In sub-Saharan Africa, 51% of the population does not have access to drinkable water, and 60% do not have access to a safe sanitation facility, or toilet. Through our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects, we increase sustainable access to safe water and sanitation facilities in poor rural and urban communities where there is the most need. To ensure that our WASH projects continue long after we have left, we train local artisans, both men and women, to build and maintain the facilities, empowering the community to take charge of their own health.
WASH awareness and education are also key components in all of our WASH programs. For example, together with GlaxoSmithKline, we developed a Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education (PHASE) curriculum for primary schools to use when teaching children about WASH health. The PHASE curriculum has since been adopted by all public primary schools in Kenya.
Increasing Access to Safe Water and Better Hygiene in Kechene
In Kechene, a slum community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, many girls reported having to wait up to 2 hours in line to fetch clean water for their family. Through support from Boeing, we are increasing access to WASH facilities in the community. We construct water kiosks in the community which house large water tanks for drinking water, a block of latrines, a block of handwashing stations, and a block of showers. We also establish and train community members who have been elected to oversee the maintenance of the kiosks in financial management, project leadership and entrepreneurial skills to ensure that the community themselves can keep the kiosks running.
In addition to increasing access in the community, we construct latrines, handwashing stations, and water tanks for drinking water at schools in Kechene. We help students establish their own School Hygiene Clubs where they learn to better educate their peers, families and neighbors about WASH health.
Integrating WASH and Maternal Health in Kitui
In Kitui, Kenya we combined our approaches to maternal health and WASH to significantly improve the health of a community in need.To increase access to drinkable water, we trained water artisans, all of whom were women, to build and maintain not just one type of water infrastructure, but several types including: conventional wells, giant wells, boreholes, sub surface dams and rain water harvest tanks for the entire community to use. We also installed water tanks, hand washing stations and latrines at five health facilities in the district.
A mom and baby at the Kitui health facility.
Prior to the project, women who came to deliver their baby at the health facilities were forced to bring their own water because the health facilities did not have access to water on site. This caused most women to deliver their baby at home and to not attend check-ups during their pregnancy, increasing both mother and baby’s risk to complications like deadly infections during childbirth.
“Amref Health Africa fixed our local pump. Now I don’t have to walk miles to fetch water and can stay in school. I want to be a doctor.”
Elisa, a young Maasai woman