A project supported by a group of Abbotsford-area donors was recently honoured with a national award on Parliament Hill.
iDE Canada received the Canadian Council for International Cooperation’s (CCIC) first-ever organizational Innovation and Impact Award for work made possible by local supporters, who raised over $200,000 to provide safe, affordable toilets to more than 50,000 poor, rural people in northern Ghana.
The charity, based in Winnipeg, develops business solutions that serve poor, rural customers in low-income countries.
Ninety per cent of rural Ghanaians have no access to private toilets. Squatting over open pits or in fields is common, posing serious illness and safety risks – especially for women and children.
The biggest risk is diarrheal disease, a top killer of children worldwide and a deadly contributor to nearly 40 per cent of children in northern Ghana being malnourished.
With the support of Canadian donors and Global Affairs Canada, iDE Ghana’s “Sama Sama” team has worked with local manufacturers, banks and salespeople to deliver and install durable, locally made and affordable toilets and stimulate demand for the life-saving product through marketing and door-to-door sales.
Noting that the organization’s broader work has already resulted in more than one million toilets sold worldwide, iDE Canada CEO Stu Taylor thanked Abbotsford supporters for Sama Sama’s success.
“We are grateful that this group had the vision to support something new and innovative. It’s doing something different where traditional approaches have failed. This is about saving the lives of children who are dying for the lack of a very simple facility.”
Abbotsford supporters have come together around fundraising events – in particular, wine tastings hosted by the Mt. Lehman Winery.
One of the organizers, iDE Canada board member Fred Thiessen, said the group was pleased to support a project that they knew was making an impact
“People can see where their money is going, and that we are making a difference that will last. This award just affirms that,” he said.
CCIC board membership chair Ian Hamilton said the award committee was “deeply impressed” by the project, and “thrilled that the award will highlight iDE’s great work and provide an opportunity to share lessons based on the innovative business model iDE has employed and the extensive consultation process that led to the design of the Sama Sama toilet.”
The committee highlighted iDE’s novel use of tablet-based credit tests and a human-centred design process to fit financing to income levels and customize toilets for local needs.
While it’s the first year for the Innovation and Impact Award, the CCIC has been recognizing exceptional individuals and organizations for tackling development challenges and improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable since 1986.