• Women. Build. H2ope.

    Welcome to the new class of our 2nd Women's Water Leadership Academy!



    "Kenya's Water Women"

    Catherine Ondele and Rosemary Atieno were featured Al Jazeera English's documentary "Kenya's Water Women" for their Women Make Change Series! The documentary just won the New York Festivals Best TV and Film (Social Issues). 


    Watch the video here.

  • "Breaking Barriers"

    WATCH OUR NEW VIDEO: Women are changing the course of water in Africa!

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    GWWI is building a movement of local women water experts to address the issue that affects them the most: WATER.

    Women and Water Academy

    The GWWI Women and Water Academy is a training programs that equips grassroots women with the skills and tools to bring sustainable water solutions to tackle the health and violence risks, and lost income and educational opportunities associated with the lack of safe water and sanitation in their own communities. GWWI conducts a multi-year training programs to transform women from passive recipients of failed water projects to WASH providers. Women gain the expertise to become TECHNICIANS, TRAINERS and SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS.


    GWWI strengthens women's leadership in the WASH sector - whether at the village, government or NGO level. Women are taking the lead bringing demand-driven income-generating services to solve their local water crises - improving community health, building simple technologies and MAKING MONEY!


    Here's how we do it.


     Transforming women from water bearers to water providers!

    Challenging Gender Stereotypes

    As technicians...

    (masons + bricklayers)

    ...women are trained and supported to build 'appropriate' WASH technologies. "Appropriate technologies' can be made with local materials, are durable, effective and accepted by the community, thus keeping the prices affordable and maintenance easier. If something breaks down, the replacement parts and materials are available locally.


    Women can build solutions including

    1. rainwater harvesting systems

    2. water storage tanks

    3. pit latrines

    4. composting toilets

    5. cleaning bays

    6. water filters

    Changing Behavior to Improve Community Health

    As trainers...

    (facilitators + educators)


    ...women offer hygiene education in the community to encourage proper hygiene practices to reduce the risk of water-related disease, protect and clean water sources as well as train other women to construct. 


    Ensuring Financial Self-Reliance

    As social entrepreneurs...

    (manufacturers + contractors)


    ...women and the organizations for which they work diversify their funding streams. Women earn income by making and selling water and hygiene related products as well as professionalizing their services as masons hired to construct various technologies. In addition, the organizations they work for learn to strengthen their proposal writing skills and have increased access to international WASH funding, local government contracts and micro-loans to finance their projects.


    Women learn to make and sell

    1. soap
    2. shampoo
    3. chlorine
    4. reusable menstrual pads
    5. solar cookers 
    6. toilet digesters

  • WHY?


    • REDUCED PRODUCTIVITY - Women in sub-saharan Africa can spend up to 8 hours a day fetching water and doing water related chores

    • LACK OF EDUCATION - 1 out of 10 girls drop out of school by the 8th grade when they start menstruating because there is no water or toilets at the school. Girls are 3x more likely to be malnutritioned which is usually caused by diahrrea from dirty water

    • HEALTH RISKS - Over half the hospital beds in the world are occupied by people with water-related disease WHILE 3-5 million people die every year of water related disease

    • FINANCIAL STRESS - women are the caretakers of the families. When they cannot work because they are fetching water or if a family member falls sick, they spend time and money providing health services and medicine

    • PHYSICAL STRESS - a typical 5 gallons (20 liters) container of water, a typical jerican weighs 44 pounds that women and girls carry on their heads, shoulders and backs

    • VIOLENCE - when fetching water far from home or school, or relieving themselves in the open when there are no toilets, women and girls are in danger of being violently attacked and even raped

  • WHY?



    RETURN ON INVESTMENT - For every $1 invested in water and sanitation there is a return of $3 - $34
    ACCESS TO EDUCATION - With each year of primary school a girl's future wages increase by 10-20% and more educated females desire less children
    IMPROVE HEALTH - If you cut the water fetching time by 15 minutes it can reduce the incidence of diarrhea by 41% and under 5 child mortality by 11%
    FAMILY WELLNESS - Since women are the caretakers of the family and cook, clean, wash and provide drinking water, if they have access to safe water and practice good hygiene they can reduce the risk of water related disease for the whole family
    ENTREPRENEURIAL OPPORTUNITIES - Women tend to be more entrepreneurial because they have no access to the formal labor force. If they don't have to fetch water, they can participate in income generating activities. They are also more likely to pay back loans than men

    SAFETY AND SECURITY - when women and girls have access to water and sanitation, there is a reduced risk of violence and sexual attacks, they don't have to walk over rough terrain and no longer have to carry nearly 50 pounds of water



    The Global Women’s Water Initiative was launched collaboratively and was incubated by three international organizations: A Single Drop, Crabgrass and Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA). The GWWI collaborators came together to address the lack of women’s leadership in the WASH sector, despite their central role as water stewards. We hosted our first training in 2008 at Green Belt Movement with the support of Nobel Peace Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai (pictured above).


    Today, GWWI has evolved and grown to become it's own operation and is currently a project of Earth Island Institute (EII). As a project of EII, GWWI benefits from the EII network which includes dozens of local and international social justice projects.


    Since its launch, GWWI has trained and built partnerships with women-led organizations who have different social issues they are tackling. Their organizational missions range from improving maternal health, introducing bio-intensive farming, vocational training for vulnerable women, providing housing for orphans and widows and the like. Each of these organizations have recognized that in order to reach their organizational goals, they had to provide one of the main services that their communities are crying out for: access to clean water.


    GWWI supports these organizations, or what we call our Implementing Partners, to build a supplemental WASH program to meet their communities' water needs and in turn, strengthen their existing programs. For example, KSHP in Kitale, Kenya teaches communities bio-intensive farming methods to support food security. After attending GWWI trainings, they are offering income-generating WASH products and services and are ensuring water security in addition to food security. Another example, Life Bloom in Naivasha, Kenya counsels commercial sex workers and provides vocational training so they can seek alternative livelihoods. They've since trained their clients in WASH strategies and some have moved on from working the street to become WASH masons and trainers.


    And of course, we are so honored to have our Funding Partners who have provided the resources for us to build this movement.


    Meet our International Training Team, our Implementing Partners who have been participating in our multi-year training program and our funding partners!


    Gemma Bulos

    Executive Director, Co-Founder

    Gemma is a multi award-winning social entrepreneur and musician. Prior to stepping in as Director of GWWI, Gemma was the Founder/Executive Director of A Single Drop (USA) and the Founding Director of A Single Drop for Safe Water (Philippines), developing innovative programming that creates income-generating community-led water service organizations. For this innovation, Gemma received national and international social entrepreneur awards from Echoing Green, Ernst Young and Schwab Foundation, and is currently a Stanford Social Entrepreneur Fellow. Her programs also won accolades including the Tech Museum Tech EqualityAward and Warriors of the UN Millennium Goals, sponsored by Kodak Philippines. In 2011, she was recognized as one of the Most Influential Thought Leaders and Innovative Filipinas in the United States. In 2012, Reuter's named her one of the Top 10 Water Solutions Trailblazers in the World. Gemma is also an internationally renowned singer most well know for building The Million Voice Choir, a global peace mission to unite people around water through song. Read more about Gemma's incredible story and watch her TED talks here. 

    Godliver Businge

    Head Technology Trainer

    Godliver is challenging gender stereotypes in the WASH sector by being a technology trainer with expertise in bricklaying, welding and other construction skills. She graduated as one of three women at the top of her class at the Uganda Rural Development Training Program where she was given a scholarship to attend. She soon went on to being #1 in her class again at St Joseph’s Technical Institute in Uganda – and incidentally, the ONLY WOMAN! Not only did Godliver receive top marks in Civil Engineering, on April 28, 2012, she gave the commencement speech attended by the Minister of Education, who soon after invited her to his office and offered her a job. She graciously declined because she has her sights on getting her degree and ultimately her PhD in Civil Engineering. Godliver is GWWIs Head Technology Trainer and will be training all the women graduates in appropriate water technologies in their villages. Read about her in a Reuters feature, “Female Engineer, Role Model, Empowers Other Ugandan Women”

    Rose Wamalwa

    Country Director, Kenya/Tanzania

    Rose came to GWWI as a Fellow in 2011. Her background as a volunteer for an organization in Kisumu and her tireless dedication to women’s empowerment in the WASH sector made her a perfect candidate for the GWWI inaugural Fellows program. After attending the GWWI training programs to strengthen her skills as a WASH expert, she started her own organization Women in Water and Natural Resources Conservation (WWNRC). Because of her stellar commitment to her GWWI grassroots teams she was assigned to coach and support for the year, she was hired by GWWI as our first regional Coordinator for Kenya/Tanzania and her organization WWNRC is a GWWI East African Regional host partner. Rose was recently named as one of the '8 African WASH Women to Watch' alongside African Presidents Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Banda of Malawi by WASH Advocates in Washington, DC and is currently an IREX Community Solutions Fellow sponsored by the US State Department.

    Hajra "Comfort" Mukasa

    Country Director, Uganda

    Comfort was selected amongst a highly competitive pool of East African women candidates to attend GWWIs inaugural Fellows Program. As a public health official and graduating 2nd in her class receiving her Master’s at Makare University School of Public Health, Comfort brought an impressive combination of academic rigor as well as field experience into GWWIs training program. Because of her incredible commitment to her GWWI teams and the strong trusting relationships she built with our trainees, she has since been hired as GWWIs first regional Coordinator for Uganda. Within a year with GWWI, she launched her own organization, Uganda Women’s Water Initiative (UWWI) inspired and informed by the work of GWWI.  UWWI became a GWWI host partner in 2014 and is poised to take over GWWI operations in Uganda by 2018. Hajra was selected as a delegate for the Women in Public Service Institute "How Women Will Solve the Earth's Water Crisis". The program was launched by Hillary Clinton and sponsored by the US State Department

    Jan Hartsough

    Co-Founder, GWWI

    Director, Crabgrass

    Melinda Kramer

    Co-Founder, GWWI

    Co-Director, Women's Earth Alliance


    Meet the women bringing H2ope to their communities!

    Action for Women and Awakening in Rural Environment (AWARE)
    Kaabong, Uganda

    TEAM: Josephine Auma and Grace Loumo

    MISSION: Maternal health, HIV/AIDS, emergency relief

    Our favorite AWARE story:


    Blog: With Women Empowered, Change is POO-ssible! In recognition of World Toilet Day 2014

    Bukoba Women's Empowerment Association (BUWEA)

    Bukoba, Tanzania

    TEAM: Grace Mushongi and Rachel Nyamukama

    MISSION: Women's livelihood, animal husbandry, farming, soy mills

    Our favorite BUWEA stories:


    Blog: BUWEA Women Invest in Their Own WASH Education and Become Local Water Champions


    Blog: BUWEA Raises Money to Build 5 Tanks in 8 Months and Counting...


    Blog: Power In Partnerships: BUWEA Partners With Women's Global Connection in the USA

    Global Women's Water Initiative, Moyo (GWWIM)

    Moyo, Uganda

    TEAM: Martha Adong and Angella Tassas

    MISSION: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

    Our favorite GWWIM stories:


    Blog: Guest Blog from a Visiting Photographer Who Traveled to Moyo, Uganda to Witness GWWIM in Action!


    Blog: Angella and Martha Win the Best Booth Award (It was all about water) at the local Women's Day Festival


    Blog: GWWI Trainees Launch the First GWWI Local Chapter in Moyo, Uganda With Huge Support from the Community and Local Government

    Katosi Women's Development Trust (KWDT)

    Katosi, Uganda

    TEAM: Rose Namukasa, Betty Kajule and Mastula Namaganda

    MISSION: animal husbandry, micro-loans, WASH

    Our favorite KWDT story:


    Blog: KWDT Wins the Kyoto Water Prize, One of the Top Water Prizes in the World!

    Kilili Self-Help Programme (KSHP)

    Kitale, Kenya

    TEAM: Jane Joseph and Elizabeth Nasai

    MISSION: biodynamic farming, food security

    Our favorite KSHP stories:


    Blog: Buying Books Instead of Medicine! KSHP Eliminates Typhoid in Local Kenya Schools


    Blog: KSHP Wins Top Prize from Ministry Of Water and Irrigation


    Blog: KSHP Enhances Their Food Security Program With Water Security


    Blog: Unique Community Driven Program to Bring Clean Water

    Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET)

    Kisumu, Kenya

    TEAM: Rosemary Atieno, Joy Nambare and Maureen Opondo

     MISSION: maternal health, HIV/AIDS, participatory integrated community development

    Our favorite KMET stories:


    Blog: Sophia, Local Grandma Is Voted as Chair for Her Local Water Committiee


    Blog: Two Kisumu Teams Partner to Support Clean Water Efforts After Meeting at GWWIs Training Program

    Life Bloom Services International, Inc (LBSI)

    Naivasha, Kenya

    TEAM: Wanjiru Ngigi, Phionah Mbugua and Catherine Wanjohi

    MISSION: counseling, livelihood development, vocational training for vulnerable women and girls

    Our favorite LBSI stories:


    Blog: From Sex Worker to Water Champion: Phionah Quits Walking the Streets for A Career as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Technician and Trainer!


    Blog: LBSI Director Is Elected as Board Chair of Her Local Water Board Integrating Women and Influencing Local Water Policy. Read her letter!


    Blog: LBSI Trains Women Prisoners To Provide Their Own Clean Water. Read more here.


    Blog: Commercial Sex Workers Become Masons and Find An Alternative Income-Generating Skill

    Orphans and Widows Association for Development (OWAD)

    Amuria, Uganda

    TEAM: Florence Atidi, Helen Rose Achen and Eunice Aliamo

    MISSION: housing for orphans and widows, solar energy

    Our favorite OWAD stories:


    Blog: Girls No Longer Missing School Thanks to OWADs Rainwater Harvesting Project!


    Blog: OWAD Prepares for a Local Government Water Contract

    Uganda Women's Water Initiative (UWWI)

    Gomba, Uganda

    TEAM: Beatrice Namukasa, Betty and Irina

    MISSION: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

    Our favorite UWWI stories:


    Article: Godliver Businge, GWWI Head Tech Trainer is Featured By Reuter's as A Role Model for Women Engineers


    Blog: UWWI Manager and GWWI Head Technical Trainer Graduates #1 In Her Engineering Class

    Women's Center for Job Creation (WCFJC)

    Jinja, Uganda

    TEAM: Charity Ndhura and Isabella Ainomugish

    MISSION: women's livelihood, craft making, salon training, animal husbandry, farming, seed saving

    Our favorite WCFJC stories:


    Blog: WCFJC Builds Rainwater Harvesting Systems to Help Women-run Goat and Poultry Micro-businesses

    Women in Water and Natural Resources Conservation (WWANC)

    Kakamega, Kenya

    TEAM: Stella Wanjala and Catherine Ondele

    MISSION: WASH, climate change, entrepreneurship

    Our favorite WWNRC stories:


    Blog: GWWI Partners with KIVA So WWNRC Offer Their Own Project Financing


    Article: Rose Wamalwa, WWNRC Founder and GWWI Coordinator Is Named One of the Eight African Water Women To Watch Alongside President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Joyc Banda of Malawi!


    Blog: First Baby Born at Village Clinic Because WWNRC Builds Rainwater Harvesting Tanks to Supply Water


    Blog: Rose Wamalwa Tells the Story How Having Water Changed a Local Clinic To Be Able to Offer More Health Services


    Our supporters who have funded our program and African partners!

    James Stimmel

    Conservation, Food and Health Foundation


    Judy Peletz

    Mark Rubnitz

    Calabassas High School
    Susan and David Young

    Christina Liebner

    Tracy Cummings

    Rita Archibald

    Marti Roach

    Meg O'Shughnessy

    Barbara Hazard

    Epi Bodhi

    Rita Archibald

    Marti Roach

    Meg O'Shughnessy

    Barbara Hazard



    Pretty impressive for women who had never picked up a trowel before!


    News, Articles and Presentations

    Blogs: Read the women's stories here

  • GWWI Executive Director interviewed on Emmy Award winning "Beyond The Headlines" with Cheryl Jennings.


    News, Articles, Video Interviews and Presentations (click the logo to read/view more)

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    GWWI is a project of Earth Island Institute