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World Water Day 2015

Every year for World Water Day, we invite some of our women entrepreneurs to our office in Tamale for a little celebration. Although many of these ladies have worked with Saha for years, they rarely get to meet other water entrepreneurs since their communities are far from each other. We love having an excuse to get some of the women together so they can share ideas, discuss issues and have fun getting to know one another. It’s one of our favorite days of the year! Read about past World Water Days here, here and here!

Since n oone from our American team was in Ghana for World Water Day this year, I’m turning the blog over to one of our managers, Eric. This is Eric’s first blog post!

Picking which women to invite to World Water Day is always a hard decision. This year, the staff sat at a meeting and decided to cast lots to pick the women to invite. All Saha Global villages were written on pieces of paper. Each staff member took turns to pick a village till we got to the number needed. The chosen villages were later visited by staff to formerly invite the women for World Water Day.

On the day of the celebration, when they got to town from their respective villages, the women called the office of their arrival. They were told to grab any available cab and directions were given to the driver and they were brought to the office.

WWD2

When the first batch of women arrived, a movie was played with the projector whilst the other were waited on. Anytime a batch came, they were served with drinks. Sachet water was also available. Later we gave the women a tour and they were excited to see their pictures displayed in the office!

WWD1

Once everyone arrived, presentations started. Peter started by welcoming the women and talked on World Water Day. It’s celebrated all over the world all in the aim of bringing awareness on the need to drink safe,clean drinking water. Wahab talked on why dugout water is not safe to drink. He talked on how the dugout gets contaminated with human and animal excrement, and also sewage from households. That causes bacteria which make people sick. I then talked on sales and savings. I explained the ways they can make sales anytime water is treated, like making an announcement at the mosque or going round households to tell people that water is ready.  I also talked about how savings is important so that parts can be fixed or replaced when spoilt. Next, Shak encouraged the women to keep up the good work. He spoke on the need to always contact the chief and elders to update them on the progress of their work. Finally, Amin finished the presentations by telling the women to keep their centers clean and attractive. He spoke on the need to keep centres up and running and finished with a poem on water.

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WWD4

WWD5

We then help lead discussions among the women. The women from Moya talked about how their village has taken the centre seriously. People come to refill their safe storage containers anytime they run out of clean water. Awabu from Kulaa said “Saha is the best!” Although other two water projects have been set up in Kulaa,the people still come to the center to refill their safe storage containers. Djelo women are happy that solar has been added to the water centre. Now at night, their kids read and do their homework. The village is now bright at night and they are grateful. Women from Laligu said how people, especially the kids, used to complain of stomach ache. But now, thanks to the water treatment center, they don’t experience such again.

After three staff members gave their presentations, we went for break. Food and drinks were served. Presentations continued after the break. After presentations,the women were thanked for making it possible. Women were given transport money. Later went out and took a group picture of the staff with the women. The cab drivers were called and and the women departed the office to their various stations. It was a great day!

WWD6
Shak, Eric, Peter, Wahab, Amin, and Mark, with Fusiena, Zelia, Azara, Zaharawu, Sharatu, Awabu, Fati, Kusumi, Memounatu, Latifa, Moshi, Memounatu, Sharatu, Fatima, Fatimatah and Hamshaw.

-Eric Angkosaala

CWS Announces Water Business Openings Live on the Radio in Tamale, Ghana

Sam, B and P
Peter, Brianan and Sam at the 89.3 Fiila FM radio station after their interview with Samiell

Today was an exciting day for Community Water Solutions: four new water treatment centers opened for business and the CWS staff were interviewed live on 89.3 Fiila FM Tamale.

It all started yesterday when CWS Director of Operations, Sam, went to the Tamale radio station Fiila FM to buy the fellows tickets to a concert they were promoting for this weekend. What started off as jokes and pleasantries with the radio broadcaster Samiell, soon turned in to a serious discussion about bringing a few members of the CWS Ghana staff in for a radio interview. Samiell informed Sam that Fiila FM aired a program that morning about the water crisis in the Northern Region of Ghana and that they would be interested in having CWS live on his show the following day.

Fiila FM

My phone rang soon after-  it was Sam,  “CWS is going to be on the radio tomorrow morning! Call Peter!”

“Wait what, how did you pull this off?” was my immediate reaction. But knowing Sam, she was serious. Peter, the CWS Project Manager for Ghana,  had been talking about getting CWS on the radio in Tamale for months now; he was going to be stoked.

In the Northern Region of Ghana, everyone listens to the radio. There are broadcasts in Dagbani and English, meaning that you do not need to be literate or need to know English in order to listen. In a recent survey from 2011 run by the Government of Ghana, UNICEF, USAID and Ghana Health Services found here: they reported that in the Northern Region 41.2% of women between the ages of 15-49 years and 62.1% of men between the ages of 15-59 years had listened to the radio in the last week of being interviewed, making it the most popular form of mass media in the Northern Region.

Sam, Peter and I got to the Fiila FM radio station at 8 am this morning. “You’ll be on in 30 minutes”, the receptionist told us. At 8:38 am we made our way in to the recording studio. Samiell, the Fiila FM broadcaster, greeted us as the host of the program. I smiled upon hearing his smooth talking, radio announcer voice as he said,  “Nice to have you Community Water Solutions”, putting extra emphasis on the end making it sound like “Soluuutions”.

Adjusting the mics
Peter and Brianan testing the mics. Testing 1-2 1-2.

We had prepped for the interview so that Peter would do the talking; Sam and I figured most people listening would be unable to understand our American accents. But Samiell wanted to hear from all of us. He asked us about CWS, what we do, where we get our funding, the districts in which we are working and about our most recently implemented communities. What a great day to be interviewed! Sam announced that as we were being broadcasted, there were four new water treatment centers opening in the communities of Dundo, Namdu, Guremancheyili and Chandanyili. Tomorrow will be the opening day for Kundanali/Yapalsi! Bringing the grand total of CWS communities up to 60!

Peter and I finished up the interview by making an announcement to all Fiila Fm listeners North of the Volta, which also applies to all of you blog readers out there: if you are living in a community without pumps, pipes, boreholes or filters drinking from a river, dam or open water source then contact CWS Project Manager Peter at (+233) 020- 639-8391.

Fiila FM pic

At the end, Samiell asked Peter to summarize the interview and final announcement in Dagbani for all the non-English speakers tuning in to the show.

Without further ado, here is the live broadcast recording. Enjoy!

Brianán


Jarayili: Results and Reflections from Abby

I’m contemplating my last two weeks in Tamale as I sip my favorite African cider, Savannah Dry, at Accra’s airport while waiting to board my flight to Johannesburg.  My time in Ghana was wonderful and I am really sad to leave. On Thursday, Peter and I went to Jarayili to present our results to the community. I was so excited! My lab tests showed that rainwater collected in Jarayili households is almost always contaminated with both total coliform and E.coli, which in turn makes rainwater entirely unsafe to drink.  In addition, my tests indicated that polytank water is very rarely contaminated, which is exciting because this means that Suayba and Awulatu are doing an excellent job as co-owners of Jarayili’s water business!

Abby in Jarayili
Abby and Peter hanging with community members in Jarayili

When I first began the project two weeks ago, I assumed rainwater would be the cleanest because it falls from the sky, whereas the polytank water comes from a muddy dugout infested with mosquitoes, total coliform, E.coli, and who knows what else.  I now realize that collected rainwater is unsafe to drink because it is highly susceptible to contamination.  For instance, one finger dipped into an entire 70-liter bucket of rainwater threatens the pureness of the water.  In addition, hygiene is poor in the village, which increases the likelihood of contaminating the rainwater.  Finally, the dugout water is treated with alum (to reduce turbidity) and chlorine (to kill contaminants), which is residual.  This means if if a single finger is dipped into a 70-liter bucket of polytank water, the residual chlorine will keep the water from being contaminated days after it was first treated.

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Peter with Suayba’s twins!

My recommendation to the community was to always buy polytank water, even throughout the rainy season. I explained to the villagers that paying for clean water may not be their first choice now, but it will benefit them in the future because medical bills for diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera are high.  They understood.  In addition, Peter and I talked to the community about the relationship between clean water, health, and hygiene.  Jarayili’s chief, elders, women, and men engaged in a lively discussion at the end of our spiel, which made me think that Peter and I made a lasting impression.  I really believe Jarayili families will prioritize clean water in the future.

Jarayili 2
Abby and Peter doing an educational presentation using salt water to show that clear water like rainwater is not always safe for drinking.

I already miss seeing Suayba’s cheery smile every morning.  I really hope I can come back to check up on Jarayili in the future!

Until next time,

-Abby

Salamatu’s Story: One Woman’s Journey to Becoming a CWS Water Entrepreneur

Community Water Solutions has some EXCITING NEWS….

This morning we launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in an effort to raise funds for our expansion in Ghana! For more details, check out our beautiful new video featuring Salamatu, one of the woman entrepreneurs in Chani, and considering supporting our cause!

Salamatu's Story

A HUGE thanks to Phil Wall for directing and producing Salamatu’s Story, Lucy Parker Randall for capturing such beautiful photographs and videos of our work in Ghana, and Pete Seibert for composing the most perfect score for this video! You guys rock our world!

World Toilet Day!

Today is World Toilet Day! This meant nothing to me about a year and half ago. “World Toilet Day? Why on earth would we celebrate this? Wahoo! I have a toilet?” Now that I frequent Ghana, it takes a whole new meaning. I now have first hand experience of Ghana’s very different toilet situation.

In the more urban areas there is a lot of open sewage which makes for some interesting smells (*insert gag). But also the public toilets are less than desireable when “taking care of business”. You pay someone about 10 cents to use an un-maintenanced toilet. To be honest, I would rather just do my business openly.

toilet day

In the more rural areas that Community Water Solutions does it’s work, the “toilet” situation hits an all time low.  Here are the two scenarios. Poo scenario: Open defecation/Bush of your choice.  Pee scenario: concrete slab with a drain. This concrete slab with a drain is in a mud hut located within their compound that is used not only for showering but urinating as well. Just to give you a visual… a compound is about 4-7 huts hosting about 8 people; typically there is a man of the household, 1-2 of his wives, and kids galore. All 8 of these people urinate in one of these huts and the urine escapes through a drain which goes right into the footpath of the village.

Many a time we are doing our household to household monitoring, stomping through this pee. Kids playing, stomping through this pee. People with no shoes, stomping through this pee. (*insert gag). It is the only option they have and though it makes sense for them, its not doing much to control their contact with urine.

The urine and the poo, all drains somewhere, their local surface water source— a river or pond! This is where Community Water Solutions’ comes in! You could call us the poo removers!

But water is just one step…Join the celebration of your toilet and increase the awareness of sanitation. Tell people—“I truly give a shit!” Because that’s what we’ll be doing!

For more info on how to get involved go to http://www.worldtoiletday.org/

-Sam

Rain Dance

Its that time of year again. The time where the storm clouds start rollingggg in, the nights cool off, and everything begins to go from brown to green. Of course the rains won’t begin in earnest for a couple months, but the dry season is definitely transitioning to wet. It couldn’t come soon enough.

This dry=>wet segue has its own unique set of challenges (remember some of our wet=>dry updates?). On one hand, as water levels get lower and lower, water quality gets more and more GROSS – we definitely see an increase in center sales at this time! Some ladies even buy treated water for washing and cooking.

Dugout water at Buhijaa

On the other hand, sometimes dugout water gets so low that there is not enough water to treat. CWS partners with communities that report having dugouts that don’t, or rarely, run dry; our work is most appropriate for these situations. However, this has been a drought year for much of Western Africa (check out a few international news articles here and here and here and here). For the first time in our operational history, we are having to deal with dry dugouts. Jagberin, Gbateni, Zanzugu Yipela, Yipela, Kushini, Kagburashe and Buhijaa have closed down center operations until the next rain (many reopened after a big storm yesterday) but until the rain starts again in full force it will be difficult for these communities to have consistent, treated water. Most are walking kilometers into the bush, or to other communities, for their water needs (Kagburashe actually gets its water from another CWS village, Chani – so treatment continues for those who want to walk!).

A little water left at Jagberin

Luckily the rainy season is just around the corner! A few big storms have blown through, giving staff the opportunity to talk to some of our newer communities about rainwater collection. Soon, too, communities whose dugouts become inaccessible (like Gbung and Libi) or who have water sources open up closer to home (like Zanzugu) will have to heave their polytanks back to town. We have also begun prepping our most remote communities, Chanaayili, Gbateni and Buhijaa, to be independent for a few months when large bodies of water start to block the roads. The ladies laugh and tell us to swim aquatabs across to them – we are going to need official CWS speedos!

Shak, the optimist, on the way to Gbateni

Basically, we are watching and waiting for rain.

And now, back to the fellows!

-Kathryn

World Water Day

Happy World Water Day Everybody!

World Water Day was last Thursday, and around the world people concerned with the global water crisis gathered together to celebrate all the positive water-y work that’s being done! To see some examples and learn a bit more about global water problems and solutions, check out waterday.org!

Here in Tamale we had our own celebration! 45 of the ladies and men we work along side joined us in Tamale for some finger-lickin’ chicken n’ rice, minerals (soft drinks) and, naturally, some good old-fashioned CLEAN water! It was wonderful to get these ladies together to listen to some reggae, watch the latest Ghanian soap opera and chat about our businesses around Northern Region!

CWS celebrated World Water Day with our longest running partners, from Cheko and Jerigu...
. . . and our newest ones!

Did you and your friends miss World Water Day? No problem, here are some tips to conserve water around the house and make every day a water day! And of course, you can always support CWS efforts through Global Giving.

Happy World Water Day!

– Kathryn

Baseline Data

You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what exactly your problem is. For this reason ‘baseline data’, or information about your problem before you start fixing it, is key. In our reality of limited financial and human resources, however, collecting baseline data presents logistical and ethical dilemmas for small organizations like CWS. Quantitatively evaluating the effects of drinking dirty water on community health is extremely complicated and often impossible, even with unlimited resources. And our resources are not unlimited. Every dollar we spend doing surveys on diarrheal incidence, for example, is a dollar NOT going towards a new center or monitoring. So we don’t do them.

Just because it isn’t feasible for CWS to collect baseline data before partnering with a community does not mean we’ve given up on the approach! Continue reading

Occupy the Developing World

2011 Winter Fellow Nate Bernard was recently published on MicoDINERO.com, an online news source for all things micro-finance. We thought his article was so great we wanted to share it with all of you! Great job Nate!

-Kate

 

Occupy the developing world


Thursday, November 03, 2011
Nathan Bernard

Nathan Bernard, left, is the co-founder of the social enterprise AnaGenesis.

Occupy Wall Street, a protest against capitalist excess, has been spreading across the United States over the past six weeks, raising concerns about the state of the economy and the decisions of the U.S. government.

The main concerns of the protesters are health care, student loans and unemployment, a survey by social media outlet Tumblr found.

With these in mind, I will examine the Occupy protest through the lens of the developing world.

What if emerging markets had the same access to social media and the Internet and could organize a similar protest? What issues would they address and how would they relate to the three big concerns of Occupy protesters?

This comparison should help us recognize the similarities and differences between the needs of the U.S. and developing world, as well as to understand the potential application of developing world solutions within the U.S.

Student Loans

The Occupy Wall Street protesters share two common educational concerns with the developing world: the financial hurdles associated with attending university and the quality of education.

To address the first, a number of U.S. crowd-funding websites have established microloan programs for aspiring students in the developing world. The loans are repaid once the graduate is employed with a steady income. Vittana, a Seattle-based non-profit, plans to offer these educational microloans to one million people by the year 2015. More organizations are doing the same.

For the second concern, we can look to the increasing number of bilateral partnerships between U.S. and developing world universities. California universities, for example, have begun a program in Haiti designed to improve the State University of Haiti’s curricula. Through this program, professors are chosen to fill educational gaps identified by State University staff, a move that mitigates the risk of imposing foreign standards on the curricula and thus maintains access to a higher quality education.

Unemployment

A big concern for the developing world is the need to create a job market, whereas in the U.S. the issue is the lack of jobs now. This problem is not easily resolved, but the provision of microfinance services to expand businesses is one possible solution. This can be achieved through organizations like Kiva that create an outlet for socially inclined individuals to provide loans directly to microentrepreneurs.

It is crucial to understand the importance of the transition from microenterprise to small and medium enterprise (SME). This change generally occurs when a microbusiness owner begins to employ two or more people. At this stage microbusinesses require increased financial services and need more advanced training in the areas of financial literacy and effective business practices. SME and microlenders around the world are beginning to employ this education-focused approach. Boston-based ACCION International is a big promoter. If applied in the U.S., I believe this methodology would create a greater opportunity for local businesses to achieve more scale, effectively creating localized job opportunities for the middle class.

Health-Care

The developing world has concerns not only about access to health services but the overall health of the community as well. This problem has multiple moving parts, but let us focus on clean water and sanitation.

There are initiatives around the world focusing on providing clean water, but one particularly effective project is Community Water Solutions (CWS), a Boston-based MIT startup that operates in Tamale, Ghana. It helps women in communities there to turn water filtration systems into small businesses by training them in financial literacy and then providing the initial materials to build the systems. Models such as CWS solve a health-related problem and provide job opportunities for the community.

Another MIT startup, Sanergy, devised a novel model for addressing sanitation issues by producing low-cost toilets in poor communities. Sanergy engages local entrepreneurs to build toilets, collect waste and then convert that waste into energy and fertilizer. The waste is then either used within the community as fertilizer or sold to outside vendors as an energy input. Jobs are created at each step in the process, and this helps to stimulate the local economy and allow people to join financial institutions.

All told, it is important to understand the similarities and differences between the financial demands of the U.S and developing world. But in both cases education and entrepreneurship are key. It is not simply the dispersion of financial resources that will sustain and meet the needs of these populations. It is innovative models that create new businesses, employ more people and stimulate local and national economies that will achieve sustainable financial development.

Nathan Bernard is a student at Boston University. He has worked with ACCION International, Community Water Solutions, FAMILY Inc, Nyumbani Aids Orphanage and Hillel. He runs AnaGenesis, a social enterprise that selects and trains American university students to work in helping provide financial inclusion and to compile case studies on their projects. You can follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanTBernard, LinkedIn: Nathan Bernard and YouTube: MrMicrofinance 

 

source: http://www.microdinero.com/

Going Viral

When I think of the equipment CWS and partners use to deal with water-borne diseases, I think of those charismatic blue buckets, the polytanks and aquatabs and alum balls that we use to clean water and keep it that way. These are the “appropriate technologies” we’ve chosen; things that are cheap, durable and locally available that help with our problem of unsafe drinking water. This equipment is also pretty simple, because it has to last a long time and be easily and cheaply fixed by whoever has a problem. But it is a mistake to think that all the tools appropriate for our purpose need to so basic.

Looks good (and tastes good too)! A safe storage container gets filled at the center in Kpalbusi

Continue reading