Limited access to universal safe and affordable water, especially in remote and rural areas, has been recognized as the major impediment to sustainable development in Ghana for a long time. The country, and its northern part in particular, experiences hard seasonal rains followed by long dry spells. With only a few year-round streams and impossibly deep underground water, people have to collect and store rainwater in big, stagnant ponds, called “dugouts” or ‘dams”. The water people drink starts out bad and gets worse as the dry season goes on. Clean water solutions rarely reach places like this and when they do, they often don't work: equipment is not maintained, the water is too expensive, it gets re-contaminated, and/or people don't drink it consistently.
In response to the existing pressing need, the SDG Philanthropy Platform has engaged Saha Global - a social enterprise, operating in remote northern Ghana - in order to:
- Test a demand-driven business model for accountability-managed systems to deliver affordable, safe water, effectively challenging community perceptions of free water;
- Identify schemes to provide reliable safe access to the most vulnerable households in every community.
Project Description and Objective:
The project was implemented in the remote communities of Northern Ghana and aimed to get clean water to the poorest households. Local women from the selected communities were set up with a chlorinating business to ensure clean water at a price affordable to everyone. These Women Waterpreneurs were provided with simple equipment that used locally available materials and trained to run the business.
Major results achieved:
- A total of 2,361 people in Nyeshila, Kuchani, Chambulugu, Yandanyili, Sinsina, and Tidrupe communities enjoy access to affordable drinking water – Saha water is reasonably priced, and is 40 times cheaper than the same size sachet sold in the nearest cities;
- 19 women have a supplemental source of income (additional 15% on average) that they can use to invest in the wellbeing of their children and communities by spending their earnings on education and healthcare.
Major SDG Acceleration Lever:
Using new technologies (water treatment and storage), shifting market behaviors (people in the communities willing to buy clean water instead of using free contaminated one)
Lessons Learned and Way Forward:
Saha Global will continue monitoring and supporting their entrepreneurs to ensure the businesses’ success and sustainability. Each business will be visited by a Saha monitor at least once a week for the first six months after opening, and at least twice a month for the next two years. If the businesses are successful in terms of the number of sales and their operations, Saha will decrease the visits to once per month for the rest of the 10-year monitoring period. Likewise, the frequency of visits will be increased when entrepreneurs need more support, for instance, in addressing the challenges affecting business growth, such as flooding in communities and water sources, consumption of rain water, drying of water sources during dry seasons, or replacing trained entrepreneurs. The data collected through digital monitoring tool and face-to-face surveys will allow Saha to monitor the success of the businesses, which will be evaluated using two main metrics: access (number of Saha businesses still in operation, currently at 100%) and adoption rate (number of people who drink clean water, currently at 75%). Additionally, Saha will test water quality to measure business’ performance. Samples from the water businesses and from people’s homes will be tested for E.Coli at the point of sale and at the point of consumption.
Media Coverage and Knowledge Products:
- Meet the Women Changing Ghana: One Water Business at a Time, a blog by Kate Cincotta, Executive Director, Saha Global (Jan 2018);
- Water Innovation: Bringing the Cleanest Water to the Poorest, a webinar by Kate Cincotta, Executive Director, Saha Global (Apr 2018).
Photo credit: Saha Global