Woman Water Champion, Rose Wamalwa

Project: Women Building a Water Movement in East Africa

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Meet Rose Wamalwa. Rose is one of ten women selected as one of Global Women’s Water Initiative Fellowship Program for 2011. GWWI launched this program in response to the need for more women to be actively participating at every level of the water and sanitation sector. GWWI Fellowship Program creates a network of support by linking grassroots women with African and International women working in the environmental, health, water and/or public sector. The goal of the Fellowship program is two fold: 1) to offer hands-on technology construction, project planning and field training for graduate students and/or women professionals in the water and sanitation sectors and 2) to create support teams for the grassroots women teams selected to go through our women and water training program. Learn more about our women and water training program here. By expanding the Fellows’ opportunities to deepen their skills as trainers and facilitators, GWWI’s ultimate goal is to support the Fellows to professionalize their work, so they can get paid for their expertise providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) related services to their communities and beyond.

In the summer of 2011, Rose and the other Fellows participated in a rigorous training program which included leadership development, WASH education, water testing, action planning and hands-on construction of toilets, rainwater harvesting system, and various water treatments. She was assigned grassroots women’s teams to provide support in planning, development and implementation of technologies and water projects in their communities.  Rose is in collaboration with grassroots teams in Kenya and Tanzania supporting them to build technologies, plan holistic strategies, and design sustainable projects. Because of this experience, Rose has since opened her own organization called Women in Water and Natural Resources Conservation which will offer trainings to grassroots women in Western Kenya.

small tools, BIG transformation.

Project: Women Building a Water Movement in East Africa

Topics: , ,

By Maame Yelbert-Obeng (Africa Program Director) with support from Kaitlin Swarts (2011 Intern)
The Africa Team is back from Uganda!

This month, we welcomed back the Africa Team from the 2011 East African Women and Water Training in Uganda.  This was our third Global Women and Water Initiative (GWWI) Training, following the 2008 and 2010 Trainings in Kenya and Ghana.  GWWI began in 2008 as a collaborative venture between Women’s Earth Alliance, A Single Drop, and Crabgrass and is currently a program of Women’s Earth Alliance in partnership with Crabgrass. In line with our values of recognizing the importance of home grown and locally-led solutions, GWWI builds partnerships with Africa-based organizations and African women trainers to undertake its training programs. In Uganda, we worked alongside a Uganda-based organization, iCon Women and Young People’s Leadership Academy, to amplify the voices and inclusion of grassroots women in the WASH sector.  Furthermore, GWWI knows the power of building alliances with men, and our training programs invite men to support this vision.  The GWWI Trainings create a space for women to connect, engage in dialogues around leadership and climate change, and develop specific technology skills to address issues of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

In 2011, GWWI featured two complementary trainings—the Advanced and Grassroots Trainings—over a two-week period from July 4-18.  We were thrilled to have some former graduates from 2008 participate in the 2011 East Africa Training as trainers-in-training.  We also welcomed 10 Fellows—four East African women and six international women—to offer peer support and in the process, enhance their knowledge and understanding of WASH-related issues. The Advanced Training laid the foundation for the strategies that were explored in the Grassroots Training.

Thirty-two women from communities across Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, joined the 24 women from the Advanced Training in the Grassroots Training. Over the course of the week, the women learned hands-on WASH technologies, engaged in group sessions, and upon completion of the Training, received seed grants to support the implementation of water projects in their communities. The teams of women representing their communities came to the Training having conducted a basic needs assessment to determine the appropriate technologies to address WASH needs in their communities.

Building on past trainings, participants focused on various aspects of WASH, including sanitation, water access, water quality, and alternative energy.  In addition to studying the theory behind these technologies, women learned to construct a ventilated improved pit latrine (or a VIP latrine), a rainwater harvesting system, a biosand filter, and solar cook kits. They also learned games designed for community sensitization and to improve hygiene and sanitation habits. The VIP latrine helps to improve sanitation by providing alternatives to open defecation and poor disposal of human waste, while the rainwater harvesting system allows for the collection and storage of large quantities of rainwater that can be accessed year-round. Biosand filters remove harmful bacteria from water, and the solar cook kits can be used for a variety of purposes, including cooking and pasteurizing water for drinking. The African continent is blessed with incredible natural resources like the sun.  Our hope is that the solar cook kits will optimize the abundance of this resource, and in the process, promote the well-being of women and girls who otherwise would be spending their time out of school and walking long distances to collect water and fuel facing the risk of violence.

Ventilated Improved Pit Latrine
Ventilated Improved Pit Latrine
Rainwater Harvesting Tank
Rainwater Harvesting Tank
solar cook kits
Solar Cook Kits
Biosand Filter
Biosand Filter
Investing in women transcends beyond hands-on skills and access to resources, to creating spaces for women to re-define gender roles and build their confidence and self-esteem as whole women leaders. The steps to building the water technologies enable women to break the stereotypes of women’s capabilities and allow women to identify with roles beyond that of mothers and caretakers, to non-traditional ones such as carpenters, masons, and technicians.
Mama Solar sawing a brickwoman roofing the VIPL
Our time together in Uganda also allowed for dialogue around the direct impacts of climate change on women and girls, as well as the access to and quality of water. Out of this dialogue came ways in which women can draw upon their leadership, knowledge of technology, and support networks to respond to the environmental challenges they face.
classroom speaker
As women remain at the helm of collecting and allocating water for various uses, it becomes even more critical to listen to their voices and apply their wisdom to designing efficient and effective solutions to water-related issues.
As the participants of the 2011 East Africa Training continue on this year-long program, they will implement two WASH projects with their target communities and with support from GWWI, the Trainers, and the Fellows. The Women and Water Trainings is one of several strategies in the larger response to the varying impacts of climate change on women and girls. We cannot wait to see how our partners in East Africa will build alliances with more women, girls, and men to begin a process to transform their communities!
women with tools

Fellows in Action! 2011 East African Women and Water Training in Kampala, Uganda.

Project: Women Building a Water Movement in East Africa

Topics: , ,


Photo: Beth Robertson

The 2011 East African Women and Water Training has begun! Women’s Earth Alliance’s Global Women’s Water Initiative, in partnership with Crabgrass and iCon Women and Young People’s Leadership Academy, is currently leading the third African Women and Water Training,  strengthening women’s voices  in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector.  To learn more about GWWI and the 2011 East African Women and Water Training  in Kampala, Uganda, click here.
GWWI Fellows  are women graduate students and development professionals from around the globe who act as global peers for participants of the 2011 Grassroots Training in Uganda. For full bios of the 2011 GWWI fellows, click here.
The following post is written by GWWI Fellow Samantha Winter

I have always imagined a world in which every woman could stand up in front of a room full of sisters, friends, or strangers and say without hesitation, without self-doubt, without self-criticism, “I am a powerful woman! I am a leader! I am a global water champion!”

Today was an inspiring manifestation of the strength, wisdom, compassion, and hope of every woman that lives each day with a dream that global access to reliable, adequate and safe sources of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is an achievable reality. It was the first official day of the 2011 East Africa Global Women’s Water Initiative Training in Uganda—a day in which the seed of an empowered world was planted. I have no doubt that it was also the first day of many in which that seed will continue to be nourished through the actions, love, and support of GWWI women leaders from across five nations. Although today was only the beginning of our journey as GWWI fellows, there is already a sense of kinship and camaraderie among the impassioned women, and it gives me hope that the transition for a better world is alive and well within the hearts, minds, and work of every woman around the globe.

Each woman present in the training shared a unique and fundamental connection to water; yet, despite the many differences in personal experience, background, or knowledge of water, almost everyone seemed to embrace the ideas that water is the essence of women, women are the heart of water, and water symbolizes peace. Today was an internal journey as much as an external forum for cross-cultural information sharing. It was an opportunity to rekindle the spirit of water and leadership within each of us, and to open up our minds, bodies, and hearts—our whole beings—to the power and knowledge of ourselves and our fellow water sisters and champions. Through leadership activities, program and personal introductions, and a discussion on climate change I felt the enthusiasm, the, passion, and the exuberance surrounding women’s connection with, roles in and contributions to WASH expand steadily throughout the day. In addition, I watched every participant gallantly bridge cultural and racial boundaries, form relationships, build trust, and put her faith in the power of a unified network of resilient women that will, undoubtedly, expand the reach of WASH throughout communities around the world. I truly believe that together we will exceed expectations, shatter social, political, and institutional boundaries, and show all the men, youth, children, naysayers and future leaders in our own communities and around the world that empowered women have the power and the capacity to create lasting, sustainable development, particularly in the WASH sector. After all, water is the essence of women, women are the heart of water, and water is peace.  We are the peace leaders!

So let the GWWI games continue!