School waited for more than 50 years for safer access to clean water

Gone are the days when Jory would go through a dangerous path to get clean drinking water.

“It’s closer to home and to the school,” he smiles.

A year ago, he and his family would still hike down the spring to get water. It takes at least 15-30-minute walk going to the water source. When it rains, children have to endure a slippery hike. When at school, he and his classmates do the same thing. Each child would have to carry a galon so toilets have enough water.

“But it is not always enough. This forces a lot of our students to defecate and/or urinate anywhere. Girls tend to hold their urines. Either of these two is not healthy for them,” says school principalDioleInsag.

In 2016, the education department reported that out of the 46,739 schools nationwide, 3,628 elementary and secondary schools are without a regular source of water, while more than 8,000 rely on rainwater catchment. It then issued Order No. 10, s. 2016 – Policy and Guidelines for the Comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Program (WiNS), in the premise that “quality education requires a healthy and enabling environment”. Among the key components of the program include the availability of safe drinking water on a daily basis, safe water for cleaning in school and adequate, clean, and functional toilets. While such initiative resulted into different milestones, there still seemed to be a gap.Budget still hampers schools from providing learners with easy access to clean water.

In partnership with the local government of Siayan in Zamboanga del Norte, the school and the community, World Vision helped address the concern. Water pipes were installed to allow the flow of water from the source to the school. A water tank was also purchased and a hand water pump was installed in case there is no water from the faucet or if there is no electricity.

“Lack of access to clean water, whether in school or at home, exposes a child to an unclean environment. He or she cannot practice proper hygiene. It also puts children at risk of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea,” says World Vision’s Programme Manager Manuel Lim.

With the success that resulted from the coming together of different stakeholders to meet the need of Jory and other students in Siayan, Lim also emphasized the importance of strengthened partnerships in order to protect children and create an enabling environment for them.

‘I waited for 50 years’

The access to water not only delights Jory and his classmates.

Judith, the chieftain of the village shares, “I also studied in this school. For the longest time, we have been hoping for a safer way to access clean water. I am now 50 years old so that’s how long I have been waiting. I am grateful that the younger generation won’t have to endure for as long as we did,” she smiles, promising that the whole community, even the children, will take care of the facilities given to them.

Today, instead of fetching water from the spring during break time, Jory is able to play with his friends.

 



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