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Updates From Our Newest Communities

Hello hello! Morganne and Eda here, sending a report straight from Tamale!

Monitoring has been busy since the end of our Winter Global Leadership Program (shout out to our #sahappytobehere crew!). As you might know, we opened our 100th water business in January, which means 100 villages to get out to and check up on! Here’s the latest from the first 2 months in our newest communities:

 

Village Full-time Monitor How’s it going? Center Status Household Visits Lab Samples
Defisa Amin, he visited on March 31st Jahama and Lukaya said sales are going well, however the dugout is very turbid so they have to use more alum to make sure the water is clean! Polytank is ½ full and the 3 “Blue” Drums were empty 5 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers The Polytank sample came out clear!
Juni Wahab, he visited on March 27th The dugout has dried because the rainy season hasn’t started yet. Wahab spoke to Jamila who said sales were going well and the women are ready to treat water as soon as the rains come! PT Empty and 3 “Blue” Drums empty No household visits because the dugout is dry No lab samples were taken this visit.  The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Kpumi Peter, but Shak visited on March 29th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities The water is getting very turbid but sales are still going well! Polytank is more than half full and the 3 “Blue” Drums were empty 4 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Labariga Peter, but Shak visited on March 29th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities Fusheina said sales are going well and they treated water yesterday afternoon! Polytank is more than half full and the 3 “Blue” Drums are empty 4 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Parishenaaya Wahab, he visited on March 30th Salamatu said some farming families have returned to Parishenaaya so sales have picked up a bit! Polytank is more than half full, 3 “Blue” Drums are empty 5 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Tuya Wahab, he visited on March 30th Mohammed, who helps with the center when the women travel, said sales are going well and that the recent rains increased the water level in the stream! Polytank is more than half full, and 3 “Blue” Drums are full but don’t have alum yet 6 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers, YAHOO! No samples were taken this visit. The polytank was sampled earlier this month and came out clean!
Zuro Peter, but Shak visited on March 29th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities Abiba said everything is going well! Polytank is ¼ full, and 3 “Blue” Drums are empty 3 out of 6 households had water in their safe storage containers The polytank sample came out clean!

 

 

 

Peter monitors Kpumi’s water center

And our newest solar businesses:

Village Full-time Monitor How’s it going? Center Status Household Visits
Chihigu Peter, but Eric visited on March 28th while Peter monitored our Salaga communities Hawabu said everything is going well! There were 8 phones and 6 batteries charging at the center All 6 households had working and fully charged lanterns, yay!
Jagberin Wahab, he visited on March 27th Ramatu said sales are going well but some farming families have left because their dugout has become very turbid. As soon as the water level increases these families will be back and increase solar sales! There were 15 phones and 8 batteries charging at the center All 6 households had working and fully charged lanterns, wahoo!

 

Eric takes a selfie while monitoring in Chihigu

 

Special thanks to our Winter 2017 Field Reps who got these 9 communities off to a great start! Ti paya pahm!

#sahappy2behere – Reflections on the 2017 Winter Global Leadership Program

It’s crazy to think that less than a week ago we were saying farewell to the 2017 Winter Field Reps. Thanks to this group of awesome, driven individuals, Saha was able to partner with with 9 communities in Northern Ghana to open 7 new water treatment businesses and 2 new solar charging businesses, which provide jobs to 21 new entrepreneurs. 1,664 people now have permanent access to safe drinking water and 752 people have access to reliable, clean solar electricity. Additionally, 5 of our water entrepreneurs have now been trained to run solar businesses, increasing their earning potential!

Alex C, Alex K, Ann, Becky, Caleb, Caroline, Celine, Elijah, Erin, Joanne, Kalin, Kevin, Laura, Lexie, Louis, Matt, Maureen, Micah, Mona-Mae, Morgan, Nikita, Olivia, Qingyi, Sarah, Shaminika, Shane, Shanelle, Shannon, Terynek, Tess, Walker, Wyatt, Yu and Zulean,

We can’t believe that just under a week ago, we packed our bags and loaded up in front of GILLBT for the last time! We are so grateful for the excitement, enthusiasm, hard-work and positivity that you brought to team Saha. Because of you, thousands of people are living their lives with more opportunities for health and happiness. 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 impactful adventures, please don’t forget your community and all of us here at Saha, and let us know what we can do to further your missions. 

With gratitude,

Amin, Eda, Eric, Kathryn, Morganne, Peter, Shak & Wahab

And now … for the jumping pics!

Eric, Iddrisu, Erin, Qingyi, Sarah and Shane in Chihigu

 

Elijah, Kalin, Ann and Wahab in Defisa

 

Wyatt, Caleb, Joanne, Shanelle and Shak in Jagberin

 

Celine, Laura, Olivia, Matt, and Nestor in Juni

 

Terynek, Micah, Shannon and Becky in Labariga

 

Morganne, Mona, Simply and Alex in Kpumi

 

Walker, Shamanika, Sita, Lexie and Tess (not shown) in Parishenaaya

 

Louis, Alex, Caroline and Maureen in Tuya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field Rep Voices: Team Erin, Qing, Shane, Sarah and Eric

Members of Chihigu gather around the solar charging center for opening night

As we first arrived at the Chihigu Village for opening night, there was an immediate tension in the air, so thick one could cut it with a knife (or a machete ;)). There was an obvious buzz going around the village because tonight was the night that the lights were going to be turned on, thus forever changing the way of life for this community. Even the animals were excited as Despa (Shane’s village puppy) ran after the car as we pulled in; the dog then broke Shane’s heart when he ran immediately up to Qing instead as the team exited the vehicle.
The women were all ready to go -eager, anxious, excited – and the villagers felt the same. We arrived with about half an hour left until kickoff for the light show, so we made the most of our time and began painting the solar charging station. Erin, as always, played some jams on the Bluetooth radio our group brought and the opening ceremony for the lights turned into a party. Adults and children alike were dancing along to the beats while Team Eric and Iddrisu painted the solar charging station. Once 6 PM came around, the women were manned at their station ready for battle! Due to the amount of people ready to purchase batteries for their lanterns, we decided it best to sell them out of the window rather than try and cram all these people into the charging station. Pretty soon the line to purchase the batteries looked like a Chic-Fil-A drive-thru on a Saturday evening (It is closed on Sundays thus making for an even more hectic drive-thru line).

Qing works with the women entrepreneurs on opening night

The women in charge of the charging station didn’t skip a beat! They essentially formed a leadership-powered assembly line as one woman rented out the 3 batteries to a customer, another replaced those batteries on the charger and the third woman tallied the purchase in their notepad. This process continued long into the night until the entire village could successfully use their lanterns! As night settled and the moon rose, it was obvious (and a little scary) how dark things got after the sunset. That was until the villagers began turning on their lanterns for the first time. You could see, one by one, households being lit up and people using their lights as they traversed through the community. It was a remarkable chain of events as you could literally the see difference being made in these peoples’ lives. All the hard work that was put into this project by Team Eric, Saha Global and the community proved to be worthwhile and we know that the village will forever be grateful!

Erin gets all of the kids involved to help paint the center

Field Rep Voices: Team Caleb, Joanne, Shanelle, Wyatt and Shak

A view of the farms in Jagberin

Today was our second day of distributing lanterns to the more than 45 households in the beautiful village of Jagberin.

About two hours outside of Tamale, Jagberin as a village is on the larger side and rather spread out.  It seems like there are almost two separate parts of the village with several minutes of driving between them.  The part that we were familiar with, where the solar center was built, was where we passed out a little over half of the lanterns yesterday.  Today we got to explore a new part of the village and even meet some new members of the village.

Interestingly, the slightly smaller section of Jagberin that we visited today was much denser than the main part of the village.  From where we had been so far, only a handful of households were within eyesight of each other.   This new part of the village, on the other hand, had more than 10 households within a couple hundred feet of each other.  Because of this, we were able to talk to a lot more people in a shorter amount of time!

As this was the second day we were passing out lanterns, everyone seemed to know we were coming and even had their money ready.  Despite being separated from the majority of the village, word must have spread quickly because these people were even more excited and willing to help.  This gave us more time to just talk with them about what they think of the village and get to know them a little better.

After we finished passing out the rest of the lanterns, we used the rest of the day to finish training the women who will run the solar business.  We reviewed and quizzed them on the technical training that they had been learning in the past couple days and they did everything perfectly.  They were even charging batteries ahead of time in preparation for opening night!  Next we worked on some of the business training like saving money and recording sales.  Since they were already running the water business, they quickly picked up on almost every sale.  The one thing that we did notice them struggle with was keeping tally of transactions.  They had no trouble counting, but it’s not often that they use pen and paper.  Not only that, but the tally method of counting was new to them, but they caught on quickly!  All in all, the women entrepreneurs and the entire village are showing a lot of enthusiasm and looking ready for opening night tomorrow!

Joanne trains the women entrepreneurs before opening night 

The People Behind the Numbers: A Look into the Partnership Villages of CWS

When looking at statistics or numbers in development, it’s so easy to forget that there are people behind those numbers. And the villages in which CWS has implemented are no different. They are inevitably made up of people.  They have their own personalities, stories, families, livelihoods, conflicts, drama, laughter, hopes and dreams…. The same goes for the women (and man – shout out to the infamous Alhassan, the man who runs the water treatment center in Jerigu) of the CWS water enterprises. They have their own ways of doing business, staying organized, dealing with set backs and choosing how they spend their profits. These water treatment centers are businesses after all. So there’s no reason to think that they’d operate any differently than let’s say a food stand in the market or even a small business back in Boston. Business is business no matter where you are or what you’re selling in the world: acquire capital, acquire goods, sell goods, make a profit and buy more capital…Most importantly modify the business based on your situation and work habits to make it the most efficient it can be.

Blog Post 6 Pic 1The CWS business method is pretty straightforward and uniform throughout the villages in which we implement in and around the Tamale Metropolis. To give you a very brief overview for those of you that are not overly familiar with our approach: CWS finds a village that drinks fecally contaminated surface water (aka dugout water), fellows fundraise and come to Ghana to provide the hardware and to implement the water treatment center in the village, fellows train two women to treat the water with low-cost chemicals and to sell the water back to the community at an affordable price. Then, the CWS field staff monitor and supply the women with aquatabs for five years post-implementation. Every CWS partnership community is given the capital to start their water business, which includes a polytank, polytank stand, at least 3 blue drums, alum, aquatabs and finally every household in these villages is given a safe storage container to store the water that they buy. So if implementation is the same throughout, then what, might you ask, could really make every CWS enterprise unique? The answer is quite simply the people.

Blog Post 6 Pic 2This past week, in the village of Jagberin, Aisha closed the water treatment because the lock to the polytank broke. She was leaving treated water stored in the polytank overnight and would wake up to find that water was missing! The water level was significantly lower than she had left it the night before. After some investigation, she discovered that farmers from Jagberin had realized the polytank was unlocked and came early in the morning to fill their garrawas with stolen water. Aisha decided to close her business until she could buy a new lock because she did not want to risk losing money. Wahab and I went to Jagberin this Tuesday to do household visits and realized what was going on. This is a sticky situation because while these water treatment centers are businesses, their main function is provide people with clean water. After talking to Aisha, she agreed to fill the polytank with one blue drum at a time until she bought a new lock. She is going to make announcements for when she is going to sell with the hopes of selling all of the water at once so that none is left in the polytank for people to steal. As of today, she has a new lock!

BLog Post 6 Pic 5Kadula is a village that got off to a rocky start. At first there was one woman, Abiba, who was running the water treatment center; however, business did not go well. Apparently there was widespread belief in the community that this woman was a witch. So no one would buy water from her. CWS intervened and held a meeting with the elders to elect new women to run the water business. Kadula is one of the bigger CWS communities with over 100 households. The elders of Kadula decided to elect 15 women (5 women from the 3 “neighborhoods” of Kadula) to work in a rotation of filling the blue drums. They elected Azaratu as the leader of these women, to oversee and run the business. Azaratu collects the money, buys aquatabs and makes all major decisions for the water treatment center.

Blog Post 6 Pic 7In Kpalung, the polytank stand was initially built next to the dugout, which a very far walk from the village center. There were many complaints that the center was too far. Also, during the rainy season, the dugout becomes obsolete because everyone harvests rainwater to avoid the long trek to fetch water. Solution? After much discussion with Azaratu and the elders, they decided to move their water treatment center to town. During the dry season, Azaratu pays a donkey businessman to cart water from the dugout to the water treatment center and in the rainy season, she harvests rainwater with the blue drums to treat. While this seemed to be working, there were a few complications. The donkey businessman was charging Azaratu 60 pesawas, the equivalent of two aquatabs or the equivalent of selling 6 20 L buckets of water, to fill every blue drum. She was no longer making a substantial return to her investment. CWS field staff decided to hold a village meeting between Azaratu, the chairman and the donkey businessman to agree upon a fair price. For now, the donkey businessman is no longer charging Azaratu for his services and in exchange gets to fill his safe storage container for free at the water treatment center!

Blog Post 6 Pic 4The last story that took place in Kpalung was one of the first village meetings that I oversaw as Ghana Country Director of CWS. I realized early on that the problems I would encounter with the CWS water businesses were not as black and white as I thought they would be when I was a fellow. People will always be people and sometimes life gets in the way but that just makes it all the more interesting for us in Tamale.

-Brianan

Blog Post 6 Pic 3 Blog Post 6 Pic 6

Ramadan: Fasting All Day Means Every Drop of Clean Water Counts

Today marks the 14th day of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, going without food or water for 30 days. The only people who do not fast are nursing or pregnant mothers, children under the age of 18, the elderly and the sick.  While Ghana is a predominantly Christian country, the Northern Region has a large Muslim presence. The majority of CWS villages are also Muslim and therefore fast during the month of Ramadan.

CWS field staff, Amin, Wahab, Shak, pose with the chief of Kadula and Azaratu, the lady who runs the water treatment center, after a long morning of household visits to promote rainwater harvesting in Kadula.

In the last 2 weeks, CWS field staff members have encountered many safe storage containers full to the brim with clean water. This is something that we love to see because it usually means that the household has just recently filled from the water treatment center. However, this month we have found that it does not always mean just that. When CWS conducts household visits in our implemented villages, we always ask a member of each household: “When was the last time you filled your safe storage container with clean water?” –translated in Dagbani – “Ka bon dali kayi tougi?”. The average response that we get is that someone in the household filled 2-3 days ago. Lately, we have had people tell us that they filled their safe storage containers over a week ago! Now how is it that a household of 8-10 people can go over a week without drinking 20 L of water? Well because of Ramadan people are drinking much less water. Also, since it is the rainy season, it has not been as hot in Tamale. I’ve asked a few fasting Ghanaians if it is hard to fast during Ramadan. The responses have been the same, “With this weather? Oh no, it’s easy to fast when the clouds are in the sky.”

Rainwater harvesting in Baramini’s compound in Gidanturu
Peter chats with Kukuna, the lady that runs the water treatment center in Cheko, as she makes the “local maggi”

Since most people are fasting, they are drinking less water during the day. This means that when people are drinking water before sunrise or after sunset, they have to make every drop count! In our household visits, CWS staff members have been emphasizing the importance of drinking clean water once the fast is broken. Even though most parents are fasting, it’s essential that the children still have access to the safe storage containers throughout the day.

A Family in Yapalsi keeps 4 clean cups on their safe storage container, ready for drinking clean water!
Amina pours water for a customer at the second opening day in the village of Galinzegu. 25 households came to fill their buckets!

One household that Wahab and I spoke to in Kpalguni explained to us that they had just run out of water that morning because the family had gathered together to drink water to ensure strength for a day of fasting. The community members of Jagberin have agreed to help Fulera and Aisha, the ladies that run the center, fill their blue drums with water from the dugout during Ramadan. Since many of the women who run the CWS water businesses are fasting, they are weaker than usual during this month. In Yapalsi, Amin and I came across one household that has four clean cups sitting on top of their safe storage container, so that eager family members can break their fast with clean water at sunset. It seems that Ramadan is bringing people together to share clean water in many of the CWS villages this month!

-Brianan

A woman secures her safe storage container to her bike after filling at the second opening day in Galinzegu!