Having been in Ghana for two weeks now, all of the new water and solar businesses are well under way. Generally, all of the field reps seem super excited, willing to learn and adapt, and grateful to be a part of such a rewarding experience. Despite continuous trouble-shooting and two team members falling ill and missing a day in the village, Team Nestor’s water project in the village of Jukuku will open Wednesday, June 15th. We have spent the last week building the water treatment center, training the women in how to use alum and chlorine as well as managing money, and distributing safe storage containers. Teaching the treatment process and the money management is one of the most vital components of the entire implementation process, but also one of the most rewarding as we see the women truly begin to take full ownership of their business.
Our next steps are to finish distribution, educate, and monitor following opening day. As we are near opening day it is incredible to see the whole village rally around the women, whether its them having heard of our work before we meet them or just being super willing to take part because they understand the importance of clean water. Being the largest of the water businesses during this Global Leadership Program session, we have had a load of long and hard days, but we also have had fun and enlightening days. At the end of it, we realize that our work with Saha Global is something we chose not because we thought it would be easy, but because it matters.
Starting a safe drinking water treatment center in Kanjeyili has been a community effort through and through. Kanjeyili’s community elected women entrepreneurs Aisha, Aishatu, Awau and Mayama are eagerly learning and getting involved in every aspect of the center from water treatment to managing the business. They are supported by other community members who help in whatever way they can and enthusiastically take ownership of the benefits of the center for their village. Kanjeyili’s successful treatment center depends on both the entrepreneurs and the community’s support and understanding of the business.
Kanjeyili’s women entrepreneurs quickly took the reins of the treatment process. We demonstrated how to use the alum to clear sediment from the water and they took a hands-on approach to trying the process themselves. By day two of training, they didn’t hesitate to fill the blue drums with dugout water and started treating it with alum right away. Alum treatment is an overnight process and they understand how important it is to the business to have water ready to treat and serve. Again, the community came out to support this process by carrying the heavy drums of water and helping form a six-month supply of alum balls. Having completed the first step of the process, the entrepreneurs moved on to disinfection.
Having successfully cleared the first batch of water with alum, the women entrepreneurs began scooping the water into the Polytank.* The Polytank disinfection step is the last in ensuring all E.Coli is removed from the water and is safe to drink. The community knew their dugout was making them sick, but showing them the results of the lab tests drove home the importance of the safe water center. The women entrepreneur’s primary responsibility is to continue the operation of the treatment center. Although they were apprehensive about charging a small fee for the water, both entrepreneurs and community came to understand the fee ensured the longevity of the safe water center. The women entrepreneurs keep in mind the price of filling a household’s safe storage container must be affordable for the entire village. This way, the entrepreneurs can provide an important service for the community, and in turn, the community drives the profitability and continuity of the business.
Kanjeyili’s safe water treatment center will continue to be successful because the community both needs and supports its service. Their entrepreneurs are highly competent and efficient at both water treatment and management because they dove into all aspects of the process. The community is helping with every step along the way, whether lending a hand to paint or carrying water to treat. This shared sense of ownership puts Kanjeyili on the road to better health and the success of their water treatment center.
*Polytank: Large drum with a tap commonly found in Ghana to store drinking water.