Blog

Countdown!

The countdown until the start of the 2011 Summer Fellowship Program is officially in single digits! The Fellowship Leaders arrive in Tamale on Sunday and the Fellows are just a few days behind them. We can’t wait!

This week I finished up my visits to all of the CWS villages,tagging along with Shak and Peter as they  checked-up on Nyamaliga, Chongashe and Gbong.

CWS' second-ever water treatment center in the village of Nyamaliga! We opened this water business in January of 2009 and its been one of our most successful businesses!

This is Gbong dugout. All of these green leaves were blown/carried by a stream into the dugout after a big rain storm a few weeks ago. It looks very very strange! Thanks to the support of iContact (Gbong's village sponsor) the community no longer has to drink from this water source!

TJ and Shak checking up on the water treatment center in Chongashe. Everything was running smoothly but the community misses Sanita, Fabiola, Eleanor and Rachel!

The Chongashe dugout. Its gotten much lower and more turbid since the Winter Fellows were here in January.

This week I also met with Unicef and a representative from the Central Gonja District Assembly who updated me on our Unicef-CWS villages, Kampong, Alipe, Mile 40, Gilanzegu, and Nyanguripe. One of Unicef’s goals in partnering with us and the Central Gonja District was to “build the capacity of the local government”. One way that we have tried to do this was to pass on the monitoring of these water businesses to the District Assembly. Handing over this responsibility to the government has been challenging for CWS because we are very invested in our communities and like to know that the water businesses are succeeding. We have learned a lot over the past three years about how to successfully monitor our businesses and are used to being the ones in control! Despite these challenges, we recognize the importance of engaging the local government and are glad that Unicef has been able to facilitate this partnership. The District reported that for the most part, these 5 villages are doing well. The few problems that they are experiencing are all things that CWS has dealt with before and we hope to help the District solve them over the next few months. A big thanks to Gerry and Judy O’Connell, the Medfield Fit Girls, The Nolan’s, The Reids, and CWS Facebook Causes Team for sponsoring these  villages – I’ll hopefully have some new pictures from them shortly!

Session 2: Days 3 and 4

The Session 2 fellows started off their third day in Tamale with a great presentation by Foster Soley from unicef, who spoke about the work his organization is doing both here in Ghana and around the world. Foster is a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) officer at unicef, who we have been working with in our unicef-cws partner villages in Central Gonja. His presentation was interesting and relevant, and the fellows asked some great questions!

 

Unicef presentation

After lunch, the teams headed out on their first trip to the field to visits some CWS sites! Team 5 went to went to Zanzugu and Gilanzegu; Team 6 checked out Chani and Nymaliga, while Team 7 when to Yipela and Nyanguripe. The fellows had a great time seeing our water treatment centers in person for the first time, and (as the pictures below show) seemed to assimilate with the villagers quite well!

 

Fabiola, TJ, Eleanor and Rachel on the bridge by Yipela - we have been experiencing the Hamattan this past week (sand blows down from the Sahara causing a dusty haze)

Annie with her new friends in the village

 

Lina in the village

Sarah peeling some cassava

Most of the fellows enjoyed playing with the children in the village, Fabiola, however, had fun hanging out with a different kind of "kid"

The next day, the teams hit the the road bright and early so they could be at the villages in time to see people buying water. After an hour or so at the water treatment centers, they then performed random household visits where they could see how the water we provide is actually stored and used in the home. They took water samples at each house, which they brought back and tested in the lab to make sure the water wasn’t being re-contaminated.

 

Catherine (ses. 1) and Karla with some Fulani women at Kpallibisi's water treatment center

Catherine , Hannah and Nate (ses. 1) monitoring water sales in Kpallibisi

Pranav getting a taste of water from polytank at Gilanzegu

Sam and Barihama, our great taxi driver, after a long day in the field!

Eleanor and some new friends in Yipela!

Rachel taking a break from household visits to pound some FuFu

Pranav and Shak at the the Gilzengu water treatment center

After a long day in the field, the fellows and I were definitely ready for a good meal. Annie’s family friend invited all 17 of us (12 Session 2 fellows, 4 Session 1 fellows and me!) over to their house for dinner and dancing. The meal was delicious (and of course the dancing was a blast!) It was an amazing experience that none of us will forget!

 

Some of our big group at dinner

Dance party!

3 Villages in 3 Weeks: Opening Day in Nyanguripe!

Thats right! Just a few short days after opening the water business in Gilanzegu, CWS opened our 10th water business in the village of Nyanguripe. This water business was sponsored by Stephen and Marie Nolan at last year’s Medfield Fundraiser. We were so excited to get it up and running! Thank you Stephen and Marie for your support!

 

The Nyanguripe dugout - this community's only source of water.

Nyanguripe is a rural village of about 280 people,  located in the Central Gonja District of Northern Region Ghana (like Kampong and Gilanzegu). Like all CWS villages, the only source of water in this community is a dugout – a fecally contaminated, turbid, surface water source that is shared with the village livestock. In addition to being our 10th village, the water business in Nyanguripe is the 3rd unicef-cws partner community.

I had a particularly good time working in Nyanguripe because I was training our two new translators, TJ and Wahab, who we recently hired to help out with the 2011 winter fellowship program.  TJ and Wahab are extremely hard-workers and fast learners. I had so much fun working with them in Nyanguripe and was impressed with how quickly they picked up on the CWS model! Here are some pictures from our work in the community:

 

 

Rolling alum balls at the Nyanguripe water treatment center.

 

Garaou filled with dugout water.

 

Water treatment training day 1: Using alum to remove turbidity from the water.

 

Nyanguripe

Water treatment training day 2: scooping the water into the polytank and treating it with chlorine

Peter and Shak came to village one day to help us distribute safe storage containers. Here is Peter securing a tap to the safe storage container.

 

Opening day at Nyanguripe! Almost every household came to fetch water (and the people that couldn't make it came the next day!)

Clean, safe, drinking water.

The beautiful CWS ladies at Nyanguripe working hard (but still having fun!) on opening day!

New CWS translator, Wahab, at Nyanguripe at opening day!

Happy customers bring home their clean drinking water in their CWS safe storage containers.

On the way to Nyanguripe we found an awesome sunflower farm! It was beautiful!

The sunflowers are being farmed for their oil.

The main reason that we were able to open in three new communities in such a short period of time is that Shak and Peter, two of our awesome Ghanaian staff members, have started leading village implementations on their own. You may remember that Peter opened his first water business in Cheko and he did a great job! We continue to be impressed with his work ethic and patience when working in the field.

After working for CWS for 8 months, we decided it was time for Shak to follow in Peter’s footsteps and start leading implementations as well. He was in charge of setting up the water business in Gilanzegu and he did an amazing job. We are very excited for Shak and are proud of how far he has come in the past 8 months! Thank you Peter and Shak for your hard work!

TJ, Shak and Wahab

Scaling-Up

Community Water Solutions implemented our first water business in June 2008 in the village of Kasaligu in the Northern Region of Ghana.

7 months later, in January of 2009, we opened our second water business in Nyamaliga.

9 months later, in October 2009 we opened our third water business Jargiu.

After a successful holiday season of fundraising and with the help of our 2010 Summer Fellows, we opened four new water businesses during the first half of 2010, in Cheko, Gbong, Gidanturu, and Wambong.

We’ve spent the past two and half years slowly expanding, learning new things from each village, and slightly modifying our approach based on these lessons. We’ve learned a lot about fundraising, about building a non-profit, and about harnessing the enthusiasm and knowledge of willing volunteers.

We still have a lot to learn.

But, we now have the experience and resources to finally start scaling-up, and we’re planning to do it quickly! There are about 900,000 people in the Northern Region of Ghana (and 884 million around the world!) without clean drinking water, and we’re really excited to start making a significant dent in that number!

This November (as in right now!) CWS is implementing three new water businesses in the villages of Kampong, Galizengu, and Nyanguripe. By the end of December, we will be in two more.  By February 2011, with the help of the 2011 Winter Fellows we will be in a total of 19 villages in Northern Region Ghana. In just three months, we are going to more than double to the amount of people we serve and we have no plans of slowing down!

Of course, the scale-up of CWS would not have been possible without your support. I would like to send out a big

THANK YOU

to everyone who has supported CWS over the past two years. We would especially like to thank the Public Service Center and the Legatum Center at MIT for funding our first two pilot villages, as well as our awesome village sponsors: Volunteer Shredding (Jarigu), iContact (Gbong), an anonymous friend (Cheko), Colleen and Jeff Clopeck (Gidanturu), The Medfield FitGirls (Kampong), Gerry and Judy O’Connell (Gilanzegu), The Nolans (Nyanguripe), The Reids (one of the villages for December), and the CWS Facebook Causes Team (the second village in December). Finally, I would also like to thank Jay Roche whose generous donation helped us to purchase the CWS Truck (without which, this scale-up would not be possible.) THANK YOU ALL!

Here are some pictures from our work over the past week in Kampong and Galinzegu. I have taken A LOT more, but the internet has been slow and sporadic, so these will have to do for now! I’ll keep trying to put more up on this blog as soon as possible!

A cow, standing in and drinking water from the Kampong dugout - the only source of drinking water in this village.

Peter and Shak building the water treatment center in Kampong

Little boys in Galinzegu who helped us build the polyank stand

Amina and Samata, the two women in Gilanzegu who will be running at the CWS water business. They are awesome! (and LOVE getting their picture taken!)

Finishing up the polytank stand in Gilanzegu.

A garaou of dugout water in Gilanzegu. This is the water that people in the village are currently drinking.