This is the village of Nomnayili, located in the Northern Region of Ghana. Nomnayili is a rural village full of large cotton trees, roaming goats, sheep, chickens, and kind, hard-working people. There are 26 households of Dagomba tribe people in the community and 18 households of Fulani just outside of the community (approximately 340 people). Fulani are a semi-nomadic group of people that raise cattle and usually live on the outskirts of a village. They come from different areas of Africa, so many of them speak different languages as the Dagomba communities.
Yesterday, January 12th our village had its opening day for the water treatment center! Our team and the business women were so excited to distribute the clean water! They have worked so hard learning and treating the dugout water over the last week. We pulled up to the village around 8 am and walked to the dugout. On the walk, we passed many women carrying bins on their heads and we were a little worried they might have already fetched water for the day. After waiting a few minutes we saw the business women walking towards the dugout with buckets balanced on their heads (never ceases to impress me). Moments later, many blue buckets carried by women and kids from the village began to pour in. The business women were totally ready; they already had a perfect system in mind for washing, testing for leaks, and filling the storage containers.
All of the containers were lined up, washed and filled with clean water. It was amazing to see the women and kids so happy and grateful to have a sustainable way of attaining a resource that is a basic human right. The kids were downing water bottles that they filled with the treated water, which was a strong contrast to seeing them scoop up dug out water to drink just days before. Mariama, one of the business women, was so happy that she was clapping and dancing when we finished. We tried to teach the kids how to do the footloose dance, but they were being shy and just kinda stared at me. However, the kiddos sure do love having their picture taken!
All the Dagomba households came and left with their filled buckets, but we still hadn’t seen the Fulani households. After sending a couple of kids to spread the word that the center was open, the Fulani began to pour in. At first they were a little hesitant (remember they don’t speak the same language), but after showing them some direction their buckets were filled as well! It was great to see the two communities working with each other so that everyone has access to clean water.
By the end of the morning, all but one household showed up to fill at least one bucket with water! The Polytank ran out after the last bucket, but the women already had settled water to add and treat with chlorine. To finish off opening day, Mariama told us how grateful she and the other business women are for the water treatment center and all of our help. The truth is, we didn’t do too much other than bring the materials and the process. We learned a lot more from them about having a positive attitude and being thankful for everything that we have.
Our team spent the weekend in and out of around Tamale’s markets buying supplies to build Naviali Guma’s (or Guma for short) water treatment center with the Village’s women entrepreneurs. This past weekend we bought three 200L blue drums to treat water with alum, a 140 Rambo Polytank to disinfect alum treated water with chlorine (1400 L), locks, keys, and a chain to keep the center’s parts together. We also bought our welded metal stand to place the polytank on top of so the polytank tap is high enough from the ground to fill each household’s two liter safe storage containers. We picked up 20 SSCs, covers, and taps as well to distribute to the households.
On Friday we brought our metal stand to the village to paint a light blue. The whole village was involved and Ayii, one of Guma’s women entrepreneurs ran to us from her household and started painting with the village elders and some teenagers.
On Saturday, we brought our blue drums and on Sunday we brought our polytank into our village. We cleaned the blue drums with soap and hot dug out water. The village had decided to place the center by the dug out. So we had a lot of help carrying the blue drums, metal stand, and polytank to the dug out. It’s roughly a 20-25 minute walk from the center of The village. Men from Guma made sure the treatment center was placed on flat ground in the shade. Several women filled each blue drum from dug out water, so we could train Ayii and Mayimantu to treat the particulate water with alum.
We explained to Ayii and Mayimantu that particulates make the dug out water turbid, or opaque. Alum separates the positively charged particulates from the negatively charged water. After swirling one to two balls of alum the size of one fist underneath the surface of dug out water, particulates usually will settle to the bottom of a 200L drum of dig out water. The amount of alum needed to remove particulates from dug out water depends on the turbidity of the water. My team advised Ayii and Mayimantu to treat dug out water with one ball first, let the particles settle for twenty four hours, and then revisiting the drums to see if the water needs to be retreated with another ball. After twenty four hours, the 200L drums are to be treated with alum if the water is still turbid, but the women entrepreneurs should only wait fifteen to twenty minutes for particulates to settle. Treating water turbidity is almost like a guess and check process.
After we treated some dug out water for turbidity, we used it to clean the poly tank. Taufik and several men from our village removed the poly tank from the stand and placed it onto the ground. Ayii and Maimantu splashed roughly a fourth of one treated 200L blue drum into the poly tank, and we scrubbed the inside and the mouth of the polytank with some detergent. After we emptied the poly tank a few times through the tap and the water came out clear, we added another fourth to two fourths of the treated blue drum water into our poly tank. We also added one chlorine aqua tab. We told Guma’s women entrepreneurs usually one aqua tab is to be used to disinfect the transparent water after scooping one 200L blue drum into the polytank. This time however, we used one chlorine aqua tab and less than 200L to concentrate the water and clean the polytank for the first time.
While my team instructed Ayii and Mayimantu how to clean their center’s polytank and drums, My team had noticed another woman, also named Mayimantu has been present at all our trainings. We asked the village to consider her as another woman entrepreneur. Though she is still breastfeeding her daughter, she is very helpful, and engaged at all our trainings so the village allowed us to continue to train her, and Guma’s originally appointed women entrepreneurs will continue working with her when she has the time.
Today, we returned to Guma to distribute one 2L safe storage container to ten households out of the twenty one households in Guma. During this time, my team explained SSC’s cost 20 pesweas to fill at Guma’s water treatment center, and that cost contributes towards the center’s maintenance: the cost of buying aquatics, alum, replacement locks, keys, even saving for emergencies if the center needs a new poly tank or blue drums. We also explained to villagers that treated water from the center goes into the SSC through the top lid, and in the household it should only come out of the tap. A designated cup should be close to every household’s SSC and water can be received from the tap. To prevent contamination, is not to be scooped with cups from the top of the SSC. Every SSC should be placed at least 6 inches from the ground, so a cup can fit underneath the tap.
Today we also showed Guma’s three women entrepreneurs, Ayii, Mayimantu, and Mayimantu how to screw taps inside safe storage containers, so they can address any leaks in household SSC’s before a full time Saha monitor. Tomorrow we will continue to distribute the rest of Guma’s safe storage containers to the households and Fulani. We will also check on the water the women treated this afternoon.
With this post, we’re kicking off our “Field Rep Voices” segment for winter 18! What better way to keep you up to date with the progress of our 4 new water business implementations then to hear from our Field Reps themselves? Over the next few weeks, you’ll have the chance to hear from each team about the challenges and successes of all our new business. So without further ado, take it away, Team Dzorsah!
We have been having a great time in our village, Kujeri, in Ghana’s Northern Region! On our first day in the village, we met with the chief to propose our clean water business, and every day since then has gone incredibly well.
Over the past nine days, we have collected and monitored their current dugout water; selected our four female entrepreneurs (Asana, Abu, Mayama, and Mamemumat); and started building the treatment center. Our team has also loved exploring the Tamale market during our free time!
Mamemouna poses for her picture.
One of the most rewarding experiences was showing the clean and dirty 3M samples during the chief, elder, and community meetings. It was striking for everyone in the village to see the positive tests for bacteria and E.coli in their own dugout water sources for the first time – and it got everyone further inspired and enthusiastic towards building the sustainable center soon!
Additionally, everyone in the village has been so friendly, welcoming, and grateful. One of the highlights was when the village chief presented us with a guinea fowl and 16 cassava yams to express his thanks! To balance work and play, we also play soccer with the kids most afternoons.
Our driver Hustla and our translator Dzorsah have been amazing, and make every dusty drive to Kujeri a good time (#SAHArmattan). We are so excited for the opening day of Kujeri’s clean water business this Thursday!