Rachel and Grace were participants at Global Women’s Water Initiative Training program in 2011. Both Rachel and Grace work in leadership roles at the Bukoba Women’s Water Empowerment Association (BUWEA) in Tanzania. BUWEAs ultimate goal is to create opportunities for women living in rural areas to increase their household income. BUWEA has over 350 women members in 61 groups in 30 villages of Bukoba.
WASH Education, solar cooking, water testing and leadership development were among the other topics covered in their training. During the training program, Rachel and Grace learnt how to build various rainwater harvesting systems and a ferro-cement tank. A ferro-cement tank is made of cement, rebar, chicken wire and other locally available material. They believed that this skill would be useful for them and other members in the group to collect rainwater and store it. This will save the women from walking long distances to fetch water every day.
As part of the GWWI Training program, each team selected to participate is encouraged and supported to build the technology they learnt. Rachel and Grace built their first roof catchment and ferro-cement tank with GWWI’s financial and technical support. GWWI provided a $1500 seed grant as well as on-site technology trainers and GWWI Fellows who came to the village of Kishange to help build BUWEAs first rainwater harvesting system.
Their first course of action when Rachel and Grace returned home was to mobilize the BUWEA women, village leaders and volunteers. They offered do so peer education programs in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Despite the rain and family chores, the BUWEA women came everyday and often stayed past the time commitment knowing they had much to learn! They instantly got community support and selected sited to build their first rain harvesting system.
To construct the second rainwater harvesting system and tank, BUWEA had to mobilize their own resources while the GWWI Team provided technical, planning and grant-writing support. Within three months of building their first rainwater harvesting system, BUWEA was able to write a successful funding proposal to Women’s Global Connection and by January 2012, BUWEA women were able to build two more rainwater harvesting tanks, train more women and provide water for more families!
BUWEA women were incredibly dedicated, grouping their resources for a common goal, sharing the benefits of their success, communicating and forming strong relationships with one another. Women from other BUWEA-supported communities who were not going to benefit from the actual tank came knowing that they would someday be able to implement this technology and share this knowledge in their villages. There is power in partnership!