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Operations Updates: New staff, new reporting, new ideas!

If you haven’t already noticed, there have been a lot of changes at Saha in recent months! I am so excited to update you on all of the improvements we’ve had. New staff, new reporting, new ideas!

The team has more than doubled since we last introduced new members. Here is a brief introduction of all our recent additions. Last February, we said a fond fairwell to Eda and Morganne who have served as Operations Coordinators for over a year here in Ghana. A month later, we said warm hello to the new Operations Coordinator Rhiana Meade who will be working with me (Heidi)! Rhiana was actually a field rep during our previous Winter GLP 2018. She helped open a center with TJ at Nyantag, little did she know that a few months later she would be returning to work full time with us helping implement even more villages.

Here is a brief introduction of Rhiana. She graduated from Reed College in Portland Oregon with a degree in Chemistry and went on to get her Masters at Tufts University in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Previously, she worked for a Field Operations Supervisor for a Cambrian Innovation, a provider of wastewater treatment services. She has been to Ghana even before her field rep days. Her parents lived and worked in Accra for a few years, during which she visited them, found herself a Ghanaian Auntie, and was able to tour around the country. She has works with passion and compassion and can make an amazing Blondie! It been great having her as my counterpart. She was was able to hold down the fort when I went on vacation 2 weeks into her arrival and orientation. We plunged her into the Saha life, and she has done well!

Next to introduce, is someone who took on a completely new role: Director of Operations. We welcomed Theo the same month Rhiana joined on. He was born and raised in Accra and went to Ashesi University to study Business Administration. Prior to Saha Theo worked with Delta and a Start-up called Laundry King – An on demand laundry service. Maybe we can get one of those here in Tamale? Theo is on the search for the best Wache in town, so any recommendations please send them his way. He will be taking over most of the administrative load from Rhiana and myself, so we can focus on optimizing the day to day management of our staff. It’s been helpful having an in-country representative to focus on community relationships and building up the organization for future growth. Since the role is still being formed, he’s been doing an amazing job rolling with whatever we need him to to. Currently, he is going out 3 days a week to get a true feel of how the business run and what Saha does. Since coming, he has been able to witness an implementation through it’s entirety, get incredibly lost scouting, and have difficult conversations with villages facing problems. Way to go Theo for taking on this role with bravery and openness!

Speaking of growth, did you notice, we hired on 5 new full time staff members? All the new staff were our Translators in our Winter 2018 GLP. Much like Rhiana, little did they know that they would become full time staff with us in a few months for the GLP. Now I can’t image the team without them. You can read more on their bios but here is a which overview of our newest members:

Abubakari Asita (aka Sita), she grew up in Tamale and started working with Saha back in 2014 implementing Balamposo. If she sounds familiar to you, you may have recognized her from Women’s week posts. She loves being an inspiration to little girls in the villages she visits.

 

 

 

 

 

Alhassan Seidu was trained under Eric who would often take him out in the field monitoring and implementing. Now he can do that on his own as a full time staff. Seidu always shoos away the goats that wander into the Saha Office. Outside of Monitoring, Seidu is a skilled electrician and helps us with any electrical needs we encounter at the office.

Ziblila Mohammed Taufik has been part of 3 Global Leadership Programs. His first implementation was Baiyili. Prior to Saha Taufik used to teach ICT, but now he enjoys seeing the clear water being scooped into the PT at the water centers.

Amenyeku Dzorsah started as a translator for GLP. His first implementation was Changbuni. Prior to monitoring, Dzorsah was a taxi driver in tamale. Now he gets work with the women entrepreneurs, talk to people during household visits about clean water, and drive a moto everyday instead of a taxi. I haven’t asked him which he prefers yet!

Sulemana Tijani has known and worked with Saha in its very early stages with Shak and Kate. His first GLP village was Yapei-Yipela. Prior to Saha he worked at Melcom (the Tamale equivalent of Walmart) and drove a taxi. Now he can bring clean water to his country and work with other likeminded individuals.

A larger team has allowed us to expand and focus! So starting in January, we divided up into 3 Distinct teams: Scouting, Monitoring, and Implementation. We divided up the team based on their interests, but there is the possibility of movement across teams if desired. For now, everyone is doing an amazing job in each of their teams. Because we have focussed teams, we can have more direct goals to achieve. For the scouting team, our goal is map our all the villages within a 3 hr driving radius around Tamale, start plotting Salaga villages, and determine “Yes” villages. Our Monitoring team’s goal is to make sure our current villages are getting the support that is needed and to find ways to improve our implementations and trainings. Constant improvement is our motto! Our Implementation Team allows us to implement villages outside of our Global Leadership Program, which means we can reach more villages each year. It also helps us use what we learn from the monitoring team, to refine and perfect our implementations and trainings. I have been so impressed with how the team has handled the transition.

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the team (minus Rhiana who took the photo and Peter who was in Salaga at the time)

You’ll see below, I’ve added a *Bonus* Team. These are our part time staff that also have been doing great work for us in the past few months. Blessing, a former translator for the GLP, is now helping us build relationships with the Districts, so we can connect our villages needs to gov’t bodies. Mutala is our newest addition to the team, he and Blessing have been doing research for Kathryn to help improve our knowledge of water consumption. Kathryn has big plans for the research team, look out for her update!

Scouting: Amin, Peter

Monitoring: Simply, Nestor, Sita, Seidu, Taufik, TJ

Implementation: Wahab, Eric, Shak

 

Blessing our District Liason and Researcher
Mutala our Researcher

Bonus (part time) Teams:

 

District Liason: Blessing

Researcher: Mutala

 

 

 

 

The increase in staff was only made manageable by the addition of this amazing data organizing tool we started using called mWater. With mWater we are able to take surveys, plot points, and collect data all through an application on our phones. Once the phone is connected to the internet, this information is synced and can be stored and analysed online. We piloted it in November and fully launched it in December, however since we are still in the learning phase, there have been several iterations and updates to how we collect data. This has been a game changing addition to the day to day work. We can say goodbye to the endless amounts of paper used and manually inputting information into excel.  I am excited to see what we can do with mWater and will update you more on this in a separate post!

Welp! If you felt like that was a lot to take it, it was!!! Thanks for reading through this “brief” update. If you want to hear about anything more in detail, leave us a comment!

Go team go!

Heidi

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.

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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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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

Voices from the Field: Team Blessing (Claire, Phoebe, Robert and Sofia)

Hey everyone! Robert, Sofia, Claire, and Phoebe here – along with our aptly named translator, Blessing! The village Team Blessing was assigned has smiling faces and warm hearts like all CWS selections, but the unique history sets it apart. Team Blessing’s village, Original Kabache, has an ongoing feud with their neighboring village, Indigenous Kabache. From what we understand, Kabache was once a unified community, but in recent years has split in two – each community striving for Kabache as the village name. Both villages claim that they are the true Kabache; both chieftaincies claim to be the first Kabache. In 2013, CWS implemented a clean water business in Original Kabache’s rival village, which we can only imagine brewed tension. The feud is neither here nor there; Team Blessing came to implement a clean water business. Our goal was realized just 20 some hours ago!

The Chief of Original Kabache or as he says, "THE FIRST KABACHE"
The Chief of Original Kabache or as he says, “THE FIRST KABACHE”

Prior to our first village visit, our team was briefed on three aspects of Original Kabache: it was a community of ~60 households, community members fetched water from a dugout ~2km from the center of the village, and of course the intra-Kabache-naming-feud. We petitioned the village chairman to hold a meeting with the Chief and village elders to discuss the CWS proposal to implement a clean water business, and minutes later were walked to the chief’s compound. The meeting began riddled with tension punctuated by the sounds of children playing and chickens mulling about. Once all the elders had gathered, the discussion lightened and we were met by overwhelming support and gratitude from the chief and elders of Original Kabache. Throughout our time in the village, the chief has provided positive support and clearly forward-thinking wisdom at each juncture. He genuinely wants to set a positive, sustainable and longstanding example for his people for, as he said, “generations to come.” The chief was also very excited about having clean water because he didn’t like that Indigenous Kabache had access to clean water and they didn’t. He believed that with the implementation of the water business they would once again be the best Kabache. Our careful, yet excited nods of approval were satisfactory.

Team Blessing sampling Kabache's dugout
Team Blessing sampling Kabache’s dugout!

Following our chief meeting, we invited any elders to accompany us on the 25-minute walk to the dugout to test the water for E-coli bacteria. With a water sample, we could incubate E-coli and total coliform bacteria on special 3M agar to provide a visual representation of dugout contamination in order to show the community when we met with them the following day. Thankfully, our community meeting was an inspiring success; almost all members of the community were present, attentive, and excited to begin working with CWS to create their own clean water. As asked, the chief and elders selected two driven, strong, and personable women entrepreneurs to run the center. Later, on the chief appointed a third woman since one of the original two was pregnant and might need to take some time off after giving birth.

Team Blessing With Women Entrepreneurs
Team Blessing with the women entrepreneurs

The CWS model stresses a few key tenants in order to promote sustainability in the water businesses, of which two are female empowerment and autonomy. The women entrepreneurs of Original Kabache decided to sell the water for 10 GP (~$0.03) per 10 liter bucket, aspiring to match the price of Indigenous Kabache. For several days following our introduction to the entrepreneurs, our team worked long days to build the water treatment center, train the women on business management skills and water treatment procedures, and take time explaining clean water procedures to almost every member of every household in Original Kabache.

Robert and Blessing at the Original Kabache Community Meeting
Robert and Blessing at the Original Kabache Community Meeting

Come Thursday morning – our opening day for business – we could honestly say that nearly all of the work and decisions in Original Kabache had been smooth, exciting, and inspiring. Of course, “this is going GREAT” are famous last words, and as we’d been warned during our initial training, “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” For starters, our team was not on it’s “A-Game” – Sofia had previously missed two days with a stomach bug, Rob had missed the previous day with the same, and Phoebe and Claire later found that they were on the cusp of illness themselves. The morning consisted of a few final home visits, followed by a school visit in an attempt to separately capture the attention of the children and prep them on safe drinking habits. “School” is a loose term in Original Kabache – more often used as a word of reprimand or as a command analogous to “get out of here,” we were shocked to see that the 6 classroom school really functioned as a one room schoolhouse. That being said, our visit was successful and the children seemed to take to heart the two lessons: “Clear doesn’t necessary mean clean” and “DON’T DRINK THE DUGOUT WATER!”

By midday, we ran into our first real roadblock – our strongest and most punctual women entrepreneur was “out traveling” for the day. Furthermore, a wedding had been scheduled for the same hour as the business opening, a problem compounded by the surprise that the entrepreneurs had neglected to make an official community announcement when opening day would be. Scrambling quickly, the chief helped make an announcement – a drummer boy clanged down the road, and within a matter of minutes, women, children, and safe storage containers emerged from houses and huts. Opening day would happen after all.

The walk to the treatment center was euphoric – down the footpath we could see silhouettes of the CWS logo, women balancing the safe storage containers on their heads. In total, ~40 buckets were cleaned and filled with treated water. Some women were pleased with the taste of chlorinated water; others thought it strange. Rob tried to grab as many costumers who expressed discomfort and explain that the unusual taste was just a clean taste – a conversation most often met with a smile, excitement, and even a few laughing slaps and handshakes.

Original Kabache Opening Day!
Original Kabache Opening Day!

Following our debrief session with our strong entrepreneurs, the fellows were unusually tired; Phoebe was showing a loss of color from possible heat exhaustion. It wasn’t until a reunion with the other Salaga fellows from Sabonjida that the Original Kabache Team Blessing could properly stand back, admire the hard work of the people of Original Kabache, and take a moment to pat each other on the back for successfully bringing clean water to the homes of another 52 households under the CWS program.

Voices from the Field: Team Peter!

Community Meeting
Elders gather for the Chief Meeting in Sabonjida

Hey everyone! It’s team Peter here today. We are Josh, Camille, Brandee, and Claire. We’ve been braving the “road” to Sabonjida for four days, picking up pedestrians and hoping we don’t get a flat. The journey is about an hour and fifteen minutes each way, and despite the quotation marks around road, not too bad of a trip except a stretch where rain runoff exposed the bedrock.

Once we get in to Sabonjida the view of the lake and surrounding countryside is well worth braving the road. Sabonjida is a fishing community of about 70 households on the northern coast of Lake Volta. The majority of the people speak Ewe as their first language, but we communicate with them through Peter in Twi. On our first day in the village we met Clint and Haley of Mercy Project.   They first called CWS’s attention to Sabonjida as a village in need of clean water. They have been working in Sabonjida to address the root causes of child slavery on Lake Volta. You can read more about their approach and what they’re all about on their website.

Women seeing blue drums
The newly selected women  check out the 200 L blue drums they will use to treat Lake water with alum!

The first person we met when we got into the village was Mercy.   She has shown us abundant hospitality each time we visit, offering food, bringing us chairs and being helpful in any way she can. In addition, she has had a very strong presence in all the meetings with community leaders. This makes us very optimistic for the future of Sabonjida, as she will be one of the four women running the water treatment center there. The other three women the community selected are Florence, Mary, and Elizabeth. We look forward to getting to know them better when we train them over the next few days. One thing that was disconcerting to see was during the community meeting when a woman had a question she initially addressed one of the men. Since they were speaking Ewe, a language Peter does not understand, it was hard for us to know whether it was legitimate question or if they were simply asking for clarification from a man sitting near them. After a little encouragement they began to speak up directly and we hope this trend continues as they see their friends in roles of power and respect within the community.

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Camille, Peter, Mercy, Mary, Florence and Elizabeth setting up the water treatment center. Lake Volta in the background!
Kenkey
Kenkey and fish (Peter’s fav) made by Mercy!

The concerns raised in the community meeting were largely centered on the nuances that come with living in a fishing community. One major concern was the mobility of the center given that Lake Volta is prone to flooding at the combined discretion of Mother Nature and the people in charge of regulating the dam that maintains it. We explained to them that their polytank would be lifted up on a metal stand that can be moved according to their needs. Another concern was the irregularity of their income. Since most of the community fishes they might not have cash on hand, even though they have plenty of fish in net. To address this concern we explained to them that the ladies running the center had the liberty to run the business whichever way is most conducive to getting everyone clean water.   In Tunga, a community we monitored on Wednesday, the woman entrepreneur had a system of giving out interest free credit or accepting payments in advance in order to give everyone access to clean water, and we relayed this idea along to them.

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Peter hanging out in a fishing net hammock!
Fire buring
Brandee, Camille, Peter, Mercy, Florence, Elizabeth and Mary building a fire to heat up the screws in order to more easily screw them in to the plastic 200 L blue drums!

There was another unfortunate yet encouraging issue that came to light during the community meeting. There happened to be an old man from a neighboring community at the meeting who wanted to know why we were doing this project only for Sabonjida when the lake water is unhealthy for all the communities who drink it. We had to explain to him that although CWS aims to continue implementing clean water businesses all around Lake Volta, we unfortunately can only reach one community at a time. However, we were excited by his approval of our project and excitement for when CWS might reach his village. We were also very encouraged by the community’s questions about how they would access clean water while traveling, which preliminarily implies that they accept the idea of always drinking clean water when they are at home.

Our plan for the next two days is to train our four women to treat the water and become the entrepreneurs of the water center!

CWS Live on Kesmi FM 107.1 Tamale

 

Kesmi FM Chris
Chris Anieze of Kesmi FM 107.1

TAMALE, GHANA – Last Friday May 2, 2014, Chris Anieze, a talk show host and entertainment specialist from Kesmi FM 107.1,  invited West Africa Regional Director, Brianán and Assistant Project Manager, Shak of Community Water Solutions to come in for a live interview. The radio station had recently visited Kuntalaga, a community in the Sagnarigu district of the Northern Region, and was shocked to see what the community is drinking for water. Kesmi FM invited CWS to the studio to inform them of the community and to hear more about the CWS approach. Check out the live  recording below to find out more!

 


 

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Shak and Brianán before the interview!

 

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Ibrahim, Shak and Brianán after the interview

Entrepreneurs in Wambong open Rural Bank Account!

Abiba & Salima matching
Abiba and Salima outside of Bonzali Rural Bank with their first deposit slip! 

What an exciting day it has been at the CWS Ghana office! This morning Shak and I accompanied Abiba and Salima, water and solar center entrepreneurs from Wambong, to open their first bank account!

Since the solar center opened in October 2013, Abiba and Salima have been saving up their profits from mostly cell phone charge sales. They want to save their money in the bank to prevent theft, to acquire savings interest, to have money in the bank in case anything breaks at the solar center and in their own words, “to save for something big”.

 

 

Salima & Shak
Abiba - bank helper Salima and Shak (top picture) — Abiba fills out bank account application with Bonzali Rural Bank employee (bottom picture)

After doing some rural banking research, Peter, Shak and I decided that Bonzali Rural Bank would be the best fit for Abiba and Salima. They have a bank branch at the University of Development Studies in Nyankpala, which is close and accessible to the women from Wambong. The bank conducts business in English and Dagbani and has employees help illiterate customers fill out deposit or withdrawal slips, which means Abiba and Salima can go to the bank on their own.

We are so proud and excited for Abiba and Salima and hope to help more entrepreneurs open bank accounts in the future!

-Brianán

Abiba:Salima passport

               Bonzali Rural Bank                                           

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

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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.

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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

Peter’s Salaga Journeys

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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

Update from the Field: Water Quality Testing Begins in Jarayili!

I cannot believe how fast these two weeks are blowing by! I am already halfway through my project in Jarayili, which has been interesting in both the field and the lab.  In addition, I have visited some awesome sites in Tamale thanks to my wonderful tour guide/ housemate, Brianan.

Peter and I woke up on Saturday morning to meet with Jarayili’s chief, elders, and community members to explain the reason behind our daily visits to their small and remote village.  Earlier, we met with Jarayili’s CWS entrepreneur, Suayba.  I was really excited about her enthusiasm for our project, which is testing whether or not water is contaminated when villagers use jerry cans and garrawas to move polytank water and rainwater into their 70-liter clean water storage buckets.  Suayba wanted to get involved and thus far, has helped us everyday as we visited Jarayili’s 18 households, interviewed women in the households about their safe water practices, and taken samples from each 70 liter container.  Some of her children have gotten involved as well!  I am really enjoying getting to know the community and talking with people individually.  Hearing personal stories about how clean water has improved the quality of life in Jarayili is extremely rewarding and motivates me to get out there everyday despite having to wake up at 5:30am.

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From rainwater collected in a dry well to unwashed jerry cans and water taken from a dugout to not enough chlorine used in the polytank, I have now seen the whole gamut of methods of water contamination.  My lab results show that there is no E.coli or total coliform in the buckets of women who washed their jerry cans with soap and bought water from an adequately chlorinated polytank.  However, there is total coliform, and in some cases E.coli, in the water buckets of women who collected rainwater or did not properly wash their jerry cans.  I still have a few days to test and I am excited to see if my future results match up with my current findings!

Finally, Brianan showed me a nice restaurant in the city that is located on a rooftop! It was cool to see a bird’s eye view Tamale.  In addition, I am eagerly awaiting the completion of a shirt and dress I am having made by Martha, Brianan’s favorite tailor in town, from local Ghanaian fabric I picked out last week.

-Abby

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Abby’s First Days of Monitoring!

The last few of days have been exciting ones!  Tamale community members celebrated Eid al Adha on Tuesday and Wednesday, which brought entire families to the streets for group prayers and cow slaughterings to commemorate the completion of Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.  On Tuesday, the CWS office took the day off to celebrate the holiday with a fun afternoon BBQ of veggie and sausage kebabs.  Yesterday, Peter, Brianan, and I visited three CWS villages southeast of Tamale to meet the wonderful ladies of Libi, Nyamaliga, and Jarigu and to give me some field experience before Peter and I head to Jarayili on Friday. 

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Luckily, we caught Cheriba from Libi as she was running out the door to mosque and briefly checked up on the goings of her water business, where CWS is experimenting with metal stands that make the polytanks transportable.  Cheriba reported that her business is going fine, but that sales are down because villagers tend to collect their own rainwater during the rainy season rather than buy treated water from her  water treatment center.  Sana from Nyamaliga had a similar story about her business.  We missed the other women because of Eid’s festivities so we called it a day after getting water samples from Jarigu’s water treatment center.

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Today, Peter and I visited two villages north of the Tamale, Bogu and Tindan.  We dropped in on compounds, talked water, and grabbed tests from twelve households’ 20-liter clean water buckets.  This experience helped me realize the importance of regular monitoring in development.  The community members really appreciated our reminders about the importance of sanitation and clean water, as well as the encouragement to implement safe water practices.

Afterwards, I brought the water samples to the CWS lab to check for the presence of total coliform and E.coli.  The tests will be used later to help educate community members about the importance of transporting and storing clean water.

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I am looking forward to tomorrow, which will be my first day Jarayili!

– Abby