Every child in school, spends an average of 6 hours in school but about 50% of schools in Nigeria do not have any source of improve water supply. That’s such a huge health risk we put our children through, everyday. The reason for increased spate of deaths from water-related diseases amongst children, is thetefore not far-fetched. Relying on contaminated water has led to several deadly diseases amongst children, most common of which are typhoid and diaarhoea. These incidences have continued unabated due to lack of improved water source and a pragmatic approach is needed to curb this ugly trend.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water and sanitation is ambitious but attainable. Majority of the Nigerian population are below 18 years. Hence, the youths cannot be relegated to the background, if Nigeria is to achieve the SDGs. However, the knowledge of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) among Nigerian youths is poor. Therefore, a strategic approach that actively involves the youths is vital for Nigeria to achieve the goal of reaching everyone with safe water and sanitation by 2030.
One sustainable way of achieving this goal is to take awareness to the schools in Nigeria. Schools are respectable and structured institutions, which serve as a veritable platform to promote water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). WASH education in schools has been widely recognised for its significant contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, for the more sustainable and ambitious targets of the SDGs, a pragmatic approach to WASH education is crucial.
The ‘WASH to School’ (W2S) Project / WASH Club
Too often, school children miss school hours due to lack of adequate WASH facilities in schools. Poor WASH knowledge and services in schools are detrimental to school-aged children and youths who spend long hours in school. Schools, where WASH facilities are not functional or unavailable, have major consequences on the children and host community. These consequences include denial of basic rights of the children, exposure to sexual violence, unhealthy children and community through open defecation which further pollutes the limited water resources and cause various illnesses.
Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, as a Non-governmental Organization with a core focus in providing WASH education in communities, found it imperative to extend WASH education to schools by establishing WASH clubs in Nigeria schools under the ‘Hope Spring WASH to School’ (W2S) Initiative. The aim of the WASH club is to bridge the knowledge gap and raise a young generation of WASH champions.
The ‘WASH to School’ (W2S) project aims to impart and develop life skills among school children in the area of WASH, by establishing WASH clubs in Nigerian schools. The initiative aims to improve learning performance of school-aged children, improve their health and, by extension, that of their families and communities. It also aims to promote child friendly schools with appropriate WASH initiatives.
To launch the W2S project, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, organized a WASH Quiz competition among secondary schools in Abuja. The event which was the first of its kind in Nigeria, drew support from various organizations such as WaterAid Nigeria, Media for Community Change, and EnvironFocus Nigeria.
The Quiz Competition
The competition which took place on 20 March 2019, at IBI Training Centre, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had 5 schools in attendance, drawn across both public and private schools. These include Junior Secondary School Karmo, Sabo; Junior Secondary School Apo, Solid Rock International School, Covenant International School and Juniot Secondary School, Idu Koro.
After an intriguing contest which lasted for almost 1 hour, two schools – Solid Rock International School and Covenant International School – were tied in the 1st position, with an accumulated score of 75 points. Another set of trivia finally set both schools apart with Solid Rock International Schools, finally emerging the winner, with a total score of 85 points. The other schools – Covenant International School, JSS Karmo, JSS Apo and JSS Idu Koro – closely followed with accumulated points of 75, 60, 35 and 35 points respectively.
The winning school was gifted a LifeStraw Community Water Dispenser, an instant microbial water purifier which has the capacity to purify up to 100,000 Litres of water and can serve up to 100 people a day. The students were excited and tagged the competition as mind blowing, stating that it has exposed both teachers and students to the SDGs and empowered them with the right knowledge to become WASH Champions in their school.
The teachers who accompanied the contestants were full of praises and admiration for the program, stating that they have never witnessed such before then. They requested that the program be sustained, as it would have a huge impact on their students and the school. The teacher from Solid Rock Rock International, emphasized that gaining access to clean water is a big challenge for students and teachers, and that it is almost impossible to practice good hygiene and sanitation without water.
The WASH Club program has kicked off in the five schools that participated in the competition and is championed by the student contestants who are guided by their teachers. The WASH Club activities are centered around promoting WASH and serving as WASH Vanguards in their respective schools.
In order for the WASH clubs to effective, basic water and sanitation materials will be provided fir the schools at the initial phase. These include sanitary materials for menstrual hygiene management and a source of clean water, which is achievable through donations of the Life Straw Community Water Dispenser to schools. We hope to donate this lifesaving technology to all participating schools. Therefore, we call on interested partners to key into this program to make a lasting impact on the lives of children and secure their future.
We are committed to expanding our reach to more schools across the federation and would welcome sponsors and partners who are passionate about imparting lives through water.