Water + School = Hope
In Chad, access to water means a brighter future for the most vulnerable children
Water is the source of life for all humans. Education is the source of hope for millions of children in Chad. Yet, in this Sahel country, one in two children does not attend primary school and only half of the population has access to safe drinking water. On March 22, #WorldWaterDay focuses attention on a natural resource that all our lives and livelihoods depend on. It is a day to be inspired and take action to make a difference for those who can’t take water for granted.
In a remote village of Ouaddai Region, in the Sahel Belt of Chad, Hala (left) and Sadie (right) wake up with the day’s first light to go to fetch water. It is a long walk and some days they are late or even miss school.
“ We have to go twice a day to the water point to fetch water. It takes us two to three hours. We are often late for school, ” says Sadie.
Hala and Sadie are going to the same school: “I want to help my family at home and collect water, but the days I miss school it makes me very sad,’’ says Sadie. ‘’I love school. Without education, there is no change,” she admits.
Too often students, mostly girls, use valuable class time to fetch water and frequently from contaminated sources.
“The quality of the water is very bad and we’re often getting sick. The water point is very far and I don’t have time to study after school,” explains Fatime Ramadane, 14.
Fatime goes to a community school in close by village. The school doesn’t have water or sanitation facilities, but she loves to attend.
“The water point is a far from my school but I try not to miss any class. I love studying and I want to continue as long as I can,” says Fatime.
Despite harsh living conditions and family obligations, Fatime, Hala and Sadie have great ambitions for their future. Sadie and Hala want to become teachers, Hala would love to become a nurse.
Water is intimately linked to education and gender equality. Girls who have to spend time gathering water for the family tend not to be in school and are more at risk of becoming victims of child marriage.
UNICEF works with partners to provide water, sanitation facilities and promote hygiene for the survival, growth and development of young children. Improving access to safe drinkable water means to give to the most vulnerable children an opportunity to live, learn and thrive.
Change is possible. In 2015, UNICEF provided potable water to 110,000 people like in the health center of this village of the Ouaddai Region. This was achieved thanks to our partners, such as French Fund Muskoka and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
In order to improve quality education, with the support of Global Partnership for Education and Educate a Child, UNICEF is building a total of 1,600 equipped classrooms with access to waterpoints and latrines and providing teaching and learning materials for one million children across the country.
“The main problems here are lack of education and water,” says Halimé, who never attended school unlike her brothers.
#WorldWaterDay is an opportunity for UNICEF to call for bigger action around the world to improve access to safe water and sanitation and promoting hygiene awareness. We will continue our work reaching the most vulnerable children making progress towards achieving universal access to water and education for all.