Water Brigades Ghana: Bringing improved drinking water to Ekumfi Egyankwa
This past December, Water Brigades Ghana implemented the newest model in its community water development program with a brigade of Penn State University and Indiana University students. For the first time, Water Brigades Ghana aimed to provide improved drinking water to an entire community. In the village of Ekumfi Egyankwa, these students constructed a community center and rainwater harvester and worked with the entire community to create a sustainable system around this new structure.
(The new “Egyankwa Water Center”. The 800 ft2 aluminum roof serves as the catchment area for collecting rainwater to fill the two polytanks seen in the back.)
About half of the students spent their week building this structure and putting together the rainwater harvesting system. The other students split up into three focus areas for community development: water quality, sustainability, and education. Water quality worked on testing local water sources and water from other rainwater harvesters to find out the levels of contamination and consider implementing further filtration processes. They also came up with and implemented a way for community members to store their clean water so as to avoid contamination. The students sold new buckets with spigots at the bottom and lids to cover the top to Egyankwa residents so that once community members have clean water, they will be able to store it without risking recontamination.
The Sustainability team had the good fortune of working closely with an excellent group of community members that make up the Egyankwa Water Committee. They had several meetings with the committee to develop a system for distributing the water from the polytanks and for providing water during the dry season. In order to have water in the dry season, Egyankwa will now purchase tanker water (treated water brought in by truck—a very common practice in this region of Ghana) and sell it to recoup the cost. By the end of the week, the group had come up with a system that will also provide revenue to be put towards the maintenance of the system and even provide a small compensation to the woman selling the water!
(The Egyankwa Water Committee with students from the PSU/IU Water Brigade at the new center.)
The Education team designed presentations to inform community members of the new water center, the system of distributing water, and the importance of the water storage buckets. Due to the small size of Egyankwa, they were able to present at each home in the community, rather than giving a lecture-style presentation to the entire community.
Thanks to the work that students from Penn State and Indiana completed on this brigade, members of the Egyankwa community now have access to improved drinking water year round! Thank you Penn State and Indiana!