Lack of access to clean, safe water is a critical and persistent obstacle to improving the lives of people in Tanzania, especially the education outcomes of its children, most especially its girls. Culturally, girls bear the burden of foraging for water as well as for firewood for boiling water and cooking, typically walking long distances to acceptable sources of water and wood. This burden consumes much of the girls’ days, leaving little or no time to attend school or study. Illness from waterborne contaminants also contributes to high dropout rates for all students.
An emerging trend in developing countries is to solve this problem by creating small, locally-owned manufacturers of water filters that produce safe, clean drinking water. Safe Water Mugango (SWM) is a women-owned organization that does exactly that. Their water filters have the added benefits of eliminating the need for an energy source for users and a five-year life-cycle, requiring minimal maintenance, an ideal fit for use in rural and developing areas. SWM was formed by a group of women potters in the village of Mugango in northwest Tanzania. Their primary goal for this business is to earn money to educate their children. With help from TDS, they have received training, equipment and materials to launch their business. They are now manufacturing their first inventory of filters and high efficiency charcoal cook stoves. They are working with social entrepreneurship students at Northern Illinois University to update their business and marketing plans as they begin selling their products.