Kofi And Nane Annan Launch Safe Water Network's Distribution & Container Program
Safe Water Network welcomed former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to its safe water station site in Obeyeyie, 40 miles north of the capital, Accra. He was joined by his wife, Nane, to mark the launch of two innovative Safe Water Network programs: a Tricycle Initiative to cost-effectively improve safe water delivery to increase safe water access; and a Container Program, designed to reduce recontamination once it leaves the water station.
Prior to Safe Water Network’s 2009 arrival in Obeyeyie, its population of 2,500 drank contaminated water from the reservoir formed by the CO Dam. The people suffered from water-related diseases including Buruli ulcer. Today 85% of Obeyeyie’s households purchase water from the station and independent post-launch surveys indicate a significant reduction in water-related disease, including a complete eradication of Buruli ulcer.
The Tricycle Program makes safe-water usage more convenient, increasing the likelihood of adoption. When more than 75% of a community uses safe water, not only does health improve, it also creates financial stability for the station, a critical aspect to local sustainability. The Tricycle Program features home delivery using two motorized carts, carrying twenty 20-liter containers.
According to Safe Water Network’s head of African initiatives, Charles Nimako, “It was a great honor to have his Excellency and Nane, his wife, visit Obeyeyie to see how we work with a community to develop the skills needed to own and operate a Safe Water Station.”
The Annans spent time with community members and the local operator who oversees the day-to-day management of the water station. At a short ceremony to launch Safe Water Network’s new programs, the former Secretary-General said, “What is exciting about this project is that the approach is sustainable.” He added, “This program gives me the hope that we can give clean water to all people around Ghana with determination and the kind of organization I have seen here today.”
Nane Annan also addressed the crowd. “I am happy with the interest that women and children in this community have shown for this project,” she said. “There is a strong focus on health and hygiene education. The tricycle and container program will make it even more convenient for them to access safe water.”
Making an Impact at the Local Level
A key aspect of Safe Water Network’s approach to developing local capability is to engage community leaders in decision making from day one. “Our people have suffered for many years because of the water here,” says Pratap Reddy, a member of the local legislative assembly (MLA). “With the help of Safe Water Network and its partners like Pentair, we now have an opportunity to control our own destiny to ensure that we can provide safe, affordable water to our community.”
Safe water transforms lives in communities and the launch of a water station often makes an immediate impact. According to Govu Mogulaiah, a local farmer in Padmaram, “Now that safe water is available in our village, some of the workers are already bringing it to drink in the fields during the hot days. I believe that this year’s harvest will be bigger than ever because many of us will be healthy drinking safe water.”
Scaling Local Success
The Padmaram site is part of a broader initiative to cluster systems in a region, anchored by a lead village and support services that cost-effectively address the ongoing operational and maintenance requirements for sustainability. We are advancing this work with key stakeholders in India including Merck & Co, the Pepsi Foundation and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
Padmaram and our nearby sites benefit from the NABARD-supported network of local watershed development committees. These committees provide the land and building for the sites, plus access to a water source. As an established local organization, these committees play an important role in the governance of the system. Leveraging NABARD’s local networks will enable Safe Water Network to use existing infrastructure to develop the community capability to own and operate water systems long-term.
Over the next three years, Safe Water Network will work with communities in this region to build twelve sites, providing safe water to 30,000 people. These additional systems and the support needed to develop the local capability to keep them running will be financially underwritten by several organizations, foundations and private-sector companies.