2012 Fall Fellowship Comes to a Close

A sad day in Ghana… Steven, Nicole & Tiffany headed out of Ghana last night. Joe, Lubna, Lauren and I are spending our last day in Accra before heading out tonight. And Britty and Jessie are off traveling….. bringing the Fall Fellowship to a close!

We are so thankful for Fall Fellows efforts over these past few months! Because of your dedication and hard work we were able to reach two more villages! It was such a successful trip where our fellows were able to bring clean drinking water to 1,752 people! WOW! What an accomplishment!

From your long days in the field, the CWS BBQ/Halloween Party/Eid-al-adha celebration , the cultural dance party, to simple nights over debrief we had such blast with you guys! We wish you all the best in the future and are so glad to have you a part of the CWS Alumi Crew!

The 2012 Fall Fellows!

CWS On the Road: The Hunt Continues

Fall is such a busy time for Community Water Solutions! In the US the new Winter Fellows are up and fundraising. Here in Tamale, Brianan, Peter, Shak, Wahab and Amin are, as usual, hard at work supporting those (now 40!) communities running CWS water businesses – check status updates from each village here! As if this all this hectic energy weren’t enough…

The search continues for a NEW base of operations!

You can read about Kathryn and Kate’s impressions of our trips abroad to Liberia, Burkina and Togo on this blog. But all this travel reminded us that there’s no place like home.  Could other regions of Ghana benefit from the CWS social enterprise idea? We intend to find out!

Spotted: a fresh baby goat in Bolga!
Spotted: a fresh baby goat in Bolga!

Upper East region was our first destination. This area of Ghana is known for its beautiful straw handicrafts, its crocodile ponds, and its wonderfully-named capital, Bolgatanga. While boreholes are around, some smaller, remote communities still rely on streams or open wells for water. Could Upper East be a new CWS destination?

Upper West was our next stop. We found beautiful mosques, hippos and some village gold mining! Communities lacking boreholes have been more elusive, but our District Assembly contacts are on the hunt for potential partners. Could Wa, the Upper West Capital, be a new base of CWS operations?

Volta Region is Ghana’s eastern portion and takes its name from the giant lake it borders. Roads might have been rough, but the fufu was delicious and the view of the mountains, incredible. Lakeside communities in particular seemed to lack access to potable water. Can CWS adapt what we do in Ghana’s smallest bodies of water to Ghana’s largest?

DSC_0045Then there’s our own backyard. Northern Region is HUGE –  one office could never serve all those communities here that could benefit from the CWS idea. After so many years, will our Dagomba pride really let us explore anywhere else while potable water needs exist all around us? Maybe Walewale or Salaga should be our next stop!

Before we make any decisions there is work to be done. Stay tuned for new office updates here!


Voices from the Field: Team Tijo (Britty, Steven, Nicole and Tiffany)

Team Tijo on opening day!

Team Tijo’s opening day happened on Wednesday. They had prepared for days making sure the polytank was filled to the brim. With 187 households it was important to get the polytank all the way full to be sure to have enough water for everyone. They arrived early Wednesday morning to a line of people waiting to fill their safe storage containers for the first time! When they turned the tap to fill the first bucket nothing came out. The polytank was completely empty. The team was so disappointed and the village was extremely embarrassed. Someone had emptied all of the clean drinking water out of the polytank! Despite this disappointment, opening day continued! The women and fellows had the 4 blue drums of treated alum water to chlorinate and sell. There was still a long line of excited customers waiting to taste the clean drinking water. The center was able to fill 50 buckets with water and the rest of the people were very understanding as to what happened. The women were going to head back to the center that afternoon to go ahead a treat more water. No one had ever found out what had happened, but since that incident the chief had a village meeting and all things continue to run smoothly.

Here is what Britty, Steven, Nicole & Tiffany had to say about it:

After Tijo’s challenging Opening Day, we went into the village with the hope that everything was resolved. We were pleasantly surprised to find that all of the families really understood and followed the lessons we offered. All buckets were cleaned prior to being filled with water from the polytank, and placed on a platform with a clean drinking cup put on top. In addition to their excellent practices, the families informed us that they enjoyed the taste of the water. One woman even stated that her stomach felt better after drinking the treated water.

It was very exciting for the team to see the positive outcome of our hard work leading up to Opening Day. We were amazed by how well everything was received by the villagers.

Opening Day in Tijo!

You’re Invited!

Social Enterprise Competition Announcement

If you attended the CWS Benefit on August 30th, then you already know about CWS’ newest endeavor: The CWS Social Enterprise Competition! The competition officially launched the day after the Benefit at a workshop for CWS Fellowship Program Alums, where we challenged them to come up with social enterprise solutions that meet the needs they saw in their fellowship village. To the left is the competition announcement that we sent to our alums back in May!

Over the past 2 months, CWS Co-Founder, Chuck, and I have been mentoring 6 teams of Fellow Alums, helping them develop their social enterprise ideas and craft 10-minute pitches. Last Friday, the teams presented their pitches via webex to a panel of 5 judges (Sarah Wood, Ryn Miake-Lye, Derek Brine, Laura McGorman and Addy Awofisayo), and after a difficult dilberation, 3 finalists were selected!

On November 9th, competition finalists, Mark Moermans, Ben Powell, Zoe Anderson, Kelsey Barton-Henry, Alex Zorniger, and Michelle Butler, will be traveling to Boston to pitch live to a new panel of judges and compete for a $10,000 Prize to pilot their social enterprise in one of CWS’ partner villages in Ghana. We’re so proud of our finalists, who are aiming to solve very dire needs ranging from access to electricity to santitation to malnutrition!

If you are in the Boston area, we would love for you to join us for the finals to celebrate the conclusion of the competition! Admission is free, click here for more details and to RSVP!

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Voices from the Field: Team Tidan’s Opening Day!

Tindan safe storage containers lined up and ready to be filled with clean drinking water!
Tindan safe storage containers lined up and ready to be filled with clean drinking water!

Driving into the village this morning, we could tell there was a different atmosphere for opening day. All of the women and children, especially the girls, were dressed up in their best clothes. As word of our arrival spread through the village, people started to gather at the Polytank we had spent the last four days building with them. Although we don’t have a large village, we could still sense the gratitude and excitement of the day. All the women were smiling and quickly lined up to get their first batch of water. Even though we didn’t understand the language, we could tell that the women in charge of the business were prepared and did all the work without much help from us. It was definitely a day none of us will soon forget. Below are descriptions the most memorable part of the day from each of our team members:

Lubna, Jessie and Lauren hanging with some ladies
Lubna, Jessie and Lauren hanging with some ladies

Lubna’s significant moment was when she entered the village and noticed that all the women and girls had dressed up. For her, it signified that the water treatment system was valued by the community, and that it was a very special day.

For Jessie, it was noticing that everyone seemed to understand the importance of the small details. Her favorite moment was seeing one of the older women in the community motion that she would keep the lid on her safe storage container with a designated drinking cup on top to prove she knew what to do.

Joe, Wahab, Jessie, Lubna, & Lauren all take a break after very succesful opening day!

Joe felt very excited on opening day knowing that Tindan officially had clean water. It was difficult seeing the community continue to drink dugout water during the installation and distribution process. It was relieving to finally see the community members utilizing the safe water source and knowing that this could significantly improve their health.

Lauren felt gratified knowing they helped the Tindan community get the clean water they so clearly desired. It took no convincing to gain approval from the community to install the system. Five days after approaching the chief, opening day was a great success! The way everyone lined up on time, and were so pleased with the taste indicated that the community could not wait to have a fresh water source.

New CWS Entrepreneurs, Arishtu & Daahiya
New CWS Entrepreneurs, Arishtu & Daahiya

-Lauren, Joe, Jessie & Lubna


Time is Flying By

Time is flying by in Tamale! It was just last week that we were finishing up orientation and now opening days are almost here!

Steven, Tiffany, Nicole and Britty on the way to their village

One of the words that we like to use to describe our fellows is plucky! Their ability to go with the flow, find humor in frustrating situations, and make it through the heat and long days in the village is what makes our fellows SO awesome! These two teams are definitely the perfect display of that! The two villages the fall fellows are implementing into are Tijo and Tindan. They are both in the same direction and about and hour and half outside of Tamale. With the long drive and about 8 hour days in the field both these teams are the definition of plucky! Even though tired from their days, all the fellows return back to Gillbt in time for dinner with positive attitude and great stories!

Tiffany and some men of Tijo snap a proud pic in front of thier finishedpolytank stand
Tiffany and some men of Tijo snap a proud pic in front of thier finishedpolytank stand

Both teams have completed their polytank stands and training of the women. Today the teams are off distributing their safe storage containers from household to household. The distribution of buckets is a very important time in the implementation process. This is the first time you are able to get one-on-one with each household to not only explain the water treatment center but to also answer any questions they may have.

 Kids of Tijo! No doubt that they love the fellows company over the past few days!
Kids of Tijo! No doubt that they love the fellows company over the past few days!

Britty, Steven, Nicole, Tiffany and, translator Shak have been hard at work getting ready for opening day on Wednesday! They are implementing into the village Tijo, which is one of CWS’ largest villages to date with 187 households. Because of their number of households they needed to add ina few more days of safe storage distribution.

Joe, Lauren, Jessie, Lubna and translator, Wahab, aside from some car troubles, have breezing through their implementation into Tindan. Tindan has 37 total households. They are having their opening day tomorrow and we can not wait to hear how the big day goes!

Assembling the CWS safe storage containers
Assembling the CWS safe storage containers

In the next few days you will  be hearing from these teams directly to get a real sense of their time in their village!

All of the pictures below are of Team Tijo! I have yet to have the chance to snag one of the teammates from Tindan to get pics to upload—those will hopefully be up by tomorrow!


Celebrating Cheif Meetings

Today the fellows are off to hold their chief meetings with their new villages. Yesterday they went to their villages to set up the meeting and today they will be sitting down with their respected chief and elders to talk about how they can bring clean drinking water to their entire community.

We are all anxiously awaiting the details about the meeting and of course with the village’s final decision!

In the meantime, we went out to dinner to cheers the fellows good luck in their meetings and to celebrate bringing more communities clean drinking water. We all (yes, all 10 of us) piled into the jeep and headed to Swad– a CWS fav!


The 2012 CWS Fall Fellows!
The 2012 CWS Fall Fellows!

Monitoring with the Fellows

Alum training
Alum training

Yesterday started off with alum training. In the fellows site visits to Kurugu Vohoyili and Kpalung the Fellows collected dugout water. They used this water to practive performing water quality tests the lab, and to practice the alum treatment. The alum is the first step in the water treatment process. It works to remove the turbidity from the water—the particle all flock together and fall to the bottom, leaving clear water on top and the sludge on the bottom. Having only seen a video of the women doing it themselves, it was important for the everyone to get comfortable with using alum.

Practicing dugboni
Practicing dugboni

After training, the fellows were off with their translators to get some more Dugbani lessons. They went over the different word pronunciations and then did some mock households-visits to get comfortable with the dialogue.

Later in the afternoon we all headed to the office for a presentation on monitoring given by our Ghana Country Director, Brianan. She went over what we look for in monitoring, how we troubleshoot any issues and really what she does on a day to day basis. Brianan did a great just and the fellows got a good senses as to what monitoring entails.

The Fall Fellows listening as Brianan explains her job as CWS' Ghana Country Director
The Fall Fellows listening as Brianan explains her job as CWS’ Ghana Country Director

The fellows were off early this morning to put their knowledge to the test! They headed off to Manguli and Gbung to do household monitoring. They were all pumped to get back in the field! Tomorrow they will be approaching their new villages– a very exciting day which will be celebrated with a dinner at Swaad!


The CWS Field Staff Goes Back to School Part II

At the beginning of October, CWS field staff, Shak and Amin, brought their knowledge about water and sanitation to a primary school in the village of Kpalung. Their presentation was similar in content to the presentation that Wahab and Peter gave in September to a school in Gidanturu. You can read about their experience here. These water and sanitation presentations are part of a larger education initiative that CWS has been introducing to some of its partnership communities. While CWS is continuing to monitor these communities as it normally does, the field staff has added education to its monitoring regimen. The objective is to educate the students on basic health and sanitation with the hopes that they will put what they learn into practice and influence their families to do the same. It’s also fun for us to get in front of the classroom and to hear the opinions of the younger folks in the villages. I hope you enjoy the pics!


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Shak and Amin talk to the student body of Kpalung


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Shak and Amin use a salt water solution to show the students that just because water is clear, it does not mean that it is in fact clean!
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Amin watches amongst the crowd.


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The students get ready for a game of “healthy habits” tag.
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The “healthy habits” vs. “waterborne diseases”


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Cholera and Diarrhea… watch out!!

Fall Fellows in the Field

The 2012 Fall Fellows
The 2012 Fall Fellows

The first day of orientation consisted of a crash course of information about Ghana, the global water crisis, waterbourne disease, different water technologies, and finally the nitty gritty details of how we do it! It was a great day with lots of great discussions.

Presentations were broken up by a midday Scavenger Hunt– a great way to get our fellows out there and comfortable in the hustle and bustle of the Tamale Market. Both teams came back with only three missing items (Obama paraphernalia and a Diet Coke posed to be the hardest to find) but because Wahab’s team made it back first they took the crown!

2012-10-13 10.10.51After some orientation the fellows were off with Sam, Shak and Wahab to get a look into the village lifestyle while also getting to see the water treatment centers working within a community. First stop was Kurugu Vohoyili! Kurugu Vohoyili is one of the smaller villages that we work in, with about 30 households, but the personality of this village is huge! The men, women and kids welcomed the new fellows with smiles and were so excited to hear that they would be implementing into a new village. Fusiena, one of the women that helps run the water center was especially excited and wanted to take a picture with each individual fellow!

2012-10-13 09.49.06Next stop Kaplung! Kaplung is a great example of how the project is one that can be tailored to what’s going to work best in the community. The women who run the center wanted their center in the middle of the village, as opposed to being next to the dugout. As we can explain why most villages put it near their dugout, in the end it is always the communities decision. With the help of donkey carts to transport the water, having the center in the village has turned out to work just fine for Kaplung!

2012-10-13 09.46.41At this point in the day the sun was coming down hard and we were all starting to run low on fuel, it was time to head back into town to grab some grub! After lunch, it was off to the lab for training on water quality testing.