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How Clean, Safe Water and Community Engagement Empower Students in Kenya

In Kitalale, Kenya, schools no longer pay for water to be delivered. Instead, school officials use the money to buy supplies and books for the students.

With Water Mission safe water solutions at four schools in the community, students’ overall health has improved. Therefore they have been able to focus on their education. According to the United Nations, progress in education supports economic growth. But on average, 443 million school days are missed every year because of the global water crisis. When children have to walk to distant water sources or fall ill from drinking unsafe water, they are prevented from attending school.

Students demonstrate WASH best practices in Kitalale.

Providing schools in Kitalale with access to safe water has opened doors for holistic change. In partnership with local church and school leaders, Water Mission’s staff was able to assess and address the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of Kitalale’s youth. This process took time, which allowed for the formation of trusting relationships.

We interviewed Moses Ng’ania, country director for Water Mission in Kenya, about how access to safe water has benefited local schools and how safe water projects have paved the way for partnership, mentorship, and youth engagement in the region, ultimately leading to a large youth gathering at one of the schools.

Moses Ng’ania speaks to a community about safe water.

Water Mission: How did the Kitalale high school ministry begin? What role did you play in organizing the event and fostering the relationships?

Moses Ng’ania: During one of our visits to the safe water project, the school principal of St. Philip’s, Tuiyokony, approached me to ask us to organize a school mentorship program for the students. Like many other interior day schools in Kenya, they’d never had the opportunity to have mentorship programs organized for them.

We assessed the school’s needs and found out which issues the students were particularly concerned about. We then put together the agenda and topics of discussion, and identified partnering organizations for the event. The event was a collaboration between Water Mission, International Christian Youthworks, Trans-Nzoia Sabaot Professionals, and Re-City Church.

Every year, 443 million school days are missed because of the water crisis.

WM: Why is it important for Water Mission to develop relationships with local schools, churches, and community leaders?

MN: We believe it is our responsibility to develop and maintain these relationships that foster social, economic, and spiritual development because these communities look to us for direction and guidance. Continued engagement with Water Mission and the development of leadership skills ensure the project’s sustainability. These groups all help in the decision-making, planning, and management of safe water projects. Our relationships with them increase transparency and accountability. They also strengthen networks with other organizations in the sector.

WM: How many students attended the ministry event?

MN: We wanted to make a great impact, so we encouraged the school principal to invite neighboring schools to attend the event. We had a total of 205 students from three neighboring schools.

A student drinks safe, clean water in Kitalale.

WM: What were some highlights of the event?

MN: Our goal was to build up the students socially, academically, and spiritually. The students’ favorite moment, I think, was the talent showcase where they confidently came out, performed, and had fun. As facilitators, we were happy that many students’ self-esteem and self-confidence rose, and that they felt open to ask us questions.

WM: How can we pray for Kitalale, local churches and ministries, and local youth?

MN: Please pray for strong leadership and community participation to ensure the projects’ sustainability. Please also pray that through safe water, everyone in the community would have an opportunity to experience God’s love. Please pray that the youth would be able to realize their purpose and unleash their potential, despite their economic backgrounds. Lastly, please pray that the local churches would be able to recognize the role of the youth in the Church and in society, and that people would support them by providing mentorship opportunities.

Safe water being distributed at a water kiosk in Kitalale.

A community’s long-term relationship with Water Mission brings more than safe water solutions — it brings people together and empowers students. You can support the educational, social, and economic progress of children and teens around the world by providing them with clean, safe water.

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