AAK has partnered with Saha Global, a non-profit organization that trains and supports women in Northern Ghana to connect their remote communities to simple, cost-effective water treatment technology, providing them with clean and safe drinking water.
More than 800,000 people in Northern Ghana lack access to safe drinking water. The region experiences a tropical climate with long dry spells and hard seasonal rains. People rely on rainwater collection ponds called "dugouts", while ground water in this area is difficult to access – and when available, wells or bore holes are expensive to drill, install and maintain. The surface water ponds are heavily contaminated by bacteria and fecal matter, putting villagers at risk of waterborne diseases. During a global pandemic, such as the one the world is currently experiencing, public hygiene is more important than ever and a lack of access to clean water expose people to greater health threats than normal.
Saha Global tackles these challenges by providing rural communities with cost-effective and locally available water treatment technology. The organization is focusing on training women to start and sustain small water treatment businesses. The women then sell clean drinking water to their communities for an affordable price, providing them with an extra income.
The initial equipment to open a water treatment business is donated by Saha Global, but once a business is up and running it is completely owned and operated by the women entrepreneurs and no longer financially supported. Saha Global will not open new businesses unless the organization has raised the funds for ten years of monitoring, evaluation and customer support. Even including this cost, the water businesses are a fraction of the cost of drilling a well or a bore hole.
"This approach, focusing on long-term partnerships with simple interventions that create sustainable businesses, matches our Kolo Nafaso program perfectly", says Laura Schlebes, Sustainable Multi-Oil Manager at AAK. "We are excited to welcome Saha Global to our Kolo Nafaso communities in Northern Ghana from 2021 and onwards to start opening water treatment businesses."
In the meantime, Saha Global has adjusted their model to support people during the Covid-19 pandemic by opening an "Emergency Coronavirus Water Fund", providing access to free drinking water for each partner community while making sure the women are still rewarded for their water treatment services. The fund was established in July 2020 and intended for three months but has been extended until the end of 2020.
Through the partnership, AAK will financially support Saha Global with parts of the donation used for the "Emergency Coronavirus Water Fund" and parts reserved for opening water treatment businesses in AAK's Kolo Nafaso communities once this work is possible again.
"We are thrilled to partner with AAK to serve rural communities in the North during the pandemic and beyond", says Kate Cincotta, Saha Global's Co-Founder and Executive Director. "It's exciting to find an organization that is also committed to create opportunities for rural women in areas that match their existing expertise and also shares our focus on simple, effective solutions to complicated challenges. We are grateful for their support and look forward to our work together."