- WATER WORKS FOR GIRLS’ EDUCATION AND EMPOWERMENT -
This project is introducing innovative approaches to leverage water to improve the education, health and life chances for girls in the Lake Victoria Region of Kenya. With the generous support of the Jochnick Foundation and in collaboration with Team Kenya and Ndhiwa Community Empowerment and Development Project (NCDEP), the project will benefit:
- 1,500 children and teaching staff in our three main primary schools
- 2000 families of the school children involved in the agricultural and economic development programme
- 5,500 children, staff and families in 12 surrounding schools as secondary beneficiaries through training and demonstration activities
The overall objective is to ensure a physically and emotionally healthy and supportive learning environment for the children, along with improved economic stability for families so that children, especially girls, can complete primary education, continue through secondary education and be able to fulfil their life’s potential.
An innovative water harvesting systems has been established in one school and will soon be introduced to two further schools through which clean and healthy drinking water will now be available for the children and teachers in each school. As a result of the water system, we are improving the sanitation (toilets) and hygiene (washing facilities), to create a healthier environment.
As a girls empowerment project, we are working with the schools, girls mentoring groups, local authority services and a range of other stakeholders to ensure that schools are safe places for girls and young women. We are introducing innovative methodologies for the detection, mitigation and treatment of gender-based violence, including water and play therapies.
A model agriculture farm is being established to demonstrate agricultural innovation to the neighbouring communities. A revolving fund loan mechanism to families with school age girls will provide access to affordable agricultural inputs. A poultry farm has also been established, which will later be replicated in other communities. The project will also benefit local farmers through access to drip irrigation and greenhouse technology and through farming and business training.
A school feeding program has been launched in three schools – Arina, Bongu and Koduogo Primaries – to ensure the most vulnerable children are given lunch. Each school will soon be starting their own farm, which will teach the children about farming whilst generating income to allow poorer children to attend school and provide them with school uniforms and books.
Three focus areas
Educational— Providing clean water and sanitation facilities to enable physically supportive learning environment and improving food access in the schools.
Gender—Providing the community with tools to reduce Gender Based Violence and empower victims.
Economic—Increasing the income of farmers in the community to reduce the pressure on the girls to leave school early.
See more detail below.
Vital need for this project
Few girls successfully complete primary education and continue through secondary school in rural areas of Kenya. Why?
Hunger and poor nutrition stymie children’s growth and cognitive development, but girls face additional stressful and sometimes traumatic challenges:
Lack of clean water and basic sanitation in schools keeps many girls away for a week each month during menstruation. They fall behind and lose motivation to continue.
Girls are often burdened with domestic and farm chores (including the difficult and time-consuming task of fetching water), a situation exacerbated during flood/drought extremes when food and/or water become scarce.
Some girls are forced to be caregivers in families struggling for subsistence and families in which a parent has died from HIV/AIDs or other causes.
Girls who drop out of or infrequently attend school not only miss out on professional and vocational opportunities, they are also vulnerable to early marriage (forced or by immature choice), teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse and other gender based violence.
In greater detail
The project involves installation of rain harvesting, filtration and storage systems to enable safe drinking water, education and practice of sanitation and hygiene, drip irrigation for school-based garden and green house cultivation of fruit, vegetables and herbs, as well as a small chicken house, to improve nutrition. In addition, water therapy will be introduce to create a more nurturing learning environment and greater psycho-social, support for distressed or traumatized girls.
The project includes a focus on reducing gender-based violence and providing emotional support to victims and traumatized girls and women. We shall develop a local cadre of women leaders to creating awareness in the community and capacities for early detection and develop local support networks to affect grass-roots change in attitudes in this area.
Introducing new agricultural technologies and mechanisms – such as drip irrigation and greenhouses – will have the double benefit of improving livelihoods whilst generating an income to sustain the project. To this effect, a social enterprise will be established to help farmers improve their income through providing micro loans to purchase drip irrigation and green house systems that generate higher yields. Farming and business training will also be provided to local farmers, as well as using the project as a demonstration farm from which others can learn.