Friday, July 27, 2012

Gemma Bulos honored as a Water Solutions Trailblazer in Reuters

WOW! Huge congrats to our Director of the Global Women's Water Initiative, who was just named one of Reuters Top 10 Water Solutions Trailblazers in the world alongside our water heroes Margaret Nakato and Ned Breslin. Read the article here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

GWWI Women and Water:Dining for Women Raises over $60,000 for GWWIs Women-Led Water Service Center Program

Women’s Earth Alliance is so thrilled to be the recipient of a program grant from Dining For Women to expand and deepen the work of Global Women’s Water Initiative in East Africa this Fall.

In April, WEA was honored to be selected to be the DFW featured organization to support our Global Women’s Water Initiative training programs. DFW members all over the country were invited to follow the path of a women in Africa who can spend sometimes all day fetching water and doing water related chores and were able to share in GWWIs vision for a world where women can implement sustainable water solutions alleviating their water burdens and opening up opportunities for them to thrive.

DFW was able to raise over $60,000 ($20,000 more than we requested) for GWWI to launch our WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Service Center Training Program.  Our goal is to create women-led water programs where women can provide and generate income from offering a variety of WASH services, products and technologies like water filters, tanks, rainwater harvesting sytems, toilets etc.   GWWI graduates have an opportunity to expand their breadth of WASH knowledge and services and can take a leading role in their communities.

Dining for Women’s mission is to empower women and girls living in extreme poverty by funding programs that foster good health, education, and economic self-sufficiency and to cultivate educational giving circles that inspire individuals to make a positive difference through the power of collective giving. Every month hundreds of potlucks are hosted by women all over the country as an avenue to raise awareness of global issues that are important to DFW members. It serves as both an opportunity for US women to learn about the challenges women face around the globe and the organizations that are addressing these issues in innovative ways.  As DFW members expand their knowledge, they have the privilege of providing financial support to ensure that the work to empower women can continue.

Thanks so much to DFW and the thousands of women who gathered to break bread, share stories of women around the world and contribute to a growing women’s empowerment movement that regenerates a culture of women supporting women. With this financial support, African grassroots women are sure to make powerful waves of change in their communities!

GWWI will be launching the WASH Service Center Training Program in November 2012. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates from the field from our 2011 graduates in the coming months.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

GWWI Women and Water: Congrats to GWWI Grad Elected Board Chairperson for her Water District!

The Global Women's Water Initiative is so excited to announce that Catherine Wanjohi, GWWI 2011 Graduate has been elected as the Chairperson for the Water Company Board for Naivasha District in Kenya! 

Catherine is the Director of Life Blooman incredible organization that uplifts ex-commercial sex-workers by offering training and support so they can generate income through dignified vocations such as craftwork, tailoring, hairdressing, beauty therapy and such. In 2011, after attending our Women and Water Training where she learned how to educate the community about clean water, sanitation and proper hygiene (WASH) practices, how to test water to see if it is contaminated and how to build the Biosand filters to provide clean water for their communities, she was able to add this powerful service to Life Bloom's stable of vocational trainings. 

When Catherine and her partner Susan Njeri returned home from the GWWI training, and shared the technology with their team, they were able to gain a contract to install Biosand Filters in a local women's prison to provide clean water for the prisoners and guards. 

As a result of Catherine's new and successful water program, she applied for an open position on the Water Company Board for Naivasha District.  In one of our past blogs, Catherine expressed how shocked and excited she was to have been selected as one of two women on the nine person Board. And now to have been elected as the Board Chair is a testament to her leadership, her understanding of her local water issues, and her vision for a future of water security in her region.

We are not only thrilled for Catherine as a powerful voice for women and leader for her local water issues, but also for Naivasha District for recognizing the importance of women being included in the decision-making process regarding community water actions. Although the majority of people on a district-level policy Board are men, to be led by a woman, it is clear that the local government understands that an efficient way forward is to put the leadership into the hands of those who are most affected by lack of water and sanitation - women. This is a huge step for women as changemakers in their communities, and GWWI is so proud to have been able to support Catherine to step into her leadership as a Water Champion! Brava!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

GWWI Women and Water: GWWI Graduate Wins Top Prize from Ministry of Water and Irrigation

Congratulations to GWWI Graduates Lindah Wameya and Jane Wanjiko Joseph of Kilili Self-Help Program (KSHP) who won the Top Prize in the "Water For CIties" Ministry of Water and Irrigation National Competition! Lindah and Jane won for their essay promoting what they learned at Global Women's Water Initiative Training in Uganda last summer - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASH) and the Biosand Filter as a viable solution for safe drinking water. Here is an excerpt from their award-winning work:
KSHP community member learns to build the Biosand Filter 
KSHP’s vision and mission statement is to be a center of excellence promoting eco-health for economic development by safeguarding and enhancing eco-health for improved livelihoods through research and extension services to enhance adoption of technologies by local communities for food security and ecosystem health. 

KSHP operates in a cosmopolitan community whose main activity is farming. The people in this community draw their waters from wells, protected springs, borehole rivers, hand pumps and tanks especially during rainy seasons. KSHP conducts trainings at grassroots levels on water, sanitation and hygiene with an emphasis household water treatment using biosand water filters.

The economic growth and scale of urbanization in Trans-Nzoia District has a high environmental cost. Urban environment services are inadequate and pollution levels are high. Cities and towns suffer from high rates of air, water and land pollution, creating a serious threat to public health. Inadequate portable water suppliers, inadequate solid waste management and wastewater collection are a cute problem. KSHP improves drinking water, and water used for other domestic purposes through household water treatment technology (Biosand water filter)
District Chief lends her hand to build Biosand Filters
The Biosand water filter is a modified form of traditional slow sand filter in such a way that filters can be built on a smaller scale group and operated intermittently. These modifications make the Biosand water filter suitable for household or small groups. The Biosand filter is produced locally anywhere in the world using materials that are readily available. The Biosand filter is used as part of multi-barrier approach which is the best way to reduce the health risk of drinking unsafe water. Barriers from pathogen occur in each of the steps; protection of the source of water, sedimentation, filtration and finally safe storage after filtration.

The Biosand water filter when installed with required ratio has proved that disease causing pathogens found in contaminated water (E-coli) are removed ninety-nine percent. It is easily maintained by the household therefore it does not require skilled personnel to operate and carry out daily care and maintenance. The Biosand filter is irreplaceable when well-kept it has a life span of up to eight generations. Construction and installation of the biosand water filter is done by community members themselves with a minimum training.

District Chief receives her Certificate of Completion as a
Biosand Filter Implementer and WASH Educator
The community has already adopted and coped with the biosand technology since it was
incepted, it is one cheap, appropriate, accessible and easily managed method of household water treatment. There are also reduced incidences of waterborne diseases among the vulnerable persons. Income generation among women and the youth has increased with the implementation of Biosand filters. Immediately after the community was trained on construction and installation of the Biosand water filter the demand for filter is high, this illustrates that filters are widely accepted regardless of religion, race, age and status.

The whole process from construction installation of Biosand water filter is environmental
friendly unlike boiling water which needs firewood (fuel).

Apart from water, sanitation and hygiene, the community also participates in environmental promotion practices i.e. agro forestry, riverbank protection, re-afforestation and soil erosion conservation among others all aimed climate change and mitigation. Kilili as an organization empowers the community on renewable energies where women are trained on solar cooking, making solar cookit and fireless cookers as an income for women. This has been a tremendous activity for women, they enjoy practicing, it cuts down the cost of fuel, saves time and energy as well as mitigating climate change.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Seeds of Hope

"Seed is sacred...The desire to save seeds comes form an ethical urge to defend life's evolution." Dr. Vandana Shiva

Women farmers are the custodians of seeds around the world.

Seed exchanges among small farmers are a time memorial tradition that has led to the immense biodiversity of indigenous seeds around the world. Globally, it is mostly women farmers who are the seed savers, who possess an immense of body of knowledge to save and conserve seeds of vital food crops.

This April, Women's Earth Alliance friends, Astrid Lindo and Matthew Hoffman, founders of the Living Seed Company, donated heirloom, open pollinated seeds from their collections to share with a group of very special women farmers and community activists in India. These women were participants of the North India Women, Food Security and Climate Change Training Program that was designed and coordinated by WEA's partner, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group.

Living Seed Company donated their collection of heirloom seeds as a symbolic gesture to stand in solidarity with the efforts of these brave women in India, who are reviving seed saving practices, farming ecologically and are building the resilience of other women in their communities, who are impacted by climate change.  Thank you Astrid and Matthew for your solidarity and for your untiring efforts to secure healthy communities by promoting the life-affirming practice of seed saving.

Seeds are a glowing example of a renewable resource.