Education is critical for breaking the cycle of poverty and yet over half of the world's schools lack access to safe water and sanitation facilities.
Lack of clean water has serious effects on students' academic performance and attendance rates. The lack of safe water can cause even the best students to lose momentum as they deal with stomach pains and diarrhea from disease and hunger.
Students miss class to go fetch water, or to care for sick parents or siblings. In many places HIV/AIDS has already caused a large percentage of children to become orphans, requiring students to drop out and find work to provide food and care for younger siblings. If teachers are sick, classes get cancelled for all students.
Schools cannot run programs if they cannot provide water to students, faculty and their families.
For girls, the situation is especially troublesome. If schools do not have proper toilets, girls drop out once they reach puberty. Further, it is typically the responsibility of the women to fetch water thus limiting their access to both education and business opportunities. Think about it: everyday, women and young girls carry more than 40 pounds of dirty water from sources over 4 miles away from their homes. This leaves little time for education which is critical to changing the long term prospects of developing nations.
With the many additional burdens that a lack of clean water brings, education simply becomes less of a priority. This sets up an unfortunate cycle of poverty and inequality as without a proper education, there is little chance of improving one's situation later in life. The Water Project is working to break this cycle. Sometimes the first public voice the women of a community ever have, comes from an individual woman who is part of a water committee.
When students are freed from gathering water, they return to class. With proper and safe latrines, girls stay in school through their teenage years.
Safe water, clean hands, healthy bodies. Time lost to sickness is reduced and people can get back to the work of lifting themselves out of poverty.
Access to water leads to food security. With less crop loss, hunger is reduced. Schools can feed students with gardens, reducing costs.
Access to water can break the cycle of poverty. The communities we serve are ready to grow. We can't wait to see how they choose to do it.
For around $34 per student, The Water Project is able to work with local well drillers to build wells at schools and other central locations so kids can stay in school and women can gain a voice in their community. Our goal is to bring clean, sustainable water supplies to within a half mile (1 km) of a village. By making the process of collecting water more time-efficient, we're giving children (especially girls) a chance to get back in to the classroom to break the cycle of poverty for themselves. You can be a part of the solution to end the gender gap in classrooms across the developing world and help children stay in school.