The Importance of WASH-Water, Sanitation & Hygiene in Schools
It is lunch time and the children line up to wash their dishes, their hands and refill their drinking cups. There are quiet giggles of joy as the children patiently wait their turn at the water tank. These children are in 3rd grade, and they were fortunate to have not witnessed a time when the availability of water was scarce before HopeCore provided tanks to their school. We are outlining our WASH Program below so that other programs can find helpful information on how to implement similar programs in their own communities.
Lack of Clean Drinking Water in the Developing World
The World Health Organization reports that 2.5 billion people in the world (approximately one in three of the world’s total population) do not have access to adequate sanitation, and 748 million people (approximately one in ten of the world’s population) do not have access to safe water. About 500,000 children die annually from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. In Sub-Saharan Africa specifically, diarrhea is the most common killer of children under five years old. Diarrheal diseases, for instance, deteriorate students health conditions and have resulted in the annual loss of 272 million days for school attendance globally.
When children do not have access to clean drinking water, they are at increased risk for a variety of different infections, which causes them to have decreased school attendance.
From a survey conducted in Chogoria of 1,055 individual of all ages, it was found that only 62% of households boil their water for drinking. HopeCore’s WASH program was initiated in response to the urgent need for clean water and proper hand hygiene that HopeCore staff witnessed in schools during school mobile health clinics, a need manifested by the amount of diarrheal and other water-related diseases.
Village HopeCore’s WASH Strategy in Kenya
HopeCore’s WASH program made East African history, by installing clean drinking water and hand washing tanks in each of the schools in the entire Maara Sub-County. HopeCore has now installed tanks in over 200 schools in the Sub-County. As confirmed by the Sub-County Education Officer, no other Sub-County in the country has provided clean drinking water and hand-washing stations to every school. It is found that when children are healthier, they are more likely to stay in school.
Key Strategies for Implementing a Water, Sanitation & Hygiene System in Schools:
- Install a Water Tank
- Use a water disinfecting solution such as WaterGuard to disinfect the water source (CDC guidance on how to use WaterGuard)
- Provide Education to the Students on the Importance of drinking clean water and washing their hands (Hand Washing Resources for Africa)
- Encourage children to wash their hands 1) before & after eating 2) before entering the classroom and 3) every time they use the restroom
- Appoint a school health club member or teacher to monitor the water tanks regularly
For HopeCore’s WASH Program, there is a specific WASH monitor who travels around on his motor bike to do regular water tank monitoring checking water quality and water source. He is also responsible for re-supplying the soap stations and providing any additional educational material the could be utilized by the students, teachers and school staff.
To learn more about Village HopeCore International and their programs please visit: Villagehopecore.org