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May Monitoring Report

May Monitoring Screenshot

Villages visited:

 Week 1:

 Gbung, Chongashe, Libi, Jarayili, Kushini, Kpalbusi, Gidanturu, Chanaayili, Original Kabache, Indigenous Kabache, Kideng, Tunga, Laligu, Kpalyn, Yepalsi, Jangbarigiyili, , Zanzugu, Zanzugu Yepala, Changyili, Balomposo, Tijo, Tindan I, Kpalguni I, Chandanyili, Jagberin, Sagbaragu, Gundaa, Namdu I, Namdu II, Warvi, Kpaliga, Chihigu, Galinkpegu, Naha, Cheshagu, Futa, Kpalguni II, Wovugumani, Wovugu, Manguli II, Janakpen, Gbruma, Takpili, Chani, Cheko, Kpanshegu, Komlanyili, Yepala, Bamvim, Kpenchila, Komonaayili, Kulaa, Moya, Kudula, Voghyili, Djelo, Manguli I, Kuldanali, Bogu, Tindan II, Nekpegu, Kalinka, Tohinayili, Gurumanchayili, Gbandu.

 

Week 2:

 Sabonjida, Tunga, Kideng, Chanaayili, Gidanturu, Kpalbusi, Jarayili, Gbung, Libi, Chongashe, Kushini, Kpalyn, Yepalsi, Laligu, Zanzugu, Zanzugu Yepala, Yakuru, Jabayili, Wambong, Garizegu, Changyili, Jangbarigiyili, Balomposo, Warvi, Chihigu, Cheshagu, Galinkpegu, Naha, Tindan I, Tijo, Sagbarigu, Jagberin, Chandanyili, Kpalguni, Namdu I, Namdu II, Gundaa, Tapkli, Chani, Cheko, Nyamalga, Jarigu, Komlanyili, Yepala, Kpanshegu, Bamvim, Kpenchila, Sakpalua, Kudula, Vogyili, Dundo, Gurumanchayili, Djelo, Buhijaa, Manguli I, Moya, Kulaa, Tohinaayili, Nekpegu, Kalinka.

 

Week 3:

 Gidanturu, Kushini, Libi, Jarayili, Chanaayili, Chongashe, Tunga, Kideng, Original Kabache, Indigenous Kabache, Balomposo, Galizengu, Yakuru, Kpalyn, Laligu, Wambong, Kuruguvuhuyayili, Kagbal, Changyili, Jangbarigiyili, Namdu I, Namdu II, Gundaa, Warvi, Chihigu, Naha, Kpachiyili, Kpaliga, Sagbarigu, Kpalguni I, Chandanyili, Jagberin, Tijo, Tindan I, Jarigu, Nyamalga, Cheko, Chani, Tapkli, Komlanyili, Yepala, Futa, Kpalguni II, Kpenchila, Bamvim, Kpanshegu, Manguli I, Buhijaa, Djelo, Vogyili, Kudula, Kulaa, Moya, Kpanayili, Gbandu, Garizegu, Gurumanchayili, Bogu, Tindan II, Kuldanali.

Week 4:

 

Gbung, Libi, Jarayili, Kpalbusi, Gidanturu, Chanaayili, Kushini, Chongashe, Kideng, Tunga, Sabonjida, Zanzugu, Zanzugu Yepala, Jangbarigiyili, Jabayili, Yakura, Galizengu, Balomposo, Changyili, Yepala, Kpalung, Laligu, Kagbal, Kpalguni, Chandanyili, Jagberin, Sagbarigu, Tijo, Tindan, Warvi, Chihigu, Cheshagu, Kpachiyili, Namdu, Namdu II, Bamvim, Kpanshegu, Yepala, Jarigu, Komlanyili, Chani, Cheko, Kpalguni II, Futa, Gburma, Janakpen, Jarigu, Wovugumani, Wovugu, Kpanayili, Kalinka, Nekpegu, Tohinaayili, Komonaayili, Kulaa, Kudula, Vogyili, Moya, Tindan II, Bogu, Kuldanali, Buhijaa, Djelo.

Successes

 We are happy to report that, once again, 80% of our households had clean water in their safe storage containers. We are very excited about this number and look forward to seeing it increase further! This month, there were a number of communities with high water sales. These villages include: Nekpegu, Chihigu, Vogyili, Kagbal, Balomposo, Wambong, Galinkpegu, Kideng, Gidanturu, Futa and Komonaayili. We are especially impressed with Chihigu, Galinkpegu, Futa, and Kombonaayili because they were recently implemented this past winter. Two of our solar communitites, Chandanyili and Wambong, had high solar sales this month. Although they don’t currently have bank accounts, Sagbarigu, Chadanyili, Kpalguni, Gundaa, Namdu I and Namdu II plan on opening bank accounts very soon!

Challenges

Although some communities have received rain, the following communities still have very low dugouts: Djelo, Buhijaa Tindan I, and Chandanyili. When the dugouts fill back up, women entrepreneurs are encouraged to inform their community that their centers are regularly running again. This month, Namdu II, Kuldanali, Manguli II, and Djelo had polytank issued that were fixed by our full time staff. Most polytank issues are leaks from the tap, which can be fixed with new parts or just glue and tape! Additionally, Gundaa’s solar center had a leak in the roof that had to be immediately fixed and Jangbarigiyili experienced loose wires after a storm that were fixed with the help of our full time staff. Sagbarigu informed Wahab that they were not given any spare batteries after implementation of their solar business. Businesses are given 10% extra batteries for their solar centers to use as others are charging. Wahab plans to bring these to the women entrepreneurs as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Sanatu makes sales in Kpenchilla. The polytank was leaking but Eric helped fix the problem

Sanatu makes sales in Vogyili.

 

"Sun was scortching, so I brought the polytank under some shade to fix" - Eric in Kpenchila

“Sun was scorching, so I brought the polytank under some shade to fix” – Eric in Kpenchila

 

"Bought some aquatabs" - Eric monitors

“Ramatu bought some aquatabs” – Eric monitors Nekpegu
Scooping water to treat for sales in Kpaligini

Scooping water to treat for sales in Kpaligini

 

"Drinking some clean water and feeling refreshed" - from Eric, monitoring

“Drinking some clean water and feeling refreshed” – from Eric, monitoring

 

The community of Vogyili reinforces their dugout in the hope that it will hold more water this rainy season (background). In the foreground, kids pose with Eric

The community of Vogyili reinforces their dugout in the hope that it will hold more water this rainy season (background). In the foreground, kids pose with Eric
Solar center in Sakpalua

Solar center in Sakpalua , run by Damu (above and below)

 

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"Tindan I water is running very low pray for rain to come" - Wahab in Tindan I

“Tindan I water is running very low pray for rain to come” – Wahab in Tindan I
Arishetu and Dahiyatu, entrepreneurs in Tindan I

Arishetu and Dahiyatu, entrepreneurs in Tindan I

 

Household visit in Tindan I, as Wahab monitors there

Household visit in Tindan I, as Wahab monitors there

 

"This family said they are happy to have a access to clean water at the community" - Wahab monitors in Naha

“This family said they are happy to have a access to clean water at the community” – Wahab monitors in Naha

 

"Household monitoring, though this house was my favorite household on this day. I found out that they have six safe storage containers in the house" - Wahab monitors at Galikpegu

“Household monitoring, though this house was my favorite household on this day. I found out that they have six safe storage containers in the house” – Wahab monitors at Galikpegu

 

A new compound in Galinkepgu. Wahab, who monitors here, gave the family a safe storage container so that they could start purchasing clean water from the treatment center

A new compound in Galinkepgu. Wahab, who monitors here, gave the family a safe storage container so that they could start purchasing clean water from the treatment center.

 

"Household vist" - Wahab monitors

“Household vist” – Wahab monitors
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“I found dugout water in someone’s bucket at Galikpegu” – Saha’s policy is that safe storage containers can only be used for safe drinking water, so if our staff comes across dugout water while monitoring, the family needs to dump it out and wash the container thoroughly if they are interested in continuing to use it for clean water. This is what the long-term challenges of behavior change look like!

 

"Household visit with a full bucket of clean water"

“Household visit with a full bucket of clean water”

 

"This family is being doing good making sure they have enough clean water in the house so that those who come to their house would not drink dugout water by accident" - Wahab montiors Gundaa

“This family is being doing good making sure they have enough clean water in the house so that those who come to their house would not drink dugout water by accident” – Wahab monitors Gundaa

 

 

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Sometimes figuring out the water-proof backing to these lanterns can be tricky!

Sometimes figuring out the water-proof backing to these lanterns can be tricky!

 

Amin arrives for sales at Futa

Amin arrives for sales at Futa

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Household visits in Chanaayili - the business here was implemented in Jan 2011 and is still going strong!

Household visits in Chanaayili – the business here was implemented in Jan 2011 and is still going strong!

 

"Kpalbusi calling" - a photo from Peter's monitoring

“Kpalbusi calling” – a photo from Peter’s monitoring

 

"Today I met up with Nma Nimpaga at Komlanyili at their dugout. She was happy they now have water at their dugout so they don't have to move the center back and forth"

“Today I met up with Nma Nimpaga at Komlanyili at their dugout. She was happy they now have water at their dugout so they don’t have to move the center back and forth”
The team gathers at the Saha office for our weekly Friday meeting!

The team gathers at the Saha office for our weekly Friday meeting!

 

"Fati putting the batteries on charge" - from Wahab's monitoring

“Fati putting the batteries on charge” – from Wahab’s monitoring

 

Chihigu's new dugout after the rains

Chihigu’s new dugout after the rains

 

Fatima, an entrepreneur in Namdu 2, just had a new baby. Her name is Barikisu! Amarraba!

Fatima, an entrepreneur in Namdu 2, just had a new baby. Her name is Barikisu! Amarraba!

 

"This woman is from Chihigu and she is happy having access to clean water at the community" - from Wahab's monitoring in May

“This woman is from Chihigu and she is happy having access to clean water at the community” – from Wahab’s monitoring in May

Meet Our Entrepreneurs: Damu from Sakpalua

Sakpalua- DamuDamu hails from Kpalbe. When she was in her teens, Damu  went to live with her aunt in Sakpalua where she later got married and now lives. Damu has two sons and 9 grandchildren!

The water treatment center in Sakpalua was implemented in April 2012 thanks to the help of Fall Field Reps Nick, Rich, Colleen and Chelsea. Damu was selected as one of the women to run the business. A part from running the water business Damu also farms groundnuts and cowpea, an indigenious legume. “I was happy to be part of the process for my community to get safe clean drinking water,” Damu told Saha manager, Eric.

In April of 2014 Kate, Saha’s Executive Director, and Sam, Saha’s Director of Operations, approached Sakpalua about implementing a solar charging business to give source of electricity to the entire community. Sakpalua’s charging business was a one of the pilots for the new solar project and was Saha’s third solar business to open. “I was excited to later be brought solar. Now our kids can read at night and all the compounds have lights when it is dark. I am proud of that,” Damu said.

Since the solar business has been implemented, Damu runs the water and solar businesses with three other women in the community so that they are all able to still tend to their farms.

2014 Fall Program Kicks Off!

It is crazy to think we had all just arrived in Ghana just 6 days ago for the Fall Global Leadership Program! The Field Reps have literally hit the ground running! This Fall Program is different from other programs because it is just two weeks, compared to the three-week Winter and Summer Programs. In order to shorten the time spent in Ghana, the Fall Field Reps did all of their orientation in the States via webinar, logging in from California, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. This program we have two teams, a Water and Solar Team. The solar team consists of Anne, Terry & Shak, and the water team consists of Leah, Logan, Alfonso & Wahab!

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All the Field Reps arrived into Accra last Wednesday. The next morning we took a flight up to Tamale with enough time to make it out to the field that afternoon! We arrived safely, dropped our bags off at Gillbt, hopped into a taxi and were off for a site visit to Kurugu Vohoyili. Kurugu Vohoyili is a community of about 23 households and has both a water treatment center and solar charging center business. We first stopped off at the dugout to check out the water treatment center and then headed into the community to try and meet up with the entrepreneurs, Ayi and Fusiena.

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2014-11-07 09.30.07Friday was an early start as we loaded back into taxis and headed off to Sakpalua to visit another site and get a feel for monitoring.

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That afternoon we met at back at the Saha Global office for some lab, alum, and solar training. All the field reps have been on top of their training which is awesome to see because they just had two days in Tamale before they approached their new communities.
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Both teams had extremely successful first visits to the new communities! The implementations have really taken off with community meetings and constructing! Word from our Fall Field Reps soon! 2014-11-09 10.34.06

Voices from the Field: Our First Solar Fellows!

Hey! It’s Linda, Lucas, Nick, and Sarah, the CWS Solar Fellows. After arriving to Tamale, we were surprised with a scavenger hunt around the city to get to know the locals, places, and culture on a more intimate level. During the 2 hour time frame, we ran around the market looking for things like dried hibiscus flowers, one calabash, and one piece of fabric with the U.S. flag on it. We then went around the Cultural Center trying to convince locals to dance with us to Pharell’s “Happy” while being recorded on video. Next, we needed to take a picture on the Tamale Football Stadium field. We discovered upon arrival that the Ghana vs. Sierra Leone game was in session and wondered how to cross that off the checklist. After sweet-talking the guard, he allowed us to watch the game from the field. Nick's Happy Shimmy

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Team Solar!: Linda, Lucas, Nick, and Linda at the Tamale Soccer Stadium

Yesterday, we headed out to the field for this first time this trip! We visited Sakpalua, where we monitored both the water and solar businesses, which are run by four women, including the two water entrepreneurs Lydia and Damu. Unfortunately, Damu was unable to meet with us because she was in another village attending a funeral. In particular, it was great for Nick to be back in the village that he implemented on his first Fellowship. He played mancala with the children and hung out with his friends Simeon, Zizu, and the Pastor. He also got to take a picture in front of the CWS sign with the children of Sakpalua. 

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It was the first time that any of us were able to see an implemented solar charging center and it was great to see that everything has been running smoothly. The women seemed to be in good spirits and had been doing a great job of keeping track of sales at the business. When we asked if there had been any problems at the center, they did mention a suspicious “whirring” noise coming from the Genset. After thinking about it for a few seconds, we realized that what they were talking about was the fan that keeps all of the components cool. When we explained this to the women, they were very relieved and let us know that there weren’t any other issues with the center.

After monitoring households in Sakpalua, we made the short drive to Wambong – another CWS solar village. The entrepreneurs in Wambong had been experiencing good sales as well, and the households we monitored said they enjoyed having easing and affordable access to cell phone charging. As in Sakpalua we monitored the households for water as well and were encouraged to hear so many stories of improved health for families and their children.

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After a successful first day in the field, we had the chance to learn how the components of the solar center worked and how everything should be connected. This made us all really excited for tomorrow, as it will be our first day in Yepalsi, where will be spending the next few weeks implementing a new solar charging business.

Light it UP!

My apologizes for the lack of blog updates recently! If you follow Community Water Solutions on Facebook and Instragram, you probably understand why the blog has been radio-silent: we have been busy, busy, busy, bringing solar power to another community! That’s right, in 3 weeks Sam, Shak, Wahab and I implemented not one, but TWO solar businesses which provide electricity to over 1,000 people. It’s been a crazy-fun learning experience! First let’s pick up where we left off in Sakpalua…

Success in Sakpalua

I think the photos in our last blog post really tell it all – opening night in Sakpalua was a big success! Lydia, Damu, Fuseina, and Saramatu were awesome. Two ladies posted-up by the sales door to collect payments and record sales while the other two ladies took batteries out of the chargers and immediately replaced them with a new set to get charging. The business completely sold out of charged batteries within the first 30 minutes! The Burro batteries must be rented out directly from their chargers because as soon as they are removed, they start to loose little bit of their charge. Since,the Genset can only charge 60 batteries at a time, the ladies could only sell those 60 batteries (20 lanterns worth) at once before waiting for another batch to charge up.

Fuesina in re-chargable battery heaven!

Fuesina in re-chargable battery heaven!

We were hopeful that another round of 60 batteries could charge quickly, so we decided to play some videos that we had taken in the community to distract customers while they were waiting. We plugged our projector into the Genset and projected the videos on the side of the solar center. It was a big hit!

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Unfortunately, after 45 minutes of waiting, the next round of batteries still weren’t charged. So, the ladies closed up shop and told the remaining customers to come back in the morning. This often happens on our water business opening days as well.  Since it’s the very first day of sales, it’s the only time that every single family in the community will need water or batteries all at the same time. After opening night, demand starts to spread out as different families use their lanterns more/less (or drink more/less water). The remaining customers in Sakpalua totally understood and came back the next day to rent their batteries!

After opening night, things continued to go well in Sakpalua. By the end of the first week, the ladies had charged over 60 cell phones and rented out over 140 batteries! They also started buying lanterns from us at cost (16 GHC) and selling them for 18 GHC to families both in Sakpalua and in neighboring villages. In that first week, the women had made a profit of over 50 GHC (~ 25 USD). Considering that most families in Sakpalua live on less than 2 USD/day, that’s a pretty great first week of business!

Saramatu, Damu, Lydia and Fuseina posing by the solar business after their first week of sales

Saramatu, Damu, Lydia and Fuseina posing by the solar business after their first week of sales
Damu by the water business in Sakpalua. Water sales are staying strong! Damu and Lydia were planning their first water-training for Fuseina and Saramatu that night!

Damu by the water business in Sakpalua. Water sales are staying strong! Damu and Lydia were planning their first water-training for Fuseina and Saramatu that night!

New Solar Business in Chani

After an exciting night in Sakpalua, we were up bright and early the next day to head to our next solar village, Chani for our chief meeting! Longtime CWS supporters will remember Chani from our Indiegogo video last spring – it’s a rural village about an hour outside of Tamale in the East Gonja District. Our movie-star water entrepreneur, Salamatu, and her partner Munera, have done an amazing job of running their water business, which opened in January 2011. Chani has always been a model CWS partner-community, with consistent water sales throughout the year. We knew they would be a perfect candidate for our next solar pilot![vimeo 61806019 w=500 h=281]

We arrived in Chani to learn that the chief had recently died, and so instead of a small meeting with the elders, the community wanted to have a big community-wide meeting. It was great! Sam, Wahab, and I explained the concept of the solar business and everyone was on board and excited. The village decided right away that they wanted Salamatu and Munera to run the solar business as well since they are the “most hardworking women in the community and know how to count well.” Done and done! So far all 4 of our solar communities have chosen the water women to run the solar businesses too. It’s been very interesting to see that decision made!

Building the solar charging center in Chani went very smoothly. Both men and women from the community were very helpful. Not to toot our own horns, but Sam and I both agree that this is the nicest-looking solar center that CWS has built so far! 

Preparing the gravel to build the solar center

Preparing the gravel to build the solar center
Mixing the clay

Mixing the clay
Working hard or hardly working?

Working hard or hardly working?
Laying the first row of bricks

Laying the first row of bricks
After the first day of building

After the first day of building – see if you can spot some of these kids Lucy’s photo in the next paragraph!
Even small children helped to plaster the building!

Even small children helped to plaster the building!
The finished solar charging center in Chani! What a beauty!

The finished solar charging center in Chani! What a beauty!

Training the women and distributing lanterns also went off without any hiccups. After 3 years of running the water business, Salamatu and Munera are very comfortable working together. They have a very funny dynamic! Sam and I had so much fun with the children in Chani. It was really cool to see the kids that Lucy had photographed 1.5 years ago. We have been using these pictures for all of our PR materials, so those little faces have been ingrained in our memories. It was amazing to see how everyone had grown up so much! 

Lucy's photo from Chani in January 2013 - Can you spot some familiar faces from the photo above with Sam and I! Kudus, Sadik, Wasila, Wahanna were just a few of the kiddos that we recognized right away!

Lucy’s photo from Chani in January 2013 – Can you spot some familiar faces from the photo above with Sam and I? Kudus, Sadik, Wasila, Wahanna were just a few of the kiddos that we recognized right away!
Lantern distribution

Lantern distribution
So excited to receive their lantern!

So excited to receive their lantern!
Ready for opening night!

Ready for opening night!

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Salamatu hooking the Genset up to the solar panels

Salamatu hooking the Genset up to the solar panels

After a very smooth implementation, we were very excited for opening night, which was scheduled for Saturday, April 19th. Unfortunately, when we rolled into the village that night, we hit our first major implementation roadblock: nothing was working! When we left Chani 4 hours earlier, the Genset was on, the sun was shining down on the solar panels, and all of the battery chargers were plugged in. When we returned, the Genset was off, the chargers were off, and the batteries were not charged. Shak, the electrician by nature and the most experienced with our solar charging stations, immediately got to work taking apart the system and investigating the problem. While he was doing that, I called up our partners at Burro, who we bought the Genset from. After about 30 minutes, we all realized that the problem was something major that would not be able to be fixed that night.

The problem with the Genset was very disappointing for a couple reasons. First and foremost, the entire village was out waiting for rent their batteries and charge their phones. Chani had been wanting access to electricity for so long and it was so hard to tell them that they would have to wait, even though it would only be a few days. People in these communities are VERY used to foreign NGOs making big promises and never following through. Even though we have worked with Chani for over 3 years, and they trust our partnership, it was still heartbreaking to pull away that night, with all of our equipment in-hand when we had promised electricity that night. The other reason this was particularly disappointing was that it was a holiday weekend, which meant that there was no way the Genet could get fixed before Sam and I had to leave for the States. In the grand scheme of things, opening night isn’t about us at all – it’s about Salamatu, Munera and the families in Chani. But, after 3 weeks of 4:45 am wakeup calls, without one day off, we were bummed to miss opening night.

The reality is, things like this happen ALL of the time when you are working in development. The fact that our other 3 previous pilot implementations had all gone smoothly is the exception, not the rule. This problem in Chani gave our team some great experience in learning how to to deal with Genset issues. If this happens during a Fellowship Program, we will be prepared! Burro, was also great to work with and proved to be very committed to getting us a working Genset. They were available to our team any time of day, despite their holiday weekend and one of their re-sellers in Tamale ended up being the guy to fix the problem. The issue ended up being a faulty inverter, which Burro replaced for us. There was nothing that our team, or the ladies in Chani had done wrong in setting up the system – it was simply a bad part.

Shak and Wahab did a great job working with Burro and communicating with Chani. The following Wednesday, opening night part 2 went off without a hitch! Every household in Chani rented batteries for their lanterns and some brought their cell phones as well. Salamatu and Munera were really excited and no one seemed upset that opening night was delayed. Brianan’s family was in town to visit her and they all got to come out for the opening – it was great to have such a big crowd there to celebrate! A BIG THANKS, again, to Next Step Living for funding the start-up cost of the solar businesses in Kurugu Vohoyili, Sakpalua, and Chani!

Opening night part two! Brianan, Munera, Salamatu, and Shak

Opening night part two! Brianan, Munera, Salamatu, and Shak
Eric showing a new customer how to put her rented batteries into the lantern.

Eric showing a new customer how to put her rented batteries into the lantern.
Munera and Salamatu after an awesome opening! These ladies are the best!

Munera and Salamatu after an awesome opening! These ladies are the best!

In 3 short weeks, Sam and I will be returning to Ghana with 46 water Fellows and our first-ever team of solar Fellows. We can’t wait to get back to Tamale and run our biggest-ever Summer Fellowship!

-Kate

Lanterns for Everyone!

Sam and I have been having a blast in Sakpalua this week! I hope that you all enjoyed the video of building the solar center. Since then, the village has helped us plaster the building and install the solar panels. It looks great!

Connecting the solar panels to poles.

Connecting the solar panels to poles.

Once the solar center was all set up, we started training the women entrepreneurs. The village nominated 4 women to work at the center: Lydia & Damu – the two water entrepreneurs; and Fuseina & Saramatu – two new ladies! We were so thrilled that the elders nominated 4 women because it means that this great income-generating opportunity could be shared. Lydia and Damu are also planning to show Fuseina and Saramatu how to run the water business, so all four of them can manage both businesses together. Sam and I think that its going to work out really well!

Saramatu, Lydia, Damu, Sam, Fuseina, and me

Saramatu, Lydia, Damu, Sam, Fuseina, and me

On Wednesday, Sam, Shak and I showed the ladies how to hook up the battery to the inverter, and then the solar panels to the battery (through the Burro Genset which also has a charge controller). They caught on very quickly and were pros before we knew it!

Lydia connecting the two solar panels to each other while Damu and Fuseina watch and learn

Lydia connecting the two solar panels to each other while Damu and Fuseina watch and learn.
Damu connects the battery to the inverter.

Damu connects the battery to Genset which houses a inverter and charge controller.

When we returned to Sakpalua this morning, we had the ladies de-wire the whole system and put it back together again without our instruction. They nailed it!

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Fuseina connects the solar panels to the Burro Genset while her granddaughter sleeps on her back. She is the ultimate working mom!

After finishing up our training with the women, Sam, Shak and I distributed the Burro lanterns to the families in Sakpalua. These lanterns usually retail for 20 GHC (about 9 USD) but each family had the chance to “opt in” to the solar program by buying a lantern for 1 GHC.  If they decided to pay 1 GHC, each family received 1 lantern to share. They can buy more at retail price from the women entrepreneurs at any time. Every family that we visited opted into the program and they were all so excited to receive a lantern!

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Sam getting ready to distribute some lanterns! It was a long day in the sun, but we had a a great time!
We spoke to each family to and showed them how to use the lanterns and explained how the solar business would work.

We spoke to each family, showed them how to use the lanterns and explained how the solar business would work.

 

Sam and Shak distributing more lanterns!

Sam and Shak distributing more lanterns!

Each lantern uses 3 rechargeable batteries that people in Sakpalua can rent from the ladies at the solar business for 10 pewas (about 5 cents) each. The batteries should last about a week, depending on how often each family uses their lantern. When the batteries lose their charge, people can return them to the solar center and get “fresh” ones for 10 peswas each. Just like Kurugu Vohoyilli and Wambong, people can also charge their cell phones at the solar center for 50 peswas each (about 23 cents). The ladies in Sakpalua decided that they wanted to charge the same price to charge a cell phone as the people in their village pay in Tamale. Fuseina noted that if people are willing to travel for over an hour to charge their phone for 50 peswas in Tamale, they should be happy to avoid the travel and same the same price in the village! We will see how sales go, but so far everyone seemed satisfied with the price when we explained it during distribution. Gotta love Fuseina’s supply-and-demand theory!

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Sam shows the chief of Sakpalua how to use his new Burro lantern!
The "Sakpaluanayilli" family poses for a picture with their new lantern!

The Sakpaluanayilli family poses for a picture with their new lantern! Their family name is the same name as the village because their father/grandfather was a former chief!

The only hiccup that we ran into today was that the roof of the solar center was leaking. Shak and I will be bringing a carpenter tomorrow morning to fix it so that we will be all ready for opening night tomorrow night! While we are fixing the roof, Sam will be going to Chani with Wahab to hold a meeting with the chief about bringing a solar business to their community. If all goes well, two new villages and over 1,000 people will gain access to solar electricity this month! A HUGE thank you to Next Step Living for supporting CWS’ expansion into solar. We could not do any of this work without you!

Me and Sam with our Burro Lanterns! We have both been LOVING getting back in the field!

Me and Sam with our Burro Lanterns! We have both been LOVING getting back in the field!

 

 

 

Solar in Sakpalua!

Anula (good evening) from Ghana!

Sam and I arrived in Tamale on Thursday and got straight to work on our 3rd solar business pilot in the village of Sakpalua!

Sakpalua is a rural village of about 500-600 people located about an hour outside of Tamale. We first started working in this community in April 2012 when the Spring Fellows implemented a water business with Lydia and Dama, two awesome water entrepreneurs. Over the past two years, these two ladies have been working extremely hard and as a result, the water business as been a huge success! Lydia and Dama are able to solve most problems on their own and run their water business with little to no assistance from the CWS staff. Since Sakpalua is not on a main road, they will not have access to electricity anytime in the near future. They were the perfect choice for our next solar pilot!

Sam, Shak and I arrived in Sakpalua on Saturday morning for our first meeting with the chief and elders. We learned that most families in the village were using kerosene lamps for light, but many have stopped due the the high price of kerosene. These lamps are not only extremely hazardous to health, but are also horrible for the environment. However, there are limited options other than kerosene and most families have no light in their home once the sun goes down. Many people have cell phones, but must travel all the way to Tamale and pay high prices to charge them. The chief and elders were thrilled to hear about the solar-business idea and couldn’t wait to get started!

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Meeting the the chief and elders. From L to R: Shak reads through the household list; Sam holding up a dangerous kerosene lamp and the awesome Burro lanterns that we will be distributing to the village; Shak and I explain to the Chief how the Burro lanterns use rechargeable batteries.

After returning from the village, Shak taught Sam and I how to assemble Burro’s solar Genset. The system has worked really well in Kurugu Vohoyili and we are excited to continue our partnership with Burro in this next pilot! Shak has learned so much about solar power since his first pilot with Ben and Mark in Wambong and was a fabulous teacher!

Shak teaching Sam how to connect the battery to the inverter.

Shak teaching Sam how to connect the battery to the inverter.
Sam, Yakabu, Kate and Shak testing out the solar panels - everything worked on our first try!

Sam, Yakabu, Kate and Shak testing out the solar panels – everything worked on our first try!

Today we started building the structure for the solar business. We used all local materials found in the village and almost 50 people came out to help build! Tomorrow we put on the roof, plaster the walls and then will bring the solar panels on Monday!

-Kate

Gathering bricks

Laying the first layer of clay bricks
All of the bricks that we used for the solar center were recycled from old houses that had collapsed in the last rainy season

All of the bricks that we used for the solar center were recycled from old houses that had collapsed in the last rainy season
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Sam and I mixing up some clay
One of my favorite parts of the day was watching women from the village walk by on their way to fetch clean water from the water business!

One of my favorite parts of the day was watching people from the village walk by on their way to fetch clean water from the water business!
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Half-way done!
Celebrating a great day of building with all of the helpers from Sakpalua!

Celebrating a great day of building with all of the helpers from Sakpalua!
Cheers!

Cheers!

 

To Be a Woman is Not Easy

When I was grocery shopping in Tamale a few weeks ago, I came across a woman selling bread at a food stand with a banner written across the top that read, “To be a woman is not easy”. Almost all the shops in Tamale have storefront names with powerful and sometimes silly sayings such as this one. To give you some examples,  “Everything by God”, “Serious Man Hot Food”, “Jesus Loves You Barber Shop” or “Home Sweet Home Kenkey”. The names usually make me chuckle but this one made me think.

Zenabu and her husband in Buhijaa

Zenabu and her husband in Buhijaa

I immediately thought of the women entrepreneurs that run the water treatment centers in the CWS communities. They are the complete embodiment of this very shop name… to be a woman is not easy in the slightest, especially in a rural village outside of Tamale.

Posing for the camera with 40 L of water on her head! - Sakpalua

Posing for the camera with 40 L of water on her head! – Sakpalua

Lydia, one of the women who runs the water business in Sakpalua, recently talked to Spring 2012 fellow, Chelsea Hodgkins, about what it means to be a woman in Sakpalua versus a woman living in Tamale. “The women in the city have it easy”, Lydia told Chelsea. “In the village, the women go to their farms very early in the morning and then are expected to come home, take care of the children then clean and cook for the family”, she continued. After hearing snippets of their conversation, I wanted to hear more about the lives of the women who run the water businesses on top of farming and taking care of their families.

A woman making shea butter in Kpanayili

A woman making shea butter in Kpanayili

Right now is one of the busiest times of the year for subsistence farmers because it is the peak of the harvest season in the Northern Region of Ghana. After the rains, everyone wants to collect their crops before it gets too dry. Some farmers leave as early as 4:00 AM so they can start working in the morning while it’s still cool. Farmers harvest groundnuts, maize, yam, soy beans, cassava, hot peppers, okra, tomatoes, rice, firewood, tobacco, cotton and cow peas to name a few. Not to mention that when it stops raining, the weddings and funerals start in the North.

So how do the women who run the water businesses find the time or the incentives to sell water during the peak of the harvest season? Well, it’s complicated.  For starters, people have run out of rainwater so the only option they have for clean water is treated water from the polytank. This means that the demand for clean water is there. And the incentive that drives many of the women to work at the centers is the same incentive that gets people to work at desk jobs back in the US, they want to make money to pay the bills. This monetary incentive has to be there because if women work at the centers strictly for the greater good of their communities, they will have no money to pay for aquatabs, broken parts or for the time they could have spent on their farms.

The beautiful Cheriba of Libi

The beautiful Cheriba of Libi

But what happens when people in the communities are collecting water from different sources? This is where the plot thickens. In Kpanayili, the people in the community are collecting water for cooking, cleaning and washing at nearby wells and streams. They will get water from these sources until they dry and then they will go back to getting water at the dugout. As noted before, the women in the communities already have long days so if they can lessen their load by shortening the walk to get water, then they will do it in a heartbeat. The problem is that the water treatment center is next to the dugout. This is not the case in all CWS communities at this time but there are several that deal with challenges such as this during the transition from the rainy season to the dry season.

The new moved and improved water treatment center - Tacpuli

The new moved and improved water treatment center – Tacpuli

So how can we convince people to make the extra walk just for clean water, while we wait for these other sources to dry? It’s not easy. While it may seem like clean water should be high on the priority list, the reality is that it’s not for everyone. Farmers are focusing on their harvest and prioritizing food over clean water because this is their sustenance. Farming is how people survive. If that means drinking contaminated water for 2 weeks so that they do not have to walk as far and as a result get more time on their farms, then they’ll take the risk.

Kusumi and her new baby girl, Fatima - Manguli

Kusumi and her new baby girl, Fatima – Manguli

In the long run, what will 2 weeks of diarrhea do if it means having more money for the family this year? If you asked this question to a public health official, they would answer A LOT. But the women working in these communities are not public health officials; they are simply trying to make their work as easy as possible. Because after all, to be a woman is not easy.

-Brianán