Filtration system in Ghana benefits thousands
Doug May, left, and other members of his Rotary club work with the host club on a water filtration system in Ghana. Photo courtesy of Doug May
A Rotarian's awareness of local resources in his community helped bring about a water project benefiting 10,000 people in Ghana, more than 7,000 miles away.
Two years ago, Doug May, a member of the Rotary Club of SaddleBrooke, Arizona, USA, was mentoring students at his local chapter of Engineers Without Borders at the University of Arizona when he heard about a clean water project the group was launching in Ghana.
May thought his Rotary club could help by securing a US$15,000 Matching Grant from The Rotary Foundation, partnering with the Rotary Club of Ho, Volta Region, Ghana, near the project site.
Joseph Achana, past president of the Ho club, and May were going to the 2007 RI Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, so they arranged to get together there.
Meeting Achana face to face helped make the process smoother, says May. For one thing, "I was able to get his signature" for the grant paperwork.
The grant was approved in May of 2008 and work began on the $40,000 project, expanding a filtration system that had been built several years earlier by another nongovernmental organization. That system "was a slow sand filter that was not big enough and often got clogged," says May. When the filter stopped working, people in the area used untreated water from the local reservoir.
Working with the engineers, Rotarians helped define the scope of the project. They decided to use larger-capacity gravel and sand roughing filters. Rotarians were also able to help meet the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) sustainability requirement, as several Rotarians in Ghana worked in areas related to water systems.
"I definitely think the collaboration between the two organizations is win-win," says May. "An EWB chapter can provide a lot of design and construction management that would typically have to be contracted and paid for at a going local rate." Rotarians helped raise funds and provided additional support, he says.
Learn more about Engineers Without Borders.