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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

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.

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          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

CWS on the Road: Pilot in Tunga

I’m sure that you all have been on the edge of your seats since Kathryn’s last post about CWS’ expansion! To recap: After a scouting trip to Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Togo last summer, Kathryn and I decided that for CWS’ first satellite office, there was really no place like home and began to focus our search on other Regions in Ghana. Kathryn spent the fall traveling around this beautiful country to learn about the water needs in the Upper East, Upper West, and Volta Regions as well as exploring more remote areas of the Northern Region. After months of moto, tro, and market bus rides to both big cities and rural villages throughout Ghana, we decided that the small city of Salaga, a seemed like the best fit for our next base of operations!

The river in Tunga - the village's only source of drinking water.

The river in Tunga – the village’s only source of drinking water.

Once we had selected Salaga as our potential new base of operations, the next step was to pilot a CWS water business in a nearby village! While we were fairly confident that both our water treatment technique and our business model would work well in this area, this pilot was essential in figuring out our supply chain and transportation logistics. As many of our past Fellows know, transportation is a huge challenge here in Ghana!  With the very poor road conditions around Salaga, we knew that finding a reliable way to reach the rural villages would be difficult. As far as supplies go, Salaga is much, much smaller than Tamale with a very limited market. So, about 90% of our supplies will have to be shipped down from Tamale – a process that we knew little about. A few more trips around Salaga later, we picked the village of Tunga for our pilot.

Tunga, is a rural village of about 500 people located 40 minutes north of Salaga and right outside the larger town of Banjai. The only source of water in Tunga is a river, that is highly turbid and fecally contaminated. We met with the village chief and elders in early December and, after a great conversation, they agreed to work with us!

Our awesome building team after the first day of implementation: Kathryn, M'Azara, Peter, Mahamadu, Haruna, DJ Alhassan and me.

Our awesome building team after the first day of implementation: Kathryn, M’Azara, Peter, Mahamadu, Haruna, DJ Alhassan and me.

Both Kathryn and I had a blast working in Tunga over these past few weeks. I have not implemented a water business since we launched the Fellowship Program in June 2010 and Kathryn’s last implementation was when she was a Fellow almost 2 years ago! After some initial delays due to the election and some car trouble (typical!), the implementation process went very smoothly!

The finished polytank stand

The finished polytank stand

The people in Tunga were extremely welcoming and a joy to work with – A group of local guys were very helpful in building the polytank stand and provided endless entertainment as we worked in the hot sun; An enthusiastic team of kids helped carry our safe storage containers all over the village as we distributed them to each family; And the women entrepreneurs, Sana and Aya, are a force to be reckoned with!

We celebrated opening day on Sunday, December 16th and were very impressed with the turnout! Sana and Aya were completely in charge, leaving Kathryn and I with little to do besides take pictures!

Opening day in Tunga!

Opening day in Tunga!
Sana selling water like a pro!

Sana selling water like a pro!
Happy customers on their way home with full buckets of clean drinking water

Happy customers on their way home with full buckets of clean drinking water
Opening Day Success!

Opening Day Success!

So far, the pilot in Tunga has been a success! Stay tuned for more updates on CWS’ expansion plans!

-Kate