Access to clean water improves education in many ways. First, the number of hours children are able to spend in school is inversely proportional to the number of hours needed to gather water for essential daily needs. Less time walking for water = more time for school! The WHO estimates that investment in clean water yields an additional 272 million school attendance days per year.
Second, the health benefits associated with clean water minimize sick days for students and teachers, contributing invaluably to their ability to participate in the classroom. 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases: 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries, and 88% of all diarrheal disease is attributed to unsafe water supply and inadequate sanitation (source). Conversely, investment in clean water yields an annual 1.5 billion more healthy days for children under age 5. If teachers are sick from any of these waterborne illnesses, classes get cancelled for all students. Dehydration, intestinal worm infections, diarrhea and cholera further weaken students’ cognitive ability and performance in school (source).
Third, proper sanitation facilities eliminate the need for girls to drop out of school once they reach puberty. Learn more about how clean water access positively influences the Lifecycle of a Woman with our innovative infographic!
Finally, the benefits of sanitation and hygiene education are not limited to students, but extend to entire communities! We require hygiene education as part of every Voss Foundation water project implemented, so that the community understands the importance of safe hygiene practices, clean water, and effective sanitation to prevent water-related diseases. These trainings usually take the form of a series of town hall style meetings and workshops using creative and culturally sensitive communication tools, to increase awareness about the use of safe water and good hygiene practices. Elders are the key opinion leaders and women are traditionally responsible for domestic water supply and sanitation, as well as maintaining a hygienic home environment, so the involvement of both groups is critical. Water committees are also trained as health educators to promote appropriate water and hygiene practices.
Benefits of Hygiene Promotion in Schools (source):
- Hand-washing reduces chances of diarrhea by 30%
- Having sanitation facilities at schools and access to clean water can significantly reduce cases of diarrhea and other waterborne diseases
The Impact of Voss Foundation Clean Water Projects on Education:
In Latakwen, the site of the Voss Foundation clean water project, just months after project completion we learned that clean water helped save the community from an encroaching cholera outbreak. Convenient clean water access also inspired local officials to double the size of the schoolhouse, now that more children are able to attend classes.
Our projects in Masiketa, Urra, Swari and Ndonyo Nasipa also have water access points located at schools in these communities. Many Voss Foundation supporters, who have gone to visit our water projects and seen firsthand the impact clean water has on these communities, have been inspired to amplify the Voss Foundation Ripple Effect by sponsoring the education of local schoolchildren, who have the time to attend school thanks to clean water access, but may not have the funds to pay for school fees.
In 2012, Voss Foundation, in conjunction with FACE Africa, brought clean water and hygiene practices to the Hope Mission School located in the Bernard Farm Community in Paynesville, Liberia. The project includes the implementation of two latrines and hand washing stations as well as one drilled well only a sixty second walk from the school buildings. In addition, a school health club was created to teach proper hygiene practices.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Voss Foundation has built two wells: one at the Georges Malaika School for Girls in Kalebuka, and a second nearby for the village’s use. Voss Foundation’s well on-site is the only source of water for the school, serving the kitchen, toilets, sinks, and health facilities. Without access to water, the school would not be able to operate – or exist at all: the well had to be drilled during the construction of the school so that the workers could use the water to make the concrete bricks of the walls! The GMF School for Girls is the first of its kind in the region. Now the water also allows the school to grow vegetables to supplement the students’ diet and provide healthy meals during school! According to the World Bank, each year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent.
“Girls with higher levels of education marry later, have smaller families, survive childbirth at higher rates, experience reduced incidences of HIV/AIDS, have children more likely to survive to age five and earn more money.” –MacArthur Foundation president Robert Gallucci, Huffington Post, 2012
One of our five wells in Pel, Mali is at a garden owned by a local women’s cooperative. With less time devoted to getting water, women have more time to pursue their own education and to improve their economic situation.
Female empowerment is a critical component in poverty reduction and economic growth. The education of women is a powerful means of sustaining improved health and education in the long term. Figures suggest that children of educated mothers are significantly more likely to be enrolled in school. The education of women also reduces fertility rates and improves the health of women, infants, and children (source).
The Ripple Effect of clean water encompasses health, education, the economy, and female empowerment, resulting in enormous positive change for communities, and helping people improve their own lives!
In 2014, Voss Foundation committed to meeting all the clean water, sanitation, and hygiene needs for the Good Future & Hope orphanage and primary school in Nakisunga, Uganda, including the orphanage borehole, primary school WASH infrastructure for the teachers’ homes and dormitories, the primary school water system infrastructure, and the primary school borehole. The school is scheduled to open in 2015.