By Hyewon Lee, ChildFund Korea Field Officer in Bolivia
Today is World Toilet Day, which aims to create awareness of the problems stemming from poor sanitation in countries worldwide. One in three people — 2.5 billion — do not have a clean, private toilet, including those in many countries where ChildFund works. Today’s post spotlights progress in a Bolivian community.
Children in the municipality of Sapahaqui, Bolivia, once used 1-meter-deep holes as their toilets at school. Often, they preferred to go outside instead of visiting the dirty, smelly restrooms. Other schools didn’t even have indoor facilities.
Families also didn’t always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, mainly because water is very scarce and valuable; most people had no water sources other than small streams and springs. Some communities were lucky to be near water, but other families had to go a long way to fetch it. When they did get water, it was just enough for washing clothes, cooking and watering the fruit trees, which are their main income source. Many families knew that basic sanitation habits were important to maintaining good health, but it was a luxury most just couldn’t afford.
As a result of the lack of basic sanitation infrastructure and hygiene habits, the infant mortality rate was 68 deaths per 1,000 infants in 2010 in the municipality of Sapahaqui, according to Bolivia’s national statistics office. Diarrhea and other diseases related to poor hygiene were causes of many childhood deaths.
However, we’re seeing changes in Sapahaqui nowadays.
“This is how you wash your hands,” exclaims 10-year-old Eliana as she proudly demonstrates cleaning from palms to fingers to nails. (Watch the video below for an example of how children have learned proper hand-washing techniques.) ChildFund Bolivia staff members now oversee hand-washing centers in almost every school in Sapahaqui, teaching children about good hygiene habits and providing sanitation kits.
Schoolchildren now wash their hands at least once a day at school, with clean water provided through the SODIS method, which purifies water by hanging plastic bottles in the sun for several hours. Since it is so much easier to get access to clean water, children and families in Sapahaqui are now able to use water to practice basic sanitation habits, even in the harsh dry seasons when it barely rains and the streams dry out.
With the help and participation of community members and the local government, we also have built or improved the school bathrooms. A teacher from the community Saca Saca says, “Children are so happy about the new bathrooms that they just don’t want to come out from there. I can already notice that hand-washing corners and new bathrooms are affecting children’s health, because less and less of them catch cold and have fleas.”
ChildFund Bolivia will continue this water and basic sanitation project here until 2015. Our goal is that fewer children will suffer from diseases that can be easily prevented by practicing basic sanitation habits, and that families will have a better, cleaner and safer living environment in Sapahaqui.
Last week, to build awareness around World Water Day, ChildFund asked its social media supporters to take to Twitter and inform their followers on the issues of water insecurity for children around the world. Today, we’re excited to announce the winners of our World Water Day tweet-out and share the five most inspirational tweets. The top tweeter and four runners-up will receive water-related Gifts of Love & Hope sent in their honor.
Hockey Chick @ChicksDigHockey
Water is life. Clean water impacts health, happiness and intellect. @ChildFund can show you how to save lives. #Water4Children #GiftOfLife
@ChicksDigHockey will have a 1,000 liter water tank delivered in their honor to a family in Mexico (valued at $190).
Confetti ❤ @confettilove_
No matter if the glass is 1/2 empty or full… it needs to be clean! #worldwaterday #Water4Children
#Children just like our kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren do not have clean #water. Together we can help #Water4Children #WorldWaterDay
STARS Foundation @STARSFdn
It seems (clean) water is more than just the source of life; it’s the source of health, education and dignity too. #waterday #Water4Children
Aksel Kibar @TechCharts
While we drink bottled water, some children around the world don’t even have access to tap water. Let’s give #Water4Children
We will deliver an apple tree seedling and a watering can to five children in Ethiopia in honor of @confettilove_, @WASHadvocates, @STARSFdn, and @TechCharts.
Thank you to all those who participated! We appreciate your help in informing others on the critical necessity of clean water for children.
By Ya Sainey Gaye, ChildFund The Gambia
World Water Day is held annually on March 22 to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The Sintet Early Childhood Development Center in The Gambia recently received a water filter from ChildFund Germany, a device that provides clean, drinkable water. Before the delivery of the filter on March 18, the center’s staff had to manually filter water from an open well. The center serves 153 children in the western part of The Gambia, near the Senegal border.
The manager of the Eastern Foni Federation, ChildFund’s local partner, and the head of the ECD center expressed delight in the donation, which will make water filtration easier, faster and more reliable. The Gambia has a severe shortage of clean water, and ChildFund has provided filtration systems to several regions in this small country.
Since 1984, ChildFund has supplied safe drinking water to more than 79 percent of the families served in our program areas in The Gambia, as well as helped many build basic sanitary facilities.
Were you inspired by today’s blog? Share your thoughts on the subject with your Twittter followers! This week, ChildFund is encouraging its supporters to “tweet-out” for World Water Day using the hashtag #Water4Children. Top tweeters will receive water gifts sent to a family in their honor. More details here.
By Loren Pritchett, ChildFund staff writer
To build awareness around World Water Day on March 22, ChildFund is asking its Twitter followers to compose their best tweets to shed light on the issues of water insecurity for children around the world.
Starting March 18, ChildFund’s Twitter followers are encouraged to “tweet out” about water issues or ways to solve them. The individual who tweets the most inspiring message will have a 1,000 liter water tank delivered in their honor to a family in Mexico (valued at $190). Four runners-up will each have an apple tree seedling and a watering can delivered in their honor to a child in Ethiopia (valued at $15). Both prizes will be sent from our Gifts of Love & Hope catalog; plus, all winners will receive a piece of ChildFund swag!
How to Enter:
Think of yourself as a World Water Day ambassador. We encourage each tweeter to think of a short but compelling message to inform their followers of the issues of water insecurity – especially for children. Think of the kids who fall ill from drinking unsanitary water; the farmers in drought-stricken regions who have lost their livelihoods during dry conditions and therefore cannot provide nutritious food to their children; or the young people who walk 4 miles multiple times a day to collect water.
Sample Tweets to Get You Started
Start Tweeting Today!
The five-day tweet-off runs until 11:59 (ET) Friday, March 22 (World Water Day). A panel of ChildFund staff members will choose the top five tweets and we’ll announce the winner and four finalists on Monday, March 25, 2013. Remember: we cannot see your tweets without the hashtag #Water4Children.
The Rules in One Easy List
It’s that simple – tweet out! Do your part to build awareness; join the conversation and get people talking about World Water Day and why children deserve clean water.