Walk Six Miles in Their Shoes – The Importance of Clean Water

Try and count how many times you turn on the faucet, or take a sip of water in a day. Now, imagine walking a total of six miles each time you turn on the tap or fill your glass with water from the sink.

It sounds quite extreme, but in the Tana River region of Kenya, it was an everyday event for the students of Walesorea Primary School.

Then they received a rainwater catchment system. Read the before and after story here.

Without a source of clean water, students walked an equivalent of three miles one way to a giant hole in the ground.

importance of clean water primary school Kenya
A student carefully makes his way down into the hole for water.

“We let the children leave school early to go and fetch water before the animals arrive,” said Mr. Bute, a teacher at the primary school.

One at a time, a child would carefully make his way onto the edge of the hole and lower himself down to the first ledge. Then, he climbed onto a rickety ladder made out of a long branch and, with a few acrobatic moves, twisted his body to reach down into the small, stagnant pool of water at the bottom.

Bucket by bucket he, along with anyone else who dared follow him into the hole, passed up water to outstretched arms to carry back to the school.

importance of clean water Kenya
Another student follows as he steps onto a makeshift ladder.

The only evidence of their great undertaking was a few containers full of brown-green water, with chunks of dirt floating near the top.

Full of bacteria and dirt, drinking this water only brings disease, causing bouts of diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and dehydration. But with no other source of water, this is their only option.

But this changed when you gave …

Students at Walesorea Primary School stand in front of their water tank.

Students from Walesorea Primary School now have a water tank that collects water during the rainy season. When it rains, a system of gutters funnels the water into the tank and it is stored for use during the dry season. This tank serves 129 students and their teachers.

“Now we can collect our own water,” said Mr. Kimeu, Deputy Principal.

importance of clean water in rural Kenya

Dirty water is passed from student to student to bring back to school.But the need for water continues in other places because for the past several years drought has plagued much of the Horn of Africa. Some places have not seen rainfall for more than two years or the rainy seasons have been greatly decreased, raising the current state of water scarcity to an alarming level. The remaining sources of water come from deep underground, such as this hand-dug well, or from a river or lake that has not yet dried up.

The importance of clean water for these primary school students and others like them does not go unnoticed. Without it, many of them will continue to get sick.

Find out how you can make a difference in these student’s lives, and provide the life-saving resource of clean water.