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Somalia, 8 August 2016: Running water at school means more time for lessons

By Yahye Abdi, WASH Officer, UNICEF Somalia

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Abdi
Delighted children at Kabasa Primary School, Dollow enjoy drinking water from a tap.

Dollow, Gedo, Somalia, August 2016 – Students at Kabasa primary school in south-west Somalia used to miss valuable school time because they had to go home for a drink of water. Not only was the lack of running water unhygienic it meant that at break time, the children disappeared, cutting into valuable time meant for their studies.

Ahmed Dahir Hassan, the headmaster of the school in a large camp for internally displaced people near Dollow Town, said the lack of water created a major problem. The children received porridge each day as part of a World Food Program-supported school feeding program in dirty bowls and had nothing to drink afterwards.

“Pupils went home after meals to get their water for drinking. This disrupted the studies so the teacher had to wait for all of them to come before continuing with class,” said Mr Hassan.

The school even had to buy water for cooking the WFP porridge from vendors using money contributed by parents and teacher or use water from the river.

However earlier this year a UNICEF WASH Officer, Mohamed Abdullahi, visited the school which had no water for toilets and saw the plight of the children.

As a result of his intervention a local NGO along with the town’s main water company worked together to bring water to the school free of charge.

A local NGO, SHRA (Somali Humanitarian Relief Action) – which carries out UNICEF-supported projects in Dollow – agreed to fix the pipeline supplying water to the main tank and fix a tap at school for free. Then the main water supplier to Dollow Town – Dollow Water Company – a public-private partnership supported by UNICEF involving the community, the Water Authority and the private sector – decided to provide water to the school without charge.

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Abdi
The tap with clean drinking water at Kabasa primary school is one of the busiest places on the playground.

The headmaster said that now students did not need to go home in the middle of classes, and there were other benefits too.

“We used to have many cases of diarrhoea due to pupils drinking water from contaminated sources such as the river,” he said. “Many pupils missed school because of this and it affected their studies. Hygiene especially in the latrines was very poor due to the lack of water for cleaning. Now the pupils can get access clean water there are fewer cases of diarrhoea and the latrines are cleaned regularly.”

There are currently over 450 pupils at the school – two thirds of them girls. They are very happy with the new water supply.

Ayah Abdi Mohamed, a Standard 4 pupil said: “I used to feel thirsty after drinking porridge during break time. I could not concentrate well. Now I concentrate as I drink water after taking porridge”.

Mohamed Somow Abdi, a Standard 3 pupil added: “When there was no water, I used to take 6 lessons per day as I used to go home after drinking porridge and did not return. I now take all 8 lessons each day.”

 

 
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