The Training convene women leaders from eight African nations who learned low-cost, sustainable water technologies, developed business plans, and received Seed Grants to launch their own clean water microenterprises.
The 30 women participants are remarkable leaders. They speak between 4-8 languages; have 2-20 children and grandchildren; range in age from 25-72; care for the sick, elderly and orphans; run church groups; coordinate grassroots women’s collectives working with 20-2000 families; run their own farms; and campaign on issues from land rights for women to HIV/AIDS prevention. Some of these women run indigenous networks, manage their own environmental organizations, fight political corruption as lawyers, and, of course, work tirelessly to find solutions to the mounting water issues in their communities.
This training focused on water was a deeply significant and long-awaited step in the leadership journeys of these women leaders.
The Training began with a powerful water ceremony. Each woman told the story of the water she carried from her village and poured it into a common vessel. We learned later in the week during the water testing session that over 3/4 of these water samples were contaminated with E. coli. This vessel of water represented the extent of the challenge ahead, but it also symbolized the connectedness and shared purpose of this group.
Our team carefully designed the curriculum by selecting water technologies and session topics based on the specific water challenges in the communities of the participants.
Over the course of the week, each two-person team learned skills in:
- Business planning and project development
- Proposal Writing
- Water Testing with Portable Microbiology Lab
- Solar Cooking and Pasteurization
- Integrated Water Sanitation Hygiene (WASH Strategies)
- Water Harvesting
Each of the women also completed the following trainings:
- CooKit Solar Oven Training
- BioSand Water Filter Implementer Training
- Rainwater Roof Catchment Implementer Training
- Ferro Cement Implementer Training
In addition to the practical, hands-on components of the Training, the participants also discussed Water Policy, Global Climate Change, the Millennium Development Goals and other crucial issues impacting the lives of the program participants. These enlightening conversations provided context for the technology trainings that took place.
The Way Forward
Following the Training, each team used their Seed Grant money to launch the water projects they designed during the Training. Women participants returned to their communities invigorated — teams implemented their water project; they built solar cookers, erected water storage tanks, constructed water filters, and trained others to do the same.
Water is Life
“Women are the keepers of water. It is on our shoulders.”
— OLANIKE OLUGBOJI
Truly, the call for this work is as simple as the three words spoken most often by the women at the Conference: Water is Life. We answered the call to bring simple solutions to problems that are causing deep suffering in Africa and worldwide. As a result of the partnership between WEA, A Single Drop, Crabgrass and GROOTS Kenya, and the unceasing work of our African sisters — there is now safer water, economic opportunity, enhanced health, global solidarity, and hope in new places.