It’s that time of year already. Families, college students, and teachers around the world are happily wrapping up the school year, anxiously awaiting that final bell. Yet, while many are understandably ready for a break from school, children in East Africa and beyond are hoping for another hour in the classroom.
Lack of clean water is one of the biggest factors preventing learning opportunities. That means for children in water-scarce areas, access to clean water can make or break their education. Imagine missing hours of school each day so that you can hike miles to a river to collect unclean water for your family. Imagine sitting in a classroom trying to take in all the information being taught, while in pain from diarrheal disease. Think about attempting to produce your first complete sentence with dizziness, headaches, and extreme fatigue looming over you. This is what many of these children experience, if they are fortunate enough to even make it onto school grounds.
According to the CDC, 2,195 children die each year due to diarrheal diseases. Let that sink in. More children are dying from preventable waterborne diseases, than from AIDS, Malaria, and Measles combined. And, if children are fortunate enough to have good health, their parents may not be. Due to the spread of fatal waterborne and other types of diseases in adults, many children become orphans. This leaves them with the responsibility to work to provide food and care for themselves or their siblings. To provide more children the opportunity to even walk through school doors, we have to ensure equal access to clean water and sanitation. It’s that simple. Water is the flood gate to all the opportunities awaiting these children.
In 2017, Well Aware drilled a new well in Olmoran, Kenya. John Kimathi, Head of the Olmoran High School, explains the effect clean water has had on education in just two years: