Director of Operations. We welcomed Theo the same month Rhiana joined on. He was born and raised in Accra and went to Ashesi University to study Business Administration. Prior to Saha Theo worked with Delta and a Start-up called Laundry King – An on demand laundry service. Maybe we can get one of those here in Tamale? Theo is on the search for the best Wache in town, so any recommendations please send them his way. He will be taking over most of the administrative load from Rhiana and myself, so we can focus on optimizing the day to day management of our staff. It’s been helpful having an in-country representative to focus on community relationships and building up the organization for future growth. Since the role is still being formed, he’s been doing an amazing job rolling with whatever we need him to to. Currently, he is going out 3 days a week to get a true feel of how the business run and what Saha does. Since coming, he has been able to witness an implementation through it’s entirety, get incredibly lost scouting, and have difficult conversations with villages facing problems. Way to go Theo for taking on this role with bravery and openness!
Speaking of growth, did you notice, we hired on 5 new full time staff members? All the new staff were our Translators in our Winter 2018 GLP. Much like Rhiana, little did they know that they would become full time staff with us in a few months for the GLP. Now I can’t image the team without them. You can read more on their bios but here is a which overview of our newest members:
Abubakari Asita (aka Sita), she grew up in Tamale and started working with Saha back in 2014 implementing Balamposo. If she sounds familiar to you, you may have recognized her from Women’s week posts. She loves being an inspiration to little girls in the villages she visits.
Alhassan Seidu was trained under Eric who would often take him out in the field monitoring and implementing. Now he can do that on his own as a full time staff. Seidu always shoos away the goats that wander into the Saha Office. Outside of Monitoring, Seidu is a skilled electrician and helps us with any electrical needs we encounter at the office.
Ziblila Mohammed Taufik has been part of 3 Global Leadership Programs. His first implementation was Baiyili. Prior to Saha Taufik used to teach ICT, but now he enjoys seeing the clear water being scooped into the PT at the water centers.
Amenyeku Dzorsah started as a translator for GLP. His first implementation was Changbuni. Prior to monitoring, Dzorsah was a taxi driver in tamale. Now he gets work with the women entrepreneurs, talk to people during household visits about clean water, and drive a moto everyday instead of a taxi. I haven’t asked him which he prefers yet!
Sulemana Tijani has known and worked with Saha in its very early stages with Shak and Kate. His first GLP village was Yapei-Yipela. Prior to Saha he worked at Melcom (the Tamale equivalent of Walmart) and drove a taxi. Now he can bring clean water to his country and work with other likeminded individuals.
A larger team has allowed us to expand and focus! So starting in January, we divided up into 3 Distinct teams: Scouting, Monitoring, and Implementation. We divided up the team based on their interests, but there is the possibility of movement across teams if desired. For now, everyone is doing an amazing job in each of their teams. Because we have focussed teams, we can have more direct goals to achieve. For the scouting team, our goal is map our all the villages within a 3 hr driving radius around Tamale, start plotting Salaga villages, and determine “Yes” villages. Our Monitoring team’s goal is to make sure our current villages are getting the support that is needed and to find ways to improve our implementations and trainings. Constant improvement is our motto! Our Implementation Team allows us to implement villages outside of our Global Leadership Program, which means we can reach more villages each year. It also helps us use what we learn from the monitoring team, to refine and perfect our implementations and trainings. I have been so impressed with how the team has handled the transition.
You’ll see below, I’ve added a *Bonus* Team. These are our part time staff that also have been doing great work for us in the past few months. Blessing, a former translator for the GLP, is now helping us build relationships with the Districts, so we can connect our villages needs to gov’t bodies. Mutala is our newest addition to the team, he and Blessing have been doing research for Kathryn to help improve our knowledge of water consumption. Kathryn has big plans for the research team, look out for her update!
Scouting: Amin, Peter
Monitoring: Simply, Nestor, Sita, Seidu, Taufik, TJ
Implementation: Wahab, Eric, Shak
Bonus (part time) Teams:
District Liason: Blessing
The increase in staff was only made manageable by the addition of this amazing data organizing tool we started using called mWater. With mWater we are able to take surveys, plot points, and collect data all through an application on our phones. Once the phone is connected to the internet, this information is synced and can be stored and analysed online. We piloted it in November and fully launched it in December, however since we are still in the learning phase, there have been several iterations and updates to how we collect data. This has been a game changing addition to the day to day work. We can say goodbye to the endless amounts of paper used and manually inputting information into excel. I am excited to see what we can do with mWater and will update you more on this in a separate post!
Welp! If you felt like that was a lot to take it, it was!!! Thanks for reading through this “brief” update. If you want to hear about anything more in detail, leave us a comment!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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.