Abiba Fusheni holding the dugout water on the left
I’ve never been too worried about clean water; it magically arrives out of my faucet. However, in Ghana getting clean water is a whole different story.
Some villages in Ghana have water and some don’t, it all depends where the government decides to lay pipe. The many villages that do not receive pipe water rely on self-made dugouts, which are small to medium man-made lakes. Dugouts capture a huge amount of rainwater that a village then uses to bathe, wash clothes, wash dishes, and drink. Most people realize their drinking water is dirty and causes illness, but they feel as though they have no alternatives. That is where Community Water Solution (CWS) steps in.
Abiba Fusheni walked towards Andrew, Peter, Shaq and I. She looked to be in her late thirties, had a baby on her back and was followed by a gaggle of children. She shook our hands and smiled as she unlocked one of the four yellow canisters. Andrew and I drew closer and watched her swirl the water with special care.
When CWS approached the Wambong village elders about placing one of their six water treatment systems in the village, the elders elected two women to run the income generating water system, one of the women elected by the elders was Abiba Fusheni. Ms. Fusheni is a beneficiary, but she acted like an owner. I am always impressed when a beneficiary, and not the project manager, explains their project to the funder. It shows that the NGO has involved the community and cultivated local support.
While Abiba explained to us how she managed the water system (a training CWS provided to her and her colleague for free), a number of people from the village came to buy water to put in their 20L safe storage container that CWS provided. It was clear that in three short weeks the clean water system had become a big hit. Abiba would smile, pause her explanation to us, and serves her new customers.
As an American, it is hard for me to understand the revolutionary power of having access to clean water. Just one simple externality like less illness, can have uncapturable impact - healthy people can work or go to school, both of which a country needs to develop. However, all that is still intangible information.
Nothing left quite an impression on me as when Isaac, an eight year old boy from Wambong, brought back a bottle of the dirty water he used to drink. He held it next to the container of water that came from CWS’s water treatment center. Something clicked – I couldn’t imagine Isaac having to grow up with no options but to drink that dirty brown sludge, him getting sick not going to school. Isaac handed the bottles to Abiba who held them smiling – I took a photo. Then she set them down and served clean water to her next customer.
Lorraine is a GlobalGiving volunteer traveling in the field in West Africa. Follow her and her fellow travelers' adventures at itfwa.wordpress.com.
Isaac in the dugout holding a bottle of the water