Saturday, August 3, 2013

Akwaaba! Summer 2013 Trip Begins

Greetings from Ghana!

Team 1 (Mira, Lucas, Kofi, Kelly, and Leerang) has safely landed in Ghana and started working on the water distribution project.We are staying at a newly opened hotel called the Spino Lodge near Sammy's farm, and we have been in Obodan every day.

In the past three days, we have begun contacting contractors, inspecting the community's work on the piping trenches, working on the slab, and holding community meetings. We are hiring many local skilled laborers and contractors for this project. The community has pitched in many hours of labor to help.

Kofi, Leerang, Lucas, and Mira meet with Wise Water Engineering representatives. These contractors will help with electric work.

We spoke with the Obodan water committee about their collection of fees at the existing boreholes and about future fee collection for the electric pump system. They reported that fee collection has increased since last year, and the funds have been used around the community for streetlights and a public market. They plan to hire older women who cannot work elsewhere to attend the spigots, and these women will receive a percentage of the monthly collected fees. We emphasized the importance of saving the money to pay for electric bills and incidental repairs and replacements.

Our biggest meeting so far has been with the general community. Kofi, a Columbia student who grew up in Accra, addressed the community to explain the new water system and answer any questions or concerns they had. The biggest concern was employment, now that basic needs have been met with EWB sponsored infrastructure. We explained that our organization does not offer employment or business solutions, but we promised to look into microfinance NGOs to help Obodan reach new levels of development. We are pleased to see the community has independently reached the conclusion that economic development is now their top prioirty.

Kofi speaks on behalf of Columbia University EWB at the community meeting