Community Water Solutions

To implement community-level water treatment businesses in communities of the developing world that: - are run by members of the community - provide clean water for residents of that community - generate economic growth and - empower women in the community
Sep 24, 2011

The Importance of Monitoring

The rainy season in Ghana has arrived, which for CWS means a halt in new village implementations and a change of focus to monitoring. Traditionally during the rainy season, many villagers switch over to rainwater collection. In CWS villages that have houses with 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 CWS water treatment centers for drinking water. Needless to say, the say the dry-to-rainy-season-transition can be tricky 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), which is why we switch our focus away from expansion to monitoring during this season. CWS' new Ghana Country Director, Kathryn, recently wrote an article for the CWS blog about the importance of monitoring which we would like to share with our network of globalgiving donors so you can each gain some insight into her work on the ground. So with out further ado, here's what Kathryn:

Monitoring and evaluation can often seem like the less glamorous younger sister of exciting implementation, who comes first, steals the show, is effortlessly photographable and charms everyone around her. As a CWS staff member whose job starts when the implementers go home, however, I’m here to tell you that monitoring ensures that implementation becomes something more than superficial AND has a certain charm of her own!

Kpalung center operator, Zaratu, and her son pose for a picture during a check-up conversation. Kpalung continues to impress follow-up staff (and hopefully visa versa)!

 

I recently read that, disturbingly, 50,000 rural water points representing $215-360 million in investments are in disuse or disrepair across the continent of Africa. This trend holds in the context of Northern Ghana, where we operate. In 2009, IIED surveys reported that 58% of established water points needed repair in this region. ABSURD!! While it is awesome to take pictures on opening day, it is even more awesome to take pictures 5 or 10 or 20 years down the line, with projects that continue work in the communities they were intended to serve.

CWS’ dedication to monitoring and evaluation led me to participate this week in a webinar titled “Test of Time: Practical Tools and Methods for Post-Implementation Monitoring”. I joined 90 other water and sanitation practitioners who listened to a panel discussion from sector leaders and innovators, moderated by Water for People’s CEO (and my long time celebrity crush… too lame?) Ned Breslin. The discussion was interesting in many ways, but what struck me most was how many cutting-edge monitoring “innovations” are already engrained in CWS daily operations! Routine project follow up? CHECK. Customer satisfaction surveys? DAILY. Use and publicizing of crowd-sourcing technologies like SMS, mapping, and data collection? Our new monitoring platform, ghanawaters.crowdmap.com has all these capabilities! I gotta say I was pretty proud of our commitment to follow-up that day. That’s not to say we don’t have ways to grow. Cool opportunities for continued follow-up include continuing an emphasis on behavior change and health education, continuing “capacity building” (NGO-ish for helping people become more competent and confident in relevant skill sets), and incorporating supplies like extra buckets and chlorine into the village market scene. But, with the help of some intensive initial monitoring (which allows us to DETECT problems, SOLVE problems, and SCALE UP solutions), 10 and 20 years down the line I envision CWS partner villages being functioning, self-sufficient and satisfied customers.

Here’s to bucking the trend!

-Kathryn

Links:

Jun 21, 2011

The 2011 Summer Fellowship Program

The Salaminga Snails: Annie, Christine, Nate & Ben
The Salaminga Snails: Annie, Christine, Nate & Ben

Another busy quarter for Community Water Solutions! In March, we welcomed Samantha Derrick and Kathryn Padgett to the CWS Team. Both Sam and Kathryn participated in the 2011 Winter Fellowship Program and now join our team as the US Director of Operations and Development (Sam) and the Ghana Country Directory (Kathryn). We are so thrilled to have them as part of the CWS family and have been very impressed with their work thus far! 

In addition to Sam and Kathryn, CWS also welcomed 28 volunteers to Ghana this summer for the fourth session of the CWS Fellowship Program. The Program was a great success, and resulted in the opening of 7 new water businesses in rural Ghana. Throughout their time in Ghana, each Fellowship team took turns writing posts for the Community Water Solutions blog. We thought it would be interesting to include one of their posts in this report, so that our supporters can learn about the Program through the Fellows' perspective! Without further ado, here are some "voices from the field":

Voices from the Field: The Salaminga Snails!

June 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Fellowship ProgramImplementationTacpuli | Leave a comment Edit this post

Hey there from the Salaminga Snails! You might be wondering how we got our name. Salaminga 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.

We spent the morning training with 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.

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!

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!

-Nate, Annie, Christine and Ben


Peter translating for Annie at our village meeting
Peter translating for Annie at our village meeting
Leaving our mark on the polytank stand!
Leaving our mark on the polytank stand!
Christine training Mariama & Laseechey
Christine training Mariama & Laseechey
Bringing "don
Bringing "don't forget" home in the truck
Awesome kids at Tacpuli!
Awesome kids at Tacpuli!

Links:

Feb 18, 2011

The 2011 Winter Fellowship Program

The 2011 CWS Winter Fellows
The 2011 CWS Winter Fellows

This winter, Community Water Solutions brought 28 volunteers with us to Ghana for our second and third-ever sessions of the CWS Fellowship Program. As we mentioned in previous reports, the CWS Fellowship Program is a three-week water education and leadership training experience in Northern Region Ghana. The purpose of the fellowship is to teach individuals about the global water crisis, and inspire them to become leaders in the field of international development. Fellows are grouped in teams of four and paired with a rural community in Northern Region Ghana. Each team works together to raise enough funds to cover their trip expenses before coming to Ghana  On the ground, teams are first trained in water quality testing, and the CWS water treatment methods. They then spend two weeks in the field implementing and monitoring a CWS water business in their village.

This winter's Fellowship Program sessions were a huge success! In just 5 weeks, our 7 teams of fellows provided permanent sources of safe drinking water for over 4,200 people. We were so impressed with the Fellows' positive attitudes and incredible work ethics. It was a pleasure to work with such passionate young people and we are lucky to have all of our Fellow Alumni as part of our CWS family. We can’t wait to see the amazing impact that they all will undoubtedly have on the world!

Thank you to all of our donors who have made it possible for us to offer this incredible opportunity to students and young professionals. This program has enabled us to bring safe drinking water to thousands of people in just a few short months and helped CWS spread awareness about the global water crisis!

Team 1 celebrate a successful opening day in Chani
Team 1 celebrate a successful opening day in Chani
CWS Fellows, Lauren and Kathryn, at a CWS WTC
CWS Fellows, Lauren and Kathryn, at a CWS WTC
CWS Fellows teaching community about safe storage
CWS Fellows teaching community about safe storage

Links:

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