A New Monitoring Routine

As we’ve mentioned a few times, Saha Global recently fully transitioned the management of our Ghana operations to our amazing Ghana team. During that transition, we also overhauled our monitoring process. With the help of our new Board Member, Mark Moeremans, we thought long and hard about the data that we collect when we monitor our water and solar businesses, what we use that data for, and how we communicate the results to our supporters around the world. In Mark’s blog post, we showed a sneak peek of our new monitoring spreadsheet, but we wanted to wait a couple months before posting regular updates to ensure that we would actually have enough data for the results to be meaningful. Well, a few months have passed and we are excited to start sharing our monitoring reports with all of you! This page is where you will be able to find all of our data from the field. Later this week, we’ll be posting our reports from February, March and April. After that, we’ll post a new update each month. If you are looking for reports from before 2015, you can head to our old monitoring page here.

Now, I would like to re-introduce one of our awesome managers, Eric Angkosaala. We thought that Eric would be the perfect person to describe just how our monitoring process has changed and what those changes mean for our Ghana team. Take it away, Eric!

10338763_736940336370510_7655639240748997261_nA typical week for a staff starts on Monday at 6:30am at the Saha office. The Staff look on our updated whiteboard board to see which villages might need immediate attention. We grab supplies we might be running low on like Aquatabs, taps, glue, thread tape etc. We also take along safe storage buckets, lamps, batteries, etc. to the villages who demanded for them, either to buy or if there was a new family in the community who had not yet received one. We then head out to our respective villages. We get back from the field in the afternoon to meet at the office where we report to Shak about our day and update the board. We do this Monday to Friday. We sometimes go to field on Saturday when there is a pressing problem, like a leaky polytank. We go to help the women fix such problems as soon as we can, or else all the water would drip out and the women’s time and energy would be wasted. On Fridays at 3 pm, we sit for a staff meeting to discuss issues that happened during the week and talk on how to solve problems that might have developed that week and plan for the future.

Eric taking note of the water levels at the business in Djelo
Taking note of the water levels at the business in Djelo

Usually, we monitor three villages in a day, but that depends. Sometimes we only stop in two villages because, there might be a problem and we have to spend extra time on that problem village to try and fix the issue before leaving. Sometimes, we visit four villages in a day, because things were great in those villages or those villages are close to each other.

When we get to a village our first stop is at the water center, where we check if there is treated water in the polytank and what level the water is at. We also check the blue drums to see whether there is dugout water or water has been treated with alum and ready to scoop. We also check the polytank to make sure there is no leakage.  If there is a problem, we try to work with the women entrepreneurs to fix it. If we can’t figure it out then, we take down notes to discuss with Shak and the team.

This is me chatting with Fulera, the water entrepreneur in Kalinka, about her sales.
This is me chatting with Fulera, the water entrepreneur in Kalinka, about her sales.

Next, we ask the entrepreneurs how business is going. When was the last day they made sales? When was the last day they used aqua tabs and how many? We find out from them how many aqua tabs are remaining and if they would like to purchase more. We also find out if they are saving the money they get from sales. We ask to see if there are any problems. In solar villages, we then go to the solar center. Once there, we ask the women: Is everything working well? Did you have any problems? How many batteries did you rent this week?  How many cell phones did you charge? How much money did you make this week? If there are no problems, we go around to households to see how people are doing with their safe storage containers and lanterns. In the households, we check to see if there is water and the level. We ask if they like the taste of water, if they have seen any improvement in their health, and if they know why dugout water is not safe to drink. We educate them on areas we see that they didn’t give good answers for. For solar villages, we ask families if they use their lantern. What do they use it for? Do they have a cell phone? How often do they charge their phone? We go around to at least 6 households in a village. But, we sometimes monitor 12 to 18 households if we observe that people are not going to the center to refill. If there are any complaints about the taste of water, we go back to the women to advise them on their next water treatment. We then move to the next village and then the next.

Anytime we get back from field, we look at the board to see which village has a problem or which villages have not been visited yet. We also look at the villages which are along the same area before choosing which villages to go.

Peter, filling out one of our old monitoring sheets in Sabonjida
Peter, filling out one of our old monitoring sheets in Sabonjida

When Brianan, our former Country Director was in Tamale, she used to go to field with a different field staff on a daily basis. Brianan created a monitoring sheet while she was here and some of the questions on it were: When was the last day sales were made? How many people came to refill? Are you saving from the sales you make? How are sales? Is there anything broken at the center? Was it fixed or do we need to go back? What’s the level of water in the polytank? How many blue drums have water in them and were they treated with alum? How many aquatabs were used the last time? How many remaining? Would you like to buy any more aquatabs? How many? Any compliants or problems? Have you seen an improvement in health? Why is dugout water not safe to drink?

We handed over the sheets to Brianan on our return from field and she would gather everything and then forward the reports to Kate.

Shak, Wahab, Amin and I checking in after a day in the field.
Shak, Wahab, Amin and I checking in after a day in the field.

Now, we no longer use the monitoring sheets because we have been using the monitoring sheets over the last few years, we know the questions to ask the women and in households. We take down notes in a notebook, which helps to save a lot of paper! Then, when we get to the office we tell our reports to Wahab, who then collates everything on excel and forwards a weekly summary to Kate. Wahab’s reports focus more on numbers like the number of aquatabs sold, the amount of money the solar women made in a week, and the number of buckets with clean water, instead of on the answers we get from conversations. The number of aquatabs used and purchased helps us figure out how much water is treated and sold each week. We can then see if those numbers align with the sales the women report and what we observe during household visits.


-Eric Angkosaala