Updates from the Field: Rainy Season Has Begun!

The rainy season has begun here in Northern Ghana! This means a lot of things for village life:

Villager’s days, (storms permitting), are comparatively busier than during the dry season.

Maize farm outside Kushini

Shea Butter!
Shea nuts were collected and dried before the rains started, and now many afternoons are spent churning this delicious-smelling paste by hand.

Mariam makes shea butter in Tacpuli

Green Growth!
It is incredible how fast things grow now, and the villages are almost unrecognizable for those of us who remember them from January. TJ and I actually got lost on the way to Kushini’s dugout because the grasses had grown so much since our last visit. Good thing we were able to snag Nash here as a guide!

Nyamaliga is GREEEN
We made it! Thank you Nash! He was much happier in person!

Rain! (obviously)
Traditionally during the rainy season, many villagers switch over to rainwater collection so they don’t have to mess with turbid dugout water. In villages with lots of tin roofs, like Yipela, Cheko, Kpalbusi, Gidanturu, and even Tacpuli or Kushini, this means that people are able to use their safe storage containers to capture funneled rainwater. However, in other villages, like Zanzugu-Yipela, Gbateni or Kpalguni, there aren’t enough tin roofs to go around, so many people still rely on the center for drinking water. Needless to say this is a difficult time for monitoring, as some centers remain almost empty (settled blue drums standing by should scooping be necessary) while others deal with even higher demands (Wambong villagers seem to drink even more when it rains). It is also the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, so people aren’t drinking during the day anyway. Lastly, CWS suggestions about healthy rainwater collection take a while to reach every house, so we often find a few empty buckets whose owners weren’t aware that they could use their containers for saa khom (rainwater). This all sounds a bit complicated, but household visits help us feel out village patterns and make it easier to go with the flow. To see how the rain impacted center operations in your favorite villages, check out at the end of the month!

New rainwater catchment arrangement at Zanzugu Yipela's treatment center

As for Shak, TJ, Peter, Wahab and myself, we are just happy when we wake up to roads dry enough to get out of town and into the field!

– Kathryn

Updates from the Field: Kpalbusi, Tacpuli and a New CWS Web Tool!

This week, CWS staff had the chance to spend some quality time in villages new and old.

In Kpalbusi, we checked in on the village’s Fulani community. The Fulani are a group of people with a really different lifestyle than the farmers that make up the majority of our villages. They specialize in raising and herding cattle and live a more nomadic lifestyle, and therefore are a little less settled and a little more transient than most of CWS’ customers. Their settlements are often removed from the central village space, which makes them an interesting challenge for follow-up monitoring! Even so, it is worth taking the time to track the Fulani down. They always offer a unique perspective on village life and CWS’ water treatment operations specifically.

Peter and Wahab in front of the AWESOME Fulani woven houses in Kpalbusi

Since the rainy season began, polytank opening hours in Kpalbusi have become less scheduled. Unfortunately this means that the nine Fulani households have had a difficult time getting to the polytank when it is open. After discussions with the Fulani, Zillifau (one of Kpalbusi’s center operators) and Sachi (Chief) Mohammed alHassan, we all agreed to establish two days with set center hours to help the Fulani with planning. Great teamwork all!

Wahab, Peter and I make friends - This Fulani woman is hilarious, and her granddaughter is just as spunky!

We also spent some time this week in Tacpuli, a Summer 2011 Fellowship village. On Wednesday we spoke to Lashiche who reports that the villagers are all doing a good job of visiting the center regularly. She had one complaint: the polytank had a leak which was making filling difficult. So we came back the next day with materials and showed her how to fix leaks in the future.

TJ, Lashiche, Mariama and Shak Celebrating a Fixed Leak in Tacpuli


The Newest CWS Staff Member: Lasiche's adorable granddaughter even pitched in (read: played with the glue can)!

If your favorite village did not get mentioned in this post, don’t worry! CWS has started using this awesome new web platform that will allow you to follow your village’s monthly ins and outs online! Check it out at Set up alerts to get email notifications of your favorite village’s status, or peruse any and all reports at your leisure. Now you don’t have to wait for blog updates from the field – real time village information is at your fingertips!

– Kathryn

Voices from the Field: The Salaminga Snails!

Hey there from the Salaminga Snails! You might be wondering how we got our name. Salaninga is the local word for “foreigner/white person” and then snails because we make everyone look so slow! Our trip to Ghana has been great so far, we have been working in the village Tacpuli and loving every minute of it. This past week we have been working on setting up our treatment center and preparing it for our opening day on Wednesday. We bought our Polytank, blue buckets, and all other necessary supplies, fitted them on our beautifully crafted Polytank stand and just started the first treatment process today.

The Salaminga Snails: Annie, Christine, Nate and Ben
Peter translating for Annie at our village meeting. She did an awesome job!
Leaving our mark on the polytank stand!

We spent the morning training the two women who would be running the center, Mariama and Laseechey (forgive the butchering of the spelling) who are awesome. They had already used alum in their water before, so the first half of the training was super easy. Afterwards we began distributing buckets to individual households in the hottest part of the day under the blazing African sun. Needless to say every member of our group came out of the field with some pretty gnarly sun burns. We managed to distribute 31 buckets, nearly half of our 68 household village, and look forward to an early morning distributing the buckets tomorrow (a 6:00am wake up is totally worth it to beat the heat). We’re also excited to keep working with Laseechey and Mariama! Tomorrow we will show them how to take the alum-ized (new word?) water and treat it with chlorine.

Christine training Mariama and Laseechey how to use alum to remove turbidity from the dugout water
Peter translating for Annie, Ben and Christine during water treatment training

We also should mention that we have the best translator in CWS history, Peter Biyam. Peter also happens to have the greatest sheep in all of history, “Don’t Forget,” which we purchased from our very own Tacpuli as a way of thanking him. He promises to take very good care of her and we like to know that he will not forget us with Don’t Forget!

Brining "don't forget" home in the truck

Overall the Salaminga Snails are having a great time in Ghana! We’re loving our village, loving our translator, loving our team, and are super excited for our opening day on Wednesday!

Awesome kids at Tacpuli!


-Christine, Annie, Ben, and Nate