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Peter’s Salaga Journeys

5.Jumping pic

Eric and Peter having a jumping picture by the new signboard in Kabache/Kasawuripe!

  My name is Peter Biyam, the Project Manager of CWS. I have worked full time with CWS for the past four years now. This is my first CWS blog post. I used to work full time monitoring the CWS villages in and around Tamale, but for now my daily routine has changed, which I feel so good about. As of June 2013, CWS has a new office in Salaga.  Every two weeks, I go to Salaga to monitor the villages CWS works in around there. I go to make sure all is well with our women entrepreneurs and their water businesses. Which is fun!

2.Dust

Peter and Brianan covered in the Harmattan dust outside of their favorite Salaga restaurant 4A’s

Every time I’m in Salaga, I monitor the 3 Salaga villages: Kideng, Kabache and Tunga. I monitor with Eric and Brianan in Mr. Suli’s taxi. The Salaga villages are almost the same as the Tamale villages, the houses look the same and the people farm as many villagers do for a living.  The difference between the Tamale villages and the Salaga villages are the languages spoken. People in the Tamale villages only speak Dagbanni, but the Salaga villages speak three or four languages. This is because most of the villages in Salaga are farming communities and different tribes move there to farm. Some of the languages spoken in the Salaga villages are Gonjan,Dagbanni, Checosi, Twi and Howsa.

4.Eric and Peter Tunga

Peter and Eric sit with Fulera and Azara, water business entrepreneurs in the Salaga village of Kideng

One thing I enjoy is the 3-hour bus ride from Tamale to Salaga. The road looks like it is getting better, so you don’t get too bored on the bus. Wow it always is great to me when I get to the bus station and find out that I have a nice seat. The best seats are the ones numbered 1-18, where you sit close to the window. The worst seats are the ones numbered 20-30 where you sit on a folding seat in the middle, which is very uncomfortable! The bus makes a lot of stops for people to get down, like people having to buy food, people having to pee or people leaving the bus for their stop. So the people sitting in the middle have to wake up and get down for all of these stops. I usually wait 10-30 minutes at the bus station before we leave. I take advantage and run and get some food before we depart.  I love when the cool air blows through the window when the bus starts to move.

1.Clean water

Clean drinking water from a CWS water business

The people in Salaga are awesome.  There is an egg and bread seller at the bus station who has good food. People in the villages are lovely too, the kids are smart and cute. So I feel at home anytime I am in Salaga. I always love to go to the restaurants after a long day of monitoring like the Maridon Hotel and 4A’s. The food is always good. This is what’s on the menu: fried rice, plain rice and jolof rice, I always go for the fried rice.

I am so excited to work in Salaga because it makes me feel like CWS is doing a very great job of bringing clean water not only to communities in Tamale but now also to communities in Salaga. I feel so good about this. I am proud of myself to be part of a team that is doing such an awesome job. I love my job! I hope that CWS will continue to reach out to all those who are in need of clean drinking water in rural villages all over the world.  And I hope to be part of the team as it is growing, taking on more responsibilities as one of the leaders of CWS. Thanks.

-Peter

3.Eric and Peter fix PT

Eric and Peter fix the leaking polytank in Kideng

Season Changeover Stimulates Water Business Sales

Customers!

Happy customers on their way home from buying water from Amina and Massamata’s water business in Galinzegu!

The rains “are finished” as Ghanaians would say, which means CWS water treatment centers are back in business! In the rainy season, which lasts from June- October in the Northern Region of Ghana, CWS communities collect rainwater. Rainwater is plentifully and freely available in these months, so community members opt for free drinking water instead of paying the $.05 to fill their 20 L containers at the water treatment center.

200 L drums

Rainwater collected in 200 L yellow drums in the village of Gidanturi. While this water is safe for using for household chores, it is easily contaminated. People need to open the lid and dip a scooping bucket in to fetch the water. Contamination alert!

Now that the rains have stopped, the only available clean water source in CWS communities is for people to buy water from the centers. The only other water available for drinking would be stored rainwater in 200 L blue drums or clay pots (not safe for drinking), stored rainwater in cement rainwater catchment tanks (not safe for drinking), stored rainwater in hand dug wells (not safe for drinking) or dugout/stream water (definitely not safe for drinking).

While the answer seems obvious (they should go to the center!), it’s not that simple. The entrepreneurs have not been regularly treating water and the community members have not been regularly buying water. So this limbo period is always an adjustment for CWS communities. As CWS Assistant Project Manager Shak put it, ” It’s no longer raining. So this is just our biggest challenge for the next month, getting people used to buying water again. ”

Local well unsafe!

A “local well” in Kabache/Kasawuripe. This is the water the entrepreneurs have been treating in this community. It is not groundwater and is easily contaminated with human and animal waste… aka do not drink!

Behavior change isn’t easy. And that’s what CWS is focusing on in transitioning from the rainy to the dry season. Changing the entrepreneurs’ behavior so they incorporate water treatment and selling water into their daily routines and changing the consumers’ behavior, so they get used to coming to buy water.

Wahab monitoring

CWS Field staffer Wahab making household surveying look easy.

In most communities, this transition is seamless. For example, in Kpanayili where the entrepreneurs now use a metal polytank stand to move the center from the various water sources throughout the year, their water business is operating with high sales! Field staffer Wahab is in charge of the monitoring and evaluation for Kpanayili. He reported on November 20, 2013, “It was such a happy day, seeing Kpanayili’s center up and running after the rains.” Last year, community members took their sweet time transitioning back to using the center and this year, they haven’t missed a beat.

But in other communities, the transition has not been so seamless. For example, in Nyamaliga, the community relies solely on rainwater throughout the rainy season because their dugout path gets muddy and slippery. I along with the other staff can vouch for this as we’ve all taken a tumble trying to get to the dugout. Sana and Sofou who run the center refuse to treat water until the community members help them weed the path to the water treatment center, which means a few weeks of people not having access to clean drinking water. This baffles the CWS field staff because if the path is dry then the entrepreneurs should be able to access the dugout! CWS Project Manager Peter reported this week that the path was clear so there should be no delay in water treatment… as for that one we’ll have to report back next week.

Rainwater catchment tank

Rainwater catchment tank — CWS staff Amin and myself recently tested rainwater catchment tanks in Sakpalua, Djelo and Kpenchila. Almost every tank tested positive for total coliform and a few tested positive for e-coli. These tanks are hard to clean and the organizations that set them up do not return for testing or monitoring. We advise communities not to drink from them.

In Tohinaayili, the community decided to move their center to the town center during the rainy season to treat rainwater. This is Tohinaayili’s first transition from the rainy to the dry season, as CWS implemented here in the Winter of 2012-2013. While their polytank is not empty yet, the entrepreneurs have been lackadaisical to move it back to the dugout. The CWS field staff has seen this type of transition before and found that it takes a few seasons to get the hang of it.

Finally, the path to Gbateni was flooded all rainy season. The CWS staff had not been there since May! On November 20, 2013, CWS field staffers Amin and Peter were finally able to get there. They arrived at the center and it was empty, community members did not have clean water in their storage containers. The entrepreneurs were also not home so they could not figure out what was wrong. The staff will have to get back ASAP. Buhijaa and Chanaayili, villages that are also inaccessible to CWS staff during the rainy season, were up and running the entire season! Chanaayili even sent a message to Gidanturi mid rainy season requesting that CWS staff send aquatabs (chlorine tablets) with someone who was able to make it across the flooded road.

Amin to Gbateni

Amin trudges through the flooded path to Gbateni mid-rainy season.
metal pt stand

Shout out to the metal polytank stand which several communities are now using to move their water treatment centers from different water sources throughout the seasons

These seasonal transitions are a challenge for CWS every year. Each community adapts to the changing of seasons at a different pace. But the cool thing about CWS is that the field staff is with these entrepreneurs and communities throughout the process! The staff shows the entrepreneurs how to rally assemblymen, chiefs and queen mothers to get the communities back on track or even modifies the CWS technology (like the moveable metal polytank stands) so that these water businesses will be sustainable without staff help in the future!

-Brianán

Metal Polytank Stand Highs and Lows

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The metal polytank stand CWS entrepreneurs are now using in a number of communities. The stand allows for the water treatment centers to be moved to different water sources. 

Back in June, I wrote a blog post about metal polytank stands and how CWS was going to test them in communities that use multiple water sources. You can read that post here.

Since then,  CWS has distributed metal polytank stands to 10 different communities: Gbandu, Jarayili, Kabache/Kasawuripe, Kindeng, Kpalbusi, Kpalbusi, Libi, Tacpuli, Tindan II and Tunga. These are villages that CWS targeted because of the challenges the entrepreneurs were facing in keeping their water businesses open year round. Most of the CWS water businesses are set up next to dugouts where community members already go to get their water. Center implementation next to the dugout is ideal because when women fetch water for household use, they can buy clean drinking water from the centers without disrupting their daily routines.

Image
          Women fetch water from a typical dugout in Kadula.

But what happens when people go somewhere closer to fetch water? Well the entrepreneurs who sell water (usually) lose business. The community members living in these CWS villages are practical people with busy schedules. If the village women can save time by fetching water somewhere closer to home, they are going to make the switch and avoid the extra trek to buy clean water.

The CWS field staff observed this in a number of communities. In the transition from the dry season to the rainy season and vice versa, the level of the water sources can drastically fluctuate. In the Northern Region villages, the rains determine how much water is available. New dugouts form for short periods of time, a river can become more accessible or even hand dug wells are used to collect rainwater. With the low-tech nature of the CWS model, the women can move the location of their water businesses as long as there is water to treat.

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Children pose by a hand dug well in Kabache/Kasawuripe, where the entrepreneurs decided to move their center to treat water. 

With the help of a welder, CWS created the metal polytank stand and modified the CWS model to the changing of seasons and water levels. Some of the water businesses easily adapted to the metal polytank stands. For example, in Kpanayili, Affilua, Anatu, Fati and Zilifau used their metal polytank stand to move the center to a closer dugout that only has water in the rainy season. Their sales drastically increased when they switched water sources. In Tacpuli, Lasinche moved the water business from the dugout to a smaller dugout closer to the community. Kpanayili and Tacpuli have been operating with the new stands just as the CWS field staff envisioned. And the entrepreneurs have reaped the benefits.

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The water business owners in Kpanayili from left to right: Zilifau, Affilua, Fati and Anatu.

ImageThe smaller dugout in Tacpuli.

The entrepreneurs have lower sales during the rainy season because community members have the option to collect free, clean rainwater instead of buying water from the centers. In Libi and Kpalbusi, the rains delayed their transition to using the metal polytank stands. In Libi, the water business entrepreneur, Cheriba, banked on her community collecting rainwater in July and August because she was busy on her farm. As a result, the water business was left empty at the river where nobody goes to get water this time of year. The CWS field staff is working with her to bring the center to a closer source, so people will have the option to buy clean water when the rains stop. In Kpalbusi, Huseifa, Zilifau and Maria moved their water business from the dugout to the center of town to treat rainwater. The problem was they were not receiving enough rain to treat. Their center was empty all of July. As of the beginning of August, the entrepreneurs have moved the business to a nearby stream where they will be able to keep the center up and running until the dry season.

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An example of how water levels can change in the Northern Region. Here is a road flooded by a stream in Tamale after a heavy rain.

With the drastic change in water levels throughout the year, the CWS entrepreneurs have to alter the way they do business. This could mean treating rainwater, dealing with the change in sales from the dry season peaks to the rainy season lows, or even moving location. In the past, CWS has found that it can take a year of dealing with these challenges for the entrepreneurs to become familiar with the way their individual businesses operate. The metal polytank stands are going to be added to this equation of business operations. The entrepreneurs are going to have to ask themselves: When should we move the centers? Where are people going to fetch water? What location will bring in the highest sales? Who can I find to help us move the centers? This will take some getting used to. But the metal polytank stands should help in keeping these businesses open year round, which is the end goal after all.

-Brianán

Voices from the Field: Team Eric (Fellow Alums, Brigid & Caroline)

Brigid, Eric & Caroline!

Brigid, Eric & Caroline!

We’re so excited to be back in Ghana! Since we are returning to the fellowship program, our team consists of just the two alums and our amazing translator, Eric. After saying goodbye to the other fellows and translators, we arrived in Salaga on Tuesday with the rest of the team. Our first visit to our village, Kasawuripe, on Wednesday was a success as we met with the chief and planned to return the next day for a village meeting. We were thrilled to present the CWS model to the community and they were enthusiastic about partnering with us. Today we began constructing the treatment center and brought a movable metal polytank stand to the village so that they can move the polytank to their alternative water source in the months when their dugout dries out. The community has a great school and we especially look forward to educating all the kids on the importance of clean water and playing the CWS healthy habits game and other fun activities to encourage to drink healthy water. Tomorrow we’ll begin training the women and distributing the safe storage containers and we hope to have our opening day on Wednesday! After spending just a couple days beginning the project and playing with the kids of the village we’re so excited to be spending the next week opening the water business in Kasawuripe!

-Brigid & Caroline

Brigid with the kiddos

Brigid with the kiddos