Taking steps toward clean water in an Assam tea garden

Project: Together for H2OPE

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Assam, India is famous for its high quality black tea and home to Numi Tea’s largest supplier. Yet Assam is one of India’s poorest states, in terms of access to safe drinking water. Fewer than 1 in 15 households have access to tap water. Many women and children walk up to 3 hours per day to collect and carry water for their families, facing security risks, poor health, and barriers to productive livelihoods.

In 2016 WEA and the Numi Foundation teamed up with local NGOs and the Chamong Tea Company to launch the Together for H20PE Project in a commitment to bring clean water to all 6,500 residents of the Tonganagoan tea community, and to ensure residents have the knowledge and resources they need for a healthy water system for generations to come.

Together for H20PE’s first step in the spring of 2016 was to conduct a preliminary WASH assessment of Tonganagoan’s water system. “WASH” (shorthand for water, sanitation and hygiene) is a multi-faceted approach to assessing and developing healthy water systems. A WASH program looks at resident’s access to clean water as well as the community’s sanitation and hygiene practices. A good example of a WASH approach is recognizing that improperly stored water, even clean water, can cause contamination and make someone sick. Each aspect of a healthy water system enforces the others.

Demonstration on hand washing
Building a diverse and comprehensive outreach plan is essential to widespread adoption of healthy WASH practices.

The project’s implementing partner Purva Bharati Educational Trust (PBET) brought in Aranyak, a local conservation NGO, to help assess Tonganagoan’s existing water infrastructure and understand resident’s current water practices. Their comprehensive assessment guided the team in planning structural improvements while PBET designed an outreach approach to ensure the widespread adoption of healthy WASH practices.

From summer to fall of 2016, the team conducted a pilot program in one of the 12 villages that make up the Toganagoan Tea Garden. Over the course of two Training of Trainers workshops, volunteers learned the ins and outs of the technical WASH principles and built up their communication skills. These new trainers will be leaders for healthy water practices in their community. To support their outreach efforts, the team specifically learned some songs to remember WASH practices and developed a street play for public WASH demonstrations. (Below is a snippet of a song about hygiene!)

In the Training of Trainers workshops, volunteers learned how to conduct water tests and interpret the results from samples.
Volunteers learned songs and put together skits to engage their community in WASH techniques. Listen to one of the songs about hygiene that the new trainers teach to children.


The pilot program answered many key questions about outreach and education in the community. Extensive home visits and demonstrations helped the team pinpoint which water treatment practices are most readily adopted by residents and how to help volunteers be effective stewards of WASH practices.

Using everything they learned from the pilot program, we’re busy collaboratively designing a Master Plan to engage the other eleven villages in WASH practices. We’re so excited to see Together for H20PE take shape and make an impact in these communities.

Tanzanian farmers traditional seed exchange practices under threat

Project: Planting Seeds of Resilience in Southern India

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Photo: Ebe Daems for Mo* Magazine

In order to receive development assistance, Tanzania has to give Western agribusiness full freedom and give enclosed protection for patented seeds. “Eighty percent of the seeds are being shared and sold in an informal system between neighbors, friends and family. The new law criminalizes the practice in Tanzania,” says Michael Farrelly of TOAM, an organic farming movement in Tanzania.

As this article in Mo* Magazine explains, under Tanzania’s new legislation, “‘If you buy seeds from Syngenta or Monsanto…they will retain the intellectual property rights. If you save seeds from your first harvest, you can use them only on your own piece of land for non-commercial purposes. You’re not allowed to share them with your neighbors or with your sister-in-law in a different village, and you cannot sell them for sure. But that’s the entire foundation of the seed system in Africa’, says Michael Farrelly.” To go against the law is to risk a prison sentence of at least 12 years, or a fine of over $219,500, or both. “‘That’s an amount that a Tanzanian farmer cannot even start to imagine. The average wage is still less than 2 US dollars a day’, says Janet Maro, head of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT).”

Examples like this from across the world underpin the need WEA learned about for projects like the Seeds of Resilience Project, a partnership between WEA and Vanastree — a women-led seed saving collective in Karnataka, India. The project ensures seed and food sovereignty, as well as the transfer of traditional knowledge in Karnataka State by supporting women to build and scale seed businesses, lead trainings to increase farm biodiversity and productivity, participate in demonstrations and exchanges, and build networks in their communities and beyond. It is a direct response to the growing monocropping and commercialization of agriculture, particularly seeds, that Southern India has experienced.

We send our thoughts and solidarity to the farmers of Tanzania, and will keep our eye on this issue.

Read the full article here.

Women Scientists and Environmental Activists Fight Back Against Climate Change Deniers in D.C.

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Photo: Julie Dermansky for desmogblog.com

A lot is happening this week, but a few things have remained the same for us here at WEA: 1) Facts are facts, 2) climate change is happening (we see the impacts in our work everyday), and 3) women continue to stand up for the earth and their communities.

We’ve been inspired by the thousands upon thousands of women who have joined together to ensure their voices are heard as our nation and global community debate key issues that will determine our future, such as the dozens of female scientists who met in front of the National Air and Space Museum for the Women’s March on Washington. They are part of 500 Women Scientists, who warn: “Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.”

Read the full article on DESMOG here.

Let’s get on board

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There is a fire burning, and it’s only spreading. This fire is stoked by people around the world who are fiercely committed to ensuring a bright vision for our families and communities now and far into the future. Thank you so much for being a part of this vibrant, strategic, and resourceful Women’s Earth Alliance — a global community of changemakers who build bridges of peace, cultivate communities of resilience, and design lasting and immediate solutions to the issues we all care about.

We want you to know that we remain steadfast in our belief that when women thrive, the Earth thrives. We enter this tumultuous time committed more than ever to protecting our Earth from assault, ending gender-based violence, expanding women’s livelihood opportunities, supporting Indigenous leadership, and fighting destruction and greed.

We will choose this approach again and again because we know that if our world’s women are truly supported and united to lead, everyone wins.

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We hope you will join alongside us as we continue to weave this life-giving work. We need you today more than ever. Even in these difficult times, we are uplifted because we are together. So, for women and girls everywhere, for activists and allies fighting for what’s just, for Indigenous land and water defenders, for those whose safety is under threat, for our beautiful future — we are here, ready to keep the flame burning and the path ablaze with light. Get on board with us!


Yours, fired up,
Melinda, Amira and the WEA Team

WEAre Together at the Women’s March on Washington

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On January 21st, hundreds of thousands of people will convene at the Women’s March on Washington and around the world.

Our team at WEA couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this historic event. “More than ever before, the priorities, the agency, and the vision of women is needed. Not only in our governments, but in our communities, in our grassroots movements, in our efforts to heal, protect, and nourish our planet” says WEA Founder and Co-Director, Melinda Kramer. “I’m inspired to stand in solidarity with my sisters in this country and around the world. This is an incredible opportunity to feel our collective strength; to learn from each other, and to refocus our shared vision for peace, justice, and a thriving world. This march is a reminder that women will continue to make our voices heard, and that we will show up again and again in service of our future generations.”

The vision, mission and principles of the Women’s March describe an inclusive path for co-powering one another that celebrates the unique strengths and gifts we each bring to our collective, and that lifts up all members of our communities. According to the Women’s March Guiding Principles:

Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability. We practice empathy with the intent to learn about the intersecting identities of each other. We will suspend our first judgement and do our best to lead without ego.

This election cycle put in stark relief the deep divisions that exist in our country — so much so that, at times, it can be easy to forget that there is also strength and unity and a belief not only in social, racial and gender equality, but in the undeniable truth that we are all connected, not only to one another, but to the earth. Now is the time to join together in our commitment to support and uplift the voices of those who may traditionally be left out of decision-making conversations, while at the same time often being those most impacted by those decisions. As women around the world working to ensure climate justice and a protected environment now and into the future, we understand this position.

We urge everyone to show up, not just for this march, but for each other. Make new connections to form networks and communities that will help us continue to build a strong collective for the work ahead; reinvest in those foundational connections that have been positive for you, for others, and for the earth. We are so strong when we unite, when we hear our sisters and hear ourselves.

There are so many sister marches planned all over the world, find one near you. If you’re going to be at the Women’s March on Washington, be sure to look for the Women for Climate Justice Contingent, where we’ll be standing strong with our sisters!

We’ll see you out there!