Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Putting our Learning into Practice!

Well, we have received a report from the field that the CAWST training has been a success! The trainings have allowed the RWI team and attendees to develop essential relationships as well as gain some key knowledge from CAWST (Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Treatment)in respect to the BSF technology and share best practices in production and outreach for WASH projects like RWI’s. We are excited to see how some of these new ideas and relationships will materialize in the future.

Here is what Isaac our RWI Kenya Country Representative had to say about the training-
"In general the training has been beneficial to the organization through the sharing of the knowledge and challenges with the experts (CAWST) and the participants from other organization. The training was successful because our staff got an opportunity to undergo this comprehensive training. This has really motivated the team and is currently to start implementing what was learnt. The participants were also very pleased with the whole logistics in training preparation and facilitations not forgetting accommodation for the boarders in the Hotel."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Conducting Trainings in Kenya with CAWST

RWI is hosting a couple of trainings this May in partnership with CAWST. CAWST - The Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Treatment is a Canadian NGO with the mission to address the Global Water Challenge with education and training to build local capacity. CAWST's co founder is Dr. Manz, the inventor of the Biosand Filter (BSF). We are excited to be a part of this training as it legitimizes our presence and experience in regards to the BSF and the local water and sanitation issues within the region.
The two trainings will take place in Nakuru, Kenya. To RSVP please email us at:

Training Topics and Dates:
May 3-7 Project Implementation for the Biosand Filter Workshop
May 17-21 Community Health Promotion for Trainers

Here's CAWST's website:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some News Updates for Kenya

Hey guys, need to catch up on some of the news in Kenya? Here are a couple of good ones that I have come across.

Is it scalable? That is my question for Mr Sachs. But pretty phenomenal. A must read.
Shower of Aid Brings Flood of Progress

In this one, a friend of a friend is being interviewed about the destruction in Samburu.
Safari tourists rescued by helicopter from Kenya flood

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

RWI News Brief

Full steam ahead! Some developments are in the works for RWI and we are excited. RWI has been chosen as semifinalists in the Dell Social Innovation Competition. We were selected among 50 teams out of 700 teams! Next step is to update our business plan, and put together a video. If any of you know how to work with multi-media and communications, we could use your help!

Also our team has been selected to be a part of the International Development Design Summit, which will take place in Colorado this year. As the Kenya Country Representative for RWI, Isaac will have the opportunity to visit us here in Colorado and participate fully in the three week summit. We will collaborate with experienced people in design and development from all over the world.
Thanks for the support!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2 Legit

So we're moving forward and finally have been able to create a web presence for Running Water International. Thanks to Scott Fedak, Becky's brother. Things may change on this site, but for now we have something. Check it out:

We welcome any feedback. THANKS!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Becky and Tanisha have returned back to the US, while Isaac is leading the efforts for RWI on the ground in Nakuru. I compiled all of our accomplishments from this most recent visit to Kenya, and a lot has been accomplished.
Some of the highlights of our outcomes include:

Received authorization and endorsement for our business and activities regarding the education and sale of RWI’s flagship product the BSF from the provincial office of Public Health for the Rift Valley Province.

Trained and mobilized about 20 additional sales agents who will represent RWI in their communities and hopefully stimulate sales in rural and remote regions. These people are grassroots leaders in their communities.

Changed our legal entity to a Limited Liability Corporation in Kenya. We are discussing what the future will look like, but felt that registering as a bona fide LLC was super duper important.

Hired another team member to step in as the Operations Manager to allow Isaac to focus on PR and relationship building to market and sell our business and our products.

Took orders from friends, and local community members. People want these biosand filters. There is a market out there, we just need to figure out how to build a well oiled distribution network.

The picture in this post, is from Mogotio (one of the towns where we work), this is the Molo River where many of the local people go to get their water.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Leaving on a Different Note

We are preparing to leave Kenya once again, and must leave the project in the capable hands of our trusted colleague and friend, Isaac. There have been some hickups along the way as we continue to learn about how to create a sustainable enterprise selling household water treatment systems in Kenya. We have conducted a sales training with the hopes to mobilize active community members to partner with us and sell. Lets hope that we were able to get some people on the ground to sell BSFs!

We have also been learning what it means to "bootstrap" during this most recent trip, due to our lack of outside funding. We did not have our own vehicle, and have learned that using public means for transport may be financially cheaper, and yet very costly with our own time. This has also meant that we have eaten Ramen for dinner and lived more simply than our other trips. :)We have been able to empathize and experience first hand the barriers and hardships our local staff have to face in order to get the work done with limited resources.
Additionally, after our third trip to Kenya, we are so grateful for the friends we've made and look forward to our next trip.

Tanisha, Isaac, & Becky and Lake Bagoria

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Public/ Private Partnerships?

We have met with various local public health offices and other stakeholders in specific communities in hopes to build relationships and promote our main product, the Biosand Filter. We are encountering that it is difficult to position ourselves in such a way that we are able to differentiate ourselves from other NGOs or charitable organizations working in the same arena here in Kenya. When we are introducing ourselves and our mission, we want to emphasize that we are a social enterprise that attempts to stand in the gap where conventional development and charity has failed. This is a challenge, and some questions we are asking ourselves at this point are:

How much do we want to collaborate with the local governments and ministries? Of course we know that we need to work within the given systems and maneuver in the proper channels to be successful. But how much do we collaborate? We are considering the idea of giving one or two filters away each to local Public Health Offices in order to promote the Biosand Filter. How much of our product do we give away to these Public Health Offices in order to market ourselves? Would our collaboration become just another bureaucratic system that may lose effectiveness over time? Or would our collaboration strengthen the organization and position among our target market? Are there more appropriate stakeholders that we can “donate” a filter in order to get a better return on our investment- in respect to BSF sales? We believe an issue like clean water in rural areas can be addressed by a private social enterprise, but the questions is who and how do we partner with stakeholders, and how much do we collaborate with local ministries? Perhaps we’ll find the answers to these issues as we continue this work in Kenya, but when resources are limited and time is precious, how much do we want to invest in these partnerships? Any input from our readers and friends is much appreciated!

A Captive Audience for Installation of a BSF

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting Down and Dirty

On previous visits to Kenya we had the support of the our initial project partner who provided a vehicle for us to go to commute to the major city center, Nakuru, as well as reach outlying areas. Now we are on our own (our former project partner is no longer in operations), we have to rely on matatus (the local public transportation- which are mini-buses), and our two legs to get to our various appointments. This change has caused us to gain a greater understanding of the daily routine of our fellow Kenyans which may often feel, to us westerners, like we’re moving in slow motion. I guess that is why the local people commonly use the term, “pole pole,” which means, “slowly by slowly.” This saying can be used in many contexts, but has often been used to chide western visitors to understand how things get done here in Kenya, slowly by slowly. In a way this reminds us to appreciate the small things and to take care of the things that matter most. At lunch today we overheard a native Kenyan admonish his western visitor that the visitor was too impatient. It is good to be reminded that although we have come in hopes to bring something new to Kenya, we still have a lot to learn from our local friends, partners, and even our interaction with the daily grind here in Kenya.

Progress is being made in respect to the business. Becky and I spent most of the day at the Polytechnic working with our hands and getting down and dirty with our RWI- Maji Salama Staff. We were able to de-mold 2 BSFs, and mold 2 more BSFs. We were able to exhaust ourselves and truly appreciate the work that our team is doing here. Isaac (Kenyan Country Representative) was preparing a batch of 50 BSFs that will be picked up tomorrow and delivered to our customer in Eldoret.

We will be working hard this week and next to identify and develop appropriate sales and marketing strategies. Many meetings have been set so we can start asking local people about potential partnerships in the dissemination of our BSFs Tomorrow we meet with an NGO that may be a potential customer. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, and hope for the best!

Look at all those BSFs!

Tanisha and Becky de- molding a BSF

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back to the Grind in Kenya

So Becky and I (Tanisha) have arrived here in Nairobi and will be making our way to Njoro this afternoon. We are definitely jet- lagged and tired... but energized as we discuss the project to develop creative solutions to tackle some of important things that we want to address with the business while we're here. The familiar language, smells, sounds and people bring back great memories from our previous two trips in the past year, which is somewhat comforting. We'll keep you updated, there is lots to do!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kenya- bound

Well 2010 has arrived and Becky and I are headed to Kenya! This will be a bittersweet trip since two of our teammates, Sanghamitra and Aseel will not be with us. Thank you for all of your support, and we will continue to update our blog as we travel.

We will be in Kenya from January 6th until the 27th. We look forward to getting back to the equatorial weather!