Path From Poverty
20 Year Impact Study, by Kathryn Smith Derksen
PFP has worked with over 2000 women these 20 years, with over 1200 current members working together on their projects. We surveyed 30% of our women, and learned a lot about them. A woman’s walk for water averages 4 kilometers, which most do several times a day, totaling in time what is a full time job, just to get water.
Then they have to earn income to feed their families – more of them reported farming and poultry keeping, as opposed to making gravel and rope, because as you see on the next slide, (Slide #2) more of our members have tanks at this point. This chart shows past and current members – over 1000 women have one tank, and 500 have two. However; with five new groups joining us this year, 435 current members, are working towards their first tank.
We asked what they anticipate about having a tank, and to tank owners, how they used their extra time, and you can see their top answers here. We also asked “What will change or has changed,” and they all answered “My family’s health.” Waterborne diseases means constant illness, and takes money and time and children missing school. For those without a tank, they imagine improved health, control over their time, and that they and their daughters will be safer. Powerful reasons to work for a tank.
Once a woman has a tank, who benefits? Nearly 12,000 family members have direct access to clean water. But it’s the second number that’s surprising: tank owners report even more community members use their water. So over 25,000 are benefiting from our 2000+ tanks.
Now, we’ve known since the beginning access to clean water improved health and safety, that ready access allowed girls to go to school, and women to earn independent income. We knew that groups improved the community, and that 1 tank more readily led to a second tank, and then a solar panel. After years of developing this model, our Kenyan sisters even defined 2 tanks and a panel as the path from poverty. But we went into this study to really see, after 20 years, what is the financial impact?
Turns out, water is money.
This first diagram on the left shows our respondent’s weekly income – 40% of our members without tanks make less than $1.50 a week, while almost every member with a tank makes over $1.50 a week. But the family annual income shows us for the first time the most direct relationship of tanks to income yet. As a family has more ready access to clean water, income doubles, even triples. A second tank allows a woman to move up the income-generation ladder to cattle, which increases her income even more.
To summarize, 40% of our members without a tank make less than $1.50 a week, and they are working terribly hard to raise themselves to the next level. At the same time, 40% of our members with 2 tanks have a family income over $900 a year. It’s no wonder that when women answer “How has being in the group helped you,” they answer they have learned how to earn money, and their husband is proud and more supportive. More information on the study is available for those interested.