Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Collective Medicine

One-line solution summary:

Strengthening water sovereignty through community power.

Pitch your solution.

Collective Medicine is a Navajo non-profit network whose purpose is to serve our community’s most in need— those that have been historically overlooked and unheard, through exercising our culture’s intrinsic value of community service. One of our main projects, Water Warriors, is a water-hauling operation on Navajo and Hopi Nations committed to safely providing drinking water, delivered along with 55-gallon barrels or 250-gallon tanks to our elderly, vulnerable and most remote tribal members in need who do not currently have running water in their homes. Due to a myriad of systemic issues, the Navajo Nation has an estimated 50,000 residents still without running water in their homes. There are many communities worldwide grappling with water scarcity and toxicity issues, and we believe our operation can advise these communities to replicate a grassroots movement of clean water distribution. 

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

The Navajo Nation is impacted dramatically by inadequate access to clean water. At the root of these challenges lies a history of genocidal atrocities by way of massacres, natural resource theft, predatory mineral extraction and systematic destruction of native food and water systems. The devastating loss of land, agriculture and water rights prevents the ability of the Navajo Nation to equitable water access. In addition to a myriad of other systemic issues-- such as lack of basic utility infrastructure and transportation-- 1 in 3 households on the Navajo Nation do not have running water in their homes.

The Navajo Nation is larger than the state of West Virginia and has a population density of only 6 per square mile. This vast rural landscape influences interrelated barriers for residents to access the most basic needs, especially food, water and energy, with many residents driving for hours to haul or purchase clean water-- with some reports of travels two hours each way. This extra burden also forces residents to pay 67x more than those with piped household water. Worldwide, an estimated 2.2 billion people need access to safely managed drinking water, including 884 million currently without basic drinking water services.

What is your solution?

This project aims to build upon the community's efforts to develop a clean water delivery and testing program across reservations through distribution and toxicity testing. This approach integrates diverse strengths inherent in the community, including traditional knowledge, skills and institutional resources.

We believe in addressing the emergent needs of water, as well as being a part of the long-term solution to access.

1) For water scarcity needs, we have designed a water-hauling operation that delivers clean water and water vessels across reservations. We currently have a fleet of four trucks, outfitted with flatbed trailers, 375-1000 gallon water tanks, water pumps and miscellaneous supplies. We also provide 55-gallon water barrels, 275-gallon water tanks and 5-gallon water jugs in tandem. We have aspirations to utilize GPS technology for tracking our service areas and to assist with delivery schedules. 

2) For areas with issues of water toxicity, we aim to develop a research arm to our program that would test private and public water wells across the reservation. We aim to use high-quality digital testing equipment for rapid, onsite results to share with the community and households affected. We also plan to have a dedicated dashboard on our website for publicly accessible information. 

Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit?

We directly work with the community targeted in this population. We primarily serve the Navajo and Hopi Nations. The community and individual households are engaged at every step in the process. When we deliver or service these households, we do an assessment to determine their water needs, which help influence our delivery schedules. Each community within these Nations can vary widely, not just my ecologically, but by tribal leadership, so we make a concerted effort to understand that locale's individual needs-- whether it's lack of access to any kind of water, a need for water filtration or water hauling needs. 

Which dimension of the Fellowship does your solution most closely address?

Provide healthy and sovereign food, sustainable energy, and safe water

Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Our campaign started as a COVID-19 relief campaign as the pandemic continued to devastate the Navajo Nation. With many traveling long distances to simply haul or purchase clean water, this became a possible leading cause for transmission. We quickly learned this deeply systemic issue needed to be addressed in the long-term, and not just to address the emergent needs, but needed a long-term solution, as well. To do this, we need to engage knowledge keepers, technological advisors, scientists, community leaders and the people to develop a truly holistic and sustainable solution to water insecurity.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Tuba City, AZ, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth.

Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

Our campaign started as a one-man operation in April of 2020, and soon grew into a team by June of that year. We began our fiscal year in July, and became a registered nonprofit in October 2020. We are still in our infancy of development, and are constantly learning about organizational operations and structure. However, we feel we have built a solid foundation and are ready to grow so that we are able to serve more people.  

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Keana Kaleikini, Director of Development

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your primary delegate.

Navajo Nation

Is your primary delegate a member of the community in which your project is based?

More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Describe what makes your solution innovative?

Currently, there is no other water-hauling operation that exists at our capacity on the Navajo or Hopi reservations. Since mid-May, our team of volunteers have delivered over 800 barrels and 250,000 gallons of water across these reservations—delivering water and vessels across a land size spanning greater than the state of West Virginia.

Most importantly, there are no other organizations planning to implement a holistic solution that addresses emergent needs, long-term solutions, and publicly-engaged and -informed information that serves the Navajo and Hopi Nations at a whole. Other water operation projects across both reservations typically concentrate on digging wells and serving only the local community. They all also lack a comprehensive hauling component to reach the most in-need-- elderly or those without capacity to haul water.

Another of our most unique characteristics is our commitment to sustainability. In a legacy of philanthropy attempting to address these issues, a tenacious pitfall has been the failure to build a sustainable solution, providing one-time goods and services, only to never hear from them again. We believe an inside-out and community-led approach is the solution to create an enduring and resilient response to these needs. We have a deep responsibility to work collectively towards a shared vision of sovereignty and health.  

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

We aspire to implement technology into both aspects of our water project.

A) Our first would be to outfit our fleet with GPS trackers for a three-fold reason. 1) The rural, frontier landscape with no broadband or cellular service often finds our drivers lost. Most residents provide coordinates as their address and lack of internet access makes navigation difficult; 2) We aim to track these households within that GPS, so we can store their location for future deliveries; 3) We aim to utilize ArcGIS to create a map that showcases our service areas to improve and plan our delivery schedules. 

B) Our second arm also needs high-grade digital water testing equipment that has the ability to test for heavy metals, radioactivity, and other water toxicities. We would need this performed onsite and rapidly, so that we would be able to provide the household or community with test results immediately to ensure they are accessing safe water. If there are possible unsafe levels, we would provide a water filtration system as well as clean water and water vessels. We also would like to build a publicly accessible database on our website. Currently, there is no publicly consumable information on water safety with either tribe. 

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications

Does this technology introduce any risks? How are you addressing or mitigating these risks in your solution?

We have consulted with the IRB of the Navajo Nation, and due to the nature of having to human subjects, it has been suggested to be of low-risk. 

Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • Infants
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Elderly
  • Rural
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
  • Persons with Disabilities

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 14. Life Below Water
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals
About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

9 part-time staff:

  • Executive Director/Driver
  • Director of Development
  • Chief Operations Officer
  • Director of Communications
  • Marketing Manager
  • Administrative Assistant
  • 3 Drivers

2 Contractors

  • Social Media Manager
  • Accountant 

1 Intern

  • College Research/Program Assistant

How long have you been working on your solution?

1 year

Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We are an indigenous-led, reservation-born team. We are made up of community members, scientists and cultural leaders. Our nonprofit has had cross-sectional achievements to solve interdisciplinary systemic challenges that are pervasive across southwestern reservations. We believe responding in this multidisciplinary, homegrown and culturally-guided way will lead us on a holistic path for our community's revitalization.  Following the highly-respected cultural tenet of “hózhó,” —the Navajo value of being in complete peace, balance, and harmony— we believe this will empower and guide our team and our people into a future of sovereignty and vitality.

What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

We are committed to shifting power to underrepresented Native communities as a means of addressing water inequity rooted in systemic oppression. Our synergistic team is interdisciplinary and grounded in the community, directly engaged with the people most impacted by insecurities-- food, water, energy, or economic. On the path to re-indigenization and decolonization, a JEDI (Justice-Equity-Diversity-Inclusion) is critical in our mission. Through creating a place at the table for communities that have been historically stripped of power, we aim to develop the capacity of communities to create vibrant and nourishing environments to thrive. We believe that community-driven systems are at the core of a community’s power and can create alternative ecosystems that value equity. This diverse team includes individuals working directly to promote water and health sovereignty in the southwest, with diverse and rich backgrounds, education, and lived experiences.

Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI For Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

Solution Team

  • Keana Kaleikini Chair, Director of Development, Epidemiologist, Scientist, Collective Medicine
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