Lifewater Awarded Grant for Healthy Schools Initiative
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif., June 26, 2018 — In May of 2018, Lifewater received a grant of $60,000 to launch their “Healthy Schools” initiative. The program begins this year with the purpose of providing WASH (water access, sanitation, and hygiene) training, restroom facilities, and adequate access to safe water for students.
Healthy Schools are a key element of the nonprofit’s “Vision of a Healthy Village” approach to creating sustainable change in rural places around the world. With this grant, Lifewater will implement the strategy in six different field locations across two countries, Ethiopia and Uganda.
The funds will be used to help develop a new curriculum, using international best practices, and train field staff to implement the pilot project in 10 schools.
President/CEO Justin Narducci said, “We’re eager to start, and we’re extremely grateful to the foundation that is making this possible and to God for equipping us to care for the most vulnerable children.”
Data to support the initiative was collected in 2016 and 2017, with the surveying of 34 schools in Ethiopia and 24 schools in Uganda. Each school rated water scarcity and quality as their greatest and most urgent needs. Staff also found that where there are restrooms on school premises, they are overcrowded, and there is a general unawareness among community members about handwashing and disease prevention.
Lifewater’s motivation behind the “Healthy Schools” initiative lies in the betterment of both boys and girls, but girls are especially at risk when it comes to receiving an education.
Studies have shown that one in four girls in rural, poverty-stricken regions of the world will not complete their primary school years. This is largely because girls are tasked with collecting water during the school day, resulting in long, fatiguing and often dangerous walks, and they experience high levels of absenteeism due to water-related illnesses.
They often drop out due to stigmatization associated with menstruation. As part of Lifewater’s strategy, hygienic latrine blocks will be built with private changing rooms and supplies for girls. Schools will be equipped to teach students about menstruation to normalize the conversation, reduce stigmatization, and support them.
“We are enhancing our Healthy Schools initiative in such a way that no child in our program areas – girl, boy, handicapped, vulnerable, or otherwise – will ever have to drop out of school because of shame, menstruation, waterborne diseases, or to fetch water,” President/CEO Justin Narducci said.
Kamiso is one student who no longer has to leave school to go to the restroom or get a safe drink of water. In 2017, Lifewater’s supporters helped install a safe water source and improved restrooms for the students at Borile Primary in Ethiopia.
The dropout rate went from 50-80 students, on average, to zero. Not a single student has left because of inadequate facilities.
“Our old latrines didn’t have room for people with disabilities and they were not comfortable,” she said. “These are very safe and comfortable. The former latrines had no soap or water. Now we can wash our hands with soap.”