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How water transformed a school

The true weight of water:

2.5 billion people are without access to proper sanitation facilities. Inadequate hygiene and waterborne illness can lead to diarrheal disease – the leading cause of malnutrition and second leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age.*

Approximately 3.5 million people die each year due to inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.*

Without proper water treatment facilities, 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged directly into natural water bodies.*

Everything we eat needs water: growing just 1 apple requires 70 litres of water and 2 steaks require 15,000 litres of water.*

Every dollar invested in water and sanitation shows a return of between CAD$6 and CAD$35.*

Gender equality:
On average, women and girls in developing nations spend 25 percent of their day (200 million hours worldwide) collecting water for their families; these work hours are equivalent to building the CN Tower twice, each day.*

443 million school days are lost each year due to water related illness.*

Clean water is one of life’s most basic needs. Yet, 748 million people worldwide – or 1 in 9 – do not have access to an improved source of drinking water.*

This is especially an issue in developing countries such as Zimbabwe, where poverty is everywhere and vital resources can be scarce. Plan is addressing this problem by helping to improve access to clean water, and the many benefits that come along with it.

Flourishing with new growth in Zimbabwe

Water has had a life-changing impact on students from one high school in rural Zimbabwe.

Working with the local community, Plan provided a water tank, installed pipes and built an irrigation system to create a clean and sustainable water source for the school.

“Plan actually provided us with the equipment, pipes and material to build a water tank,” shares Elizabeth Makoni, Deputy Head of the high school. “The water has been helping us at great length,” she adds.

Chari Lazarus teaches agriculture at the school and was eager to capitalize on their new water system – using it as an opportunity for students to learn crucial life skills.

“With the advent of water we established a green belt,” he explains. “We started engaging in intensive agriculture where we had to produce and generate income, eventually making sure that people could benefit” – a goal they would soon see come to fruition.

Making a splash

Through the water project, the school was able to launch several income-generating projects that have benefitted the students and surrounding community in big ways. These include:

  • School gardens (growing vegetables like tomatoes)
  • A banana plantation (with over 75 banana plants)
  • A piggery (with close to 20 pigs).

These resources help feed students – improving nutrition – and are also sold at the local market for extra income. Sales profits are used to help fund school and examination fees for children who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

Having an on-site water source has made it so that students – particularly girls – are no longer burdened with needing to fetch water for the day. Additionally, water has allowed the school to support dormitories for students who live far away, meaning they no longer have to walk long distances to receive an education.

In fact, one study found that reducing the distance to water sources by just 15 minutes increased girls’ school attendance by 12% in Tanzania.*

Additionally, facilities have helped improve overall sanitation, safety and attendance rates for the school.

Two male students in front of a banana plantation.

Delan, 17 (left) and Tatenda, 17 (right), two students at the school, help manage the plantation. “The water has helped us a great deal – it’s why you see the banana plantation thriving,” says the school’s Deputy Head.

Mr. Lazarus sums up the impact of this project with one simple statement: “Water has really transformed our lives.”

Two girls with vegetable garden

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the entire school continues to enjoy clean water and pursue their agricultural activities.

Help provide a fresh start

According to the United Nations*, a child dies every 20 seconds as a result of poor sanitation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Access to sanitation, proper hygiene, and safe water could save 1.5 million children a year.*

Help provide clean water and sanitation to keep children healthy.

*Citations include: CN Tower, UN Chronicle, UN Water, WHO.Read more stories about our clean water initiatives: