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WaterSchool: Making a Difference One Drop at a Time

Terri Phillips   |   Feb 09, 2022

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In a small Ugandan community, Mitala Faith was struggling to make ends meet. He and his wife shared five children, and they were constantly sick. The cost of frequent visits to the local clinic for bouts of diarrhea, dysentery, worms, and other illnesses were adding up. What Mitala didn’t realize was the source of his family’s health issues could be traced to a single factor: the lack of clean drinking water.

Mitala Faith poses for a picture with his wife and children

A Water Crisis in Uganda

Clean drinking water is a scarce commodity in Uganda, inaccessible to 28 million people. In rural areas, Ugandans share lakes, ponds, and rivers—often contaminated by nearby latrines or mudslide debris—with livestock. This leads to a cascade of problems.

Waterborne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and dysentery, kill more than 3.4 million people annually. They also disrupt Ugandan children’s education by forcing them to miss school, resulting in a 25% dropout rate. And, on a wider scale, the water crisis takes a massive toll on Uganda’s economy as a large portion of productive work time is spent collecting water and managing the health issues stemming from the unclean water collected.

WaterSchool’s W.A.S.H. Program

WaterSchool is a charitable organization whose mission is to “advance the health and wellbeing of communities in Uganda by reducing the threat of waterborne illnesses and removing barriers to education for the most vulnerable.” Their program, W.A.S.H., centers around three pillars: water, sanitation, and hygiene.

  • Water. WaterSchool has given sustainable access to clean, drinkable water to thousands of Ugandans through the use of Solar Disinfection (SODIS). SODIS uses the sun’s UV rays to kill 99.9% of bacteria and pathogens in contaminated water by simply leaving reuseable plastic bottles filled with dirty water in direct sunlight for one to two days. This simple, cost effective solution has allowed access to clean water without the need for digging new wells.
  • Sanitation. WaterSchool volunteers educate local community members in building home latrines and hand-washing stations, called Tippy Taps. These simple contraptions, made of plastic jerry cans and sticks, have cut down on school absences due to sickness or water collection by 23%.
  • Hygiene. Education is the key to true change. WaterSchool teaches Ugandan community members the basics of hand washing, food handling, and waste disposal. These foundational concepts have been instrumental in reducing water borne diseases.

While the practices highlighted in W.A.S.H. training seems simple, the impact on families like Mitala’s is huge. After going through the program, Mitala built a safer home latrine, Tippy Tap station, and a SODIS bottle rack. The difference was immediate. “Previously, I would be notified every few days about one of my children getting sick,” he says. “Ever since I started implementing what WaterSchool has trained me to do, I have spent a long time without having to take anyone to the clinic—we now drink clean, safe water and wash our hands regularly.”

A local Uganda collects water bottles filled with water cleaned by UV radiation

WELLReceived Donates $3,000

The cost of putting one Ugandan family through the W.A.S.H. program is only $43 dollars. As a part of our Giving Back initiative, WELLReceived was able to donate $3,000 to WaterSchool’s cause. We are so inspired by WaterSchool and their commitment to making a difference in the lives of those in need. We’re excited to see where they go from here.

A man washes his hands using a homemade Tippy Tap station

Know of a nonprofit organization that improves access to medical care? Let us know in the comments!

(All pictures provided by WaterSchool.)

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Terri Phillips

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