Oh Where Oh Where to Put the Polytank?

Peter and Wahab monitor the water treatment center in Kpachiyili. This is a typical center placement. It’s located right next to the dugout. Look at how green it is! This picture was taken during the rainy season, as you can see not flooded!

The placement of the CWS water treatment center is key in running a successful water business. Fellows and CWS translators ask very specific questions when it comes to finding a spot for the polytank. The villagers select where they want their water treatment center based on what dugout or water source they use for the majority of the year and look for an area that does not flood during the rainy season.

But what happens to the water business when a dugout dries up or when people use multiple water sources throughout the year?

In some villages, the women entrepreneurs figure it out for themselves. Adamu and Salamatu in Gariezegu found a metal, moveable polytank stand that was used in the school, which allowed them to move the water treatment center to various wells in the village. After the rainy season, Lasinchi and Mariama in Tacpuli moved the center to a well that was closer to the village and placed the polytank on large branches, using a hose to fill safe storage containers. For the most part though, the women who run the centers have a hard time coping with seasonal transitions on their own.

The chairman in Gariezegu posing with the metal polytank stand.


The CWS policy for moving water businesses in the past has been that the women have the freedom to move the centers as long as they come up with the materials to build polytank stands themselves. CWS wants the centers to be as self-reliant as possible. If we continually help the water businesses to thrive off of our dime, then they will not be sustainable in the long run. But where is the line drawn? We’re realizing on the monitoring side that there is a monetary limit to what we can ask of the women. It costs roughly $38 to build a polytank stand in Ghana. This is more money than most women make in a month working at the water treatment center.

It’s time to start building polytank stands! We’ve decided that by building polytank stands for communities that use multiple water sources, this will take a large burden off of the women who run the water treatment centers. So far we’ve mapped out 11 communities that will need polytank stands built at another source in the next 6 months: Bogu, Djelo, Gbandu, Gbung, Kpalbusi, Kpanayili, Tacpuli, Tohinaayili, Yapalsi, Yipela and Zanzagu Yipela. The communities will still be responsible for moving the polytank and blue drums to the new location when they need to (and making decisions about when to move it) but CWS will fund the building.

                                        Polytank Stand Building 101 with Shak

Our first stop is Djelo, as their water source situation poses the largest threat to the community. The dugout where the center was initially built is starting to dry. The women, Zelia and Fuseina, predict that the dugout will be dry within the month. Luckily, there is another dugout a little farther away that will not dry up. This weekend CWS field staff, Shak and Amin, went to Djelo to build a polytank stand at this second dugout. We wanted to get the stand built before the dugout dried, to make the transition as smooth as possible. This will not cause any behavioral disruption because the villagers of Djelo are going to start going to that second dugout very soon.

                                        Djelo’s plentiful, second dugout.
                                         The stand in Djelo is complete!

The CWS technology in Ghana will only work if there is water to treat. The water businesses will be most successful if they are located next to the water source that the villagers use the most. If that source changes throughout the year, then the center needs to change with it. More updates to come as we continue to build!


Voices from the field: Team G (Gabi, Katie, Jane & Jakob)

Hi Everyone!

DSCN0365Team G here (Gabi, Katie, Jane & Jakob). Today we went to our village, Kulaa, to conduct monitoring of the villager’s safe storage containers. Jakob stayed home with an injured foot (who is now fully recovered) but we had Sam with us, which really helped to get us through an otherwise very hot day in the village.

We started our day on Ghana time (aka slightly later), but we stopped along the way to pick up egg sandwiches, which are heavenly, they consist of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, onions, and Panini bread, all for the price of 1 cedi and 50 pesewas (75 cents) for a two-egg sandwich.

Once in the village we intended to conduct safe drinking water discussions with the children at the school, but everyone was still cleaning the school building since it was the first day back after the holiday break. Instead, we coordinated with the teachers to conduct the safe water discussion tomorrow, and we went household-to-household for monitoring for the rest of the afternoon.

We were very pleased with our monitoring as all of the households had clear water, and everyone exclaimed how they loved the taste of the clean water and would continue to drink the clean water from the polytank.

DSC03715The children continued to follow us as we made our way through the village; each child always tries to cling to each limb/hand/backpack string. One baby in particular is the child of the Queen Mother (basically the older woman who is in charge of the women/children), and this baby is a round little girl with pierced ears, eyeliner, and a belly that says she eats very well! Jane placed one of the children in the open pocket of her backpack (similar to a baby carrier in the US—see picture below). Gabi cleaned and treated a number of gashes on the limbs of the children—we are hoping to teach them to clean their wounds before they become infected. Katie has been attracting many suitors, including one young man, about 20 years old, who approached Katie while she was holding one of the babies and said (Ghanaian accent), “Hello. I want to be your friend (touches her hand). I want to call you at your hotel.”

IMG_0335We all love our village, and the villagers in particular are extremely warm, welcoming, and helpful with everything we bring to them. Tomorrow will be our last day in the village and we plan to shower them with candy, clothes, water bottles, and toys. We will greatly miss our village and everyone in it, but we are confident they will maintain this water business for years and years of good health.



Team G


Its Not a Winter Fellowship Without Some Snow!

The winter storm that made its way from the Midwest to the East Coast over the past few days has been no match for CWS! Despite a handful of flight delays and cancellations, all 26 of our Fellows have either arrived or are enroute to Accra. Saja, Alexa, Corrine, Iyi, Josh, Priya, Caroline, Linda, Sarah, Amanda, Vanessa, Jakob, Rachel and Urooj have all arrived safely in Ghana where they were met by Shak, Peter, Sam, and Kristen. Instead of heading upto Tamale tomorrow, this group will get a day to explore Accra while we wait for Lauren,, Casey, Chris, Emily, Gabriela, Jane, Jordan, Julia, Kara, Katie, Lindsay and Tyler to land on Friday.  Then the whole group will take the bus to Tamale together on Saturday – a day later than originally planned, but a day that can easily be made up for later in our Fellowship schedule.

All of the Fellows have been very plucky travelers despite the frustrating delays.  We can’t wait for them all to arrive in Ghana so the program can officially begin!


Monitoring at Jarigu and Nyamaliga


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!


Alhassan selling water at the Jarigu Water Treatment Center


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:

Sanatu treating dugout water with alum
Getting some clean, healthy water at the Nyamaliga water treatment center!
The new sign at Nyamaliga
Happy customers on their way home with healthy drinking water



Updates from the Field

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:

IMG_3502 IMG_3501

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!

Some Pictures From My First Week in Ghana!

Fati and I outside of her house in Kasaligu
Fati and I outside of her house in Kasaligu
With the Chief of Nymaliga and his safe storage container!
With the Chief of Nyamaliga and his safe storage container!
Peter taking home a gift from Hawa (one of the women who work at the Nymaliga water treatment center) and her family - a big bag of groundnuts (peanuts!)
Peter taking home a gift from Hawa (one of the women who work at the Nyamaliga water treatment center) and her family - a big bag of groundnuts (peanuts!)
Kids goofing off outside the chief's house in Nymaliga
Kids goofing off outside the chief's house in Nyamaliga
Soufoo and I in Nymaliga!
Soufoo and I in Nyamaliga!

Arrived in Accra!


2o hours, one forgotten passport, two flights, and one very long lay-over after arriving at Logan airport, I have arrived safely in Accra!  I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful weather here!  I am used to stepping off the plane and being immediately hit by either a painfully humid heat wave  (in the summer) or cloud of dusty, dry heat (in the winter).  But today was fabulous! About 75 degrees with a nice breeze!  I hope this is typical “fall” weather that stays for the next two months!

I’m staying at the wonderful Chez Lien guest house (with internet and AC!) for the night and heading up to Tamale (very) early tomorrow morning.  Although I do think Chez Lien is great, I’m not the biggest fan of Accra and can’t wait to get up North to see our CWS staff members and friends!

Sunset in Nymaliga, Northern Region Ghana
Sunset in Nyamaliga, Northern Region Ghana