GWWI: Women and Water on Wednesdays: Kenya to Enact Rainwater Harvesting Act – Great Opportunity for GWWI Grads

Project: Women Building a Water Movement in East Africa

Topics: ,

Posted by Gemma Bulos

Great news for GWWI Kenya Grads! According to the Kenyan Ministry of Water Deputy Director of Water Resources Juma Omondi, the Kenya Rainwater Harvesting Act

will be enacted by the end of 2012. The law will advocate for the integration of household and industrial rainwater harvesting (RWH) technologies. And Nairobi will join the likes of Indian cities New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore requiring new homes to have rainwater harvesting infrastructure before the building can be approved.

Building roof catchment and ferro cement for school
Building roof catchment and ferro cement
for school
How does this open opportunities for graduates of the Global Women’s Water Initiative Training Program?
GWWI teaches women to build simple water and sanitation technologies to provide clean water in their communities. One of the technologies most in demand is rainwater harvesting and safe water storage.
Women in Africa and in other developing regions can sometimes walk up to 8 hours per day looking for water. On top of that, they have to carry up to 44lbs of water on their heads, shoulders and backs for use at home for cooking, drinking and washing. Collecting rainwater and storing it for future use can alleviate some, if not all of that burden depending on the rainfall and the size of the storage tank.
Rose makes an interlocking stabilized soil block (ISSB)
Rose makes an interlocking stabilized
soil block (ISSB)

This past year, some GWWI graduates learned to build roof catchments and a storage tank made out of interlocking stabilized blocks (ISSB). The ISSB tank is a relatively new technology that is now gaining traction in Kenya and the East Africa region because it costs less and is more durable than the other alternatives like a polytank (plastic) and ferrocement tank. The ISSB is made out of marram (orange clay/soil), sand, a little cement and water. This mixture is compressed in a block making machine that requires no electricity just human sweat. It’s also manufactured in Nairobi (Kenya’s capital city), further keeping the construction and material costs down. Most simple brick making techniques require drying in the sun, whereas the ISSB is ready for use in 24 hours regardless of the weather. What makes this technology cutting edge is the shape of the bricks. Unlike traditional bricks that are flat and rectangular in shape, the ISSB bricks are shaped to interlock like a puzzle, which reduces the amount of cement for bonding and creates a stronger foundation and structure for the tank.

Rounded ISSBs for tanks
Rounded ISSBs for tanks
With this new policy development, GWWI grads can potentially provide professional construction and education services to meet the water needs of their communities. GWWI is excited to support our graduates to lead the way towards introducing cutting edge technologies that use local materials, require no electricity and can be built by WOMEN!

GWWI Women and Water on Wednesdays: GWWI Director, Gemma Bulos Raising the Voice of Women in Water on Huffington Post!

Topics: , ,

gemma_h2onorh2o (1)

Gemma Bulos, GWWI Director

The Global Women’s Water Initiative is so excited to announce that Gemma Bulos, GWWI Director,  published a powerful article, “Transforming Women’s Water Burdens Into Economic Opportunities” in the Huffington Post!  Because of this recent piece, she has been invited to be a regular HuffPost blogger!

As an award-winning social entrepreneur, water advocate, trainer and musician, she now has an international platform to raise the voices of women in water, environment, social entrepreneurship and climate change. This is an incredible opportunity to share the work of GWWI, Women’s Earth Alliance, our partners and peers to bring to the forefront the challenges and most importantly, the solutions that are being implemented all over the globe by one of our most untapped resources – women.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! To keep the drumbeat going and to ensure that we continue a public conversation about women’s leadership and the environment, we need to build our audience! The more we share this info, the greater the opportunity for us to connect, share and most important  – collaborate!  The Global Women’s Water Initiative has set an ambitious goal of building our FB and Twitter followers to 500 by Mother’s Day! Can you help us?
We invite you to do the following:
  • Read the HuffPost article! (link to in the Huffington Post article
  •  Share the article with your friends by clicking “Share”, “Like” and “Tweet” directly from the article
  •  Add a comment to the blog – this will really help to continue the awareness and spark conversation
  • Become a “Fan” of Gemma’s Blogs  (Link to
  • Like Global Women’s Water Initiative on Facebook to get news, updates, articles and musings from GWWI  Link to
  •  Follow us on Twitter @womenwater and @gemmabelle to join a lively conversation about ongoing social entrepreneurship and water work around the globe from our partners and allies
  • Share this with 5 of your friends and invite them to support!
Thank you so much for being part of the conversation! The more we talk about the issues we care about and invite people to take action in whatever way they are feeling most powerful –  the greater chances we have of creating the change we want to see in the world! Join the WAVE!!!

Denying Justice: The endless fight of the Lubicon Cree

Project: Convening Advocates for Protection of Indigenous Lands and People

Topics: , ,

Aerial view of the Lubicon Cree land Source: Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace
Aerial view of the Lubicon Cree land
Source: Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

For over a century the Lubicon Cree people of northern Alberta, Canada, have been fighting against the Canadian government to protect the 10,000 square kilometers of forests, plains, rivers and muskeg, or wetlands, they call home. Treaties have been signed and violated, construction of extractive industry manufacturing plants have invaded the territory, and millions of liters of oil have destroyed the fragile ecosystem that is the muskeg. The people who were once able to support themselves amidst the clean air, water and land that was full of animals, plants, medicines and berries have been polluted and drained, and the people are now more than ever dependent on government social services. All this is compounded by the fact that the Lubicon Cree have been unable to finalize a land claim in court, due to the Canadian government’s determination to keep the proceedings in limbo owing to the lush and varied natural resources that exist within its borders.

How many more communities have to be put at risk for this type of development, and who is really benefiting? What are we leaving to future generations? We need to shift away from a fossil fuel-based system and push for renewable energy systems that enable us to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining.

Topics: , ,

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