Let there be light!

After spending four long days building the physical structure, Ben and I were thrilled to get back to the bigger picture and move on to the next phase of the project. Now that the building was finished, it was time to meet the women chosen by the village elders to run the business and begin installing the system itself.

Mark, Ben, and Shak celebrating the completed solar panel installation.
Mark, Ben, and Shak celebrating the completed solar panel installation.

First we wanted to get the actual solar panels positioned behind the center. We designed a metal frame and had a welder put together several metal poles using the perfect stick welding machine for the job! This was to elevate the panels off the ground and make sure they were secure. The panels are made of glass, so we wanted to make sure there was no risk of them falling and breaking while placing them out of reach of kids and animals. Attaching the panels felt like an SAT problem gone wrong. Oh, how I wish we had a complete solar panel guide
to help us through this process. No amount of hands-on-deck could take the place of a handy guide!

Nonetheless, this moment in time, I did secretly wish that we could put these panels on the roofs, as a solar installer would’ve been able to help make this process a lot easier to carry out. But we somehow found a way. We had holes drilled in the metal frame for the screws to fit in, but for some reason, it wasn’t lining up and we spent the better part of an hour figuring out how to attach it all. Shak suggested we work from the ground up and were able to overcome our temporary brain freeze to secure the panels and cement the metal frame into the ground. Looking back at it now, it probably would have been better to have erected the structure using metal building specifications, and considering the fact we’d actually have to make sure the screws and holes lined up to each other for easy assembly, all in all, we made it a little harder for ourselves.

Ben admiring our solar panels.
Ben admiring our solar panels.

The community was in awe of the high-tech equipment and we had a constant group of about fifteen people just standing around us watching the whole time. Once we finished they started to lick the wires coming from the panels to see if they were live and feeding electricity…luckily for them that’s not quite how it works or else they might have been in for quite a shock.

Once we installed the panels, we wanted to begin training the women. Upon our initial arrival in Wambong we had asked the village chief and his council of elders to select two women who were well respected within the community and would have the time and ability to ensure the success of the new solar center. Choosing to work with women in the community is a very intentional decision. Women’s empowerment is a cornerstone of Community Water Solutions’ and InnovaSun’s missions. Providing women with economic opportunities and elevating their role in society has proven to spur development all across the world. Many believe that women are the world’s most underutilized resource.

Training Salima (left) and Chang Chang (right) on the basics of the solar panel system.
Training Salima (left) and Chang Chang (right) on the basics of the solar panel system.

Still, we were nervous requesting to work with women because working with electronics and appliances is usually considered “man’s work” and we weren’t sure the community would be receptive to women running the business or even believing in their ability to do so. Luckily, the village did not hesitate to choose two exceptional women, assigning, Salima and Chang Chang to run the center.

If anyone had doubts about the women’s ability to run the center, they were immediately put to rest. They quickly picked up the intricacies of positive and negative currents, they understood the circuit pathway from panel to socket, and began asking about expanding their business and charging people for television. We also coached the women on financial planning, stressing the importance of saving in the event of anything happening to any of the (very expensive) equipment. Finally, we had the women start working with a few of the materials until the battery connected to the socket. We plugged in a phone to show them that it had worked and when the picture of a charging battery popped up on the screen they both lit up and started clapping excitedly. It was so satisfying to see women with no formal education pick up something so quickly and show a strong desire to learn more.

Chang Chang connecting the wires to the power socket.
Chang Chang connecting the wires to the power socket.

The women were soon given the opportunity to show off their newfound knowledge when we began to install and wire the rest of the system in front of a crowd of curious onlookers. Shak kept joking about Ghana’s newest electricians and more than one person in the village commented on how easy the women made it look. We took a hands-off approach only giving direction and explanation while Salima and Chang Chang physically connected everything – cutting cables, striping wires, and screwing everything into place. You could tell the women were enjoying the work and I must say it felt pretty darn good to prove some of the naysayers wrong.

Salima connecting the wiring from the Solar Panels.
Salima connecting the wiring from the Solar Panels.

After wiring the panels together and feeding them it into the solar center, the women connected the charge controller, batteries, and inverter, feeding it all toward a wall socket. Once everything was connected we hit the on switch and voila! Let there be light! Immediately all the people who had been watching us assemble everything started materializing their cell phones out of nowhere asking us to try and charge it…all in good time.

With that our new Solar Center is ready for business. Tomorrow we will be distributing lanterns to all the households in the community and throwing a party to commemorate opening day of the center! Check back soon to hear all about it.


If you build it – they will come

The past few days have been some of the longest that I have experienced. After a successful chief meeting we set out to build our structure – the home of the solar center. Having a solid structure is necessary because a lot of the solar equipment (batteries, inverter, sockets) need to stay dry and be in a well-ventilated area. So what was originally imagined as a small storage box to hold all of the valuable equipment has since transformed into a mini hut about 7 feet tall, five feet wide, and four feet deep. Now such a big structure may require metal reinforcement, which can be done by utilizing Stainless Steel Beams and rods. This can ensure that the solar home structure is strong enough to handle minor external pressures. In the end, it will be good to have such a big space for the solar equipment, which will allow us to keep all of the cell-phones and lanterns inside while they are charging, provide a shady place for the women to run the center and hang out, and create a central social point for the community. While I’m feeling positive about the end result and our decision to “go big or go home,” the process itself has been a case-study in patience and a friendly reminder of what it means to be working in Africa.

Saturday was our first day building the hut, and after picking up a lot of the essentials

The village mason and his team constructing the foundation.
The village mason and his team constructing the foundation.

like cinder blocks and cement, we laid the foundation. It still amazes me how resourceful and skilled the masons and carpenters here are. What they lack in formal education and resources, they more than make up for in ingenuity using sticks and string to make detailed measurements while working non-stop in the pounding African sun. We were able to choose the exact location for the center, and build a strong foundation, but from there we had to let the cement harden and head home until the next day.

Making progress on the solar center, but it's hot!
Making progress on the solar center, but it’s hot!

The following day, we hoped it would be a quick process of just adding layers of cinder bricks to the foundation until it was the appropriate height, but nothing is ever as easy at it seems. I’m still not sure why, but it took us about 5 hours in the sweltering heat to add the additional layers to the building, bringing it to it’s final height. I’m laughing thinking about it, although I wasn’t laughing yesterday; how could it possibly take an hour to lay each layer of brick (12 blocks)? But to be fair, my involvement in the manual labor was limited, so I’ll try not to judge too harshly. Also, it was a million degrees and I’m either burnt to a crisp or 10 shades darker.

This morning we were back at it, picking up additional supplies in town, including zinc metal sheets and wood for the roof and door. Once again, it was slow going as we proceeded to melt like figures at a wax museum. The roof turned out to be really nice though, and we took some time to explore the village and visit the CWS water center, which was a nice treat. As it stands now the structure is 90% complete. All that’s needed is a final coat of plaster and a cement floor. The flooring needs to be done right else; it may have structural defects within a few years. If that happens, one might need to hire local repair experts or services, similar to foundation repair in OFallon who can mend the damage. Anyways, apart from that, a door needs to be attached, which the village assured us would be completed by the time we got there tomorrow…only time will tell but I’m not too optimistic. The hut has become my Waterloo, sapping my energy, not too mention my wallet. People say a buying a boat is a money pit, they clearly haven’t tried to build a house. I’ll be thrilled when it’s finished and honestly it looks awesome, just part of the process and you can tell how appreciative the community is which helps keep a good attitude.

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Mark, Shak, and Ben standing in front of the Solar Center.
Admiring our (almost) finished product
Admiring our (almost) finished product

As we’ve been preparing to open the center, Ben and I have spent a lot of time thinking about how access to electricity will hopefully spur entrepreneurship. We’ve talked about sewing businesses and refrigeration, hoping that individuals would take initiative to turn electricity into a new sustainable business. So far most people in the community have been asking about being able to watch TV – which yes they will have enough electricity to power. Ben and I have been laughing that they finally have access to electricity and all they want to do is watch the football match but today we started to realize the power behind that idea. In countries like the USA, it’s so easy to take amenities like electricity, a functioning TV, and a dish network for granted that people don’t even give a second thought about it! The difference is astonishing, and it should definitely act to make people more grateful about everything they have that others might not. There are individuals in the village who already own a TV, despite not having access to electricity. They are eager to plug it in and stream the games, charging individuals to watch, kind of like a movie theater. We apparently knew after talking to them that they needed something like DIRECTV to access all of their favorite sports channels and shows. Also, they would most likely want to have affordable Directv packages, similar to what is available in the United States, so they don’t have to rely on odd things to entertain themselves. Hence, things don’t always happen how you expect them, but they have a way of figuring themselves out, and in this case much sooner than we could have hoped for! We can’t wait to see how things continue to grow once the center is officially open for business.

Some people own a tv in a village with no electricity.
Some people own a tv in a village with no electricity.

Tomorrow is a big day for us. We will finally be finishing the solar center and even more importantly, meeting and training the women who will be operating it. It will be up to them to install all of the equipment, under our supervision of course so that they have first hand knowledge of how it all works. We can’t wait to get started and meet them; the potential profits from the solar center are sure to transform their lives for the better. Check back soon to hear how it goes and meet the women!


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.

Jarayili 2
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,


Welcome to Wambong!

After having set up our Solar Panel System we needed to start looking for things to charge.  With that in mind, Shak, Ben, and I took a trip to Melcom in downtown, Tamale. Melcom is a huge store with lots of furniture and appliances as well as some grocery items… imagine Target meets Ghana? We were able to find four different types of rechargeable “lamps” that we decided to test. We wanted to make sure the lanterns we ended up distributing to the community were bright, easy to charge, long lasting, and durable, and thought it would be a good idea to have options before narrowing down our selection. We came back to the CWS office and had all four lanterns and two cell phones charging at once from the electricity we’ve been collecting the past two days.

Lantern Option # 2
Lantern Option # 2
Lantern Option # 1
Lantern Option # 1
Lantern Option # 3
Lantern Option # 3Lantern Option # 4Lantern Option # 4

This morning it was go time, and Ben and I were up and out by 6:30 AM on our way to pick up Shak and make our way to Wambong. Wambong is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes away on a nicely paved road, so it’s actually not a bad trek at all. Ben was anxious to get back to “his” village and see some familiar faces from three years prior. The first day in the village is critical because they have no idea that we are coming or what we are planning, so it’s important that we have a plan to explain who we are and what we’d like to accomplish in order to get their buy-in and support. We also had to be prepared for the possibility of having our chief meeting. All major decisions in the community are made by the village chief – typically a very old man responsible for the well being of his community. In order to get the green light to start building our center we would need his approval and wanted to have our pitch ready to go.

Unfortunately, our arrival was temporarily overshadowed by a death that had just occurred that morning. The average life expectancy in Ghana is 60 for men and 62 for women; however death in the villages always seems to be a reality, with people attending funerals with some frequency. It was a sobering reminder of the challenges that people here face and the importance of development work.

After learning about the death, we offered our condolences and suggested coming back tomorrow, however the village elders were eager to meet with us and started gathering in the chief’s hut. We were going to have our chief meeting right then and there, and luckily Ben and I were prepared.  The chief meeting is always fascinating. The chief is always seated or laying on a raise platform with his elders sitting on the floor around him. Meanwhile, Ben, Shack and I are sitting on a bench across from him. We pass around a Cola nut as is customary when meeting a village chief and start go into our pitch, with Shak translating every other few sentences. We tell them we are with Community Water Solutions and because they were so successful with their water program we wanted to

Ben scoping out potential spots for the Solar Center
Ben scoping out potential spots for the Solar Center

introduce a new project to help bring Solar Electricity. Immediately the elders are on board and the chief started thanking us and God for all of our help. Their gratitude was obvious, and even when asked if they had any questions, their “question” was to keep saying thank you and to let us know that we were blessing from God. Not sure about all that, but glad that they are as excited as we are about getting started.

After a successful chief meeting we began to survey the village in preparation for construction. We needed to find a spot that was centrally located for convenience and security, a plot of land that would get plenty of sunlight at any time of day / year.  After walking around a bit we settled on the perfect spot, the vacant lot is right in the heart of the village and right next to a few other huts but, ironically, is currently being used as kind of a dump with lots of garbage collecting there. The community assured us that the space would be cleared by tomorrow so that we could “break ground”. Just another example of having to look past what’s there to see what’s possible.

Site of the future Solar Center!
Site of the future Solar Center!

We were also able to talk to members of the community to get a sense of the demand for electricity in the village.  We were told that each household has multiple cell phones and that people travel close to an hour two to three times a week to charge them, and while many households have a flashlight, they have to replace the battery every 4 to 5 days. Wheels turning, Ben and I began to realize just how significant an impact this solar center could have, not just for the women who would be running it and earning profit, but also for the entire village as they would be saving tremendous amounts of time and money having their energy needs met locally.

Energy in Ghana is a huge issue right now. The government recently announced a 36% increase in energy costs and people are already threatening to strike. It’s a pretty staggering increase considering approximately 40% of the country still doesn’t have access to electricity. We witnessed the government’s oversight first hand in Wambong. In the center of the village there is a massive pile of electrical poles that were distributed by the government to connect Wambong to the grid. The poles were delivered over 5 years ago and still haven’t been touched, forgotten by their owners, symbolizing a promise unfulfilled.

Tomorrow we begin construction so be sure to check back for pictures of our solar center!


We have made Electricity! (Take that fire)

After a quick couple of days in Accra picking up our supplies, Ben and I purchased our bus tickets for Tamale and braced ourselves for the 12+ hour journey to the Northern Region. For reference, Ghana is approximately the size of Oregon, and Accra to Tamale is like the coast to the center – so should maybe take 6 hours tops, but because of the quality of roads, the insane traffic laws, daredevil drivers, and unpredictable detours it’s a full day’s journey, but as they say, this is Africa.

Despite a delayed start, we were incredibly “lucky,” we made great time and arrived in Tamale at 8PM. We quickly settled into the CWS office, caught up with the team here, and checked to make sure our materials had arrived in tact (success!)

To say that today was a big day for us might be a bit of an understatement. Ben, myself, and our trusted Ghanaian translator Shak spent the day assembling and testing our solar system, from the panels all the way to the socket where you plug in your phone. We spent the morning stripping wires, playing with currents, connecting batteries and basically just playing with adult Legos and it was awesome…you might even say…sparks were flying? No really, sparks were actually flying. Of course, if you had a solar panel like this installed in your home in the US with the support of companies like Electric WorkForce ( the installation process would probably involve fewer sparks.

Ben connecting the power socket to our batteries.
Ben connecting the power socket to our batteries.

We were able to use Ben’s technical genius, Shak’s innate understanding of electronics, and my unrivaled ability to follow orders to connect all of the equipment (with a little help from some very informative diagrams. In a solar system, you have panels, which capture sunlight and turn it into electricity in the form of DC or direct current power. The current then moves to a controller which makes sure the system doesn’t get overloaded before passing through to the batteries for charging. Deep cycle batteries, such as lithium solar batteries, are the best if you are in need of a battery that slowly runs, rather than a battery designed for quick speed or ignition. Finally, the batteries are attached to an inverter, which converts DC power to AC power (Alternating Current), which is what most home appliances use. Finally, you connect the inverter to an everyday wall socket, and voila! Electricity! You may need to check and see if this is covered under your home warranty, or see about getting a home warranty from companies such as First American so you know you are safe.

After letting the system sit out in the sun for several hours we decided to test our engineering know-how. With fingers crossed we plugged in a few phones…CHARGING! SUCCESS!

“We are like the Benjamin Franklin of Western Africa” – My not so humble take on our success.

We couldn’t believe it, we had somehow managed to not mess it up, and we were producing electricity…from sunlight! For me it was definitely a moment that I’ll never forget, knowing that we had used some available technology and some good ‘ol fashioned know-how / elbow grease to create electricity in a community that is plagued by blackouts and where people have to travel up to 3 hours to charge their cell phones! We ended up charging a completely dead Samsung Galaxy in just 2 hours, and we know that’s just the start of our charging capabilities.

Shak, Mark, and Ben, checking out the fully-assembled Solar Panel system.
Shak, Mark, and Ben, checking out the fully-assembled Solar Panel system.

Ben and I have been talking constantly about the ongoing possibilities that solar represents. For the purposes of this pilot we are focused mainly on lights and cell phone charging, but it’s so easy to imagine people having access to refrigeration (similar to this co2 refrigeration system), radio, sewing machines, rice cookers…anything that you can plug into a wall is now on the table for these communities.

We can’t wait to get to Wambong – the village where we will be implementing this new solar system to share the exciting news and get to work. We are planning to make our first visit to the village on Friday, so check back for more updates!


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.


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.



2013 CWS appearances on campus!


We are headed out onto campuses and into the classrooms these next few months! As we continue to get things scheduled we will continue to update you on our whereabouts! Come out and learn more about fellowship program and how you can be involved!

  • Oct. 22nd 3:30pm to 7:00pm Boston College Service Career Fair
  • Oct.24th 9:30am Colby College Developmental Economics class
  • Oct.24th 7:00pm Colby College Information Session, Location: Lovejoy 213
  • Oct.24th 8:00pm Colby College Amnesty International Club Meeting
  • Oct. 27th 11am-2pm Mount Holyoke – Information Table in the Blanchard Campus Center
  • Oct. 27th 5:00pm  Mount Holyoke Information Session at the Career Development Center
  • Oct. 29th 10:45pm American University Global Health class
  • Nov. 4th 1:15pm Trinity College Global Political Ecology class
  • Nov. 4th 4:30pm Trinity College Without Borders Meeting
  • Nov. 4th 7:00pm Trinity College African Development Coalition Meeting
  • Nov. 5th 9:00am Wesleyan University Environmental Resource Economics class
  • Nov.7th 11:00am Colby College Natural Resource Economics class
  • Nov. 7th 8pm Colby College Amnesty International Meeting
  • Nov. 7th 1pm Grove City College Social Entrepreneurship Class
  • Nov. 7th 4pm Grove City College Info Session (location TBD)
  • Nov. 12th 4pm Wesleyan University Info Session, Allbritton Center; Room 004

See that we will be at your school but can’t make the event? We’d be happy to meet for coffee! Email Sam at

Arrival in Accra

After a year’s worth of planning, the InnovaSun team of Mark Moeremans and Ben Powell finally arrived in Ghana. Untitled1

Following a slight pit-stop in Dubai, the team landed on Sunday afternoon and got settled in at “Pink Hostel” in the Asylum Downs neighborhood of Accra.

As they say, there is no rest for the wicked, and these two set out right away, starting to gather some essentials like water and phone minutes, while making contact with previously identified solar companies.

With an organized game plan, the team set out on Day 2 to start visiting different solar companies and comparing systems and prices to determine which combination would be the best fit for the rural communities of Northern Ghana. Untitled2

Despite having identified three solar companies as potential partners, the team had found their match after visiting the second company – Atlas Business & Energy. Sakeena, their contact at Atlas, was extremely helpful, both before leaving the US and upon their arrival in Ghana. She proved to be interested in the work and incredibly knowledgeable about solar power. She gave great tips on implementing, and even followed up with some diagrams to guide in the construction.

After purchasing all the big ticket items including panels, batteries, and inverter, Sakeena sent an employee named Isaac with the team to Accra Square, one of the capital’s largest markets, to find all the remaining supplies like wiring, cables, and power sockets.Untitled3

Materials in hand, the team ended the day at the Accra bus station, where they purchased their tickets for Tamale. Tomorrow will be a 12+ hour travel day, bringing our leaders one step closer to the communities they will be supporting.

Check back soon to hear more as Ben and Mark begin to test their equipment!

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. 



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.


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.


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

– Abby


Welcome to Ghana Abby!

For the next two weeks, CWS will be working with an awesome volunteer, Abby, in Tamale! After being accepted into last summer’s fellowship program Abby later later found out about an opportunity in South Africa that she couldn’t pass up. The solution? Abby headed to South Africa this summer and is going to spend the next two weeks in Tamale helping CWS with a project in the village of Jarayili! Abby arrived in Tamale this week, just in time for the celebration of Eid al Adha!

Celebrating EID at the CWS Office! (L to R: TK, Abby, Amin, Yakabu, Shak, Brianan and Wahab)
Celebrating EID at the CWS Office! (L to R: TK, Abby, Amin, Yakabu, Shak, Brianan and Wahab)

After a couple days in the office learning about Community Water Solutions and meeting our staff, Abby headed out with Brianan for her first trip to the field this morning. Abby, Brianan and Peter visited Jerigu, Nymaliga and Libi so she could see how the CWS water businesses work in three, very different villages. Tomorrow, Abby and Peter will head out to visit some more communities and plan to head to Jarayili on Friday to start Abby’s project.

Abby monitoring with CWS Project Manager, Peter
CWS Project Manager, Peter, shows Abby how to check the level of water at a CWS water treatment center and collect and sample of dugout water to test in our lab

So, what exactly is Abby working on in Jarayili? Long-time blog readers may remember that before leaving Ghana, Kathryn had been working in this community to test out the efficacy of 70 L Safe Storage containers. Unfortunately, as our West Africa Regional Director, Kathryn had a lot on her plate did not end up having enough time to complete her analysis. Despite a few rounds of water testing, Kathryn was unable to draw any conclusions about whether or not the 70 L SS containers would work as well as 20 L containers to prevent water re-contamination.

Now, months later, we are so glad to have Abby’s help to work on this project! Abby will be working in Jarayilli every day for the next week and half to see how well these larger containers work! She’ll be posting more detailed updates on this blog so stay tuned to hear more from Jarayili!