This is my first official post as Ghana Country Director and what an exciting time it is to be updating everyone following the CWS blog on what we’ve been up to since the 2014 Summer fellows left.
Thanks to the fellows, CWS has opened water treatment businesses in eleven more communities: Original Kabache, Sabonjida, Janakpam, Manguli II, Wuvogu, Wuvogumani, Changyili, Jangbarayili, Balamposo, Kagbal, and Sagbarigu, as well as set up a solar business in Yapalsi. This brings the total number of communities we are working in to 71! In addition to the newly established water and solar businesses, nine villages are now independent: Tijo, Tindun, Libi, Changashi, Kpenchila, Nyamaliga, Buja, Kushini, and Zanzugu. At Community Water Solutions, self-sufficiency is our end goal in the communities where we work. Data collected over the years of household visits we have done since the inception of these businesses has shown that the centers have been up and running and community members have purchased water at the center on consistent bases. The staff at CWS will still monitor and assist the women entrepreneurs to ensure the centers continue to run successfully, but we are proud to add them to our list of 23 total independent villages!
On the monitoring side of operations, going to the field this week with Amin, Shak, Wahab, and Eric has been a lot of fun. Figuring out the logistics of integrating our new communities into our existing monitoring schedules was challenging, but the guys have done an amazing job with handling the extra responsibility. Having heard so much from the fellows about the women and community members, I was really eager to go and see the new centers for myself! On Monday, Amin and I went to Jakapam, Manguli II, Wuvogu, and Wuvogumani. While the fellows were still here monitoring in their villages after opening day, community members of Janakpam had made it known during household visits that they felt the water tasted too strongly of alum, the chemical the women use in the first stage of treatment. This is typically a learning process when centers are first established; it is not an easy task to ensure an appropriate amount of alum is used to treat the turbidity of the water while also meeting the taste preferences of consumers. When the women heard of this, they wasted no time coming up with a creative solution: adding water from the polytank to the dugout water in the blue drums so that the alum would settle, then adding one chlorine tablet per blue drum scooped in to the polytank. This worked for the water they sold during the first days after the center opened and by the time Amin and I came to speak with the women on Monday, the problem had been completely fixed and community members no longer had any complaints about the taste of the water.
While monitoring with Eric on Wednesday, Arasheitu, one of the entrepreneurs running the business in Kagbal, joined us for household visits. As a way to gauge our efforts to educate community members on the health benefits of drinking clean water, one of the questions we ask households when monitoring is, “Do you know why dugout water is unsafe to drink?” Anytime we asked this question and a community member would respond with, “No,” Arasheitu stepped in to explain why dugout water was unsafe to drink and the negative implications it has for health. Community members also told Eric and I that Arasheitu and her colleagues at the center, Adamu and Sanatu, were teaching people how to collect rainwater properly and reminding people to come and refill at the center with their safety storage containers on a regular basis. It was really amazing to see the level of Arasheitu’s initiative and her enthusiasm for helping her community. Eric and I also lucked out because one of the women in Kagbal had recently given birth to a baby boy and community members were celebrating the naming ceremony. Thanks to the CWS fellows and the women of Kagbal hard at work running the treatment center, this new addition to the community, Abrahim, will always have the option of clean drinking water. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as Ghana Country Director.
I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and interacting with the entrepreneurs and community members of the newly established treatment centers. As with all of the entrepreneurs we work with, these women are creative, kind, and devoted to improving the lives and health of the members of their communities. Their level of enthusiasm for running the treatment centers and the amount of hard work they put in to make sure their community has the option of clean drinking water never ceases to amaze me. I look forward to working with them during my time as Ghana Country Director.