Since opening day at Jarigu on October 17th, 98% of the households in the village have visited the water treatment center at least once, while 74% have come a second time and almost 50% have come three times. These are some of the best uptake and sustained use results that we have seen in any CWS village!
The rain has finally stopped in Northern Region Ghana and the path to the water treatment center at Nyamaliga is FINALLY dry enough to open the center. Sanatu (the woman who runs the center in Nyamaliga) officially re-opened for business last week and has been very busy. Right now she is opening the center about 5 times a week and plans to be open everyday once the dry season officially gets underway. Currently,about 5 to 20 people are buying water each day and we expect this to increase as we move into the dry season. Here are some pictures from the re-opening at Nyamaliga:
Peter and I have been very busy getting things set up in Jarigu this week. Here are some pictures from the past 7 days!
Monday and Tuesday: Building the polytank stand
One of the first steps in setting up a CWS water treatment center is building the polytank stand. We try to work with a local mason to build the stand, but since none of the men in Jarigu were experienced masons, Soufoo, our good friend from Nyamaliga, came to help!
Wednesday: Delivering the polytank and the blue tubs
Since Kasaligu now has access to municipal water, we decided to move their water treatment center to Jarigu. This is something that we discussed in detail with the Kasaligu chairman and with Fati, the woman who works at the center. They were both happy to move their polytank to a new village that needed the treatment center (we will still be working with Kasaligu on safe water storage to prevent the re-contamination of the piped water in their homes, and Fati will be selling small Aquatabs that people can use to chlorinate their own water). Originally, Peter and I planned to either rent a truck or find one of the cheap peterbilt used trucks for sale to move the polytank, but we decided at the last minute to use a taxi instead. A few hours and two runs-in with the police later, the polytank and the three blue tubs that make up the water treatment center arrived safely in Jarigu.
Thursday: Distributing Safe Storage Containers and Water Treatment Training
On Wednesday, Peter and I visited each household in Jarigu to distribute the CWS safe storage containers. Although it takes a long time to pass out the containers to each family individually, its a great way to make sure everyone in the village understands the project and the connection between water and health, and learns the importance of safe water storage through the use of water storage containers. Water can be kept safe and clean when stored in one of these. There are various sized containers available, depending on the need and quantity of people. As there is not always running water, it is only best for numerous amounts of villages to have access to these containers. It makes life just a little bit easier for the residents. Just like with any job, it was a LONG but fun and rewarding day!
On Thursday we also started water treatment training. Usually, we will work with members of the community to select two women to be in charge of the water treatment center, who we then train to treat the dugout water. The village then decides what time of the day and how often they would like the center to be open. We like working with women because they are usually the ones in charge of all water-related household activities (collecting water, cooking, washing, etc) In Jarigu, however, we are doing things differently. This village already had a local man, Alhassan, “guarding” the dugout. He sits by the dugout all day long to make sure that no one walks too far into the water (this helps to prevent Guinea Worm contamination). Since Alhassan was already sitting right next to the water treatment center, the village thought that he should be the one in charge of it and we agreed. Since Alhassan will be at the dugout all day, everyday, the water treatment center can be open all of the time. While this makes it a little bit harder for us to monitor (instead of coming to the village for a few hours on the days the center is open, we will have to be there all day if we want to observe the center’s sales), it is much more convenient for our customers in Jarigu! Here are some pictures from our first night of water treatment training with Alhassan – he is a quick learner and very fun to work with!
Friday: Water treatment training day 2
On Friday morning we returned to Jarigu for the second day of water treatment training with Alhassan. We transferred the water from the blue tubs (now “clear”) into the polytank and treated it with Aquatabs, a chlorine product that disinfects the water. Its now ready for opening day!
Saturday: Opening Day!
Opening day in Jarigu was a big success! 34 families came to buy water from Alhassan and a good time was had by all! Thank you again to Susan and Greg Gintoff at Volunteer Shredding, LLC for sponsoring this water treatment center!
After two weeks of visiting many rural villages in Northern Region Ghana, we have selected Jarigu to be the next site for a CWS water treatment business. Not only does Jarigu meet all of the CWS village criteria (the only source of water is a dugout, the dugout does not dry-out in the dry season, the village is the right size, and there are no current water treatment projects), but it is also about 10 minutes away from Nyamaliga, which will make monitoring the two villages much easier Peter (our project manager). I met with the village elders today to explain the project and they were very eager to work with us and seemed to really understand the idea of a water treatment business. Over the next two weeks Peter and I will be working with members of Jarigu to build the water treatment center, distribute safe storage containers to every family, and select and train two women to work at the center. We are really excited to start implementing in this village and look forward to updating everyone on our progress. Thank you to Volunteer Shredding, LLC, Greg and Susan Gintoff for sponsoring this CWS water treatment business! Your donation is providing a permanent source of clean water for ~750 people!
I spent the beginning of this week in Accra, the capital of Ghana, meeting with The Melcom Group, the company that manufactures the buckets that CWS has been using for our safe storage containers. Safe storage is a key component of the CWS water treatment model because it helps to prevent re-contamination of the water in the home. In the past, we have purchased these buckets from a retailer in Tamale, and installed taps in them ourselves. This was a very long, arduous task that involved heating a metal pipe on a gas stove and punching holes in hundreds of plastic buckets.
Were we based elsewhere, like in Australia for instance, we could speak to other experts (like those from https://shop.storemasta.com.au/collections/bunded-storage) to help us out with these options. Safe storage of chemicals for water treatment is important, after all. Still, we made do with what was available to us in this circumstance, and all in all we were hopeful for a good outcome.
Well, the meetings in Accra were a huge success! Not only did Melcom sell us the buckets and taps at the wholesale price, but they also punched holes in the buckets for us and shipped them to Tamale for free. The buckets arrived in Tamale today, only two days after I ordered them!
I can’t believe that its already been a week since I left the U.S. It has been really fun being back in Tamale and visiting the CWS water treatment centers. Unfortunately, I was totally fooled by the weather in Accra, it is NOT cool and breezy up north, in fact is is horribly hot! It is nearing the end of the rainy season, all of the crops are fully grown and ready for harvest. I have never been to Tamale in September before and it was quite a surprise to see Maize (corn) and other crops growing right in the middle of the village!
Here are some updates on the two pilot villages!
Since the CWS team left Tamale last January, Hawa and Sanatu (the women running the water treatment center in Nyamaliga) have been opening it for business every Thursday morning. The women are happy with the number of people that are coming to the center and enjoy working there. A couple of months ago, the ladies finished their first batch Aquatabs (one of the products used to treat the water) and had to buy more. While this may not seem like a big deal, it was a very exciting event for the CWS team! This means the women were treating the water correctly (they ran out of Aquatabs at the right time) and that they had saved the right amount of money (they had enough funds put aside to buy more Aquatabs)!
Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago the path to the water treatment center flooded and people from Nyamaliga have not been able to get there to buy water. The chief thinks that the path should dry out in the next week or so, so hopefully we can get things up and running soon! Although the flood disappointing, I am glad that I am here to see how the village has reacted. It is very important that our CWS team learns how the water supply in this region changes throughout the year so we can be more prepared for situations like this as we expand to other villages.
I have started going around to households in Nyamaliga to see where people have been getting their drinking water since the center has been closed. So far I have been to just over ten households and have been very pleased with the results. Most of the families have continued to use their safe storage containers to store their drinking water! This means that the people in Nyamaliga understood the importance of safe storage to reduce the risk of re-contamination. Since the center has been closed, most of the families in Nyamaliga have been drinking rainwater, or water from a nearby well. Over the next week I am going to continue this monitoring and start testing the quality of the rain/well water that people have collected. So stayed tuned for the results! I am also planning to work with Hawa, Sanatu, and the village elders to come up with a “rainy season plan” for the treatment center in case another flood like this happens in the future. Here are some pictures of people using their safe storage containers in Nyamaliga:
In other news, Hawa recently had a baby boy! His name is Alhassan and he is precious! Pics to come soon!
When our team was in Ghana last January, Kasaligu had just recently began receiving piped water a few days a week. The water flowed sporadically and members of the village never knew when the pipe would work or for how long. (At that time, Ghana was in the middle of an election, and the village leaders were convinced that once the election was over, the pipe would stop flowing). Fati (the women who works at the center) and the village leaders decided to keep the water treatment center open once a week to make sure that the community had access to safe drinking water when the pipe was not flowing.
Well the election has come and gone and Kasaligu is still getting municipal water! In fact, they now have access to piped water all day, everyday! It turns out that Kasaligu’s increased access to clean water is the result of the Biwater project in Tamale. This is very exciting news because it means that the city is improving and expanding their infrastructure to include more rural areas. While there has been some controversy about the project, our team is hopeful that it will be a success. Here are some pictures of one of the public standpipes in Kasaligu, providing piped municipal water to the village:
Now that Kasaligu has consistent access to municipal water, CWS’s involvement in the village is going to change. I have discussed the situation with the village chairman and with Fati, and we have decided to move the treatment center to a village that is outside the reach of the BiWater project (and therefore will not have access to piped water any time in the foreseeable future). CWS will still work with Kasaligu by helping promote safe water storage. In the future, Fati may also help me teach the women in the new village how to treat water from the dugout (since she is a pro by now AND can speak Dagboni!) Ill make sure to keep everyone posted on these changes over the next couple of months!