Help CWS win $25,000 by voting for us on Chase Community Giving! No donation is necessary, just your vote! The polls are open until December 11th, just click below to support our cause:
Chase Community Giving is a program by Chase Bank to give $25000 to
100 non profits who get the most votes on facebook by the 11th of
December. CWS is one of the eligible non profits and we think that we’ll need about 5,000 votes to win!
As those of you who work in the water-treatment sector know, there are a variety of ways to address the need for clean drinking water in developing countries. Some examples include:
Household Water Treatment – using technology in your home to clean enough water for your family. Ceramic water filters, biosand water filters, cloth filters, SODIS, and boiling all fall into this category.
Community Water Treatment -treating enough water for an entire community at a centralized location (this is what CWS does in Ghana!)
Regional Water Treatment – building a large treatment facility that treats enough water for an entire region and then pipes it to the user’s homes or neighborhoods.
Improving Water Supply -borehole/well drilling, rainwater collection etc.
I am often asked what I think is the best way to treat contaminated drinking water in the developing world, and much to the dismay of the person asking this question, my answer is usually “it depends…”
Last Tuesday I was invited to speak to the Biology of Water and Health class at Tuft’s School of Public Health by my thesis adviser, Susan Murcott. Before my presentation, Georgia Kayser, a Phd Student at Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, presented her research on household water treatment vs. community water treatment in Honduras. Her presentation was not only very interesting, but also highlighted how the appropriate solution to this water problem really depends on the specific water needs in the region.
Georgia found that after 1 year there was about 50% sustained use when ceramic water filters (a household water treatment option) were provided to families, and only 30% sustained use when a community water treatment option was provided. What?! 30% sustained use for a community treatment option? Our monitoring in Ghana showed 60-75% sustained use of the CWS system (much higher use than research on the ceramic filter in Ghana had shown) . Why are our results so different?
I believe that the difference in sustained use statistics between CWS’s research and Georgia’s research is due to the major differences in the water supply between her communities in Honduras and the rural villages in nothern Ghana. Unlike the villages that we work in, where families must walk to the dugout (a contaminated surface water source) to fetch their water, each of the households that Georgia studied receive piped water in their homes. While this piped water is contaminated, and is often turbid, it is accessible in the home. In the CWS communities, our treatment centers are built right next to the dugout, where the women already walk multiple times each day to fetch water for cooking and washing. Now, in order to get clean drinking water, they just stop by the treatment center, instead of the dugout, during one of these trips. In Georgia’s villages in Honduras, however, women (or whoever is collecting the water) must change their behavior and make an trip to the treatment facility if they want clean water for drinking and carry a heavy container of water back to the home. A household filter make much more sense in this situation since the water is piped right to the house.
There are many other differences between the CWS water treament techniques and the community water treatment technologies used in the villages that Georgia studied, but I thought this was a great example of how the appropriate treatment technique can vary greatly depending on the water situation in a specific region.
Community Water Solutions has been selected by Global Giving to compete in a exciting fundraising challenge! If we can can raise a minimum of $4,000 from November 24 – December 21 from at least 50 unique donors than we will earn a permanent spot on the Global Giving Website. If we receive the greatest number of unique donations or total donation value, CWS may receive as much as $6,000 from GG!
Help us win the competition by making a donation on our global giving website: http://www.globalgiving.com/projects/community-safe-water-solutions-for-ghana/ or help us spread the word by sending the link to your friends and family!
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Today is my last official day in Ghana! I can’t believe how quickly these two months went by. I have spent the last week preparing Peter for my departure. We put together new monitoring forms for him, and then had a practice run- where he went to the villages without me and filled out his monitoring forms which we then reviewed. He did a great job and I am confident that he will be able to handle anything that may come up while I am gone. Right now, the plan is for me to be in the States for the holidays where I will work on fundraising with the rest of the CWS team. If the fundraising goes well, then I will hopefully be back in Ghana in late winter/early spring. We’ll be sure to keep everyone posted! If you are interested in supporting our work please visit www.communitywatersolutions.org to learn more about donating to our cause!
Since opening day at Jarigu on October 17th, 98% of the households in the village have visited the water treatment center at least once, while 74% have come a second time and almost 50% have come three times. These are some of the best uptake and sustained use results that we have seen in any CWS village!
The rain has finally stopped in Northern Region Ghana and the path to the water treatment center at Nyamaliga is FINALLY dry enough to open the center. Sanatu (the woman who runs the center in Nyamaliga) officially re-opened for business last week and has been very busy. Right now she is opening the center about 5 times a week and plans to be open everyday once the dry season officially gets underway. Currently,about 5 to 20 people are buying water each day and we expect this to increase as we move into the dry season. Here are some pictures from the re-opening at Nyamaliga:
Peter and I have been very busy getting things set up in Jarigu this week. Here are some pictures from the past 7 days!
Monday and Tuesday: Building the polytank stand
One of the first steps in setting up a CWS water treatment center is building the polytank stand. We try to work with a local mason to build the stand, but since none of the men in Jarigu were experienced masons, Soufoo, our good friend from Nyamaliga, came to help!
Wednesday: Delivering the polytank and the blue tubs
Since Kasaligu now has access to municipal water, we decided to move their water treatment center to Jarigu. This is something that we discussed in detail with the Kasaligu chairman and with Fati, the woman who works at the center. They were both happy to move their polytank to a new village that needed the treatment center (we will still be working with Kasaligu on safe water storage to prevent the re-contamination of the piped water in their homes, and Fati will be selling small Aquatabs that people can use to chlorinate their own water). Originally, Peter and I planned to rent a truck to move the polytank, but at the last minute Peter convinced me that we could use a taxi, which would be cheaper. A few hours and two runs-in with the police later, the polytank and the three blue tubs that make up the water treatment center arrived safely in Jarigu.
Thursday: Distributing Safe Storage Containers and Water Treatment Training
On Wednesday, Peter and I visited each household in Jarigu to distribute the CWS safe storage containers. Although it takes a long time to pass out the containers to each family individually, its a great way to make sure everyone in the village understands the project and the connection between water and health, and learns the importance of safe water storage through the use of water storage containers. Water can be kept safe and clean when stored in one of these. There are various sized containers available, depending on the need and quantity of people. As there is not always running water, it is only best for numerous amounts of villages to have access to these containers. It makes life just a little bit easier for the residents. Just like with any job, it was a LONG but fun and rewarding day!
On Thursday we also started water treatment training. Usually, we will work with members of the community to select two women to be in charge of the water treatment center, who we then train to treat the dugout water. The village then decides what time of the day and how often they would like the center to be open. We like working with women because they are usually the ones in charge of all water-related household activities (collecting water, cooking, washing, etc) In Jarigu, however, we are doing things differently. This village already had a local man, Alhassan, “guarding” the dugout. He sits by the dugout all day long to make sure that no one walks too far into the water (this helps to prevent Guinea Worm contamination). Since Alhassan was already sitting right next to the water treatment center, the village thought that he should be the one in charge of it and we agreed. Since Alhassan will be at the dugout all day, everyday, the water treatment center can be open all of the time. While this makes it a little bit harder for us to monitor (instead of coming to the village for a few hours on the days the center is open, we will have to be there all day if we want to observe the center’s sales), it is much more convenient for our customers in Jarigu! Here are some pictures from our first night of water treatment training with Alhassan – he is a quick learner and very fun to work with!
Friday: Water treatment training day 2
On Friday morning we returned to Jarigu for the second day of water treatment training with Alhassan. We transferred the water from the blue tubs (now “clear”) into the polytank and treated it with Aquatabs, a chlorine product that disinfects the water. Its now ready for opening day!
Saturday: Opening Day!
Opening day in Jarigu was a big success! 34 families came to buy water from Alhassan and a good time was had by all! Thank you again to Susan and Greg Gintoff at Volunteer Shredding, LLC for sponsoring this water treatment center!
After two weeks of visiting many rural villages in Northern Region Ghana, we have selected Jarigu to be the next site for a CWS water treatment business. Not only does Jarigu meet all of the CWS village criteria (the only source of water is a dugout, the dugout does not dry-out in the dry season, the village is the right size, and there are no current water treatment projects), but it is also about 10 minutes away from Nyamaliga, which will make monitoring the two villages much easier Peter (our project manager). I met with the village elders today to explain the project and they were very eager to work with us and seemed to really understand the idea of a water treatment business. Over the next two weeks Peter and I will be working with members of Jarigu to build the water treatment center, distribute safe storage containers to every family, and select and train two women to work at the center. We are really excited to start implementing in this village and look forward to updating everyone on our progress. Thank you to Volunteer Shredding, LLC, Greg and Susan Gintoff for sponsoring this CWS water treatment business! Your donation is providing a permanent source of clean water for ~750 people!
I spent the beginning of this week in Accra, the capital of Ghana, meeting with The Melcom Group, the company that manufactures the buckets that CWS has been using for our safe storage containers. Safe storage is a key component of the CWS water treatment model because it helps to prevent re-contamination of the water in the home. In the past, we have purchased these buckets from a retailer in Tamale, and installed taps in them ourselves. This was a very long, arduous task that involved heating a metal pipe on a gas stove and punching holes in hundreds of plastic buckets.
Well, the meetings in Accra were a huge success! Not only did Melcom sell us the buckets and taps at the wholesale price, but they also punched holes in the buckets for us and shipped them to Tamale for free. The buckets arrived in Tamale today, only two days after I ordered them!