Now that I have a new setting for reflection let me see what was realized in Ghana. First of all, what a special and new country for me. Some of the nicest people I have met, and remember that is after experiencing life on the Smiling Island.
Some Context: Besides Lake Tonga, Northern Ghana is a water poor region so naturally a lot of daily activities are aimed at fetching an adequate supply. Each village, in this modern age, has a dugout - a government made dirt pit which holds water and quenches thirst for everything in the vicinity. There the problem is absorbed into the community. Animal waste, bacteria - Everything is enticed to this water source, leaving it tainted, leading young and old to weakness and an untimely death at points.
There is a need for our work here. Being sick from the water is a natural part of life here and something that can be eliminated if done correctly. As you can see from the progression of this photo series, this is a technically simple project. Several holding tanks, alum and chlorine for standard filtration. Simplicity and self-sufficiency is key if this is to last after our group leaves.
The other angle to this project is the way the system is maintained and run. from the very beginning, the oversight of this project is brought to the little in stature, yet important elders. They designate the two most organized, respectful and worthy women of the village. With the many villages we implement in, this thought process takes approximately 20 seconds because everyone here is so intuitively connected to one another - a skill and feeling amazingly innate to older cultures. -Something I repeatedly enjoy while traveling in developing countries but also something that continues to catch me unexpectedly.
With these women, they are designated as flag-bearers for this new initiative, proudly so. Happy to be organizing something new within the regularity of the village rhythm. Excitement springs up because this water system is now also their business. They sell by the bucketfull, saving 70% for themselves and using the other 30% of income for future water supplies which are locally sourced and made available by our permanent in-country staff. This is a business model that Community Water Solutions has found to give the water systems longevity with the aide of our monitoring staff which check in monthly, post-implementation.
I believe this type of system can work after seeing the enthusiasm brought by a newly implemented one. The buzz, the words from the children. The bombardment of villagers on opening day. And hey - many previous systems put in place show endurance - they have lasted 3 years already.
This is the most impact I have made with an environmental project so far in my career because I could already see from day one how quickly everything was being utilized. It was astonishing and refreshing to see how rapidly something good, a worthy project, can be enjoyed by so many deserving people. As a group we were able to supply clean drinking water to almost 5,000 people.
I plan to stay in touch with this community through CWS, and ensure that this drinking water system stays up to par, so that it can keep giving effectively to all the nice families that I met during my time in Kulaa. It was tough work, in hard, dusty conditions but the energy for the project always seemed to shine through. Thank you to all the wonderful donors who made this project possible, and who also gave me the opportunity to take this trip. Despa.
I plan to keep along this path of environmental development work and have bright spots ahead with the scientific investigation of purification technologies at the University of Vermont. Stay tuned for future projects and travel.