Pandembe Project Africa 2013
CLEAN WATER AND TOILETS CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE
Just ask the teachers and children at Pandembe Primary School.
In 2013, H2O Founder, Ben John, had the opportunity to travel to Freetown in Sierra Leone. He went with the aim of making a difference in the lives of the children of the country. A plumber by profession, Ben knew his skills would be invaluable in a country suffering from shocking sanitation conditions, as a result of a brutal decade of civil war. A chance trip to the Pandembe Prison School gave Ben the insight and inspiration he needed to change lives. The school consisted of 240 pupils ranging in age from 5-15, with only 2 pit latrines for the entire school, including the teachers. There was also no access to clean running water.
The lack of clean water and toilet facilities lead to widespread health problems. Diarrhea and infections such as intestinal worms, trachoma and schistosomiasis are all common. Repeated bouts of diarrhea can damage the gut to the point where it can no longer absorb nutrients.
Ben headed back to Canada, established H2O and raised enough capital to fund the first project.
Within a few weeks Pandembe had 2 new sanitation blocks installed and ready for use.
The blocks were comprised of five brand new flushing toilets, two urinals and 4 hand basins with running water. For the first time, the school also had access to clean water. A guttering system was setup to collect rainwater from the roofs of the school buildings and directs it into a 25,000-litre water tank.
Sierra Leone has a rainy season for about six months of the year, so it gets plenty of water. The rainfall however, is often torrential and difficult collect and when it is collected from free standing sources it is usually contaminated.
This project however was more than just building toilets and water tanks. It’s crucial that pupils understand the importance of good hygiene. As part of the project, we involve teachers and pupils in teaching them how to wash hands and why it’s important to keep the school clean. Equipped with this new knowledge, committees are formed that consist of teachers, pupils and community leaders who commit to looking after the facilities and continue teaching children about the importance of hygiene.
It’s crucial that pupils understand the importance of good hygiene.