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Fighting the World Water Crisis One School at a Time

Children gather around the new well that U.S. students help fund.

Imagine going to school and having to get your drinking water from a dirty pond? Imagine needing to use the lavatory, but all the stalls were missing doors. Imagine there was no water for flushing or washing.

Students at Chokolo Primary School in rural Lilongwe, Malawi, in East Africa, didn’t have to imagine these conditions. They experienced them every day.

Because the lavatories were in such disrepair and there was no clean water, the 900 students at Chokolo School often chose to use nearby open fields for their lavatories. Many regularly missed school because they were sick from water-borne diseases contracted from drinking or washing with dirty water. Girls did not attend school when they were menstruating because there were no facilities or privacy.

All that changed in 2016 when students from schools in Colorado, North Carolina and Texas learned about the problems at Chokolo School from H2O for Life, an Aid for Africa member.

A dirty pond near school was the only water source at Chokolo School for 900 students before the new well.

H2O for Life is a nonprofit organization that helps address the water crisis by creating partnerships between schools in the United States and schools in Africa. The organization develops curricula about the world water crisis and provides the opportunity for students to learn that they can make a tangible difference in the lives of other students.

According to Patty Hall, H2O’s executive director, the U.S. students learned about the important need for water and sanitation in Chokolo and throughout rural Africa. Their response was to raise awareness and funding to help bring water and sanitation to their fellow students.

“They organized walks for water, held coin drives and raised money through other efforts,” Hall said. “They raised more than $3000 to Help Chokolo.”

With this and additional funding, H2O for Life worked with a local partner in Malawi to dig a new well with hand pump to provide fresh water for drinking near the classrooms. They also built deep pit latrines for girls and boys, all with working doors that lock, providing privacy. Hand washing stations and a menstrual hygiene station for girls were built.

The result?  Enrollment at Chokolo School increased by more than 22 percent at the school and there are fewer absences daily.

“The new water source and sanitation facilities have attracted more than 200 new students,” said Hall. “It’s a win-win for our students in the U.S.and in Malawi.”

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