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WEA Celebrates World Water Day with Together for H2OPE!

Project: Together for H2OPE

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Happy World Water Day! Today, we celebrate all the amazing work grassroots change-makers around the world are bringing forth to ensure more women, more children, more families and more communities have access to clean water and healthy water systems. We couldn’t think of a better way of doing this than by uplifting the incredible efforts of the Together for H2OPE Project and its partners in Assam, India!

 

Together For H20PE

In the Spring of 2016, WEA partnered with Numi Organic Tea and the Numi Foundation on Together for H2OPE, a project committed to ensuring clean water to all 6,500 residents of the Tonganagaon tea community in Assam State, Northern India. Along with the Chamong Tea Company, which manages Tonganagaon’s tea leaf production, and local NGO partners Purva Bharati Educational Trust (PBET) and Social Action for Appropriate Transformation and Advancement in Rural Areas (SATRA), this project is supporting Tonganagaon in implementing a multifaceted and comprehensive water system that will ensure clean and healthy water in their community for generations to come.

Assam state is famous for being one of the world’s largest producers of high quality black tea, and the Tonganagaon tea community is also Numi’s largest supplier of organic, Fair Trade black tea. However, the region is one of the poorest in terms of access to clean water; fewer than 1 in 15 households have access to tap water. The Numi Foundation has committed to ensuring that all of Numi Tea’s source communities have access to clean water, and reached out to WEA to collaborate on a comprehensive approach to ensure safe water access to all 12 villages of the Tonganagaon tea garden.


Why Water and Women?

It’s no secret that access to clean water is crucial to eradicating extreme poverty; when the UN introduced the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, they included a goal to ensure that everyone has access to safe water by 2030. Water is an essential building block of life; a community whose water sources put them at risk for illness face barriers of mobility. Water is often the first step toward ensuring a communities livelihood.

Furthermore, challenges to accessing safe water disproportionately affect women and girls, particularly in rural communities. It is most often women who collect water for households, risking their safety and health by traveling for hours a day to and from a water source. Water is a WEA issue because access to natural resources, education, and health are all women’s issue. When women thrive, communities thrive. 

 

WASH and the Importance of Grassroots Implementation

Ensuring a community has access to clean water is often more complex than providing a well. Public health workers use the term WASH to refer to the interconnected variables of water, sanitation, and hygiene. These are the measurable pillars that make up a healthy water system. If latrines aren’t up to date or well-placed, a monsoon could contaminate an otherwise safe water source; if clean water is stored improperly, contamination can make that water unsafe. No one principle of WASH is effective if all three aren’t implemented.

The goals of Together for H2OPE are in-step with a comprehensive WASH program:

  • Improve Infrastructure. Reduce contamination of the 900 existing wells by ensuring proper drainage and upgrading hand pumps and other hardware.
  • Ensure Treatment. Help the community learn how to boil and filter water to minimize bacterial contamination and iron, especially during the monsoon season.
  • Safe Storage. Support community members to safely handle and transport water once it is treated so it does not become re-contaminated.
  • Upgrade Latrines. Provide guidance to Chamong Tea Company, who will be improving existing latrines and constructing 900 new facilities over the next 3 years.
  • Engage the Community. Implement a training program that supports the community’s adoption of good practices in water management, sanitation, and hygiene.

The residents of the Tonganagaon tea garden will have safe water systems for generations to come. A safe water system is not just built by the engineers who are updating and adding safe and strong wells, but by members of the community who are deeply involved in and vital to their own transformation.

Water is a WEA issue because effective water solutions are never a top-down operation. Water solutions live within communities and the grassroots leaders like Bondita Acharya, Director of PBET, who explains that, “PBET’s role is to bring women into the core of the discussion on safe drinking water. Women spend most of their time, especially in the rural areas, tea gardens and hilly regions, fetching water from far flung areas. But when it comes to decisions on managing water they are sidelined. Access to safe drinking water is a basic right of every citizen, and is directly linked with reproductive health rights. However, it is not possible to access it if it is not integrated with sanitation and hygiene.”

As part of this integrated approach to ensure a sustainable impact for generations, in Tonganagaon, key members from each of the 12 villages will become WASH leaders and practitioners themselves. They will be trained to become trainers, holding demonstrations to educate their neighbors in healthy hygiene and sanitation practices.

 

A Unique and Effective Partnership

The partnerships of Together for H2OPE are in-step with what makes the WEA model so effective while remaining adaptable and light-framed. By connecting with mission-aligned partners like Numi Foundation, and woman-run local NGO’s like PBET, the project is ensuring that solutions are in reach of the visionary community leaders invested in their lasting application. This is how WEA and our partners support communities to thrive on their own terms and in ways that will have lasting effects.

This unique collaboration leverages local leadership to ensure relevance, while providing access to the globally recognized best practices and needed resources. We believe it’s a model that will maximize impact and sustainability, ensuring the farming community enjoys access to clean, safe drinking water for generations to come.  — Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Executive Director of the Numi Foundation

Join us this World Water Day to ensure that women, families and communities have access to clean drinking water. By supporting grassroots leaders, we support sustainable and long-term solutions to one of the world’s most most pressing concerns. You can learn more about this work here. Thank you for standing alongside us!

Stories are seeds that grow

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This International Women’s Day we are celebrating women storytellers around the world who protect our earth and safeguard our histories and traditions. Today kicks off a month-long tech drive to Support Women to Tell Their Stories. We are seeking donations of digital cameras, iPhones and other recording devices, iPod Touches, and laptop computers. 

As part of WEA’s training model, women participants gain skills in multimedia and storytelling so they can design and share their own narratives. Participants learn how to use cameras, recording devices, and laptops, as well as master effective storytelling and dissemination. Imagine how quickly our grassroots partners will be able to share replicable solutions with access to better tech tools!

Check out this slideshow from WEA Project Partner Vanastree. It depicts the Malnad Mela — a seed sharing festival in Bengaluru, India. This annual event spreads and celebrates women’s indigenous knowledge of their food forests, builds local economies around indigenous seed and food, and exchanges vital information about adapting to climate changes. Our partners could really benefit from having the tools they need to tell more stories like this.

To support women storytellers around the world on International Women’s Day, check out this flyer for details. Don’t have any tech to donate at the moment but still want to get involved? We are also accepting financial contributions!

Learn more here.

Call for Donations: technology for storytelling

Project: Planting Seeds of Resilience in Southern India

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Vanastree Ashraya Seva Trust 7

We’re excited to share a new opportunity to support women seed savers and forest home gardeners in the Western Ghats of South India! From February 1-15, WEA will be collecting donated tech equipment that will go toward our work with Vanastree, our partner on the Seeds of Resilience Project, and the women we serve on the ground.

As climatic vulnerabilities increase in the Western Ghats and the pressures of agro-chemical market forces grow, it is particularly critical that women seed leaders and entrepreneurs are equipped to raise their voices and share the inextricably connected narrative of seed and life.

A core part of our work with Vanastree will be training women in multimedia and storytelling tools that will enable them to tell their stories of seed sovereignty, food sovereignty, and the future they envision for their communities. Trainings includes how to use cameras, recording devices, and laptops, as well as how to document their stories in authentic and compelling ways that can be shared with their communities in South India, as well as our communities here in the US. At the end of this project, we hope to be able to hold an exhibit to bring this work to light and support these farmers as they share their stories of transformation with the world.

We are seeking donations of cameras, iPhones, iPod Touches, and Mac laptops. Specifically, we are looking for:

Cameras:

  • Digital DSLR or mirrorless camera bodies with lenses and necessary accessories (especially batteries). Any make or model from 2003 or later.

Hand held devices:

  • iPhones, generation 4 or up, with working photo/audio/video recording. iPhones do not need to be unlocked for international SIM card use, as they won’t be used as phones. However, they do need to be passcode unlocked.
  • iPod Touch, generation 4 or up, with working photo/audio/video recording.

Laptops:

  • Any Mac model laptop (Macbook, Macbook Pro, Air) from 2009 or later.

PLEASE NOTE: Our women partners will not be able to use anything that needs repair, like a cracked screen or a battery that won’t hold a charge. Please wipe all the devices of personal information and make sure nothing is password protected.

If you’d like to make a “Technology for Storytelling” donation, and are in the Berkeley, CA area and would like to drop off your donation, please send us a quick email to coordinate a day and time. Otherwise, all donations can be mailed to WEA at:

Women’s Earth Alliance
The David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way, Ste. 460
Berkeley, CA 94704

 

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

Connecting the dots

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Dear Friends,

Did you know that women and girls are 14 times more likely to die in a climate-related disaster than men? Natural disasters can be seen as great equalizers — indiscriminate forces that can threaten anyone. But in reality, these catastrophes like floods, droughts or hurricanes kill more women, especially those of poor socioeconomic status. In many places, girls and women aren’t offered the chance to learn survival skills like how to swim, reducing their chances of surviving a flood. WEA is working with Vanastree, a women’s collective in Southern India, to coordinate  trainings for women leaders to learn skills not only to survive but to thrive in the face of climate change. Our trainings will reach more than 4,000 people, empowering women leaders to launch and scale indigenous seed businesses and seed banks, build model farms, and improve farming practices. Below is a photo of women learning to swim and navigate in water, a part of our Seeds of Resilience Training happening now! It is time for women to be at the helm. $50 covers the materials for a woman to launch her seed growing business.

vanastree-water-training

What does it cost you to cook a meal for your family? In some places, it is much more than grocery money. When a woman in Nigeria cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner over a wood fire, she suffers the equivalent of smoking between 3 and 20 packets of cigarettes a day. Over 93,000 Nigerians (mostly women and children) die annually from inhalation of smoke from indoor cooking (not to mention the deforestation that is destroying regions and increasing climate instability). In partnership with WISE, we will reach more than 13,000 people in Kaduna by training and funding 30 women entrepreneurs to build clean cookstove businesses, train their communities to adopt cookstoves, and form networks to advocate for clean energy. $15 covers the cost for a clean cookstove for a woman entrepreneur.Let’s fuel this work!

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Do you ever think about what it takes to make a cup of tea? In some parts of the world it means turning on the tap. In other parts, it can mean a 4-hour walk to fetch water, the threat of violence, missed school or lost employment. With Numi Organic Tea (the leading global tea company in organic and Fair-Trade tea), we are changing this. Numi Foundation and WEA’s partnership is ensuring safe drinking water for the Tonganagaon tea community in Assam, India, where Numi sources its largest supply of organic, Fair-Trade black tea. Together with our Indian partners and the Tonganagaon community, we are equipping all 6,500 residents to create access to safe drinking water that will eliminate water-borne illnesses, improve nutrition, strengthen livelihoods, bolster women’s leadership, and improve school and work attendance. It all boils down to water. And it all boils down to us. $100 covers the cost of a community leader to take a water, sanitation and hygiene training.

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What does fracking have to do with violence against women? A lot. The safety of North American Indigenous women and youth is threatened daily by the violence inflicted on them by oil, gas, mining and fracking industries. The impacts of this environmental violence include sexual and domestic acts, crime, murder and disappearances, trafficking, toxic exposures and illnesses, and harm to culture and Indigenous ways of life. In partnership with NYSHN, we are conducting community trainings and providing 5-10 seed grants to actions on the ground. See our extensive report and toolkit featuring Indigenous-led solutions to environmental violence and join us in #landbodydefense.

Photo: W.C.K.
Photo: W.C.K.

We hope you will continue on this path with us as we grow our commitment, our capacity and our reach. Thank you for who you are. Together WE are WEA!

With gratitude,
Melinda, Amira and the WEA Team