Posted by: ebtosun | November 14, 2010

Clean Water as an Education Intervention

Some friends have commented to me that they see Water for Waslala’s work as an example of health intervention. Certainly, the basic premise of our work is exactly that: If people have access to water that is free of contaminants, then they will get sick less often, if at all. It’s a simple proposition, yet the scope of our work expands further than just health. For example, many people might forget the tremendous educational improvements that ultimately come from access to cleaner water.

If we can help children to avoid contracting parasitic diseases, they will be able to attend school more frequently. Clean water located closer to homes in a community allows kids to focus on homework and studying instead of having to walk several kilometers and back each day to fetch water.

A few weeks ago, one of my graduate classes had a lively discussion about a common problem that Kenyan children are currently facing with parasitic worms. The effort to deworm the children is another example of a health intervention that produces educational benefits as well. Deworming involves taking a low-cost pill once a year that protects against parasitic worm infections like schistosomiasis, which is transmitted by the skin’s contact with contaminated water.

Honestly, I never heard of schistosomiasis until I read this case. Schistosomiasis is pretty tough condition– I learned that it depletes the human body’s nutrients and, as a result, it causes fatigue and listlessness. Children with schistosomiasis often miss school because they are simply too tired to attend or concentrate while in class. By reducing the incidence of diseases like schistosomiasis, deworming is tremendously improving children’s school attendance in Kenya – a great spillover effect from what is primarily a health intervention.

We are focused on achieving the same in Waslala. My role with WfW is to focus on surveying the communities before and after water system construction to capture critical data such as school attendance to quantify the impact that our work is having in the region. As some of these statistics come to light going forward, you’ll be made aware right here on this blog.

For now, I invite you to watch our video that illustrates how clean water improves people’s lives by making them healthier. And good health leads to better students, better moms, and all-around better lives for everyone in Waslala.



  1. My eyes popped open when I read your blog, Elise, because it is loaded with new and important information for me and, perhaps, for others. The connection between Water for Waslala’s work and education is awesome. I’ve followed WfW activities for awhile and have always admired it. I don’t know any other non-profit organization that has achieved so much with so few financial resources. Without question, WfW makes a major impact on these people’s lives.

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