Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Global Women's Water Initiative, Women, Water and Waves: Rainwater Harvesting for Poultry and Goat Microbusinesses in Uganda

Charity (center in white) and Afuwa (behind Chairty) after installing a Rainwater Harvesting system in a WCFJC community
Community decision-making can be one of the key factors of success around any water development project. All over the world in communities of need, you’ll find systems that are functioning with ease and in others, the carcass of broken pumps, unused toilets, tanks in disrepair and the list goes on and on. A major contribution to the failure of these systems has been outsiders—not actually living in the community—deciding where to build and what to build, and not offering any local training for the construction, maintenance or repair of imposed systems.  The result is that when these foreign systems breakdown, local people don’t have the capacity to repair or revitalize the projects leading to project failure.

Community members making ISSB bricks for the tank
Charity Nduhura and Afuwa Ngobi from Ugandan based Women’s Center for Job Creation know the importance of community engagement. With the support of Executive Director, Dorothy Tuma, Charity and Afuwa came to Global Women's Water Initiative (GWWI) through a recommendation from our friends at Global Fund For Women. WCFJC implements projects to equip low-income women in expanding the scale of their existing income generating projects.
Community members creating a Rainwater Harvesting Tank

During the 2011 GWWI East African Women and Water Training in Kampala, Charity and Afuwa learned how to build a rainwater harvesting systems with a storage tank. They brought the technology back to the women they work with in the community of Butagaya, Jinja in Uganda. These women, who had started micro-businesses raising poultry and goats in Butagaya, knew rainwater harvesting systems were an important and much needed technology for their families and businesses. So, after their return from the training, Charity and Afuwa's first action was to work with the Butagaya community to identify the most appropriate construction sites where all community members had easy access to the water—a location that also was easy to maintain.

ISSB bricks drying in the sun
Realizing the importance of community ownership, Charity and Afuwa used part of their GWWI $1,500 seed grant to organize a leadership workshop and construction training (conducted by GWWI training partner Connect Africa) to transfer the knowledge they learned at the GWWI training to the community. Participants of this community training showed up nearly every day for 2 weeks to learn how to build 2 rainwater harvesting systems—each 10,000 liter ISSB tanks (interlocking stabilized soil bricks). A maintenance committee was formed and the community created a water access and distribution plan, appropriate to their needs. As a result of Charity, Afuwa and the Butagaya community's hard work, over 200 people in their community have now been impacted and these grassroots-training participants now have tools to not only address their local water needs, but also earn additional income by building tanks. The WCFJC members are now talking about wanting to build toilets! Incidentally, Charity and Afuwa are the first GWWI team of 2011 graduates to reach their requirement of building 2 technologies within a year! Brava!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WEA Welcomes our Newest Team Member!

The Women’s Earth Alliance team is excited to introduce one of our newest family members--Gillian Wilson! Gillian, or Gill as she prefers to be called, joins WEA as the Interim Operations Director at a point of inflection. While co-directors Melinda and Amira prepare for and nurture the new additions to their families, Gillian will be at WEA’s helm ensuring the continued impact of our global programs.

Gillian comes to WEA from our bay-area sister organization—International Development Exchange (IDEX)—where she has served since 2002. While at IDEX, Gill held a range of leadership positions transitioning from an Executive Assistant Intern in 2002 to the Operations Manager in 2004, to the Communications Director in 2005 and ending her tenure with IDEX as the Director of Finance and Administration in 2011. Gillian is proud to have been part of an era of impact and success at IDEX, that raised the organization’s profile and that of their grassroots partners.

We could not be happier we found Gill. She is a diligent, hard working, and self-motivated professional with a great mind for detail.  She is the jane-of-all-trades, always keeping up to date on the latest in financial administration, website SEO, nonprofit social networking, and relational database management! WEA could not be more excited about Gill and hope you will join us in welcoming her to the WEA family!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Water, Women and Waves on Wednesdays!

Happy New Year! And what a great start! GWWI is so proud to continue sharing the stories of the amazing women who attended our 3rd Grassroots Women and Water Training and inaugural Advanced Training and Fellowship Program (link to GWWI page). Starting next week we’ll be starting a series called Water, Women and Waves inviting you to learn about all the incredible impact our trainings have had on the women, their families and their communities.

To date, over 3000 people have access to clean water and sanitation in households, schools, a women’s prison, churches and other community centers. Women, many who never have imagined laying bricks, mixing cement, erecting structures are building rainwater harvesting systems, toilets and Biosand filters!  The transformations are priceless and the opportunities are endless!

Women bear the greatest burden when it comes to lack of access to water and sanitation. We are here to transform those burdens into opportunities! We want to hear your thoughts! Follow us on Twitter @womenwater and like us on Facebook and join the discussion!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yesterday, the Save the Peaks Coalition and supporters from Arizona and California gathered for a prayer vigil in San Francisco, while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in their case to protect the holy San Francisco Peaks.

The Peaks, which rise to 12,000 feet above Flagstaff, Arizona, at the Western edge of Navajo lands, are sacred to thirteen tribes – including the Navajo, for whom the Peaks represent a central locus of spiritual power. Presently, for tribes throughout the Colorado Plateau, the Peaks are threatened by a proposal to use 1.5 million gallons daily of reclaimed wastewater as artificial snow in order to increase the moutain’s ski resort’s annual skiable days.

Yesterday, a three judge panel heard oral arguments on a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) question: whether the Forest Service failed to properly review the potential environmental and public health risks associated with the use of artificial snow. The judge’s questions focused both on procedural and substantive matters, and attorney for the Coalition Howard Shanker skillfully presented arguments on the Forest Service’s failure to adequately consider the range of potential environmental and human health impacts from the project. You can listen to the hearing audio here.

Click here for a clip of Jeneda Benally, a plaintiff to the case, inspiring the gathering of supporters in front of the Ninth Circuit courthouse.

A large group of supporters gathered in the morning to pray, march, and attend the hearing. Listen to a KPFA report from the morning’s events here.

On Sunday evening, the night before the hearing, supporters gathered to share a meal and make prayers for the success of the hearing. At the dinner, Berta Benally, a plaintiff to the case and a grandmother who traveled to California for the hearing, said “it is deplorable that the United States Forest Service would allow known endocrine disruptors to come into contact with our children. At one point DDT, BPA and asbestos were all considered safe. Years later, after many people suffered, we now sadly know that they created a health hazard."

Stay tuned for more information and updates about the outcomes of the case.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons via Sierra Club, Caitlin Sislin