Saran Kaba Jones was born in Monrovia, Liberia, in June 1982 to a career diplomat. Jones spent her formative years living in Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, France and Cyprus before moving to the United State in 1999.
She is the founder of FACE Africa, an organisation working to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and services in rural communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to launching FACE Africa, Jones worked as an Investment Project Manager for the Singapore Economic Development Board.
She is a frequent speaker on topics including water infrastructure, entrepreneurship and gender equality and has served on panels at the World Economic Forum, Harvard University, MIT, the London School of Economics, and the African Union. She is also a member of the U.S. State Department’s International Information Programs (IIP) and frequently conducts workshop globally on entrepreneurship.
Jones Makes a Mark
Jones is a board member of the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group West/Centre Africa.
In 2011, Jones received the Applause Africa “Person of the Year” award, Voss Foundation’s Women Helping Women Honouree, Huffington Post’s “Greatest Person of the Day” and Forbes Magazine’s 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa.
In 2012, Jones takes home Longines/Town&Country ‘Women Who Make a Difference’ award for her work with FACE Africa, is listed by Black Enterprise as one of 10 International Women of Power to Watch and Daily Muse “12 Women to Watch”.
In 2013, Jones was listed by Guardian UK as one of Africa’s 25 Top Women Achievers alongside President Joyce Banda of Malawi and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and was named World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. In 2015, she was presented with the MTV Africa Music Leadership Award, and in 2016, Jones was named TIME Magazine Next Generation Leader.
Jones Changes the Water Issue Narrative in Liberia
According to a March 2014 interview with Arise 360, Jones reveals how she got motivated to start her charity FACE Africa.
“I’m from Liberia originally. My family and I fled the country when I was eight years old as a result of the civil war. And I went back 20 years later and saw that there was a desperate need for basic social services like – access to clean water, health care, education. And I decided to make clean water my area of focus because it’s one of the largest health issues facing the world today. Nearly a billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water. And most of them are in Africa. On the continent 350 million people don’t have access to this basic necessity. So it’s a huge problem all across the border”
“At any one time, it is estimated that half the world’s hospital beds are occupied with patients suffering from waterborne diseases.” (WSCC, 2004)
What Jones’ charity FACE Africa does to improve this situation is that they purify the available source of water and at the same time build other sources like wells and boreholes while making sure that the water is made safe for drinking by the people living in the communities.
“90 percent of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers and streams without any treatment.” (UNDP, UNEP, World Bank, and the World Resources Institute, “World Resources 2000-2001,” pg. 25-26)
In the course of her work, Jones uncovers two other issues in within the water issue – the health issue and the gender issue. In Liberia as in other developing countries of the world, women are responsible for collecting water for the household.
“Over 40 billion work hours are lost each year in Africa to the need to fetch drinking water.” (WHO, 2004)
Because of the water issue, a lot of young girls stay out of school as they are responsible for fetching the water.
“The water issue is a women’s issue, so once you solve the water crisis, you not only solve health, but you also allow girls go to school, you allow women focus more on productive activities….” Saran K. Jones
“The average distance that women in developing countries travel to collect water per day is four miles and the average weight that women carry on their heads is approximately 44 pounds.” (WSSCC, 2004)
The Ninth Annual WASH Gala themed ‘Water Fuels the Future’ holds today at The Current at Chelsea Piers, New York City. It is an evening to raise awareness and funds for clean water projects. It also celebrates Africans+Friends of Africa making a difference in their respective industries and communities. This year, their goal is to raise $500,000 to provide Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs and facilities to communities in rural Liberia and Nigeria.
Jones Drives a Good Cause
Since launching FACE Africa in 2009, the organisation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from JP Morgan Chase, Coca Cola, the Voss Foundation, P&G, Chevron and the Robert Bosch Foundation, among others; built over 50 WASH projects and reached 25,000 people in rural Liberia. During the Ebola crisis, FACE Africa was at the forefront of Ebola response efforts in Rivercess County, Liberia, where they conducted social mobilization, prevention and awareness and community engagement programs.
Her work with FACE Africa has been profiled extensively by Forbes, the Boston Globe, BBCFocus on Africa, Town&Country, and CNN.
Saran Kaba Jones is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Saran Jones