The countdown until the start of the 2011 Summer Fellowship Program is officially in single digits! The Fellowship Leaders arrive in Tamale on Sunday and the Fellows are just a few days behind them. We can’t wait!

This week I finished up my visits to all of the CWS villages,tagging along with Shak and Peter as they  checked-up on Nyamaliga, Chongashe and Gbong.

CWS' second-ever water treatment center in the village of Nyamaliga! We opened this water business in January of 2009 and its been one of our most successful businesses!
This is Gbong dugout. All of these green leaves were blown/carried by a stream into the dugout after a big rain storm a few weeks ago. It looks very very strange! Thanks to the support of iContact (Gbong's village sponsor) the community no longer has to drink from this water source!
TJ and Shak checking up on the water treatment center in Chongashe. Everything was running smoothly but the community misses Sanita, Fabiola, Eleanor and Rachel!
The Chongashe dugout. Its gotten much lower and more turbid since the Winter Fellows were here in January.

This week I also met with Unicef and a representative from the Central Gonja District Assembly who updated me on our Unicef-CWS villages, Kampong, Alipe, Mile 40, Gilanzegu, and Nyanguripe. One of Unicef’s goals in partnering with us and the Central Gonja District was to “build the capacity of the local government”. One way that we have tried to do this was to pass on the monitoring of these water businesses to the District Assembly. Handing over this responsibility to the government has been challenging for CWS because we are very invested in our communities and like to know that the water businesses are succeeding. We have learned a lot over the past three years about how to successfully monitor our businesses and are used to being the ones in control! Despite these challenges, we recognize the importance of engaging the local government and are glad that Unicef has been able to facilitate this partnership. The District reported that for the most part, these 5 villages are doing well. The few problems that they are experiencing are all things that CWS has dealt with before and we hope to help the District solve them over the next few months. A big thanks to Gerry and Judy O’Connell, the Medfield Fit Girls, The Nolan’s, The Reids, and CWS Facebook Causes Team for sponsoring these  villages – I’ll hopefully have some new pictures from them shortly!

Opening Day in Kampong

Yesterday, we opened our 8th CWS water business in the village of Kampong! It such a fun and busy morning with 26 out of the 29 households in the village showing up to buy water!


Opening day in Kampong!

Kampong is a rural village of about 525 people, located in the Central Gonja District of Northern Region Ghana, 40 minutes outside of the capital city, Tamale.


Little girl in Kampong

CWS first learned of the need for clean water in Kampong from Unicef, who had been working in the village on water and sanitation projects, but could not figure out a sustainable way to bring safe drinking water to the community.  In the past Unicef has funded borehole drilling (which is not successful in most of Northern Region Ghana due to a lack of non-saline groundwater sources accessible to drilling) and household water treatment but was looking for a new, simple solution and was interested in our for-profit, water business approach. The water treatment business in Kampong is the first of 5 Unicef-CWS partner villages in the Central Gonja district. Here are some pictures from the past week in Kampong:

Sanatu and Santu (yes they have the same name!) the two women who run the water business in Kampong



Day one of water treatment training: Sanatu and Sanatu rolling balls of alum
Finished product: lots of alum balls
Day one of water treatment training: using alum to remove turbidity from the water


Peter, passing out safe storage containers and showing people how to use the tap.


Shak using the results from our water quality testing to show people the "small germs that you can't see" in the water.
Water Treatment Training Day 2: Scooping the water (now clear!) into the polytank where it will be treated with chlorine
The final product! Clear, clean, (microbe-free!) drinking water 🙂
The water treatment centers become a hot spot for village gossip. We love watching the ladies hang out and chat while they fill up their safe storage containers.


Oops! Ladies got a little bit distracted by all the gossiping and started losing track of their safe storage containers! Here are me and our new translator, TJ, using the list of household names and numbers to clear up the confusion!
Despite the fact that the very sight of me makes most babies in the villages burst into tears (like this little guy! they are terrified of my pale complexion...), their Mothers always insist that I hold them. I don't mind 🙂
Bucket full - heading home!

This water business is sponsored by the awesome Medfield FitGirls. Thank you to FitGirls founder, Sarah Nixon, and all of the FitGirls who raised the money to support this water business. Your hard work has really made a difference in the lives of the people in Kampong!

Thank you FitGirls!
Thank you FitGirls!!!


Community Water Solutions implemented our first water business in June 2008 in the village of Kasaligu in the Northern Region of Ghana.

7 months later, in January of 2009, we opened our second water business in Nyamaliga.

9 months later, in October 2009 we opened our third water business Jargiu.

After a successful holiday season of fundraising and with the help of our 2010 Summer Fellows, we opened four new water businesses during the first half of 2010, in Cheko, Gbong, Gidanturu, and Wambong.

We’ve spent the past two and half years slowly expanding, learning new things from each village, and slightly modifying our approach based on these lessons. We’ve learned a lot about fundraising, about building a non-profit, and about harnessing the enthusiasm and knowledge of willing volunteers.

We still have a lot to learn.

But, we now have the experience and resources to finally start scaling-up, and we’re planning to do it quickly! There are about 900,000 people in the Northern Region of Ghana (and 884 million around the world!) without clean drinking water, and we’re really excited to start making a significant dent in that number!

This November (as in right now!) CWS is implementing three new water businesses in the villages of Kampong, Galizengu, and Nyanguripe. By the end of December, we will be in two more.  By February 2011, with the help of the 2011 Winter Fellows we will be in a total of 19 villages in Northern Region Ghana. In just three months, we are going to more than double to the amount of people we serve and we have no plans of slowing down!

Of course, the scale-up of CWS would not have been possible without your support. I would like to send out a big


to everyone who has supported CWS over the past two years. We would especially like to thank the Public Service Center and the Legatum Center at MIT for funding our first two pilot villages, as well as our awesome village sponsors: Volunteer Shredding (Jarigu), iContact (Gbong), an anonymous friend (Cheko), Colleen and Jeff Clopeck (Gidanturu), The Medfield FitGirls (Kampong), Gerry and Judy O’Connell (Gilanzegu), The Nolans (Nyanguripe), The Reids (one of the villages for December), and the CWS Facebook Causes Team (the second village in December). Finally, I would also like to thank Jay Roche whose generous donation helped us to purchase the CWS Truck (without which, this scale-up would not be possible.) THANK YOU ALL!

Here are some pictures from our work over the past week in Kampong and Galinzegu. I have taken A LOT more, but the internet has been slow and sporadic, so these will have to do for now! I’ll keep trying to put more up on this blog as soon as possible!

A cow, standing in and drinking water from the Kampong dugout - the only source of drinking water in this village.
Peter and Shak building the water treatment center in Kampong
Little boys in Galinzegu who helped us build the polyank stand
Amina and Samata, the two women in Gilanzegu who will be running at the CWS water business. They are awesome! (and LOVE getting their picture taken!)
Finishing up the polytank stand in Gilanzegu.
A garaou of dugout water in Gilanzegu. This is the water that people in the village are currently drinking.