Women's Enterprises International Programs
WEI Clean Water Initiative
Lack of clean water is the most urgent problem in the Ukambani region of Kenya where women and girls travel long distances to find water for their families. WEI is solving this problem by harvesting rainwater. Giant water tanks, 10,000 liters in size, hold the equivalent of 750 trips to the local water hole and meet the basic needs of a family for a year. Together WEI and our partner women's groups have provided clean water for over 2400 people in more than 400 families.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
WEI has pioneered a highly effective, non-paternalistic, sustainable development model that has proven its effectiveness to transform the lives of women from abject poverty and hopelessness to lives of hope and upward economic mobility for themselves and their families. Our model has three key characteristics: women's "solidarity" groups, partnership, and a financial match. WEI works with and through organized women's groups, 20 to 30 in size, who come together to solve a shared problem and are committed and accountable to one another. WEI partners with these groups, each partner having a specific responsibility. WEI is responsible for providing training in group formation and governance, project definition, proposal writing, and project management. The women's groups define the project, write the project proposal, and take ownership and management for the project and its completion. Both partners take responsibility for the financial component of the project. The financial match is a core principle of the WEI model. The women's group must make the initial, up front, investment of time and money. WEI invests financially in a project only after the group members have made this initial investment, typically 50% of the over-all project cost. Although this responsibility is initially daunting, the women have found that by setting a financial target, saving for four to eight months, and pooling their savings, together they can save enough for up to five, 10,000 liter water tanks, two chicken rearing businesses, or a high school scholarship for an HIV/AIDS orphan in their village. The women take their investment seriously. The WEI program model, training, and results-driven incentives equip groups of women to solve their most pressing problems with culturally and technically appropriate solutions. It is also transforming the way they see themselves and how they interact with the world around them. Group members are assuming positions of leadership in their communities, women from existing groups are mentoring neighbors, and a growing number of women are coming together, working to solve their most pressing problems, and eagerly seeking partnership with WEI.