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Earth Island Reports

Women’s Earth Alliance

Training Women in Water and Sanitation

2011 has been a productive year for Global Women’s Water Initiative (GWWI), a program of Women’s Earth Alliance (in partnership with Crabgrass). GWWI is dedicated to promoting women’s rights to clean water and basic sanitation in Africa. Every day, women around the world spend close to 200 million hours collecting water for domestic use. By empowering women with the tools to provide their communities with safe water and sanitation, Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) is helping communities avoid the diseases and deaths that accompany dirty water.

This summer GWWI partnered with Ugandan local organization iCON Women and Young People’s Leadership Academy. Together, they facilitated the East African Women and Water Training, a unique program that brought together 45 women leaders to collaborate on solutions to the water and sanitation crisis in sub-Saharan Africa.

During the training, pairs of women leaders selected from three East African countries learned about WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) technologies such as BioSand water filters, rainwater harvesting systems, and ventilated improved pit latrines. All of the trainers were African women who were not only experts in these technologies, but who also brought culturally appropriate and regionally specific sensibilities to each session. Following the training, each participant team received a seed grant to launch water and sanitation projects in their communities.

As the participants of the 2011 training continue on this year-long program, they will implement their WASH technology in two different areas in their target communities with support from regional trainers and international peers. As they construct their water projects, they will share their skills and knowledge with members of their communities.

By early October, 14 of the 16 grassroots teams had implemented their first technology in three East African countries. By the end of 2011, all 16 teams will have completed their first technology implementation and some will have completed construction of their second technology.

The Women and Water Trainings are one of several strategies that WEA and its partners employ in response to the varying impacts of climate change on women and girls. Learn more about the trainings, Women’s Earth Alliance, and the Global Women’s Water Initiative at


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