Emergency Water Fund Wrap Up – Part 1: The Numbers

Saha Global’s Emergency Coronavirus Water Fund program. (EWF) ran for 10 months from June 2020 through March 2021.  The program was established to fulfill a government mandate that as part of coronavirus relief, water had to be provided for free for all Ghanaians.  Now that the program is wrapped up, and the team has fully transitioned back to normal operations and can look back and take stock of all the program accomplished.

We ran the EWF program with 226 businesses, and were able to fully fund the program due to a combination of working with generous existing funders and direct fundraising from foundations and individuals, including over 19,750 USD from individual donors on Giving Tuesday 2020.

The EWF focused on enabling women entrepreneurs to give the water for free – by providing the supplies they need for treatment and paying them a wage to replace lost earnings.  We created a bonus structure whereby women could earn an additional 33% on top of the monthly wage if the community reported that water was free and conveniently available all month.

In the 10 months of operation, on average 92.5% of entrepreneurs earned their bonus each month – keeping businesses running throughout the rainy season (roughly mid-June through September), a time when many choose to temporarily close the business due to easy and free rainwater access.  This means that month after month, they continued to treat water and give it away – for free!  When asked, 98% of customers reported free and consistent access to the water.

Water quality remained high throughout the program – 98% of tested polytanks were clean and free from disease-causing E. coli.

When we sum up all the chlorine Aquatabs that were used over the program, women entrepreneurs treated more than 10 million liters of water – a massive increase over previous years.

In addition to treating and giving away clean water, the EWF program also focused on education around mask wearing, social distancing, and hand-washing.  We posted large infographic posters at the water centers and smaller ones on household safe storage containers – over 14,000 pieces of educational material in all.  In staff observations, 94% of the time we saw social distancing protocols followed at the business.  We distributed over 3,000 reusable cloth masks to over 600 women entrepreneurs so they could stay safe while serving their communities – and 95% of the time our staff arrived at the business, they saw the women wearing them.

Overall, we are thrilled with the results of the EWF program. We are proud we could support the government’s goal of providing both health benefits and economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We also learned a lot about the barriers and motivations people have for drinking clean water!  There’s a lot more we will learn as the businesses transition back to self-sustaining enterprises.  For now, we are focusing on opening new businesses again, and working with our existing businesses to keep the momentum from the EWF program going.

In our next post, we will share some of the anecdotes and stories from the field throughout the EWF. Stay tuned!