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Last year, CTI and our partners EOS International and Self-Help International launched a study to measure the effectiveness of CTI’s Water Chlorinator and water treatment efforts in rural Nicaragua. We are pleased to report that in unannounced visits to 21 communities with the chlorinator installed, 95% (20 out of 21) of chlorinators were stocked with chlorine and the units were being properly maintained by villages. A full report will be released in the coming weeks, but in the meantime we want to share a few of the highlights:

  • The chlorinator completely eliminated the presence of harmful bacteria in all communities with the chlorinator operating.
  • In communities with no water treatment system, harmful bacterial contamination was found in 70% of water sources, indicating a strong need for treatment

To date, 275,000 people in 540 villages across Nicaragua have gained access to safe drinking water through our program – including 76,000 people in 136 villages over the course of 2014 alone.

Look for the full study later this year!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Saying goodbye to a remarkable man

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George Ewing

CTI Founder
1930-2015

It is with heavy hearts that we announce George Ewing, founder of Compatible Technology International, passed away peacefully on Monday, January 12.

George was born June 26, 1930 on a farm in Richland County, Wisconsin. He served with the US Navy in the Korean War before graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. He spent his career in research and engineering at General Mills, where he formed a group of volunteer scientists interested in helping communities in developing countries overcome their food processing problems. George’s group grew, and in 1981 they created the nonprofit Compatible Technology International.

George was the last surviving founder of CTI, and has been the heart and soul of the organization. Over the past 30+ years, he played a key role in the development of many of our post-harvest solutions, including storage and tools for peeling, slicing and drying of potato chips in one of our first programs in India.  George was also the inventor behind CTI’s grinder, for which the Ewing Grinder was named in his honor.

George was an incredibly smart and giving man. Even into his 80’s George has remained one of our most active volunteers, and in recent years he’s lent his expertise to create drying technologies, peanut processing tools, and a lower-cost grinder.

There is no doubt that thousands of people across the globe have permanently raised their standard of living because of George’s vision. And his work has inspired so many others here at CTI to use the skills and privileges we all have to give others a hand up. George was truly remarkable and his mind, generosity, and sense of humor will be deeply missed.

Services will be held at 1:30 PM on Saturday, January 17 at Spirit of Hope United Methodist, 7600 Harold Ave., Golden Valley. Visitation will begin at 11:30 AM until time of service.

If you would like to honor George, the family has asked that memorials may be made to Compatible Technology International. Memorial gifts can be made online, or by mailing us at 800 Transfer Road, Suite 6, St. Paul, MN 55114.

 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Celebrating Malcolm McLean

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CTI is sad to announce that Malcolm McLean, our beloved Executive Director from 1991-1995 and long-time friend, passed away on November 19th, 2014. Malcolm brought his wealth of experience to CTI, mentoring those around him and serving as an ambassador to the organization for the last twenty years. He will be greatly missed by the team.

Malcolm was instrumental in revitalizing CTI’s water treatment program in Nicaragua, after bringing together the program team and securing funding in 2010. Today, more than 275,000 people in Nicaragua have gained safe water as a result of Malcolm’s dedication.

In honor of Malcolm and his wife of 58 years, Wendy, CTI and Northland College have launched an internship for students to work with CTI’s technical experts in the workshop, and to travel internationally to see how basic food and water tools are making a difference in peoples’ lives where we work.

A memorial service will be held for Malcolm on December 6th at 11am at the Macalester Plymouth Church, 1658 Lincoln Avenue, St. Paul, MN. Click here to read Malcolm’s obituary.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Introducing CTI’s newest thresher design!

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This year, CTI launched a pilot program to begin distributing our new grain tools in Senegal. We sold and delivered tools to more than 50 villages—improving millet production and strengthening food security for more than 12,000 people! We also spent time following up with the women using our tools (through discussions, formal surveys, and field tests) to learn how the tools were impacting women’s lives, and how we can improve our technology designs and services, to ensure farmers are realizing their maximum potential.

While feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, women asked us to make the thresher faster, more affordable, and easier for one person to operate. Our design team got to work, and today, we’re premiering our newest thresher design! Check out the video to see it in action!

And if you want to be a part of helping us deliver our new prototype to farmers, along with training, financial and business mentoring, you can click on the image below to make a donation, and your gift will be matched—today only!

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Doña Aurela is a community leader in Nicaragua who volunteers with the CAPS to maintain her village’s potable water. CAPS (Comite de Agua Potable y Saniemento or Potable Water and Sanitation Committee) is a national organization of formal village water committees common in rural communities, where many villages lack any form of water treatment. CTI partners with CAPS throughout Nicaragua, and trains them to install and maintain our Water Chlorinators, which provide entire villages with safe water for pennies per day.

“Safe water is a prerequisite to ending poverty.”

What motivates these men and women to give their time, energy, and money to establish safe water in their villages? There are many reasons, but as Doña Aurela explains in the video above, safe water is an essential prerequisite to building healthier communities and economic growth.

This week, CTI and our partners at EOS International and Self Help International are hosting an inaugural Clean Water Conference in the capital city of Managua. We’re gathering CAPS leaders from villages across Nicaragua, as well as officials from the National Ministry of Health, Mayor’s Offices, and other non-governmental development organizations. We are meeting to discuss the state of potable water in rural villages, how each of us contributes to addressing the challenges, and ways we can strengthen and expand our partnership nationally.

And if you believe that access to safe water is a fundamental right everyone should have, you can help us realize that vision. Click on the image below to make a donation, and your gift will be matched—today only!

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Friday, 31 October 2014

What true empowerment looks like

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aissitou1“The business gives me more power in the community.”

Meet Aissatou, a farmer, mother of four, and breadwinner for her family. A few months ago, Aissatou purchased a CTI grinder and began selling grinding services to her neighbors and peanut butter at the market.

Words like “empowerment” get thrown around casually in the nonprofit world, but what does empowering women business leaders really mean?

Well it’s about so much more than reducing drudgery and raising incomes. Women like Aissatou become well respected decision-makers in their communities and influential role models. So while she’s raising their own standard of living, Aissatou is also elevating the status of women in her village and in Senegal.

An interview with Aissatou

Tell us about your village

I am from Lende, a village in the community of Thiargny in Louga region of Senegal. We live 30 KM from the main road, and we have water, but no electricity yet. We are a Pular community, and we mostly work in livestock, raising animals like goats, cows, and chickens.

Tell us about your grinder business

Every Tuesday I go to the weekly market and sell products in the community. Six months ago, I bought a CTI grinder. It’s helped me use my time more efficiently. I provide grinding services to other women, and I sell peanut butter at the market now. Now I can grind about 10 kg of peanut butter a day and sell it at the weekly market, and earn about $1 more each day. I use the money to feed and support my family.

The grinder is simple. It’s durable, I don’t need help to fix it, and I don’t have the face the need to find gas.

I like that, in my community, I’ve been able to find an opportunity to create a business and become self-sufficient.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud, as a woman, to be a leader and have respect in my community. I’m proud that I don’t need to ask for help, I can take care of my family with the daily work I’m doing: raising my cattle (cows, lams, goats, chickens) and providing grinding services with the CTI grinder I bought. Now I’m proud to sell peanut butter I made with the CTI grinder too.

I am also the 336 member of “PAMECAS,” a microfinance institute operating in our community ten years ago. As one of the first members of the community, I am a board member and can participate in decision making.

What do you do with your extra income?

I have four daughters that go to school, and I use the money to pay for their school fees, and to feed them, and help support my husband, of course. I also save some of the money so I can get more loans from the Micro-finance Institute.
How does it feel to own a business?

It is very important for me to own a business, and now I can use more extra time in a more efficient manner, and the business gives me more power in the community too.

How does it feel to be a woman leader?

It makes me meet with other people and this is important for me. Sometime it can be tough to be a woman leader because within the group we have different ethnicities and different ages—the young and old women have different points of view. But it’s quite interesting because they follow me and trust to me.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope to see my daughters more educated than me so they can play a role in the community. And, of course, I want my business grow!

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Untapped Potential of Women In Agriculture

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Wesley Meier, CTI Program Director

A common and very important theme that echoed during the 2014 World Food Prize was the untapped potential of women in agriculture. Pamela Anderson, the Director of Agriculture at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pointed out that 2 out of 3 women in Africa are employed in agriculture, and it’s women who responsible for 90% of grueling post-harvest processing work.

If women had equal access to credit, land, inputs, markets as men, we would be able to increase agricultural productivity by 20%.

One of the biggest constraints faced by women, according to Anderson, is labor. Reducing women’s labor is a major focus of Compatible Technology International, and we’ve seen how easing the burden on women farmers can increase their yields, improve the quality of the food they produce, and help them better market and sell their crops.

But while improving women’s access to technologies and resources is important, access alone is not enough to make a lasting difference. The gender gap is deeper and broader than we thought, Anderson noted, and we need to continue studying it and addressing the topic through technologies and policy.

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Over the past four years, CTI has been on a mission to provide safe water to rural communities in Nicaragua. We teamed up with more than 400 villages to install CTI’s Water Chlorinator, and today, we are proud to announce that more than 250,000 people have gained clean drinking water for the first time in their history.

This is the culmination of a goal we set in 2011, when CTI’s water chlorinators were in just over 40 communities. We built a team with hundreds of village volunteers, officials from the Nicaraguan Health Ministries, NGO partners, and together, village-by-village, we’ve been spreading clean, safe water and empowering community leaders.

The results? Kids are full of life and in school, parents are healthy and productive, and waterborne illness has “disappeared” according to local Health Ministries in the areas where we’re working.

I want to thank the Pentair Foundation, Project Redwood, Rotary clubs, and countless donors for their support and dedication to the fundamental right to safe water. We are on track to double our impact over the next few years, and by 2018, we will empower half a million people in Nicaragua with improved health and more prosperous communities.

Onward!
Alexandra Spieldoch, CTI Executive Director

 

Wednesday, 06 August 2014

CTI sells out in Senegal!

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Aliou Ndiaye, CTI Project Manager – Senegal

Greetings from Senegal! This year we embarked on a journey to try a new model for increasing our outreach to farmers. We established our first office in Africa and began distributing our tools directly to farmers, with help from a local staff full of energy and passion.

The results surprised all of us.

CTI’s tools have flown off the shelves and in just the past six months, we’ve sold our entire inventory of grinders and threshers and we now have 80 backorders for tools to be delivered to farmers, entrepreneurs, and local organizations. CTI is committed to keeping its tools affordable, so the equipment is offered at cost and we direct farmers to financial resources to ensure they are set up for success. As a result, more than 12,000 people in 51 villages have improved their food production through CTI’s tools in Senegal.

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Project Manager Aliou Ndiaye meetings with villagers in Senegal.

You should know how grateful we are here in Senegal for your support. I’ve had the privilege of watching women’s eyes light up when they receive CTI’s thresher—representing an end to their daily drudgery. And I’ve witnessed village women transform into leaders and respected entrepreneurs through their grinder enterprises. I am honored to work for an organization that is empowering women and integrating them better in the market. The number of smiles that I see when delivering CTI’s tools gives me strength without boundaries.

In Senegal, our communities are hungry for opportunities, not handouts. More than ever, farmers have access to the seeds, fertilizer, and agricultural training to bring a good harvest. And now, with CTI in Senegal, farmers finally have affordable postharvest technologies that increase their food production and generate new income for their families.

This year, we at CTI have big plans to reach 25,000 more people in Senegal, bring safe water to 60,000 more people in Nicaragua, and introduce CTI’s newest innovations in peanut processing to farmers in Malawi. But we need your help to make it happen. Your donation today will improve lives in Senegal and around the globe. So, please GIVE!

Donate NowThere’s a common expression in Senegal, “Nio far,” which means “we are together.” We hope you will stick with CTI as we continue transforming lives in Senegal, in Nicaragua, and around the world. Nio far!

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Aliou Ndiaye, CTI Project Manager – Senegal

Aliou Ndiaye has many years of experience working with small farmers, Senegalese governmental organizations, international NGOs, and the private sector. He has worked as an advisor on agriculture and rural development with the Senegalese agencies SAED and ANCAR, training farmers to improve crop productivity, connecting them to the market and facilitate access to capital. Before joining CTI, Aliou worked as a Value Chain Manager for a USAID funded project focusing on sorghum and millet in Senegal. Aliou has a degree in Agricultural Engineering and a Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) at University Cheikh Anta Diop Dakar. Aliou is also a Geographic Information System specialist and has used this skill to gather important agricultural data throughout Senegal.

 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Human Centered Design approach in Nicaragua

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This June, 9 students and 2 professors from Iowa State University embarked on a journey to study abroad in Nicaragua for their class, “Engineering—Human Centered Design.” This trip marks what CTI and Emerging Opportunities for Sustainability (EOS) in Nicaragua hope to be the first of many.

Wes Meier, CTI’s Program Director, was on-site to welcome the team and also lay the foundation for their time in Nicaragua. Through his eyes, there was a functional purpose to the trip: giving undergraduate students an opportunity to study abroad and be immersed in another culture while working on engineering design. But Wes also knew that he had an opportunity to plant a seed for a methodology to engineering that was not just designing for the people, but was designing with the people.

“Human centered design” is about working with the people, listening closely to their needs, getting feedback on ideas, and ultimately co-designing technologies. And, the results of this trip speak for themselves on what can be accomplished with this approach. The students designed three simple prototypes during their time in Nicaragua:

1. Coffee roaster: a larger scale roaster than what is currently being used
2. Water catch system: a system that catches rain water from roofs
3. Biochar reactor (combined with a study of biochar in the soil): biochar is charcoal created from left over biomass (i.e. grass, manure, etc.) that when burned in a certain way creates rich fertilizer

Isn’t it amazing what can be designed when we listen first to what the people need?

This trip was a great introduction to this partnership between CTI, EOS and the Iowa State Engineering Department, with students and faculty giving it the green light for future years. The desire is to grow the program, so if you know of other universities that may be interested in participating in a collaborative study abroad program, focusing on “human centered design,” we want to hear from you. Please contact Wes Meier, Program Director, at wesley@compatibletechnology.org with your information.