3 Villages in 3 Weeks: Opening Day in Nyanguripe!

Thats right! Just a few short days after opening the water business in Gilanzegu, CWS opened our 10th water business in the village of Nyanguripe. This water business was sponsored by Stephen and Marie Nolan at last year’s Medfield Fundraiser. We were so excited to get it up and running! Thank you Stephen and Marie for your support!


The Nyanguripe dugout - this community's only source of water.

Nyanguripe is a rural village of about 280 people,  located in the Central Gonja District of Northern Region Ghana (like Kampong and Gilanzegu). Like all CWS villages, the only source of water in this community is a dugout – a fecally contaminated, turbid, surface water source that is shared with the village livestock. In addition to being our 10th village, the water business in Nyanguripe is the 3rd unicef-cws partner community.

I had a particularly good time working in Nyanguripe because I was training our two new translators, TJ and Wahab, who we recently hired to help out with the 2011 winter fellowship program.  TJ and Wahab are extremely hard-workers and fast learners. I had so much fun working with them in Nyanguripe and was impressed with how quickly they picked up on the CWS model! Here are some pictures from our work in the community:



Rolling alum balls at the Nyanguripe water treatment center.


Garaou filled with dugout water.


Water treatment training day 1: Using alum to remove turbidity from the water.


Water treatment training day 2: scooping the water into the polytank and treating it with chlorine
Peter and Shak came to village one day to help us distribute safe storage containers. Here is Peter securing a tap to the safe storage container.


Opening day at Nyanguripe! Almost every household came to fetch water (and the people that couldn't make it came the next day!)
Clean, safe, drinking water.
The beautiful CWS ladies at Nyanguripe working hard (but still having fun!) on opening day!
New CWS translator, Wahab, at Nyanguripe at opening day!
Happy customers bring home their clean drinking water in their CWS safe storage containers.
On the way to Nyanguripe we found an awesome sunflower farm! It was beautiful!
The sunflowers are being farmed for their oil.

The main reason that we were able to open in three new communities in such a short period of time is that Shak and Peter, two of our awesome Ghanaian staff members, have started leading village implementations on their own. You may remember that Peter opened his first water business in Cheko and he did a great job! We continue to be impressed with his work ethic and patience when working in the field.

After working for CWS for 8 months, we decided it was time for Shak to follow in Peter’s footsteps and start leading implementations as well. He was in charge of setting up the water business in Gilanzegu and he did an amazing job. We are very excited for Shak and are proud of how far he has come in the past 8 months! Thank you Peter and Shak for your hard work!

TJ, Shak and Wahab


The day after opening day in Kampong, we opened another water treatment business in the neighboring village of Gilanzegu. Like Kampong, we learned about Galinzegu’s need for safe drinking water from unicef who thought that the CWS model would work well in this community – so far they were right!

Galinzegu is a rural village of about 310 people, located in the Central Gonja District of Northern Region Ghana, 40 minutes outside of Tamale. This water treatment business was sponsored by Gerry and Judy O’Connell. Gerry and Judy – thank you so much for your continued support! Here are some pictures from Galinzegu!


CWS assistant program manager, Shak, unloading the 200-L drums for the water treatment center in Gilanzegu

Household in Gilanzegu



Shak, distributing safe storage containers in Gilanzegu.


The CWS ladies in Gilanzegu scooping water from the 200-L drums into the polytank.


Shak recording household numbers on opening day!
The water business was packed on opening day!
The busiest spot in the village!
Thank you Gerry and Judy!!

Opening Day in Kampong

Yesterday, we opened our 8th CWS water business in the village of Kampong! It such a fun and busy morning with 26 out of the 29 households in the village showing up to buy water!


Opening day in Kampong!

Kampong is a rural village of about 525 people, located in the Central Gonja District of Northern Region Ghana, 40 minutes outside of the capital city, Tamale.


Little girl in Kampong

CWS first learned of the need for clean water in Kampong from Unicef, who had been working in the village on water and sanitation projects, but could not figure out a sustainable way to bring safe drinking water to the community.  In the past Unicef has funded borehole drilling (which is not successful in most of Northern Region Ghana due to a lack of non-saline groundwater sources accessible to drilling) and household water treatment but was looking for a new, simple solution and was interested in our for-profit, water business approach. The water treatment business in Kampong is the first of 5 Unicef-CWS partner villages in the Central Gonja district. Here are some pictures from the past week in Kampong:

Sanatu and Santu (yes they have the same name!) the two women who run the water business in Kampong



Day one of water treatment training: Sanatu and Sanatu rolling balls of alum
Finished product: lots of alum balls
Day one of water treatment training: using alum to remove turbidity from the water


Peter, passing out safe storage containers and showing people how to use the tap.


Shak using the results from our water quality testing to show people the "small germs that you can't see" in the water.
Water Treatment Training Day 2: Scooping the water (now clear!) into the polytank where it will be treated with chlorine
The final product! Clear, clean, (microbe-free!) drinking water 🙂
The water treatment centers become a hot spot for village gossip. We love watching the ladies hang out and chat while they fill up their safe storage containers.


Oops! Ladies got a little bit distracted by all the gossiping and started losing track of their safe storage containers! Here are me and our new translator, TJ, using the list of household names and numbers to clear up the confusion!
Despite the fact that the very sight of me makes most babies in the villages burst into tears (like this little guy! they are terrified of my pale complexion...), their Mothers always insist that I hold them. I don't mind 🙂
Bucket full - heading home!

This water business is sponsored by the awesome Medfield FitGirls. Thank you to FitGirls founder, Sarah Nixon, and all of the FitGirls who raised the money to support this water business. Your hard work has really made a difference in the lives of the people in Kampong!

Thank you FitGirls!
Thank you FitGirls!!!


Community Water Solutions implemented our first water business in June 2008 in the village of Kasaligu in the Northern Region of Ghana.

7 months later, in January of 2009, we opened our second water business in Nyamaliga.

9 months later, in October 2009 we opened our third water business Jargiu.

After a successful holiday season of fundraising and with the help of our 2010 Summer Fellows, we opened four new water businesses during the first half of 2010, in Cheko, Gbong, Gidanturu, and Wambong.

We’ve spent the past two and half years slowly expanding, learning new things from each village, and slightly modifying our approach based on these lessons. We’ve learned a lot about fundraising, about building a non-profit, and about harnessing the enthusiasm and knowledge of willing volunteers.

We still have a lot to learn.

But, we now have the experience and resources to finally start scaling-up, and we’re planning to do it quickly! There are about 900,000 people in the Northern Region of Ghana (and 884 million around the world!) without clean drinking water, and we’re really excited to start making a significant dent in that number!

This November (as in right now!) CWS is implementing three new water businesses in the villages of Kampong, Galizengu, and Nyanguripe. By the end of December, we will be in two more.  By February 2011, with the help of the 2011 Winter Fellows we will be in a total of 19 villages in Northern Region Ghana. In just three months, we are going to more than double to the amount of people we serve and we have no plans of slowing down!

Of course, the scale-up of CWS would not have been possible without your support. I would like to send out a big


to everyone who has supported CWS over the past two years. We would especially like to thank the Public Service Center and the Legatum Center at MIT for funding our first two pilot villages, as well as our awesome village sponsors: Volunteer Shredding (Jarigu), iContact (Gbong), an anonymous friend (Cheko), Colleen and Jeff Clopeck (Gidanturu), The Medfield FitGirls (Kampong), Gerry and Judy O’Connell (Gilanzegu), The Nolans (Nyanguripe), The Reids (one of the villages for December), and the CWS Facebook Causes Team (the second village in December). Finally, I would also like to thank Jay Roche whose generous donation helped us to purchase the CWS Truck (without which, this scale-up would not be possible.) THANK YOU ALL!

Here are some pictures from our work over the past week in Kampong and Galinzegu. I have taken A LOT more, but the internet has been slow and sporadic, so these will have to do for now! I’ll keep trying to put more up on this blog as soon as possible!

A cow, standing in and drinking water from the Kampong dugout - the only source of drinking water in this village.
Peter and Shak building the water treatment center in Kampong
Little boys in Galinzegu who helped us build the polyank stand
Amina and Samata, the two women in Gilanzegu who will be running at the CWS water business. They are awesome! (and LOVE getting their picture taken!)
Finishing up the polytank stand in Gilanzegu.
A garaou of dugout water in Gilanzegu. This is the water that people in the village are currently drinking.

Support the CWS Fellows!

The Community Water Solutions Winter Fellows are hard at work raising the funds needed to come to Ghana this winter. Each team of 4 must raise $10,000, which covers all of the materials costs for implementing a CWS water treatment center in a village in Ghana (which the fellows will be doing this winter), as well as their in-country travel, lodging, food and insurance. As many of you know, fundraising is an essential component of working for a non-profit, and we believe it is an important skill to teach the CWS Fellows. If you are interested in supporting one of the teams please check out their fundraising websites!

Team 1 – Luke, Mira, Heather and Catherine

Team 2 – Cam, Hannah, Nathan, and Sarah

Team 3 – Lauren, Elsie, Jim and Kathryn

Team 4 – Alexandra, Chris, Kevin, and Marlene

Team 5 – Adelina, Pranav, Sarah, and Shalyn

Team 6 – Karla, Hannah, Annie, and Samantha

Team 7 – Eleanor, Rachel, Fabiola, and Sanita