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Clear Water Doesn’t Always Mean Clean

In Kpanayili, this woman collects rainwater the right way! “She doesn’t joke with the clean water” – Peter

Two weeks ago while doing household visits with Wahab in Kpanayili, we entered the compound of a family that had a full safe storage container of clean looking water. We were delighted. “De viele, de viele” or “good, good”, Wahab and I said to Fati, the woman who showed us where her family keeps their drinking water. She smiled, shy but proud of what she had shown us. Upon further questioning, we found out; however, that while the rainwater this woman had collected in her safe storage container looked very clean, it was most likely contaminated and not suitable for drinking. Fati told us that she had used a clay pot to collect this rainwater from the tin roof above her husband’s bedroom, waiting five minutes for the rain to clear off the roof before collecting. She then told us that she had used her Guinea Worm filter, a mesh cloth that was distributed to her household by the Carter foundation to eradicate Guinea Worm (for more info on Guinea Worm click here or here), to filter water as she transferred it from her clay pot into her safe storage container. This clay pot had no lid and most likely stored dugout water (contaminated surface water) in it during the dry season, meaning that if tested in the lab, this water would come back positive for e-coli. Guinea Worm filters do not actually filter the water, they were used back in the day to make sure that these worms would not make it into the garrawas and buckets used for collecting water for household use. This mesh piece of cloth would remove some sediment at best, leaving all bacteria (the good and the bad) to multiply and stew.

It’s groundnut season in Zanzugu! Amin and I were given bags and bags full of groundnuts during household visits. We finally learned to say thank you but no thank you.

Wahab and I explained all of this to Fati, telling her that while her water looked clear, it was actually not clean for reasons X, Y and Z. “Awoomea”, Fati said or “I hear”. But would she actually get the message and follow through by properly collecting rainwater directly from the tin roof using her safe storage container? Wahab and I could only hope. We would not be there with her when the next rain hit. We would not be able to watch to see if she would use her clay pot again to store rainwater for drinking. The decision to make a behavioral change would have to come from Fati.

Amin uses salt-water solution to explain rainwater contamination to Wahab at a weekly office education meeting.

This is a common problem in many of the CWS villages that have tin roofs and collect rainwater during the rainy season. While we inform all of our communities on how to properly harvest rainwater, some people do not see a difference in using their clay pot versus using their safe storage container. After all, the clear rainwater looks so much cleaner than turbid dugout water. But how can we get them to intrinsically understand why this clear looking water is actually not clean? At our last staff meeting, this is a question that Peter, Shak, Amin, Wahab and I all pondered. We realized that we were going to need props if we were going to do this right.

Peter entertains a household in Kagburashe with some proper rainwater collection education! Which one would you choose?

Wahab uses a positive Total Coliform test to explain to a girl in Gariezegu how rainwater can get contaminated when collected in pots that once held dugout water.

 

 

 

 

 

Since then, we have been using water samples of contaminated rainwater that have tested positive for Total Coliform (a sign of contamination, shows up bright yellow in a test tube) and water samples taken from the polytank that have tested negative for e-coli and Total Coliform (shows up clear in a test tube). The CWS field staff has been using these two test tubes as a tangible demonstration given during household visits to show the difference between the clean and clear, the good and the bad. In order to get the children of these villages on board, we have also been conducting taste tests of a salt-water solution versus treated polytank water to show how clear water can have invisible germs inside and that you cannot always see what is in your drinking water. Almost every kid that tries the two spits out the salt-water solution in disgust! Clear does not always mean clean… or tasty.

-Brianan

A Week of Monitoring

I have officially been in Tamale for a week now, and what a week it has been! After spending a few days getting the office all ready for the Summer Fellows, I headed out to the field to help Shak, Peter, Wahab and Amin monitor some of the newer villages that I had never been to before (crazy!)  It was so much fun to be back in the field and to see how awesome the water businesses are doing in these new communities! Over the past four days I visited Yapalsi, Laligu, Kpalung, Kagburashe, Libi, Gbung (an oldie but goodie), Sakpalua, Buja, Kadula, Kpaniyilli, Kurugu Vohoyilli, and Kpachiyilli!

 

Everyone in Laligu was asking about the 2012 Winter Fellows!

 

Shak monitoring water sales in Yapalsi

 

Amin conducting household visits in Kplung

 

Peter and I hanging with some of our favorite kiddos in Gbung

Rainy season clouds…

 

Peter and Wahab checking out the water level in Kagburashe’s polytank

 

Me and Wahab with the ninos in Gbung

-Kate

 

 

 

 

Updates From the Field: March Madness

March has been an exciting month for all of us here in Tamale. Monitoring continues in our new villages, and its been fun to get to know 9 new communities better! Staff spent a “lazy” Sunday in Libi, fishing with some of the village men there. We brought home a rice bag full of Talapia and some hilarious memories from our day in the river.

Peter poses with "fresh twins" during household visits in Libi

Mohammed, a huge help to CWS staff in Libi, clowns around for the camera.

In Laligu, the treatment center has undergone a few changes. Residents decided to construct a new center platform in a more central location, so that water would be more accessible to everyone. The ladies now pay a donkey cart from near-by Sevelugu to fill up their blue drums. They are very happy with the increase in sales they have seen already after “bringing the center home”!

Sharatu and Awabu pose by their new treatment center stand in Laligu - right in the center of town!

In Kagburashe, Amina and Mayama have really taken charge of center operations, making some changes to the way the business runs. Staff have been happy to work along side these two enterprising ladies to make the treatment center here unique to Kagburashe’s needs.

Ladies fetch water from Kagburashe's dugout.

Monitoring also continues in our older villages, but with some twists. Household visits have been extremely helpful for project evaluation and educational purposes, but we’re experimenting with some new approaches as well! This month, Shak began a water, health and hygiene educational program in Zanzugu, Zanzugu Yipela and Yipela. With a little work we will be able to expand this to other classrooms too!

Shak teaches a lesson to Zanzugu Yipela primary students about water contamination and health.
Which bottle would YOU like to drink?

No matter how many times we visit, kids still crowd around for pictures. Somethings never change.

Kids at Iddrisuyili pose for a picture in Kpalguni

– Kathryn

Voices from the Field: Team G

Team G here (Katie, Caitlin, and Brittany)! Two days ago we opened our water business in Kagburashe, which was very exciting. We got to our village around 7am and upon arriving to the dugout, were very pleased to see a number of CWS safe storage containers already lined up by the polytank, ready to get filled up with clean water. With the help of several villagers, including the children, we developed an orderly and quick distribution system. Our translator, Mohammed, helped the ladies fill up the buckets while Brittany kept track of which had been filled and paid for. Katie and Caitlin played with the children and helped the women in line. In about two hours we filled 43 buckets and several children’s water bottles (who gave the water rave reviews, by the way)! Since our village is comprised of about 46 households, we were thrilled that almost everyone came out for opening day!

Caitlin with the women who run the CWS water business in Kagburasche

Here are the two women who run the water business in Kagburashe. They were chosen by the Chief and elders and will be in charge of maintaining the water business after Team G returns home. It was amazing to see these women in action; they quickly learned the water treatment process (first using alum as a coagulant and then chlorine as a disinfectant), and how to keep track of sales. We have full confidence in their ability to run the business and are excited that they will be making a small profit in addition to providing their village with clean drinking water.

Brittany and Katie with our taxi driver, Hamza

It was awesome to see the bright blue, green, and purple CWS buckets sitting on the heads of our village women and girls instead of the dirty metal ones they usually use for water. So bright and clean, reflecting the healthy water that now sits inside. Everyone was so happy to see the clear water flowing out of the polytank spicket. We hope that the villagers continue to take care of this water and take care of themselves. At the end of the day our translator took us to his home, where his mother prepared a celebration meal of Fufu—a traditional Ghanaian meal consisting of beaten down yams and a spicy tomato sauce. Katie and Brittany even tried some fried rat! What a day for new things all around!!

-Caitlin, Katie and Britany