Monitoring with the Fellows

Alum training
Alum training

Yesterday started off with alum training. In the fellows site visits to Kurugu Vohoyili and Kpalung the Fellows collected dugout water. They used this water to practive performing water quality tests the lab, and to practice the alum treatment. The alum is the first step in the water treatment process. It works to remove the turbidity from the water—the particle all flock together and fall to the bottom, leaving clear water on top and the sludge on the bottom. Having only seen a video of the women doing it themselves, it was important for the everyone to get comfortable with using alum.

Practicing dugboni
Practicing dugboni

After training, the fellows were off with their translators to get some more Dugbani lessons. They went over the different word pronunciations and then did some mock households-visits to get comfortable with the dialogue.

Later in the afternoon we all headed to the office for a presentation on monitoring given by our Ghana Country Director, Brianan. She went over what we look for in monitoring, how we troubleshoot any issues and really what she does on a day to day basis. Brianan did a great just and the fellows got a good senses as to what monitoring entails.

The Fall Fellows listening as Brianan explains her job as CWS' Ghana Country Director
The Fall Fellows listening as Brianan explains her job as CWS’ Ghana Country Director

The fellows were off early this morning to put their knowledge to the test! They headed off to Manguli and Gbung to do household monitoring. They were all pumped to get back in the field! Tomorrow they will be approaching their new villages– a very exciting day which will be celebrated with a dinner at Swaad!


Fall Fellows in the Field

The 2012 Fall Fellows
The 2012 Fall Fellows

The first day of orientation consisted of a crash course of information about Ghana, the global water crisis, waterbourne disease, different water technologies, and finally the nitty gritty details of how we do it! It was a great day with lots of great discussions.

Presentations were broken up by a midday Scavenger Hunt– a great way to get our fellows out there and comfortable in the hustle and bustle of the Tamale Market. Both teams came back with only three missing items (Obama paraphernalia and a Diet Coke posed to be the hardest to find) but because Wahab’s team made it back first they took the crown!

2012-10-13 10.10.51After some orientation the fellows were off with Sam, Shak and Wahab to get a look into the village lifestyle while also getting to see the water treatment centers working within a community. First stop was Kurugu Vohoyili! Kurugu Vohoyili is one of the smaller villages that we work in, with about 30 households, but the personality of this village is huge! The men, women and kids welcomed the new fellows with smiles and were so excited to hear that they would be implementing into a new village. Fusiena, one of the women that helps run the water center was especially excited and wanted to take a picture with each individual fellow!

2012-10-13 09.49.06Next stop Kaplung! Kaplung is a great example of how the project is one that can be tailored to what’s going to work best in the community. The women who run the center wanted their center in the middle of the village, as opposed to being next to the dugout. As we can explain why most villages put it near their dugout, in the end it is always the communities decision. With the help of donkey carts to transport the water, having the center in the village has turned out to work just fine for Kaplung!

2012-10-13 09.46.41At this point in the day the sun was coming down hard and we were all starting to run low on fuel, it was time to head back into town to grab some grub! After lunch, it was off to the lab for training on water quality testing.


Rain, Rain Won’t You Stay?

While it may be summer where you are, in Tamale, the rainy season is in full swing. There are two seasons in Ghana – the rainy season and the dry season. So the terms “winter, spring, summer, fall” don’t mean much here. The rainy season usually lasts from June until October and August is the month when the rainy season is in full force.  This year Tamale is not getting the rainfall that it normally does in August. It has been raining here about once or twice a week at most in comparison to last year where it rained heavily almost every other day. Rain is crucial for several reasons. Most farmers plant their crops (yams, cassava, groundnuts, corn, rice) at the beginning of the rainy season and rely upon the rain so that their harvest will grow. Irrigation systems are not common among these rural, subsistent farmers. The rainy season is also a nice break from the brutally hot sun that Ghanaians endure for most of the year.

The flooded road to Buhijaa. Amin contemplating– to cross or not to cross? After talking to the boys on the road, we opted for the latter when they told us that a moto had just stopped working after being submerged in mud and water. Until next time Buhijaa!
This woman in Gbandu keeps tally marks on the wall behind her safe storage container to track how many times she has gone to buy water since opening day!

For CWS villages, the rain is very much in line with drinking water. All of the 38 CWS communities rely upon surface water (usually in the form of dugouts) in order for their water treatment centers to function. When it rains, their dugouts fill with water and when it does not rain, this increases their chances of their dugout drying up during the dry season. A dry dugout means no water to treat, which means a closed water treatment center. For example, in Kpachiyili, a village that was implemented in during the winter 2012 fellowship program, they have not been getting much rain. The water level of their dugout is much lower than it usually is this time of year. And their dugout is not the only one. Rain dance anyone?

Sana, the lady who runs the water treatment center in Yapalsi, gives Amin fresh milk to bring home.
Corn harvesting has just begun in Gbung!
A donkey businessman in Kpalung— this boy carries water from the dugout for Azaratu to treat at the water treatment center that is now in town. In June, this businessman was charging 60 pesawas to fill one 200 L drum of water, an obscene amount considering what Azaratu rakes in! After holding a village meeting, this donkey man is now filling free of charge in exchange for his family to use the center for free.

Many of the CWS villages (but not all) also have households that have at least one tin roof that they use to harvest rainwater. So many of the villages will collect rainwater with their safe storage containers to drink and rainwater with their pots for cooking, cleaning and washing. At this time of year, the rainfall is usually so frequent that people can rely upon this system to harvest drinking water. However, now that it is not raining as often, their 20 L  buckets of clean rainwater run out before the next rain comes. In several CWS partnership communities, such as Jerigu, Chani, Nyamaliga, Kpalung, Laligu, Libi, Kagburashe and Kpanayili, the CWS field staff has encountered households that transfer rainwater collected from their pots (that they also use to hold dugout water) into their safe storage containers. This is a big red flag –contamination alert!! And the water samples taken from these containers almost always come back positive for e-coli.

Wahab posing with Fuseina, the lady that runs the water treatment center in Kurugu Vohoyili, and some of the women making Shea butter!

The CWS field staff has been upping the household visits, encouraging people to buy drinking water from the water treatment centers rather than wait for a rain that may or may not come. The households that do this are usually unaware that their water is contaminated. If the rainwater looks clear, then how can it be contaminated? To address this issue head on, CWS field staff, Peter, Shak, Wahab and Amin, have proposed starting short, simple educational presentations to hold in classrooms and in village meetings, to promote germ theory awareness in villages where this has become a problem.  As of now, we are all praying for rain in Tamale, more updates to come.


Peter fixing a leaky bucket in Gbung

A Week of Monitoring

I have officially been in Tamale for a week now, and what a week it has been! After spending a few days getting the office all ready for the Summer Fellows, I headed out to the field to help Shak, Peter, Wahab and Amin monitor some of the newer villages that I had never been to before (crazy!)  It was so much fun to be back in the field and to see how awesome the water businesses are doing in these new communities! Over the past four days I visited Yapalsi, Laligu, Kpalung, Kagburashe, Libi, Gbung (an oldie but goodie), Sakpalua, Buja, Kadula, Kpaniyilli, Kurugu Vohoyilli, and Kpachiyilli!


Everyone in Laligu was asking about the 2012 Winter Fellows!


Shak monitoring water sales in Yapalsi


Amin conducting household visits in Kplung


Peter and I hanging with some of our favorite kiddos in Gbung
Rainy season clouds…


Peter and Wahab checking out the water level in Kagburashe’s polytank


Me and Wahab with the ninos in Gbung






Easter in Tamale!

Easter started out early with a visit to Kurugu Vohoyili! The fellows were off on their own and excited to practice their Dugbani while getting to see the action at a water treatment center! It was a busy morning at the center, which is always exciting to see! After tallying up sold buckets the fellows proceeded to go around household to household. In their household visits they asked when they last filled at the treatment center, took a sample of the water to test back at the lab and were able to just have conversations with people about how they like the center and the taste of the water. All the households they visited were properly using their safe storage container and providing safe drinking water to their families! A successful day in Kurugu Vohoyili!

After a long day in the field, Rich relaxes for a little in the awesome hammock that he brought (summer fellows- maybe you should add this to your packing list!)

That night the fellows, Sam and Kathryn were off to CWS favorite Swad to celebrate Easter with a family dinner! Today is another exciting day for the fellows where they will be approaching their new village for the very first time! Stay posted for what the day brings!

The 2012 Summer Fellows with Sam and CWS Ghana Country Director, Kathryn, enjoying East Dinner at Swad

Voices from the Field: Team C

Its that time again faithful followers! Thats right, our 2012 Winter Fellows have officially started working in their villages and so its time for them to take over the blog to share their stories from the field! First up is Team  C (also known as Team Cool…)

Team C (Peter, Zander, Michelle and Janelle) and our translator Ayisha on one of our first days in our village!

Despa from Tamale!

Yesterday was the first day that we got to meet our village! We left at 8am, but we got lost on the way so it took us almost 2 hours to get there. Being lost was actually kind of fun, we saw a lot of cities and villages, different African landscapes, and even drove through a University Campus! As we were driving, we saw a lot of signs for different NGOs, including The Children’s Fund, World Food Program, and Catholic Relief Services. It hit us that the pictures that we’ve been taking of the “bibala” (children) look just like the pictures in the Save the Children ads that we all see on TV; it made a few of us sad to think about but at the same time we were excited our team is actually here helping. When we made it to our village, Kurugu Vohoyiai, we were greeted by several men. We met the chief and Janelle began to explain to him who we are. Another NGO, Water For Life, had visited the village before us, so at first there was some confusion. Community Water Solutions contacted Water for Life and cleared everything up for us.

Our chief meeting went great! The room that we met in was filled with cassava, and we just sat on a bench with him to tell him about CWS. He seemed really excited to work with us, but explained that he could not simply make a decision for the entire village, so the next day we should come back for a village meeting.

The village meeting today was a huge success! Everyone sat around us in a big circle, the elders to the front of us, the women and girls on one side, and the men and boys on the other. Janelle stood in the middle with Ayisha (our translator), and we talked to them about CWS. We explained how we work without pipes or anything mechanical, we talked to them about the implementation and training process, and we emphasized the importance of clean water. At first, they acknowledged that they weren’t sure how to handle their water problem because the dirty dugout was the only water source god gave them, but as we continued to explain to them they began to understand that there was a connection between the dirty water they were drinking and the diseases in the village. By the end of the meeting, everyone was so excited to get started!

Janelle doing an awesome job explaining CWS during the village meeting while Ayisha translates
The men at the community meeting
Ayesha passing around the water test results that we brought to help show the difference between contaminated water from the dugout and safe drinking water.

We walked over to the dugout with the leader of the village, and together we picked out where the Water Treatment Center will be built. The children of the village followed us all the way back to our car, and held our hands up until it was time to leave. We spent the rest of the day buying supplies so we are ready to start building first thing tomorrow. We can’t wait to get started!

Peter and Janelle on their way to check out the dugout with some new friends from our community!

-Janelle, Zander, Peter, and Michelle