Many nonprofit organizations (NGOs) advocate educating local communities about sustainable water and how to manage a system once it is in place, but few organizations put that education in the hands of the children.
Water School was founded in 2007 with the idea of providing sustainable clean water solutions to those who need it. Its operations are driven by the motivation of numbers: the 2.6 billion people without basic sanitation, the 1.3 billion people who lack regular access to clean water and the 2 million children who die every year as a result of these deficiencies.
The NGO focuses on introducing the SODIS method of water treatment to rural African communities through school systems. SODIS, or “solar disinfection,” is the practice of disinfecting water by placing it in plastic bottles and then leaving it in the sun for six hours. This simple method allows UV rays to kill bacteria that can otherwise cause diarrhea, a common killer in the developing world.
Children learn the method as well lessons on basic sanitation and hygiene at school and are then encouraged to take the information home with them. This method of teaching has helped introduce SODIS to some 400,000 people in Kenya, Sudan and Haiti.
Water School’s method seems simple compared to other NGOs involved in providing answers to the global water crisis, and SODIS seems like an even easier solution, especially for small-scale water needs. That, however, is the beauty of the program and how it has garnered such widespread support. It is easy to understand and therefore easy to advocate.
Even so, as Water School’s mission expands so does its need for increased involvement. Those interested in the project can participate in many ways to help bring SODIS and a better understanding of the importance of sanitation and hygiene to those who need it.