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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

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.

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”.

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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.

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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


Season Changeover Stimulates Water Business Sales

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Happy customers on their way home from buying water from Amina and Massamata’s water business in Galinzegu!

The rains “are finished” as Ghanaians would say, which means CWS water treatment centers are back in business! In the rainy season, which lasts from June- October in the Northern Region of Ghana, CWS communities collect rainwater. Rainwater is plentifully and freely available in these months, so community members opt for free drinking water instead of paying the $.05 to fill their 20 L containers at the water treatment center.

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Rainwater collected in 200 L yellow drums in the village of Gidanturi. While this water is safe for using for household chores, it is easily contaminated. People need to open the lid and dip a scooping bucket in to fetch the water. Contamination alert!

Now that the rains have stopped, the only available clean water source in CWS communities is for people to buy water from the centers. The only other water available for drinking would be stored rainwater in 200 L blue drums or clay pots (not safe for drinking), stored rainwater in cement rainwater catchment tanks (not safe for drinking), stored rainwater in hand dug wells (not safe for drinking) or dugout/stream water (definitely not safe for drinking).

While the answer seems obvious (they should go to the center!), it’s not that simple. The entrepreneurs have not been regularly treating water and the community members have not been regularly buying water. So this limbo period is always an adjustment for CWS communities. As CWS Assistant Project Manager Shak put it, ” It’s no longer raining. So this is just our biggest challenge for the next month, getting people used to buying water again. ”

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A “local well” in Kabache/Kasawuripe. This is the water the entrepreneurs have been treating in this community. It is not groundwater and is easily contaminated with human and animal waste… aka do not drink!

Behavior change isn’t easy. And that’s what CWS is focusing on in transitioning from the rainy to the dry season. Changing the entrepreneurs’ behavior so they incorporate water treatment and selling water into their daily routines and changing the consumers’ behavior, so they get used to coming to buy water.

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CWS Field staffer Wahab making household surveying look easy.

In most communities, this transition is seamless. For example, in Kpanayili where the entrepreneurs now use a metal polytank stand to move the center from the various water sources throughout the year, their water business is operating with high sales! Field staffer Wahab is in charge of the monitoring and evaluation for Kpanayili. He reported on November 20, 2013, “It was such a happy day, seeing Kpanayili’s center up and running after the rains.” Last year, community members took their sweet time transitioning back to using the center and this year, they haven’t missed a beat.

But in other communities, the transition has not been so seamless. For example, in Nyamaliga, the community relies solely on rainwater throughout the rainy season because their dugout path gets muddy and slippery. I along with the other staff can vouch for this as we’ve all taken a tumble trying to get to the dugout. Sana and Sofou who run the center refuse to treat water until the community members help them weed the path to the water treatment center, which means a few weeks of people not having access to clean drinking water. This baffles the CWS field staff because if the path is dry then the entrepreneurs should be able to access the dugout! CWS Project Manager Peter reported this week that the path was clear so there should be no delay in water treatment… as for that one we’ll have to report back next week.

Rainwater catchment tank
Rainwater catchment tank — CWS staff Amin and myself recently tested rainwater catchment tanks in Sakpalua, Djelo and Kpenchila. Almost every tank tested positive for total coliform and a few tested positive for e-coli. These tanks are hard to clean and the organizations that set them up do not return for testing or monitoring. We advise communities not to drink from them.

In Tohinaayili, the community decided to move their center to the town center during the rainy season to treat rainwater. This is Tohinaayili’s first transition from the rainy to the dry season, as CWS implemented here in the Winter of 2012-2013. While their polytank is not empty yet, the entrepreneurs have been lackadaisical to move it back to the dugout. The CWS field staff has seen this type of transition before and found that it takes a few seasons to get the hang of it.

Finally, the path to Gbateni was flooded all rainy season. The CWS staff had not been there since May! On November 20, 2013, CWS field staffers Amin and Peter were finally able to get there. They arrived at the center and it was empty, community members did not have clean water in their storage containers. The entrepreneurs were also not home so they could not figure out what was wrong. The staff will have to get back ASAP. Buhijaa and Chanaayili, villages that are also inaccessible to CWS staff during the rainy season, were up and running the entire season! Chanaayili even sent a message to Gidanturi mid rainy season requesting that CWS staff send aquatabs (chlorine tablets) with someone who was able to make it across the flooded road.

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Amin trudges through the flooded path to Gbateni mid-rainy season.
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Shout out to the metal polytank stand which several communities are now using to move their water treatment centers from different water sources throughout the seasons

These seasonal transitions are a challenge for CWS every year. Each community adapts to the changing of seasons at a different pace. But the cool thing about CWS is that the field staff is with these entrepreneurs and communities throughout the process! The staff shows the entrepreneurs how to rally assemblymen, chiefs and queen mothers to get the communities back on track or even modifies the CWS technology (like the moveable metal polytank stands) so that these water businesses will be sustainable without staff help in the future!

-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.

Jarayili 3
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.

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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

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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Early Rains in Tamale

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Women fetching water from the remaining water in Jagberin’s dugout, last dry season. This year, Jagberin’s dugout never totally dried up like this. – Photo credit Kathryn Padgett

The rains have come early in Tamale this year. In the Northern Region of Ghana, the dry season usually lasts from October until June and the rainy season usually lasts from June until September. But this year that has not been the case.  We received our first rains in Tamale starting in March, which is abnormal for the region. And it has been raining frequently, which makes it seem like the rainy season is in full swing. All over the world, global climate change has altered weather patterns, posing a threat to ecosystems, agriculture, the displacement of persons and access to water. While the cause of these specific rainfall changes in the Northern Region of Ghana is unknown, a recent NASA led study reports that global warming will have a large impact on the world’s precipitation patterns. The study states, “Areas projected to see the most significant increase in heavy rainfall are in the tropical zones around the equator, particularly in the Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions.” Ghana is located in this tropical zone. CWS works in communities that get their water from dugouts or small ponds that fill up with rainwater each rainy season. These early rains have already had an impact on CWS operations in Ghana.

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Djelo’s drying dugout in February. Djelo moved their center to a farther dugout, so that the entrepreneurs would have enough water to treat

Every year during the dry season, some CWS communities have to close their water treatment centers because their dugout water runs out. In April of this year, the dugout in Gbateni totally ran dry, while the dugouts in Nekpegu, Tohinaayili, Galinzegu and Jagberin were getting turbid on their way to running dry. Within a week of Gbateni’s dugout drying up, all of these communities received heavy rains. When we went back to Gbateni, Nekpegu, Tohinaayili, Galinzegu and Jagberin the following week, their dugouts were full with water. We had very few center closings due to dugouts drying up this year, which means more months of access to clean water for those communities to which this posed a threat.

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Galinzegu’s dugout in January looking very turbid

When the roads start flooding from the rains, the CWS field staff can no longer access the roads to the villages, Buhijaa, Gbateni or Chanaayili. This usually doesn’t happen until June. Starting in April, we were unable to get to Buhijaa and the road to Gbateni was already getting muddy. We’re hoping that the rains hold out for a few weeks so we can prep these villages with aquatabs before the paths are totally impenetrable for the rest of the season.

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Memounatu of Buhijaa pumps borehole water into her safe storage container. CWS field staff cannot reach Buhijaa because the road is too flooded. As of the last visit in April, they still had borehole water.

I asked the CWS field staff what they thought about the early rains. Peter said, “It must be climate change, this weather is so strange.” Amin explained it in a different way, “Last year it didn’t rain much so this year the rains came early. That’s just how it is.”

Shak monitored Jabayili and Yakura, two communities implemented in June 2012, and asked the women how their sales were going. Fati and Memouna of Jabayili reported that sales have slowed down, everyone has started to collect rainwater. This is typical community behavior for CWS villages but rainwater collection usually doesn’t start until June. So the entrepreneurs have fewer months of having high center sales this year, since most people opt for collecting rainwater for free over paying for water at the center.

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Rainwater collected in a pot for household consumption

Recently during household monitoring in Tindan, Wahab spoke to Arishetu, one of the women who runs the water business in the community. She told him that he would not meet all of the women at home to talk to them about their clean water.  Now that it has started raining, everyone will be on their farms planting groundnuts and yams. These crops apparently only need a few rains before you can start planting.

The CWS field staff has noticed that there are less people to meet in the communities for household monitoring. This means coming across empty households and only being able to speak with the children, nursing women or the older people who are staying back from the farms. But the rains have not affected farming schedules beyond groundnuts and yams. It seems like people are holding out on planting corn and other crops until they are sure the rains will last. As rural farmers without access to changing weather pattern data, their farming yields are left to chance, especially with abnormal rains.

With an average of 1-2 rains a week in Tamale, it seems like the rains are here to stay and it’s only the first week in May! So far the early rains have had a positive impact on CWS water treatment centers. Very few centers ran out of water to treat this year. But who knows what future obstacles CWS and the CWS communities will face when struck with changing, unpredictable precipitation patterns.

-Brianán

Oh Where Oh Where to Put the Polytank?

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Peter and Wahab monitor the water treatment center in Kpachiyili. This is a typical center placement. It’s located right next to the dugout. Look at how green it is! This picture was taken during the rainy season, as you can see not flooded!

The placement of the CWS water treatment center is key in running a successful water business. Fellows and CWS translators ask very specific questions when it comes to finding a spot for the polytank. The villagers select where they want their water treatment center based on what dugout or water source they use for the majority of the year and look for an area that does not flood during the rainy season.

But what happens to the water business when a dugout dries up or when people use multiple water sources throughout the year?

In some villages, the women entrepreneurs figure it out for themselves. Adamu and Salamatu in Gariezegu found a metal, moveable polytank stand that was used in the school, which allowed them to move the water treatment center to various wells in the village. After the rainy season, Lasinchi and Mariama in Tacpuli moved the center to a well that was closer to the village and placed the polytank on large branches, using a hose to fill safe storage containers. For the most part though, the women who run the centers have a hard time coping with seasonal transitions on their own.

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The chairman in Gariezegu posing with the metal polytank stand.

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The CWS policy for moving water businesses in the past has been that the women have the freedom to move the centers as long as they come up with the materials to build polytank stands themselves. CWS wants the centers to be as self-reliant as possible. If we continually help the water businesses to thrive off of our dime, then they will not be sustainable in the long run. But where is the line drawn? We’re realizing on the monitoring side that there is a monetary limit to what we can ask of the women. It costs roughly $38 to build a polytank stand in Ghana. This is more money than most women make in a month working at the water treatment center.

It’s time to start building polytank stands! We’ve decided that by building polytank stands for communities that use multiple water sources, this will take a large burden off of the women who run the water treatment centers. So far we’ve mapped out 11 communities that will need polytank stands built at another source in the next 6 months: Bogu, Djelo, Gbandu, Gbung, Kpalbusi, Kpanayili, Tacpuli, Tohinaayili, Yapalsi, Yipela and Zanzagu Yipela. The communities will still be responsible for moving the polytank and blue drums to the new location when they need to (and making decisions about when to move it) but CWS will fund the building.

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                                        Polytank Stand Building 101 with Shak

Our first stop is Djelo, as their water source situation poses the largest threat to the community. The dugout where the center was initially built is starting to dry. The women, Zelia and Fuseina, predict that the dugout will be dry within the month. Luckily, there is another dugout a little farther away that will not dry up. This weekend CWS field staff, Shak and Amin, went to Djelo to build a polytank stand at this second dugout. We wanted to get the stand built before the dugout dried, to make the transition as smooth as possible. This will not cause any behavioral disruption because the villagers of Djelo are going to start going to that second dugout very soon.

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                                        Djelo’s plentiful, second dugout.
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                                         The stand in Djelo is complete!

The CWS technology in Ghana will only work if there is water to treat. The water businesses will be most successful if they are located next to the water source that the villagers use the most. If that source changes throughout the year, then the center needs to change with it. More updates to come as we continue to build!

-Brianán

Voices from the Field: Team D (Urooj, Casey and Ty)

Blog4Welcome to Kalinka! A beautiful village tucked in the northern region of Ghana, home to over 300 people. Our team is small: Casey, Ty, and me. Our goal is big, to implement safe, clean, and healthy water for Kalinka. Our process is simple but layered. Here we present a day in our journey, we hope you enjoy! It all began at sunset.

We awoke bright and early to begin our hour and a half drive to Kalinka, situated beyond the lull of the city, beyond a maze of potholes and dusty roads. As we waited for out trusty translator to come pick us up, we realized we were on American time and our translator T.J, was on Ghanaian time. Nonetheless, T.J arrived with our taxi, we all piled in the backseat, squashed together like a pair of sardines, a prerequisite of such closeness is you get to know your teammates very well. As we were discussing exciting anecdotes of our past and hopes and aspirations for our future, we were pulled over by the police. We handled it like pros, that is to say we kept our mouths shut and allowed the experts, our translator and driver, to handle the situation. After what seemed like hours, T.J informed us that our driver’s license had been seized by the police, much to his and our disappointment.

Despite the inconvenience we marched on, we arrived at Kalinka behind our scheduled time, but on village time. Once there, we finished day two of our training. Casey took lead, instructing the women on how to scoop the clear water into the polytank prior to chlorination. T.J and Ty excelled at handling the large polytank and making sure it was in top operating condition. I distracted the little ones with my camera and generally took pictures of everyone in awkward situations. One exciting moment was when Casey successfully balanced a scooping bucket on her head in an attempt to understand and emulate the difficulties of the women slugging water weight day in and out.

Blog1After finishing our water treatment duties, we commenced the community outreach portion. We returned to the village center and began to assembly the safe storage containers (picture on the left). Here you can see how passionate and ardent we were about assembling the containers correctly (Casey, T.J, and Ty were so intent on the task they didn’t even look up when I snapped a picture of them). Afterwards the women assembled in clusters and we all gave them a pitch about harnessing the power of clean water and using it to improve their quality of life. The women assembled, participated in the process with gusto, and hit on all the key points. Some concerns that arose in this process were access to extra containers for larger families and the water treatment process. Here I glow with pride, as my team handled all the questions very very well. We were hot, tired, thirsty, but we had a sheen (and no this was not from the red dust but a glimmer of pride at what we had cultivated in this village: a relationship).

Tomorrow the fruits of over labor will be evident, as tomorrow is our opening day. We are extremely excited and looking toward the future, and expecting smooth sailing all the way

-Urooj

Packed First Day in Tamale

Name gaming outside in the morning's cool weather before it heats up
Name gaming outside in the morning’s cool weather before it heats up

Packed first day for all of us in Tamale! With a day behind in orientation we had to get right at it. We started the day with a classic name game– with 26 of us, late plane arrivals it was time to get to know each other!

A priceless picture of faces as Kristen goes into detail about water related diseases
A priceless picture of faces as Kristen goes into detail about water related diseases

We then headed inside to get down to the nitty gritty! Kristen and I gave presentations touching on the water crisis, water and disease, water interventions in the developing world, and finally, the ins and outs of CWS! Everyone had great questions and you could tell they were only getting more excited about getting out into the villages tomorrow to see it all first hand.

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The entire crew before heading out on thier scavenger trip adventure!

After a lunch break, we revealed everyone’s teams! To get all the teams bonding quickly we sent them all out on a scavenger hunt through the market. Always a little daugnthing at first but always finishing with lots of laughs and great stories!! Following the scavenger hunt was dinner and the first meeting of each teams translator for the next three weeks. We celebrating the big reveal with a dance party. We brought in Tamale’s finest cultural dancers and danced the night away! Needless to say, we all had an awesome day and excited to get out into the field tomorrow! Keep posted for tomorrow’s adventure!

-Sam

An exciting start to the year!

So far, 2010 has been a great year for Community Water Solutions!  Here are some of the things we are excited about:

The CWS Fellowship Program

CWS has just launched our new fellowship program, a three-week leadership training and water education experience in Northern Region Ghana.  The purpose of the fellowship is to teach individuals about the global water crisis, and inspire them to become leaders in the field of international development.

The field of international development can often be a hard to break into.  Post college, I was constantly looking for jobs abroad with non-profits and international aid organizations, and ran into many roadblocks.  Most jobs in international development require years of “field experience,” but how can you get this experience if no one will hire you?! Its frustrating. Through the CWS Fellowship, we are hoping to provide individuals with some of the field experience necessary to start a career in international development, while also teaching them about the global water crisis.

We believe that this program is going to be the future of CWS.  It will not only allow us to reach more villages more quickly through the help of our fellows, but also help us spread awareness about the water problem.  We hope to inspire others to join us in providing clean water for the world, either by staying on with CWS, joining another organization working on water treatment, working in public policy, or starting their own non-profit or social enterprise!

CWS is now accepting applications for our Summer Fellowship (June 6th – 28th).  If you are interested in applying for the CWS Fellowship Program, please our website and download an application!

Look like fun? This could be YOU!

The Medfield Fundriaser

On Saturday Feb. 6th, we are holding our first fundraising event of 2010 at the Kingsbury Club in Medfield, MA. As I mentioned in the previous blog, the event will feature a fun African drumming performance by the Rhythm Room Live! We will also be showing a movie with pictures and videos from our past year in Ghana, so that past donors can see how much they have helped to make a difference.  The event is going to be a blast and I hope to see you all there!  A big thanks to Alyse Shorland for putting together the movie for us, and to Jill Moran for volunteering her time and event-planning skills to help us put this together!


We’re Getting a TRUCK!

For the past year, one of our biggest fundraising goals was to raise enough money to buy a truck in Ghana. In the past, we used taxis to get out to our villages, which was extremely expensive and time consuming (the amount of time wasted just waiting for our taxi drivers to show up is ridiculous!) Thanks to all of the support we received over the holiday season (especially from the MIT-Sloan Auction and the Global Giving campaign) we are finally able to get our truck!  This will save us enormous amounts of money in transportation (all of which can now go towards helping more villages get clean water!) and will allow us to reach villages in more rural, secluded areas!  Peter is currently working on getting his drivers license so he will be ready to drive the truck when I come back in February.  Be on the look-out for a post sometime next months with pictures of our new ride!

In a couple of months, CWS could be sporting a truck very similar to this bad boy!

Echoing Green

For the second year in a row, CWS is a semi-finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship.  We are so excited, and honored to have made it this far!  With all of the work we’ve done since last year, including in the addition of the fellowship program we think we have a better shot than last year!

Heading Back to Ghana

My plane ticket has officially been reserved and I will be heading back to Ghana on February 15th!  I will have a very busy winter and spring, implementing in at least five more villages (sponsored by the Clopecks, our Facebook causes group, Gerry and Judy O’Connell, iContact, and one anonymous donor), while also preparing for our fellows to arrive in June. While fundraising and administrative work is a necessary component of working for a non-profit, I, like many others in my position I’m sure, truly love working in the field.  I can’t wait to get back to Ghana and start doing what I love!