Safe Water Helps
Children Make the Grade
A guest article from WaterPartners International
Approximately 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illnesses, making it a leading factor for school absenteeism in the developing world. In addition to frequent illnesses, time spent collecting prevents many school-aged children, especially girls, from attending school. Like their mothers, girls bear the primary responsibility for collecting water for daily domestic use -- drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.
School absenteeism used to be the reality for Roman and Haregewoini, teenage girls in a village called Guetelo in northern Ethiopia. Until recently, they had to walk more than two hours to collect a pot of water. But now, thanks to WaterPartners and its partner REST, all that has changed.
"Fetching water is not a problem now," they report. "It takes us not more than ten minutes. For this reason we are able to attend school without any problem and do our assignments on time. We are happy to have this safe water in our village."
Roman and Haregewoini demonstrate how easy their new water pump is to use.
Even when the children make it to school, the water and sanitation conditions often don't improve. For example, a recent assessment in Kenya revealed that more than 90 percent of rural primary schools do not have a safe water source. In dry areas, a number of schools have to close during the drought period due to lack of water.
A recent WaterPartners project with its partner SANA in western Kenya helped to establish safe drinking water for schools in the communities of Mbeme, Chiga, Kamrongo, and Mayhenya.
In the community of Mbeme, head school teacher Caroline Amonde Jobita remarked, "The clean water supply has had an impact on the number of pupils joining the school. It has helped reduce most of the water-borne diseases. It has also reduced lateness in children coming to school. It has opened the eyes of parents to [the importance of hygiene]. It has made a change in our pupils who are shining in their appearance and performance. So far, it has proven a way to retain the children in school."
"On behalf of the Mbeme community and school," she says, "I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the assistance you have given us in achieving our aim of clean water supply for the community and school."
Learn more about the great work Water Partners International is doing. Visit www.water.org.