Thursday, April 26, 2012

Global Patnership Announced! Safe Drinking Water for All

US Government Joins Global Partnership Aimed at Universal Coverage of Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

H2O for Life celebrates a recent announcement by the United States to support water and sanitation for 100 percent coverage in the developing world.  We are proud of our H2O for Life Schools that contribute to the efforts to be sure that schools around the world have water and toilets.  Please continue to join us to support this ambitious outreach.  Together, we can make it happen!

April 25, 2012


John Oldfield

WASH Advocates

joldfield (at) WASHadvocates (dot) org

Washington DC - “Forty years ago today, Apollo 16 landed on the moon . . . by anyone's standards it was a triumph of science, technology and political will. I remember so many of us thinking that if humankind can do this, what could humankind NOT accomplish?” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake continued at last Friday’s Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting: “ . . . and yet today, over 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation because they don't have access to the most basic sanitation facilities . . . If two generations ago we could land men on the moon, we can and must also afford people here on earth two of their most basic human rights - safe water and basic sanitation - because until we do, development progress will falter."

On Friday, April 20, 2012, in Washington DC, the United States formally joined the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership (SWA) during its biennial High Level Meeting. WASH Advocates applauds this important step toward 100 percent coverage of safe drinking water and sanitation throughout the developing world.

"The United States Government considers sanitation and water and our related partnering activities to be a critical component of our overall international development assistance effort," US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Raj Shah said in making the announcement. "We look forward to maximizing the potential of this partnership, which brings together such a range of tools, experience, and approaches. Working together, we can not only reach full coverage, but we can also do it in the most effective, efficient, and collaborative way."

This announcement comes on the heels of World Water Day, March 22, 2012, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the US Water Partnership to “help answer [the] call for leadership and to expand the impact of America’s work on water.” The US Water Partnership “brings together a diverse range of partners from the private sector, the philanthropic community, the NGOs, academics, experts, and government. This approach will help catalyze new opportunities for cooperation.”

“Sustainable development is about much more than water and sanitation, but never about less. By joining the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, USAID sends two strong signals: the US will enhance its leadership in the global safe drinking water and sanitation sector, and US assistance toward such efforts around the world will be more catalytic, sustainable, and closely aligned with the priorities of both developing countries and other donor countries,” says John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates.

Most importantly, the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting on April 20 featured developing country governments making stronger commitments to solve the safe drinking water challenge in their own countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

Notable participants at the April 20 Sanitation and Water for All meeting included former President of Ghana John Kufuor, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Executive Director of UNICEF Anthony Lake, and His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, The Prince of Orange.


About WASH Advocates

WASH Advocates is a nonprofit advocacy effort in Washington DC entirely dedicated to helping solve the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge. Our mission is to increase awareness of the global WASH challenge and solutions, and to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources devoted to solving the problem around the developing world. Please visit our website at

About SWA

Sanitation and Water for All is a global partnership aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking-water for all, by firmly placing sanitation and water on the global agenda with an immediate focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the most off-track countries. More information is available at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Report of Visit to Dodoma

H2O for Life is collaborating on 15 projects in Tanzania and 15 projects in Malawi.  It is a collaboration including WASRAG, Rotary International; P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water; H2O for Life and Africare, the implementing NGO.  Recently, Nancy Gilbert, a representative from WASRAG with Rotary International visited Dodoma to visit several of the projects. Please read her blog below. We need your help! Together, WASRAG and H2O for Life and P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water have committed funding from our schools and Rotary clubs to support the projects. There is work to be done. Schools desperately need our help. If your school is looking for a project that will change lives, please visit our resources page. Find out how your students can become water advocates and great stewards of water, while taking action to change lives around the world. It is a win-win for all of us.

(from Nancy Gilbert, Adopt-A-School project manager for Wasrag)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012, I flew from Nairobi to Arusha, changed airports, and connected with a MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) flight from Arusha to Dodoma. MAF provides air services to support charitable work, and is a Christian organization. I have never been invited by the pilot (and only crew) to pray before each leg of a flight! Either it was not a reflection on his skill, or it worked, but in any event the flight on the 6-seater aircraft was uneventful.

News from Nancy:

At the Dodoma landing field I was met by the Africare driver who took me to the Dodoma Africare office and an introductory meeting with the regional director, project officer, and capacity building officer.

The team reviewed the program, and progress to date. We also reviewed a package that had been put together by the Tanzanian gov’t and provides a training package for trainers on hygiene education. It includes various modules and tools and activities for engaging and informing teachers and parents in a multi-day program. It was put together in 2010 and distributed for testing and feedback. The finalized package is supposed to be available this year. I am trying to get a soft copy of the draft materials.

A significant part of this program is the provision of PUR packets that very effectively make water clean. The packets will be used as an interim measure and then any remaining, distributed to the communities for their use. The first school had a limited water supply and we did not discuss the quality of that water. Assuming it isn’t clean, then PUR would indeed be most important while the permanent system is being put in place.

The second school had no water supply and the villagers used shallow dug wells. So again, PUR would most likely be tremendously important, certainly until a more permanent supply is developed at the school, and thereafter for the community.

The last school also had no water supply. In this case the villagers source water from a bore hole although as I describe below, that doesn’t run all the time as it’s wind powered but has no water storage tank. Students come to school with containers of water, presumably from that well. During the time that it isn’t producing water, I don’t know what happens. It could be that villagers revert to shallow dug wells, in which case PUR would be very useful.

Meetings have taken place with all the schools and now planning begins in earnest. This week (April 16th) a number of meetings are scheduled with local government officials, community officials, schools officials, teachers and parents. In all meetings, the role of the school, community and parents is stressed and their contributions and commitment is critical to sustainability.

On Thursday, the group visited three schools. Present were the local rural water officer water technician, and education officer (all gov’t), the Africare regional director, capacity building officer and myself. The schools we visited were:

Ipagala B Primary School
Sogeambele Primary School
Chihikwi Primary School

In all the schools the students look bright and quite healthy, despite the difficult circumstances.

Ipagala B Primary School:

This school is located in the middle of a community on the outskirts of Dodoma. It has 735 girls, and 721 boys. There are 40 teachers, 2 men and 38 women. Currently the school’s water supply is a tap in the ground, kept under lock and key to prevent the local community from using it. Water comes from a municipal source but is intermittent. Often there is none. We watched the girls filling a bucket – bending over and filling it cupful by cupful. It was a painstaking process.

There is a toilet block that consists of 2 stalls for boys and 2 stalls for girls. In addition there is one hole for the teachers to share. There is no water in the toilets except for bucket fulls used to clean it from time to time.

No facilities exist for hand washing and hygiene is basically non-existent given the lack of water, soap, and education.

A meeting had been organized during our visit with the local government authorities, ward leadership, school leaders, and parents.

Discussions concluded that the first priority is better sanitation – 37 pit holes are needed for the girls, 28 for the boys (Tanzanian regulations say20 girls per hole, and 25 boys per hole), as well as 4 for teachers (2 for the men and 2 for the women). This will be a big project.

In addition, an improved water supply will be put in. Likely this will be a rainwater harvesting system and tank, but if funds permitted a well would be considered. All of the schools have a guard that patrols at night, so if a solar panel was affordable, security does not seem to be an issue (often with solar the biggest concern is theft).

The needs of all the schools will be determined and rough budgets established. Then the process of figuring out what will be spent where will take place.
The meeting was very successful with many pledges of support.

Sogeambele Primary School

We headed out to Sogeambele which is about an hour’s drive out into the country. The road went from paved highway to big dirt road, to smaller and smaller road. The rains had recently come to the area and everything was green, flowers blooming everywhere, and the vistas were lovely. The region is dotted with rock outcrops that are stunning. It looks like giants were building play towers and tossing giant sized marbles around.

The school was smaller, simple, but with lovely flower beds in front of the classes. We were met by the school director who walked us around the grounds. Sogemabele has 161 boys and 166 girls (total 372). The classrooms are crowded and have very few desks. Blackboards are simply concrete walls.

The sanitation facilities have been installed in this school – 4 VIP toilets for the girls and 4 for the boys. This is a big improvement. So the big need remaining is water. The school serves 4 villages. The villages source water from shallow dug wells.

Options for water include rainwater harvesting, or possibly a well (if affordable).
The next meeting of Africare staff with teachers and parents is taking place this Tuesday.
As with all the schools there is huge need for other support. All the classrooms were filled to overflowing. Most students didn’t have desks. And library and other aids were largely absent.

Chihikwi Primary School:

This school is also located out in the country and involved long miles on small dirt roads that often were no more than a walking track. A few times we had to squeeze the four by four between someone’s house and a field of millet or corn, or barrier for animals. It was tight!

When we arrived at the school the children were waiting eagerly. We had a tour of the school from the director. There are 357 students – 187 boys, and 193 girls. The school serves three villages.

We were shown the “latrine”, which was nothing more than a low stone wall behind which the children defecate on the ground. It was hard to navigate the area without stepping in human feces. Not far away was an area that was being prepared as an interim step until proper latrines could be constructed. It consisted of sticks shoved in the ground, a shallow trench around the sand, and a few depressions in the centre section. The idea was to make this the girls’ area, and the former, for the boys.

Interim measure - for the girls

The school has no water supply. Students bring containers of water with them, and this provides drinking water, and the source for any other water needs.

The area does have one well and a wind pump (but no storage tank) installed by a Roman Catholic organization from Canada. A water committee is functioning well, and collects a small fee for each bucket of water (20 Tanzanian shillings). Last year they collected about 400,000 shillings and so had money to pay for repairs when the wind pump needed maintenance.

At the school we had a meeting with school officials, the local political leader, teachers, and parents. One parent told us that in November and December there is very little wind, especially during the day, and therefore no water. Would we consider putting in a pump to replace or back-up the wind pump, so they would have more reliable water? He suggested we could pipe water from the well to the school – a distance of 1.5 km.

We went and had a look at the wind pump, although we couldn’t get really close as there was no road and the walking was difficult. I suggested one option would be to install holding tanks up in the air so that when there was no wind, they would still have water available and it would be gravity fed through the system. Apparently it does get windy at night in November and December, but that isn’t much use to the villagers.

The rural water supply official estimates an average need of 20 litres/day per person. These three villages have a population of 820 people.

The other option being considered is a rainwater harvesting system at the school.

The Rotary Club in Dodoma meets Thursday’s at 5:30 so I went to the meeting place. But unfortunately no one showed up. I will continue to try to connect with them in hopes of involving them somehow in the program.


The Africare in-country team is continuing meetings with the school communities at all 15 schools. In each case they need to fully examine, in collaboration with teachers and parents, the needs, and options. Then detailed plans will be completed based on available funds.

In all cases hygiene education is part of the program.

There is lots of opportunity for further collaboration to support these schools in other ways once the WASH program is fully implemented.

It was very useful for me to meet all the participants, visit three of the fifteen schools, and see first hand the obstacles and challenges. There is capable support on the ground and the program is moving forward steadily. Once complete these WASH programs will have huge impact on students, families and communities.

All pictures taken during the site visit are available on the Start with Water Flickr page

Friday, March 23, 2012

World Water Day is over, bu the Water Crisis lives on- take action!

Yesterday, in celebration of World Water Day,there were many articles that featured the global water crisis.  Many focused on problems and many focused on solutions.  We know that H2O for Life and our partner schools are part of the solution!

An article that we think is a "must read" for everyone may be found by accessing the link:

This article is one that should be studied with your classes!  Please take a moment to read it.

Today, we heard from 4th grade teacher, Regina F.  Her students are studying about ground water and conservation this week.  As part of an extra credit assignment, students were encouraged to find other internet resources on topics concerning water.  One of her students found us!  Now Regina, I hope you read about H2O for Life and find a way to have your students  take action to help us bring water to schools around the world.  We are promoting an EARTH Day Walk for Water nationwide!  You and your students are invited to plan a walk, and raise a few dollars to help a school in need.  I hope you'll consider it.

Regina also mentioned that her 4th grade student also found a connection promoting great conservation tips:  He sent us a link to share.  See if you are implementing all of the water saving tips suggested in the article.

EARTH DAY- April 22.  We are collaborating with Youth Service America to celebrate Earth Day and Global Youth Service Day.  Whatever you plan to do on Earth day as part of service, please register with  Be one of the over 1 million youth counted for service on EARTH Day weekend.

You'll find resources on our website to help you plan a Walk for Water!  Start planning today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Progress in Kenya

H2O for Life partners with Waterlines to implement WASH projects in Kenya.  Recently, Mark and Diane Reimers visited Kenya on behalf of Waterlines to complete a sustainability check on projects.
While there, they took a moment to interview several students about their lives, and the changes in their lives due to access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene education. 

Kiminanga School in Kenya

Mark and Diane Reimers, representing Waterlines and H2O for Life recently visited WASH in Schools projects in Kenya as part of a yearly site visit to Waterline’s projects. While visiting Kimananga School, teacher Lisa, helped conduct an interview with students. Mark and Diane talked with Edith Chentutai Class 6 and Aaron Kipyegon Class 6.

Edith and Aaron enjoy reading and playing futball when they are not in school. They are required to fetch water for their parents and family, Edith from a family of 8 members and Aaron from a family of 7 members. They pick the water from dams about 20 minutes away and carry the containers by hand or on their heads. The water is boiled for drinking and used for cleaning around the homes. Edith washes clothes every day for the family. It is much easier now that the students have access to water through a rainwater catchment system with a storage tank located on the school grounds.

Edith and Aaron spoke of another job that is unfamiliar to students in the United States. They “smear” the classroom floors and also their floors at home. The reason they “smear” is to control chiggers (mbuiukik), cockroaches and fleas (kimitek). If they do not smear, “the insects are too many.”

The mixture used for smearing consists of water, soil and cow dung. It is mixed in a basin by hand and then is smeared on the soil by hand or smeared with a broom.

Students have learned to pick up all rubbish and use a rubbish bin and a burning pit, and have learned to keep their classrooms clean.
The Health Club has taught the other students about dust bins and picking up rubbish in each
of the classrooms and on the compound. They dug a pit and they burn the rubbish there. They have planted trees and other bushes to make the place beautiful and to make oxygen for good breathing. The tank makes watering the plants easier.

Maurine Chelangat Langat – class seven and Nelly Chepngeno – class eight were asked to describe the toilets. The old toilets were “dangerous”. They could not be cleaned and had flies even though they put ashes in them. During rainy season they were muddy and slippery. They were afraid to use the toilets. When they needed to make a “long” or a “short” visit they would go back in the bushes behind the school. The new toilets can be cleaned easily with a brush and disinfectant. The floor does not get muddy. Maurine said; “We must teach the younger children how to use the toilet.”

Chemutai Stacy and Kigen Robinson are in Class eight. They described their job of filtering all the water through the bio-sand filter. Chemutai said; “Up to 2 years ago we were to bring water to school.” They went to the dam to get the water and carried it to use for drinking, washing and smearing. Sometimes the water for drinking at home was boiled. Sometimes it was not! NOW they may bring water to school (or get from the tank) and put it through the filter and take the clean, safe water home. Their containers now take good water home for use. The classes rotate days when the filtered water will go home. The students relayed that they are responsible at different times for cleaning the bio-sand filter. They clean the diffuser plate, carefully handle the algae layer, remove the top layer of sand to a basin where they use 2 liters of water, 3 times to wash the sand until it is clear. Then they place it back in the filter, add algae and the diffuser. The filter is now ready to work.

To be effective the bio-sand filter must be active. According to the teachers, keeping the sand filter active on the weekends and during school breaks “is not a problem.” There is always someone on the compound (this school appears to be quite open and the community feels welcome.) Waterlines had been told by Tenwek that some schools have rejected the bio-sand filters because it requires constant attention.

Tenwek Hospital, through Waterlines funding provides Child to Child training workshops for the headmasters and teachers, and often groups of student leaders. The training focuses on sanitation and hygiene education for the schools.

QUOTES from the Head Teacher Joseph K. Ngeno

“C-C (child to child) workshop and teaching AND the recent Head Teacher training is of great benefit. There is a great understanding throughout the school.

We have newcomers to the school because the students want to come to a place that is good.

The school is a resource center now; a place of interest. We thank Waterlines, H2O for Life and Tenwek because we are not what we used to be.”

Box 562

Sotik, Kenya

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

H2O for Life Celebrates World Water Week with stories from the field!

Next Thursday, March 22, please celebrate World Water Day with H2O for Life. For the past 5 years, H2O for Life has partnered with implementing partner, El Porvenir, in Nicaragua.  Rob Bell, the country director has been a pleasure to work with.  Several years ago, Patty Hall and Diane Klett, from Highview Middle School, MN signed on for a volunteer work trip through El Porvenir.  It was a trip of a lifetime.  We helped build a wash project for a community near San Lorenzo.  The structure provided a private bathing area, a place to wash clothes and access to clean water.  While visiting, we visited several H2O for Life school projects and were delighted to witness the difference that water and toilets make for a school.  Water changes everything!  If you are looking for a great experience for your school, your family or for you- check out El Porvenir.  Rob and the guides that were with us on the jouney were top notch.  We spent 6 days in the local community and then had a few days to see the volcanos and the rain forest areas.  Experiencing a zipline though the trees among the howler monkeys was an unforgettable moment.

If you haven't chosen a school partner through H2O for Life, NOW IS THE TIME!  There is plenty of time to learn about the global water crisis, and help a school that is in need of water.  Celebrate World Water Day by making a commitment to help!

Rob and his on the ground team in Nicaragua provided a look at the story of one young girl attending an H2O for Life partner school. 
Escuela Jose Marti, Nicaragua

H2O for Life and El Porvenir work in collaboration to provide WASH in Schools projects to schools in Nicaragua. Rob Bell and his team provided information about the impact of WASH on one local student from a school.

Escuela Jose Marti is located in the Camoapa area of Nicaragua in the town of Salgado. The school was built in 2000 by the government. It is one large room that is divided into two by a wooden wall. The school is concrete with a tiled floor and tin roof. It is blue and white and has shuttered windows that allow for ventilation during classes. The government also drilled a well for the school and built 2 latrines, however, they deteriorated and the well was no longer working. The community has committed to maintain the well and learn to take care of the latrines.

Raquel del Carmen Romero Garcia is fifteen. She has four siblings and lives with her mother, father and four siblings. She lives in a humble home made of wood with a tin roof and a dirt floor. There is a living room, kitchen and one bedroom. Her daily diet consists of beans and rice and once in a while, chicken. When fruits are in season, they add oranges, mango, guava and sweet lemons to their list of foods. The surrounding area is hilly with steep slopes. Raquel lives 5 km from Escuela Jose Marti.

Raquel relates that she has studied all her life in Escuela Jose Marti. She studies hard and says that mathematics is her most difficult class. She must walk an hour to and from school. She had to stop attending school for two years when her family had to move into the bush due to her father’s work.

When El Porvenir came to the village all the community was asked to help. Raquel tells us that her father contributed two work days per week until the well was completed.

Raquel tells us that when the well was not working, she had to go ask nearby homes to provide water. Sometimes the families had no water to give and the children went without until the end of the day. She said that by the time she returned home she was exhausted.

There was a watering hole nearby, but the water was not potable. The children carried the dirty water to the school to clean the school each day.

Today Escuela Jose Marti has a new well and new latrines. Here is what Raquel had to say:

“To have water is to have life, because without water, we cannot live, because we need it to carry out all our daily activities. Having the water closer makes me very happy because one of my duties is to clean the school every Friday and having access to water means I can participate more effectively in that activity.”

She also said;

“El Porvenir has helped a lot because the projects they develop benefit the environment; take care of the water and especially the health of the people.”

Raquel expresses that she listens to the El Porvenir radio program every Wednesday morning and from that has learned many things about personal, family and community hygiene. The project has been in place for 2 years now in the school and the community commitment is to maintain the well area, water the plants and trees in the school (so it looks nice around the well) and to be careful in the use of the rope pump so it lasts a long time. The parents have been maintaining the well.

Raquel’s opinion is that the money that was donated by H2O for Life and El Porvenir to this project was well invested and the construction of the well is very important. Also the latrines and washing and bathing station are very important, especially in the schools because that is the medium for teaching and changing habits and customs.

Raquel ended by saying, “As a student, I feel happy to be able to go to school every day, because I can learn something new and different every day.”

The well at Jose Marti

                                                  Building a Wash station on a volunteer trip

Students from Nicaragua

Friday, February 17, 2012

Walk for Water on EARTH DAY and celebrate Global Youth Service Day

For all of those schools out there that are looking for a great event for your H2O for Life current school project- or if you are a new school and would like to participate- we have just the event for you!

Walk for Water

What activity could be more connected to the issues of the global water crisis?

Every day, women and children walk miles, multiple times daily to collect water- often contaminated water- for their families.  Girls miss countless hours of school due to the hours spent walking.  Girls also tend to stop attending school upon reaching puberty if there is not an adequate latrine available at school.  Help H2O for Life change that statistic, while "providing service" on Global Youth Service Day.  Take the opportunity to feel what it is like to walk 3 miles carrying water!  Join the over 1 million youth engaged in service on Earth Day week-end. (April 20-22)

H2O for Life has materials available that can help you organize your walk.  We have a walk guide, walk posters, pledge sheets and more so that you don't have to recreate these resources.  We are also available to talk with you if you need further information! Now is the time to begin raising awareness in your school and community about the water crisis and service on GYSD. (register your project with and be counted!)

Take a look at our short PP about walking for water:

Use the PP to engage others in your project.

Please let us know if we can help you organize a walk for water.  email us:   or give us a call: 756-7577  We are happy to help you get started!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walk for Water for World Water Day and Global Youth Service Day

Are you looking for a great activity to do with your students? 
Please join
 H2O for Life and  "Walk for Water"
If possible, schedule your walk between
 March 22- World Water Day, and April 22- Earth Day and Global Youth Service Day.

A Walk for Water is easy to organize and an effective way to raise local community awareness about the global water crisis while raising funds to support a school in a developing country that deperately needs water.

How Can You Get Involved?
  • Engage Participants!  Enlist participation from your classroom, school, group of friends, church, family- get the theme?  Any group can organize and participate in a walk for water.  The more people that you can gather to join you, the better it will be, but remember: a small group of people can make a difference. 
  • Set the challenge.  Can each individual gather a certain amount of donations?  $20, $50, maybe $100!  Remind them that through H2O for Life, their dollars are matched by the implementing NGO organization, doubling the amount raised.
  • Choose a school from our partner list::  OR you may donate proceeds to a "school in need". 
  • Plan your walk with the help of our walk guide that is available online.  You'll find flyers for the event, pledge sheets and a guide that will provide tips for creating an amazing event. 
  •  walk guide:
  • Pick a date and have a great time while raising funds that will change lives for students in your partner school!
  • Take photos and write a short story about your event that we will share with our facebook and website  followers.   We love to publicize success!
  • Would you like to order t-shirts?  We can help you with that.  Please contact us at:   We work with a company that will provide affordable t-shirts for your walk.

READ the story about a school that participated in a walk last school year!

Can't walk between March 22- April 22?  Not to worry!  Schedule your walk before the end of the school year, and help a school receive water!  Every dollar makes a difference.  Be part of the solution!
Make it part of your school year to organize a walk for water every year!
The solution is within our reach, and we CAN make it happen!