With the Women’s Water Initiative, our goal is to break the cycle of gender inequality by ending the need for girls to spend their days searching for water. Like education, having access to water at home opens the door for women and girls to become innovative leaders who better their communities. When that access is denied, a girl’s future is all but stolen. Clean water directly impacts women and girls’ equity, alleviates poverty, guarantees an improvement in education and health, and drastically elevates the ceiling of possibility. If there is no longer a need to spend the day searching for water, women and girls can take their place in driving social change.
Our Women’s Water Initiative creates that opportunity by constructing 3500-liter rainwater harvesting systems and family greenhouses on homes. They take one week to build, have a multigenerational impact, and are cost-effective to build. To date, we have built over 6500 systems.
When we enter a community, we come with six trained women builders who train local women to construct the first 50 residential systems. By the time the first 50 residential systems are complete, that small team will have trained about 25 women through paid employment.
From that pool of original trainees, we select the most passionate and those with the best work ethic to join the team and continue to build systems for more families in their village and the neighboring communities. Some will become managers, and some will join the permanent team that moves from village to village, training more people.
Once we complete the first phase of the work, a trained team of 20 to 30 local women will continue to build more residential rainwater harvesting systems and greenhouses. They are then trained to select new recipients, organize and track expenses and pay, manage inventory, monitor past recipients, act as advocates for neighbors in need and be right there when a problem needs to be solved or a new project needs to be nurtured. In addition, because all the builders are from villages where we have worked, they constantly communicate with past recipients. This model authentically creates opportunities for everyone in economic development, community leadership, self-governance, social equity, and a sustainable foundation to continue to grow.
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 liters rainwater collection system on their homes. This size system is large enough to sustain a family of 8 with their domestic water needs.
Each family is paired with 4 female builders. It takes one week to construct the system and cultivate the garden. The cost to eradicate the need to walk for water is only $500. This investment has a multigenerational impact as clean water is shared with extended family and neighbors.