A women-led solution to affordable clean water

Ongoing

Communities in Ghana’s northern region drink water collected from large stagnant ponds. This poses a significant risk to their health. Saha Global is working to connect the poorest, most remote communities in the country to simple, cost-effective water treatment technology. Its goal is to train women in each village to start and sustain small water treatment businesses so that their communities can benefit from safe, affordable drinking water while they earn a supplemental income. We are contributing to Saha’s effort to launch nearly 1,000 new water treatment systems with the aim of reaching around 440,000 people by the end of 2022.

Duration
2019-2022
Focus area
Women’s Social and Economic Development Access to Basic Services
country
Ghana
partner
Saha Global

Context

Over 800,000 people in Ghana’s northern region lack access to safe drinking water. Rural villages rely on rainwater runoff that collects in big, stagnant ponds called “dugouts” during the rainy season. But the water in these dugouts is muddy and severely contaminated. As a result, millions of people – especially children – suffer from waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, which is a primary cause of death in Ghanaian children under five.

Action

Since 2008, Saha Global has connected the poorest, most remote communities to simple, affordable water treatment technology so they can access clean drinking water.

Saha adopts the same method in every village:

  • She donates simple, locally-sourced start-up equipment to build a water treatment system to women who have been collectively nominated to become “Saha entrepreneurs”.
  • She trains them to use the equipment to treat the contaminated water, making it safe to drink.
  • She provides ongoing mentoring and business advice until the women are able to run their water businesses independently and effectively through seasonal transitions.
  • She educates families in each village about clean water and distributes safe storage containers to prevent water re-contamination in the home.

The women then sell the clean water to villagers at a price that everyone can afford, sustaining the small water treatment and earning a supplemental income. For families normally living on less than $2 a day, this money makes a significant difference to their household income and can even enable personal savings.

Expected results

To date, Saha Global has launched 185 clean water businesses serving 89,165 people.It plans to scale this model rapidly to reach approximately 440,000 people in Northern Ghana by the end of 2022.

Our funds will contribute unconditionally to this effort in support of Saha’s key general objectives, which include:

  • Launching 938 new water businesses (which will bring the total number in operation to over 1,100);
  • Ensuring that 100% of the water treated by the businesses is safe to drink and that 98% of water stored in containers at home is clean;
  • Increasing district-level government involvement.

Long-term strategy

Saha’s ultimate goal is not to open water businesses but for people living in the communities where they work to drink clean water exclusively, because that is how to improve health. This requires significant behaviour change in the people in these partner communities. The Saha team therefore commits to support water businesses and monitor water quality and consumption for 10 years.