Blog

“Chew and Pour” No More!

“Chew and Pour” refers to the teaching method typical in most Ghanaian school systems that focuses on repetition and memorization. It is the difference between a lecture versus a hands-on activity. In the past year, we have been trying to focus our interactions with the community away from lectures and towards conversations. Instead of lecturing about the importance of clean water, we have been emphasizing more on the conversation around clean water and allowing our communities to come to the same conclusions. “You should ____ ” and “Stop doing that” have turned into “Why do you ____?” and “Do you think ____? ” . We’ve learned that it is a more effective way of sharing an idea or concept if they are able to draw their own conclusions through participating in an active engaged dialog. This month, we tried to take this technique of conversation and curiosity and apply it to the way we talk about children’s education. So, this year is the start of our Children’s Education Month!

Eric having a little fun after finishing a Children’s Education.

This years Children’s Education Month ran from June 20th to July 26th which is the last day before kids (kindergarten, primary, and junior high) children go on break. We kicked off the month by introducing a Children’s Education and Parent Discussion Handbooks to our staff to start trying out in the field. It included key concepts to go over and suggestions for types of questions to help encourage participation in the conversation. The goals of these conversations was to learn about the challenges that parents and children face in having clean water available for children/getting children to drink clean water, how to promote good WASH habits, and ways Saha could help support the effort to have children drink clean water. The children are the future of all our communities, so it is important for us to help encourage these good habits and understanding at an early age, so they could continue to on to a strong adulthood.

This year we were able to do Children’s Education for 16 Villages: Nekpegu, Tohinayili, Kalinka, Baiyili, Dawunyili, Sagbarigu, Lambo, Juni, Yendanyili, Jagberin, Tijo, Tindan, Bamvim, Wambong, and Warivi. In the classrooms, we printed out “Commitment to Clean Water” posters where students pledged their commitment to clean water.Some of the Children’s Educations happened in schools some were done informally with a collection of kids in a village. Education can happen anywhere, not just in the classroom! (I would argue that most learning happens outside of the classroom anyway.)

In addition to the formal gathering of children, we also encouraged monitors to talk to kids and parents in their households while they conduct their normal monitoring visits. When I went with Nestor to Sahanaayili, we talked to each household about children having access to clean water. Every household we visited had a clean water cup/container just for their kids. The parents would watch over the children to make sure they were taking care of their cup/container properly and not recontaminating the water. It was so great to see! The children were also excited about it. We talked about one of the challenges that many households face: Children playing with the tap. The households in Sahanaayili each said that they would serve the children what until they were old enough to learn how to use the tap properly, then they would be shown what to do and what not to do. The older kids were helpful in making sure the younger ones used it properly. This hope is to help communities who are struggle with advice from those who have been doing well.

One of the challenges we learned that children face with regards to drinking clean water is that sometimes they have a hard time telling their parents that they should have clean water in the household for fear of it becoming disrespectful. So, even if they knew that they should be drinking water, they couldn’t always because their parents wouldn’t get the water. This insight reinforces our efforts to talk to parents more and frame more conversations around the children and their health. Additionally, Wahab (who was the one who had this conversation with the kids) also made a great point saying if your parents were to walk on a hole and potentially break their foot. It is okay to bring up things that are good for their health. Approaching children’s education from both angles (parents and kids) has been a great tool to encourage children to drink clean water.

Prototype in the house by Seidu, Rhiana, and Kathryn
Prototype in the community: Sita and Theo
Prototype in the school: Simply and Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several Saha staff signed up for an online course called Prototyping 201 hosted by Acumen which overlapped with Children’s Education Month. We used this coincidence as an opportunity! For our first practice of prototyping, we took an idea and made physical prototype out of it and our inspiration was Children’s Education Month. So, we brainstormed ideas on how to talk about drinking clean water with children in 3 situations: at home, in school, and in the community. The team was able to come up with fantastic ideas! For the conversations at home, Seidu, Rhiana, and Kathryn prototype stickers for children to indicate good and bad WASH habits. In the schools, Simply and I prototype a coloring book called “Healthy Hadija helps Silly Sana” where a little girl helps her friend learn how to keep clean water clean in the home.  For the community conversation, Theo and Sita developed prototype for a microscope to help kids, parents, and everyone see what is really in their water so they can learn that clear does not mean clean. It was an incredibly fun exercise and amazing to see the creativity of the team! Hopefully these creative ideas keep going and eventually turn into new (fun!) ways of communicating our ideas to our communities.

The biggest thing we’ve learned this year is to just talk about it! Incorporate these questions about clean water for children in our everyday interactions in the villages. Engage with the children. Engage with the parents. There is a lot to learn from them when we get them involved in the conversation. The hope is not just to have these conversations one a month, but every day!

Oh what a month! I would like to thank the team for their input on the handbooks an going out and having these school educations and these conversations. Thanks for all your hard work this month.

I’ll end with a quote from my favorite song in preschool, why this was my favorite song as a preschool is beyond me, but young Heidi was very wise “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”- “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston

 

February Monitoring Results

February was the first month that our Ghana team officially switched over to our new monitoring procedures. Below is the monthly monitoring summary for February:

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 1.22.05 PM

I was happy to see that our usage rate (the % of households with clean water in their safe storage container when one of our team members stopped by) was 73%. Over the past 7 years, our average has been right around 75%, so right off the bat I could see that February was a pretty typical month (we are constantly striving to get this number up, mostly through education campaigns in our partner-villages, but at the same time, we are also constantly adding new communities). Keep in mind, just because there isn’t clean water in someone’s safe storage container, does not mean that there is contaminated water in there! Usually the bucket is just empty. Some families may have just finished their water and haven’t had a chance to re-fill. However, for some it is because they aren’t frequently filling.

The “Clean Water Used” stat is calculated from the number of Aquatabs that the women reported having used each week. Each Aquatab treats 200L of water, so we just multiply the reported number by 200.

The “Clean Water Sold” stat is calculated from the number of Aquatabs that the women bought each week. This number differs from the clean water used, because the entrepreneurs don’t always buy the same number of Aquatabs they use. Some women buy in bulk one month and slowly use the tablets over time, before making another big purchase a few months later. Others may use 2 in a week but then buy 3 or 4 to replenish their pile. Each business owner works out their own system.

The “Number of Lanterns Sold” indicates how many lanterns the solar business owners have sold to members of their community. During implementation, each family receives 1 lantern for 1 GHC, and they can buy more at market-rate if they would like. The women buy the lanterns from Saha at cost and then choose to mark up the prices as much as they would like. Unfortunately, over the last couple of months our lantern supplier has increased the price of the lanterns dramatically, so the ladies haven’t been making many sales recently. Lantern sales used to be a big money maker for the solar entrepreneurs.

The “Average Solar Business Earnings”  is the total earnings (730 GHS) divided by the number of villages visited. This month, our team only made it to 7 out of the 8 businesses.  All revenue is reported in GHC.

Below is an example of the weekly data table that Wahab fills out, based on the information that our team collects in the field. You can access the actual excel files here – each week has it’s own tab, with the monthly data summarized at the end.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 1.40.02 PM  Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 1.41.33 PM

There were no big issues in our communities this month. Little things like leaky polytanks sprung up here and there, but those small issues are easily solved. Some communities, like Wambong, reported slow water sales, but our team was able to work with the community and the entrepreneurs to get back on track (see the last photo below). The biggest challenge this month was getting our team back on track with their new monitoring schedule after the Winter Global Leadership Program. As I mentioned earlier we only made it to 7 solar communities in February. Since most of our solar businesses are less than a year old, each community should have been visited 3-4 times this month. After receiving the week 3 report from Wahab, I noticed this problem right away and discussed the issue with our Operations Manager, Shak, during our weekly check-in. Shak and the rest of the team then discussed their new schedules during their next staff meeting and were able to figure out how to re-arrange their weeks to make sure new communities were getting visited more frequently!

Below are some pictures from the Field from February! Stay tuned tomorrow for our March monitoring report!

-Kate

PS – remember, for monitoring reports from before 2015, visit our old site here.

IMG_0087
Ayi selling water in Kurugu Vohoyili
IMG_0088
A busy morning in Kurugu Vohoyli
IMG_0099
Eric noting how many Aqutabs Fulera had bought
IMG_0100
Eric helping Ramatu how to strengthen the connection of the cell phone charges
IMG_0114
The Nekpegu solar center is bumpin’!
IMG_0118
Fati posing with all of the charging batteries in Nekpegu
IMG_0125
Staff meeting selfies!
A straight-faced Salima make sales early in the morning in Wambong
After a month of low water sales in Wambong, Shak and the women met with the community chairman. Chang-Chang suggested that he make announcements at the mosque whenever she had water ready to sell, and he agreed. After the first announcement, the water center was BUSY!

 

 

Meet Our Entreprenuers: Fulera from Kalinka

Fulera with a few of her many grandchildren at the water treatment center in Kalinka
Fulera with a few of her many grandchildren at the water treatment center in Kalinka

Fulera is one of the three women who run the water business in Kalinka. She has been working to treat and sell water to her community since January 2013 – almost two years now! In addition to running the water business, Fulera is busy farming maize and groundnuts while also taking care of her many children and grandchildren. She has seven daughters and two sons and all but two of them have children of their own! Ten of Fulera’s grandchildren live with her in her home and they enjoy accompanying her to the water business in the morning.

Fulera says that she enjoys working at the water business because is gives her community good health. She would also like to pass along her greetings to Uroj, Ty, and Casey — her team of 2013 Winter Field Reps!