The Women’s Water Initiative was born as a way to guarantee that children get clean water both at school and at home. The initiative empowers women to build 3500 liter Rain Catchment Systems on their homes. This size system is large enough to sustain a family of 8 with their domestic water needs. Each woman in the initiative receives the materials and education to construct their own rain catchment system. All the materials are procured by Save the Rain.
Each family is paired with 4 female builders – 3 women that build the system and one that helps the family create an organic garden based on permaculture design and techniques. It takes one week to construct the system and cultivate the garden. The cost to eradicate the need to walk for water all together is only $450.00. For an additional $50 we can bring her and her family food security by constructing them a garden, providing various sprouts, and by teaching her the art of permaculture farming.
This investment has a multigenerational impact. During the construction of Esther Njau’s, a Tanzanian women who received a rainwater harvesting system, she expressed her gratitude that we were there to mark the last day her granddaughter would ever walk for water. It also marked the day that the youngest in her family would never know what that search felt like. It was a celebration for all of us.
But the Women’s Water Initiative has grown to be even more. The women selected to be receive assistance are selected based on need. A huge portion of them are widows. In a culture where women don’t traditionally inherit land, once the man of the household has died, women are at great risk to be driven from their home. They are not only under the stress of suddenly being the sole supporter of their families, but also under the real threat of becoming homeless.
As more and more of these women joined the program, it became very clear that providing them with access to clean water was just the first step. Training and employing them was the second. Everyone women who works to construct systems or create gardens started as a recipient.
Diana, one of the managers of the Women’s Water Initiative, a widow and recipient as well, says, “ I am them and they are me. I compare my life to those who work with me now and to those we are trying to help. It makes me remember who I was. I teach them that I used to be like them and I teach them simple things so they can be lifted up.” The Women’s Water Initiative has proven to be such a powerful way to introduce a simple path to an abundant life.