Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GWWI Report From the Field: Women Prisoners Provide Their Own Clean Water

The Global Women’s Water Initiative Team has been traveling through East Africa to visit the women teams that were trained in our 2011-2012 year long training program. Meet the people whose lives they are changing.

GWWI Team - Gemma Bulos, Director; Rose Wamalwa, Kenya/Tanzania Field Coordinator; Comfort Mukasa, Uganda Field Coordinator

Lydia, Naivasha Women's Prison Warden

Lydia, the senior warden of Naivasha Women’s Medium Security Prison in Kenya believes that prisons should be a place for rehabilitation and transformation. In her experience, she has seen that the majority of the women who have been sentenced to time spent in prison are often convicted of crimes such as prostitution and/or abandoning their children. Despite the reasons for women feeling forced to resort to prostitution to provide for their children and having to abandon them to do so, it is still a crime and women can spend up to 3 years in prison for such offenses

Lydia believes this is an opportunity for women to transform their lives and create a new beginning. She has introduced different vocational opportunities such as craft making, sewing and embroidery for the inmates to consider doing as an alternative when they are released. When she learned about the Biosand Filter from one of GWWI Graduates Susan Njeri and Catherine Wanjohi of Life Bloom International, she thought it would be a perfect technology for the inmates to learn while being able to provide clean water for the prison.
Life Bloom, prison guards and inmates and GWWI Team with the biosand filter

Life Bloom International uplifts the lives of abused women with an emphasis on ex-commercial sex workers and provides them with opportunities for leadership and alternative livelihoods for a brighter future.
Inmates perform poetry 
Inmates and GWWI team dance!

Susan, an ex-commercial sex worker herself, went through the Life Bloom program, transformed her life and found herself alongside Director, Catherine Wanjohi as invited participants in the GWWI Women and Water Training Program. They brought the BSF back to Naivasha and were invited by Lydia to train the inmates in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) education and to construct the BSF. The inmates were able to build two filters that are now providing all the water for the female inmates, the guards and the four children living in the prison (children under four live with their inmate mothers). 

Prior to having the Biosand Filter, there were very regular outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting, with the worst of the outbreaks happening just before the training.  They have had the filter for nearly 9 months and there has not been one episode of diarrhea since then. The male prisoners are now asking that the BSF be installed in their prison.

Thanks to the incredible inspiration of Lydia and the expertise and commitment of Life Bloom, the women prisoners now have a future full of hope!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dr. Seema Tripathi: Leading Change at the Grassroots

Dr. Seema Tripathi at a rally in U.P., India
Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) is thrilled to welcome Dr. Seema Tripathi to the Bay Area in early September! Dr. Seema is one of the leaders of WEA’s partner in India, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), an organization that promotes the rights and just livelihoods of small and landless farmers in the state of Uttar Pradesh. 

Dr. Seema has over 16 years of experience working in the development sector, coordinating various activities related to training, resource and communication materials on issues like gender and development, disaster management, climate change resilience and participatory development. She has rich experience organizing and working at the grassroots on community mobilization, leadership development and communication methodologies and has consulted with groups like UNICEF, NABARB and projects of the Indian government. Dr. Seema is a doctorate in Educational Psychology and is passionate about music and traveling.

GEAG is a grassroots organization working with small and landless women farmers through a people-centered approach focusing on their participation and empowerment for sustainable development.  In 2011, WEA was honored to partner with GEAG to fund the innovative Women, Food Security and Climate Change Training Program. Dr. Seema played a crucial role organizing this yearlong training program and developed a training manual for rural women, who are also grassroots community trainers and activists, and play a crucial role in building the resilience of vulnerable farmers in the face of climate change.

Special Event Honoring Dr. Seema! 
Please join us for Seeds of Resilience: Women Protecting their Right to Land and Food on September 12th at 6:30 PM at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley. Dr. Seema will share personal stories, struggles and victories of women farmers in the state of Uttar Pradesh, who are using advocacy campaigns and ecological farming as a key strategy to promote their economic and food security. Buy tickets here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

GWWI Report From the Field – Mary Saves $1000s With Clean Water

The Global Women’s Water Initiative Team has been traveling through East Africa to visit the women teams that were trained in our 2011-2012 year long training program. Meet the people whose lives they are changing.
GWWI Team - Gemma Bulos, Director; Rose Wamalwa, Kenya/Tanzania Field Coordinator; Comfort Mukasa, Uganda Field Coordinator

Mary in her organic garden
Meet Mary, a businesswoman who sells clothes in a small shop and lives in a small house in Matejo, a slum area in Arusha, Tanzania. A few years back she had an operation on her back and was advised by her doctor to take safe water only. She was also told not to take boiled or bottled water.  Following her doctor’s unusual prescription, she sought alternative options to treat her water.  After trying a few local options and not liking them because they still made her nauseous, she found out about the Biosand water filter from Anna Anatoli of ANEPO, a GWWI graduate who was selling this new water treatment in Arusha.

Anna learned how to build the Biosand Filter at the GWWI Women and Water Training and brought it back to her community to start a small micro-enterprise.

Mary attended an ANEPO Health and Wellness Training which was a 2-day Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Training educating the community about the benefits of good hygiene, promoting the Biosand filters (BSF) as an option for clean water, and the benefits of planting organic food for healthy eating. Here she learned how important it was not only to have safe water for drinking, but for cooking, cleaning dishes, hand washing and bathing. Mary was immediately impressed by the BSF because it could remove up to 97-99% of bacteria and it could produce over 100 liters of water per day – enough for her whole family to have safe water for all their water-related activities.

Mary's son  next to the BSF with a safe storage container on top
Before buying the Biosand Filter, when someone in her family fell sick from typhoid from the contaminated tap water piped to her house from the municipality, she would end up spending much of her pay on treatment, which made it difficult for her to save money. Because she had 14 people living in her household, she could spend sometimes up to 500,000TSH (approx.: $350) per week on medicines and hospital visits – not to mention lost wages from missing work. After having the BSF for 7 months, there has not been one incidence of typhoid in her family since they installed the filter.

GWWI African Field Team with Mary and neighbors
Mary is so grateful to have been relieved from the financial burdens of water related illnesses that have held herself and her family back from opportunities.  Based on ANEPOs Health and Wellness Program she also learned how to grow organic vegetables in recycled grain bags in the small spaces in front of and next to her home. Thanks to GWWI graduate Anna Anatoli and ANEPO, Mary has clean water, healthy food and is thriving!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

GWWI Women and Water: Stay Tuned for Reports From the Field

GWWI Women and Water: Stay Tuned for Reports From the Field 

We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! This next few weeks, our Director, Gemma Bulos will be traveling to follow-up and pay a visit to the 2011 Graduates of the Women and Water Training last August. If you've been following along this past 6 months, we've been posting amazing updates of the women's projects in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya and highlighting all of their amazing successes. This next few weeks, please stay tuned in and join the drumbeat of our African Women and Water training program and help us to celebrate these powerful water champions! All this will lead up to our report back in early October when we'll be bringing you the highlights of the year and introduce the very exciting next phase of our program!